Soneva Stars

This year, there’s no better time to visit Soneva. Introducing our Soneva Stars Programme, which celebrates the diverse array of guest activities and experiences on offer this year, ranging from Michelin-starred chefs to sporting legends and acclaimed therapists.

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From: Tue, Feb 27, 2024

Alan Dolan

World-renowned breath coach and founder of Breathguru, Alan Dolan has been at the forefront of breathwork in the UK and around the world for the last 19 years, changing people’s lives through the simple power of breathing. Alan’s clients are of all ages and backgrounds including actress Naomie Harris and various other Hollywood A-listers. After graduating from Aston University, Alan worked across Africa, Asia and for 10 years in the Middle East, forging a career as a public relations manager in the high-pressure world of communications. After taking a sabbatical to pursue his interest in all things metaphysical, Alan was introduced to the wonders of breathwork. Almost two decades later, he has gained a wealth of experience and is now based in Lanzarote where he runs the Breathguru Retreat. He also runs training and mentoring programmes for budding breath coaches and hosts online breath sessions for both individuals and groups. During a 90-minute breathwork session, Alan teaches a simple yet powerful technique, known as conscious connected breathing, that helps us to open up to our full potential. Conscious breathing is natural, safe and designed to be practised independently once taught. Its benefits include increased energy, the release of emotional baggage, reduced anxiety, increased positivity, increased levels of relaxation, improved stress response and greater self-awareness. “After 65 anxious years, trying every conceivable treatment and therapy available, just one session of breathwork was all that was needed to calm a troubled mind.” John Crace, Political correspondent, The Guardian
Learn more about Alan Dolan

Lasse & Tora Hallström & Lena Olin

Lasse Hallström, a prominent Swedish filmmaker, earned critical acclaim for his directorial efforts, notably receiving Academy Award nominations for Best Director for My Life as a Dog (1985) and The Cider House Rules (1999). His diverse portfolio also includes celebrated works such as What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), Chocolat (2000), An Unfinished Life (2005), Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009), Dear John (2010), Safe Haven (2013), One Hundred Foot Journey (2014), and most recently Hilma (2022). Hilma brings to life the story of a woman who posthumously revolutionised the art world as one of the first abstract artists. In this immersive biopic starring mother and daughter – Tora Hallström as the young Hilma and Lena Olin as the mature Hilma – we follow the artist from her early life through her rising artistic career. Lena Olin, Lasse’s wife, is a distinguished Swedish actress who boasts a wealth of accolades, including Academy Award, Golden Globe, BAFTA and Primetime Emmy Award nominations, including for her performance in Chocolat (2000). Their daughter, Tora Hallström, is also an acclaimed Swedish actress, known for roles in Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009), Safe Haven (2013) and Hilma (2022). While visiting the Maldives, the husband, wife and daughter trio will be hosting private screenings of a curated selection of Lasse’s most-beloved films, as well as Q&A sessions before and after the screenings.
Learn more about Lasse & Tora Hallström & Lena Olin

Piyada

With 26 years of extensive experience in holistic treatments, Piyada specialises in a range of traditional Thai therapies including Thai massage and Tok Sen. She inherited her passion for traditional Thai treatments from her mother who practised therapeutic Thai therapy, passed down through generations. She holds certifications from CIBTAC in anatomy body massage and skin treatments, ensuring a high level of expertise and professionalism in her practice along with experience across multiple countries in Asia, the Middle East and the Caribbean enriching her understanding of diverse cultural approaches to holistic wellness.
Learn more about Piyada

