25 Years of Memories

25 Years of Soneva

Join us for a tour across the decades with a collection of archive photographs specially curated by our Creative Director and Co-Founder, Eva Malmström Shivdasani. These candid snapshots offer a fascinating glimpse into our history, from the very first time Eva and Sonu set eyes on Kunfunadhoo Island, which would become the eventual home of Soneva Fushi, to the happy memories, wonderful people and milestone moments that have been a part of our 25-year journey.

Sonu and Eva had fallen in love with the Maldives while visiting on holiday in the late 1980s. Before Soneva Fushi was built, Kunfunadhoo Island had been home to a small resort, which had fallen into disrepair. Eva’s photographs reveal those earliest days: the first time a helicopter landed on the neighbouring island of Eydafushi; how the old foundations of the earlier resort were repurposed for Soneva Fushi; and the story of how our very first bunnies arrived on the island with caretaker Abdullah Kudafari. There’s even an early picture of much-loved Maldivian fisherman, Rocket – who, 25 years later, still brings his daily catch to Soneva Fushi, sustainably caught using a hook and line.

When Soneva Fushi opened in 1995, it became the Maldives’ first-ever luxury hideaway, and defined the term ‘barefoot luxury’. Since then, Soneva has not only transformed the Maldivian tourism industry, but has also become a global innovator for hospitality, proving that sustainability and luxury can go hand-in-hand. Eva’s photograph gallery reveals many of these pioneering achievements as they happened: the 1996 launch of the first spa in the Maldives; our open-air Cinema Paradiso; our quest to conserve rare turtles and sharks in our waters; the launch of our Social and Environmental Responsibility Fund (SERF); and the establishment of our observatory and our very first Eco Centro Waste to Wealth centres at Soneva Fushi.

The images also look back at the incredible people we’ve met along the way – from visits by Michael Schumacher, Tilda Swinton and the legendary Jolly Boys during our 15th-anniversary celebrations, to Fabien Cousteau, Daryl Hannah, Richard Branson and Jonathon Porritt, at editions of our SLOW LIFE Symposium, which gathers thought-leaders from around the world to focus on the future of sustainability in the tourism sector.

If you would like to learn more about Soneva’s 25-year history, watch this film by acclaimed director Bruno Aveillan. Or click here to see 25 Fun Facts about Soneva, from our youngest and oldest-ever guests, to the number of times people use our waterslides.

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