Written by Annabelle Bond, OBE, extreme sportswoman, mountaineer and international adventurer.
As we touched down on the water at Soneva Fushi for my daughter Isabella’s half term, I could almost feel the stress of travelling through Covid times evaporate out of my body. London was heading towards a severe lockdown and our escape was perfect and essential. For years, I had heard about Soneva Fushi from various friends raving about it and now finally I was on the island to see what it was all about. It did not disappoint, in fact it way exceeded my expectations. Sonu, the amazing entrepreneurial owner of Soneva, had smartly invested in getting a fast Covid testing system for the island, so on arrival we were ushered to our beautiful brand new villa over the water, with a doctor arriving five minutes later to efficiently complete our PCR tests. We then had to wait for only six hours at our stunning water retreat villa before we were given the all clear to enjoy our holiday mask free for the rest of our stay. It was as if we had our old pre-pandemic lives back and were free again.
Our Water Retreat villa was incredible. It had ample room for my daughter and we could just swim off the steps and be in the most amazing snorkelling area – which we did most days. We also had a super fun water slide that provided endless enjoyment sliding down into the turquoise ocean to capture that perfect Instagram pic! The whole experience was magical and the service went far beyond expectations.
We were assigned the lovely Kysenia as our Barefoot Butler to look after us for our stay, who helped us book and arrange all our activities as well as organising all our dining requirements for us. As I am sports mad I wanted to do it all. I took kite surfing lessons, went stand up paddling and snorkelling with manta rays, which was so special. I also played tennis with the pro every day, went running and my daughter either came with us or took part in other activities with the friends she met in the teen camp during our stay. We also biked our way around the island to everything which added to the sense of complete freedom and was a great way to keep fit!
We went scuba diving with Thomas and his lovely wife daily and he made sure we saw everything there was to see in the Maldives’ underwater world. My husband also achieved his advanced open water and his nitrox certifications during our stay.
What I found incredible at Soneva Fushi was that I was easily able to maintain the level of fitness that I do in Hong Kong on a daily basis, which is a minimum of two hours a day. The kite surfing was hard work but I am obsessed and cannot wait to continue my lessons. E foils and surfing are also available so I could really do it all. I ended the day with the best sports massage at the spa. My idea of sports heaven.
I would like to share a special mention of the standard of cuisine at Soneva Fushi. I am a health freak so I really love healthy food – the quality and range of the cuisine that Soneva Fushi offers is particularly impressive. It was 5-star in all the restaurants but I have to say the breakfast buffet was so good. I live for all my healthy juices and Soneva had everything, including all sorts of healthy shots such as turmeric or Ayurvedic shots to help sleep, stress, for energy or youthfulness. Fresh In the Garden was another of my favourite restaurants – all the food came from the organic gardens at Soneva Fushi and the fish was freshly caught and so delicious.
I managed to pack so much into each day during our stay at Soneva Fushi, which has given us a lifetime of memories. Two weeks flew by and I wish we could have stayed on the island for a year until the world goes back to normal. Soneva Fushi more than surpassed my expectations and I would go back in a heartbeat. I am already planning October half term back in paradise!