Andrew McCarthy

Andrew McCarthy is an accomplished astrophotographer from Arizona who has gained recognition for his captivating images of celestial objects. Growing up in Sacramento, Andrew developed an interest in astronomy during his childhood, sparked by his father’s telescope. He later pursued computer science and mathematics in college and worked in the tech industry before rediscovering his love for astronomy. His innovative techniques in astrophotography, coupled with his computer science background, have helped him to develop a unique style that emphasizes intricate details and textures in his work. His striking images of the moon, in particular, have been praised for their unprecedented clarity and depth, revealing hidden features. Andrew’s work has been published in various magazines, including National Geographic, The New York Times, and Wired. He has also received recognition for his contributions to astrophotography, such as the Astronomy Photographer of the Year award from the Royal Observatory Greenwich. Alongside his photography, Andrew is a passionate advocate for science education and outreach, aiming to make Earth-based space exploration more accessible to inspire the next generation of enthusiasts to explore the cosmos.
Learn more about Andrew McCarthy

Tom Aikens

Tom Aikens is one of the UK’s most acclaimed and inspirational British chefs. Growing up in Norfolk, with a father working in the wine industry and a childhood spent gardening and cooking with his mother, Tom learnt how to make use of the freshest ingredients, putting food at the centre of his life from a very early age. As a child, Tom and his twin brother Rob would help their mother in the kitchen with the preparation of cakes, biscuits, jams, chutneys and home cooked meals, using fresh vegetables picked from their garden. Spending most holidays in France, Tom began to develop a flavour for French food which inspired him to develop his cooking skills further. Tom enrolled at the Norwich City College Hotel School, completing an Advanced Catering Diploma in 1989 and then began his career at Michelin-starred Cavalier’s in Battersea, London. He then moved onto The Capital Hotel working under Philip Britten, followed by a chef-de-partie position with Pierre Koffmann at La Tante Claire at a time when the restaurant was awarded with its third Michelin star. Tom later worked for Joel Robuchon in Paris, Gérard Boyer in Reims and Pied-à-Terre to name a few. It was in Pied-à-Terre that Tom became the youngest British chef ever to be awarded two Michelin stars, aged just 26. In 2000, Tom decided to take some time out of the restaurant kitchen and immerse himself in the world of farming, working alongside Carole Bamford, eventually opening Daylesford Organics for the family. Tom’s aim was to learn more about locally grown organic produce, the importance of traceability and sustainability, whilst also gaining experience in the abattoir, deciding with farmers, the best breeds and cuts for the farm’s shop.
Learn more about Tom Aikens

Kristin Kaspersen

Hailing from Sweden, Kristin Kaspersen has been interested in wellness since she was a young girl. The television host, author and entrepreneur completed her first yoga teacher training programme in the year 2000. Since then, she’s authored five best-selling books on health and wellbeing. She has a deep interest in coaching and leadership and uses her gained knowledge to help loved ones through loss, grief and changes in close relationships. Kristin’s podcast, Kristin Kaspersen Nyfiken På (Curious Kristin Kaspersen), is based upon her conversations with the wide variety of people she meets, delving into their knowledge and life experiences. Teaching her own take on Yinyoga, Kristin practices yoga and stretches every morning to wake her body and nervous system for the day ahead. While at Soneva, she will be hosting a series of morning yoga and Soma Move classes that reveal the importance of starting the day with yoga to manage stress, increase energy levels and prevent injury.
Learn more about Kristin Kaspersen

Frederic van Tricht

Frederic Van Tricht was born into a family of cheese experts. Forty-eight years ago, his grandfather Pieter Van Tricht opened up a gourmet shop with a great cheese selection in Antwerp, Belgium. When his son Michel took over the family business in 1978, he nurtured his passion for cheese, travelling to the best cheese affineurs (maturers) and artisanal producers across Europe. Selecting only the finest raw milk, artisan cheese, Kaasa Affineurs Van Tricht (Cheese Affineurs Van Tricht) gained an impressive reputation among Antwerp’s culinary community, supplying the finest restaurants in and around the city. Today, the company supplies nearly all Michelin-starred restaurants in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg and Ireland, and has been named ‘Europe’s best cheese shop’ by The New York Times. Frederic Van Tricht joined the business while studying to become a chef, helping out with the wholesale side of the company and working in the shop for an entire year before his father Michel let him come on board. Today, he oversees the day-to-day management of the wholesale business, curating an exceptional collection of the finest artisan cheeses from farmers and small businesses and working with chefs and restaurants across the world. His background as a chef enables him to find the perfect pairing of cheese for every dish, and also gives him the creativity to experiment in collaboration with his customers. Frederic’s favourite cheeses are Stilton and Roquefort.
Learn more about Frederic van Tricht

