What We Love
- Around-the-clock butler service
- Retractable roofs on all the villas
- An overwater silent cinema, the first of its kind in the Maldives
- Complimentary scoops (more than 50 flavors to choose from) at the onsite ice-cream parlor
What To Know
- Visit between December and April to skip the Maldives’s rainy season
- Each residence here contains a private pool
- Almost all the produce used in the resort’s five restaurants comes from an onsite vegetable and herb garden
- A resident marine biologist is available to accompany guests on guided snorkeling tours
From the moment you step off your private seaplane onto this jetty, floating atop a three-mile lagoon just forty minutes north of the Maldivian capital of Male, you’ll be gob-smacked by the sheer solitude of your surroundings. For starters, your shoes will be whisked away for the remainder of your stay, giving a literal spin to the phrase “barefoot luxury.” The villas, a winding sequence of pitched roofs and turrets, took cues from Indian Ocean sunsets with their magical palette of periwinkles and silvers. Whether you’re absorbing the many extravagances in your impeccably designed overwater villa, dressed with bamboo floors and rattan furniture (and include water slides and catamaran nets on your private deck), or paying a visit to the resort’s lavish cheese, chocolate, and charcuterie lounge, the sense of castaway cool that infuses every nook of this secluded island paradise will floor you.
In the Area
Made up of five palm-fringed islets, the Noonu Atoll, an especially remote slice of the Maldives, is best explored by speedboat, which the resort provides (the main island, however, is accessible by bicycles or golf buggies). The visual highlight is undoubtedly the azure lagoon that surrounds Soneva, and the extracurricular indulgences here are an inspiring mix of over and underwater activities: hop aboard a dhoni, a traditional Maldivian fishing boat, and spy on frolicking dolphins; snorkel around the reefs of the lively Medhufaru Lagoon, or arrange for a chef-made picnic lunch (he only uses what he can catch or forage) on nearby Zuhair’s Island.
How to Get There
Oh my gosh! How can we ever go any place else now?? We lived on our slide day and night. It was an utter blast. Such a beautiful villa and excellent service. Seriously, I'll never go to a hotel in the Maldives without my own slide again. Pretty darn expensive, but a blast of a vacation. We will be back as soon as the next dry season arrives!
When we finally got to Soneva Jani it was amazing. We were greeted by Marco the hotel manger as we disembarked the light aircraft who welcomed us to the island and introduced us to our Man Friday. Marco immediately cleared the the slight complaint that i had while waiting to board the shuttle service from the main International airport regarding the waiting time, the fact it was the chefs day off in the Soneva waiting area and the fact i wasn't told you could hire their own aircraft if you didn't want to get stuck with 20 other people stopping at every resort in the area.
As we jumped aboard the golf buggy to headed towards the villa our Man Friday gave us all the information and showed us where everything was on route. We got into our villa and it was amazing, i thought the pictures online were good however its nothing compared the real deal. As our Man Friday unpacked and hung our clothes up we started exploring the island, and found the tennis court which kept us occupied for a few hours.
The breakfast selection is out of this world, there is literally anything you could dream of, and if there isn't something available they will do their best to make it especially for you. In our case my partner is trying to eat less sugar, there wasn't any sugar free ice cream in the ice cream hut, however the next day they made all the flavors that she wanted totally sugar free. This is what a five star hotel is all about.
The outdoor cinema was an awesome experience and one i most certainly will not forget, we also had a private romantic dinner on the beach which was incredible, there was so much food to choose from, all cooked behind us while we watched the sunset completely alone with just the sound of the sea in front of us. That is a must if going for a romantic trip.
We didn't go much on the Crab Shack, it was the only place which let the hotel down, unfortunately our waiter seemed to refuse to take the crab out of the shell for me, even though I asked 3 separate times and he took the crab away and just broke it up leaving the meat still in the shell, i thought it was a simple request however obviously not.
In terms of facilities there is everything there, great gym, table tennis in the shade, lovely jungle setting tennis court. We had a jet ski for one the mornings where we could go miles out and saw an array of fish etc and the hammock in the sea where i spent hours relaxing.
