This resort doesn't just have character, it has charisma. Soneva Fushi is like someone with personal magnetism, someone who knows themselves, knows the world and greets it with a big, welcoming smile.
The resort leads the country in terms of green initiatives, it is conscious of both mind and bodily health and yet it is utterly luxurious. Here you slow down, you simplify and you enjoy.
It all begins before guests arrive on the island. Formalities are completed and preferences taken (for films, music, amenities and so on) in the private lounge of the seaplanecompany. On the boat hop from the seaplane platform to the island your shoes are requested and placed in a cotton bag. 'No news no shoes' is more than a slogan here. There isn't a check-in or even a reception on Soneva Fushi. Guests are greeted by their 'Friday' (personal butler) and taken directly to their room, where the requested music is already playing and the DVD is on the table.
A call to your Mr. or Ms. Friday is all that is required to sort out any request or whim. Folders in the room detail everything there is to do and see, eat and drink on and off the island. That includes a list of their 400 wines and the names and pictures of the island's flora and fauna.
You may snorkel with the renowned resident biologist to better see and appreciate the life on the house reef - housereef that is always close by and is still one of the best. The same person leads nature walks through the island, along the lily-lined paths under the thick canopy of mature palms. This is the second largest and one of the loveliest resort islands. You might also visit the site where turtles lay their eggs on the beach. The beach itself is, yes, one of the best of all resort islands.
There seems to be an endless array of good things to do – how about spying the moons of Jupiter from the planetarium? Or an watching a classic black and white movie lounging back, popcorn in hand, under the star-lit sky?
A permaculture garden of organic fruits, vegetables and herbs offers a daily al fresco lunch that is a revelation of flavours you didn't know existed in salads. But it is not all about healthy eating: a new pit-roast fires up great meat as you like it, the charcuterie and fromagerie are second to none in the country and the 40-odd homemade ice creams are to die for. The fine dining restaurant serves a Japanese-Peruvian cuisine in a low-lit, romantic setting on the quiet side of the island.
If you are a food and wine gourmet, check the resort's website for their guest wine-growers and celebrated chefs. If you are a mind and body aficionado then check the site for their invited masters of reiki, meditation, pilates and personal growth. Specific ailments might benefit from the attention of their ayurvedic doctor or the professional acupuncturist. If you are merely an 'amateur', then revel in the spine-tingling massages.
Everywhere the architecture follows nature's precedent. The materials are warm, tactile and unrefined. There are no straight lines, anywhere. Even the knives and forks, the chairs, the glasses and the pencils are irregular. There is a plethora of room sizes and styles that need to be studied before settling on one. But all of them share a natural eclecticism and playfulness. They seem to have grown organically, sprouting walkways, pools, balconies, footbridges, pavilions and daybeds. It is not all rustic, it is chic too and all the luxuries are present, discreetly.
As with anyone who is charismatic, you want to get more and more of them. Soneva Fushi makes it easier for repeat guests to do just that. They can leave their holiday paraphernalia in secure air conditioned stores ready for their return, free of charge. When you live slowly, it takes a while to get around to everything you'd like to do, so you'll certainly want to come back.
Reviewed by Adrian Neville