Lior Suchard

Do you believe someone can read your mind? Lior Suchard can. He can delve into your innermost thoughts and know what you are about to say, even before you do. Lior Suchard has performed his sell-out show in over fifty countries worldwide and is one of the world’s most in-demand performers. His mind-blowing performances of miraculous predictions, influencing thoughts and startling mind reading have made him the most sought-after mentalist in the world. Performing these amazing mental feats, Lior takes live audiences on an incredible journey through the wonders of the human brain. Lior’s act is built on drama and astonishment, and integrates lots of humour and full audience participation, to create the ultimate combination of wonder, laughter and fun. His list of fans stretch from A-list Hollywood celebrities and world leaders to famous businesspeople and even royalty.
Learn more about Lior Suchard

Jesse Blake

Jesse Blake, a seasoned professional renowned for his successful kitchens in Perth, Australia, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is a dynamic force in the hospitality scene. Known for his respect for produce, creativity, passion, and dedication, Jesse has received international recognition and high acclaim for his commitment to sustainability and locally grown produce. From opening popular venues in Perth to working as a Culinary Consultant in Dubai, Jesse’s culinary influence has spanned across continents. He has recently launched the Eye Heart Rabbit pop-up, offering a contemporary take on Middle Eastern influences, and opened Akina, a contemporary Japanese restaurant in Mumbai. Currently leading the creative direction at LOWE, Jesse is also preparing for the launch of La Lune, a new classic French bistro in Perth.
Learn more about Jesse Blake

Dr James Gilbert

Dr James Gilbert is a space engineer, astrophysicist and inventor. He is known for his work on multiple new technologies for some of the world’s most complex scientific machines, including planet-finding telescopes on Earth and wildfire-fighting cameras in space. He is currently leading the development of mission-critical electronics at Rocket Lab in New Zealand. Originally from the UK, Dr James emigrated to Australia in 2009 and – almost by accident – found the fascinating world of scientific instrumentation. Since then, his career has spanned multiple technical disciplines including optics, photonics, electronics and robotics. A passionate advocate of ‘blue sky’ research, Dr James has also led programs that take cutting-edge technologies out of the lab and apply them elsewhere to improve life on Earth. As a result, he is now an accomplished leader in academia and industry and loves to share stories that connect uncompromising technological achievements with the human condition. Dr James has a PhD in astrophysics from the University of Oxford and has authored over 50 peer-reviewed astronomy and space technology publications. He was recently named Engineer of the Year 2023 and Researcher of the Year 2022 at the Australian Space Awards. He is a trusted authority on space technology with multiple interviews on Australian national media, and his TV documentary appearances have been broadcast worldwide on networks including ABC, BBC and Discovery Channel.
Learn more about Dr James Gilbert

Jane Alty

Over ten years in the UK, Jane Alty has opened minds and tickled tastebuds, becoming a key ingredient of the Asian food revolution. By focusing on genuine Thai ingredients, Jane has brought Thai cuisine to a curious and increasingly dedicated public. Jane’s connection with Thailand runs deep. As a classically trained chef, she was first captivated by the deeply complex flavours and cooking processes of this wonderful country when she stayed with family outside Bangkok and became infatuated with the country’s cuisine. After four years at world-renowned Nahm, working under the internationally acclaimed chef David Thompson, she opened The Begging Bowl, in the heart of Southeast London. Alongside incredible Thai ingredients, Jane also uses seasonal produce from the UK, using it delicately where it makes sense with Thai food. It’s now a magnet for foodies, and Jane features in the top 100 influential women in hospitality – all achieved against the backdrop of managing as a single parent and leading the charge for women in hospitality. In 2022 Jane took her years of experience to JKS. Here, she is nurturing the next generation of chefs and overseeing all their ambitious Chaiyo restaurants.
Learn more about Jane Alty

Judy Joo & Esther Choi

Chefs Judy Joo and Esther Choi will conduct a spectacular four-hands dinner at Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani. Their dishes will showcase their amazing talent and rich Korean heritage. Chef Judy Joo In 2003, following an engineering degree at Columbia University and a career on Wall Street, Judy Joo decided it was time for a change. Realising that her passion was in cooking, she enrolled at the French Culinary Institute in New York, and received her Grand Diplome in Pastry Arts before becoming a test kitchen and editorial assistant at SAVEUR magazine. Excited about the thriving UK food scene, Judy moved to London in 2007, and joined Restaurant Gordon Ramsay as a pastry chef. For the following few years, she also worked throughout other Gordon Ramsay restaurants including Maze, under Jason Atherton, Claridge’s, Pétrus, and Boxwood Café as a chef and pastry chef. Judy also staged around the world at restaurants including 3 Michelin-starred The French Laundry in Yountville, California; Heston Blumenthal’s 3 Michelin-starred The Fat Duck in Bray; as well as Bangkok’s 1 Michelin-starred Nahm restaurant. In 2011, Judy became a regular face on TV, starring in Iron Chef UK and securing herself the title ‘Iron Chef UK’, becoming the only female Iron Chef in the UK and the second female Iron Chef worldwide. Off the back of her success in the UK show, Judy became a resident judge on Iron Chef America. Her expertise in Korean cooking led to her own shows: Judy Joo’s Return to Korea and two seasons of Korean Food Made Simple. Since then she published her debut cookbook, Korean Food Made Simple and has made regular appearances on numerous programs in the USA including The Today Show, Wendy Williams, The Talk, and various Food Network shows, and in the UK she has popped up on Saturday Kitchen, Sunday Brunch,  James Martin’s Saturday Morning and ITV’s Cooking with the Stars. Having settled in the UK, London was the obvious choice for Judy’s first restaurant as Chef Patron, and she opened the doors to her modern Korean restaurant Jinjuu – meaning ‘pearl’ – in 2014. Judy’s cooking is focused on the flavours of her childhood – raised in a Korean-American family in New Jersey, her back porch was lined with her mother’s clay pots, filled with fermenting kimchi, gochujang and doenjang. The house’s garage had racks of drying seaweed, and a Korean barbecue grill tucked in the corner. Judy and her sister were often drafted in to help fold row upon row of dumplings. Her multicultural heritage and training is evident in her dishes today: from ‘disco fries’ influenced by New Jersey highway diners, and topped with spicy cabbage kimchi, to classic French pastries that incorporate traditional Korean ingredients. In 2019, Judy left Jinjuu after five years in order to start a new chapter, which included the launch of her new cookbook, Korean Soul Food in October 2019, and has since launched her latest restaurant, Seoul Bird, in Westfield and Canary Wharf specialising in the Korean fried chicken for which Judy is known. Chef Esther Choi Chef Esther Choi, owner and founder of New York City’s mŏkbar and partner of Ms. Yoo, is an influential female chef driven by her Korean roots. With a personal passion for introducing New Yorkers to the flavors of Korean culture, Chef Esther’s cooking combines traditional and modern influences with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Inspired by the old-aged techniques of her Korean grandmother’s cooking, Chef Esther believes that food is the ultimate expression of a country’s culture. From its history and social customs to its language, geography, and arts, Chef Esther seeks to offer guests an understanding and appreciation of Korean foods. Chef Esther received formal training at New York’s institute of culinary education and has worked across the kitchens of ilili, La Esquina, and the Food Network. Esther has received numerous awards for her culinary pursuits and was named “New York City’s Culinary Rock star” in Zagat’s 30 under 30.
Learn more about Judy Joo & Esther Choi
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