However the highlight of the trip was Matt Robinson, the astrologer. He went totally above and beyond his call of duty, my partner and I were returning from dinner and just walked up to have a look at the star gazing tower, Matt was just packing up as I presume he was finishing for the night, however as i was extremely interested he took the time to show me and explain what everything above us in the night sky was all about, he must have spent around 40 minutes explaining and showing us everything when he could have easily just said it was closed or he had finished. This level of service makes the hotel.
All in all we will defiantly be returning next year as this place is a must when visiting Maldives from the incredible villas where you can slide into the ocean a hundred times and it never gets boring, to the chefs who make world class food day in day out and the Man Friday's where no request is to much.
I had been looking at booking into the Soneva Jani for months, dreaming about it. Looking at the pictures of the slide and anticipating what was to be the grand finale of a world trip that we had decided to embark upon. I visioned myself going down my slide day after day. This was our fourth trip to the Maldives so I feel like we have some experience in what we should expect.
We were picked up by the Transmalidvian Airways. I want to make sure that set the record straight, that though the hotel has their own branded flight - it doesn’t seem that all guests are able to use that plane. There wasn’t anything wrong with taking the TMA flight - it was actually nice because we weren’t required to stop at any other resorts on the way there or on the way back.
We were in the Maldives the second and third week in July for a surfing. July can be a great month for surfing- but your run the risk of stormy weather. Which ended up being the case with our experience at Soneva Jani that we had booked for 4 nights.
We landed mid storm and was whisked away to Villa #9. We were orientated to our Villa and introduced to our Mr Friday. The Villa is just as it is represented in the pictures. Very open and very beautiful, however when the wind is blowing 30 - 40 mph with driving rain and various angles it actually isn’t very practical.
The first night we were at the resort we went to sleep and woke up covered in sweat. What we realized is that the electricity had gone out in our room. So we got up scampering around in the dark fumbling to find some sort of light. We picked up the phone in the room and tried to call someone - the phone doesn’t appear to actually connect with anyone at night. So then we fumbled around to find the report provided phone to reach our Mr Friday who called someone to come to our villa.
Repeat that 4 times that night, our electricity kept going out in our villa. It got to the point that we were shown which breaker to re-set. It took longer to call someone and have them re-set it. We would wake up in a sweat, figure out the electricity had gone out, again - pry open the front door in the driving rain, walk to the outer closet in your jammies (get all wet) and re set the switch. It was not a very pleasant or restful night.
I am trying to be open minded, since it was a storm but I want you to ask yourself if you were spending an average of $3,000 USD a night would you find that experience to be acceptable?
In the morning theres was some acknowledgement from our Mr Friday about the “difficult night” but I don’t think that the inconvenience of the situation was really acknowledged. An engineer also came out that day and we didn't experience the same electricity outage for the remainder of the time we were there.
It continued to be windy and rain the entire 4 days we were at the resort. Due to the weather almost all activities were unavailable. No snorkeling, no night time observatory, you could barely ride your bike on the walk way (with fear of being blown off) and no slide rides. The crab shack was also blown out- so we did a modified version of it in the cinema area. It was a “nice” lunch but I cant really comment on what the actual experience is supposed to be.
I mentioned above how impractical the room is for this type of weather, the rooms are obviously designed to be open to nature, so with the storm water seeped into the room through all of the windows and doors. We had towels lining the base of the rooms. The windows and doors shook and banged all four nights.
With very little outdoor activities available to you, the options were to sit in your Villa or go to the restaurant at the main hub. I was surprised to also find that the living room is not air conditioned, there’s been some mention in prior posts about this. The room is open to the upstairs second floor - so outdoor air seeps in. With the bad weather you could sit in your bedroom or the kitchen for air conditioning. It became very confining and depressing to sit in the bedroom each day.
So the highlight of each day was going to the restaurant. That was literally our “activity”. At the restaurant we met some of the incredible staff at the resort which truly are the bright lights of our experience. People such as Emaaz and Ansaam. The chefs within the restaurants we’re also very conversational and helpful. Grilling fish Maldivian style, making a string hopper breakfast etc.
We also participated in the Chef Kiichi dinner which which is a definite recommend. The dinner was served with a beautifully decorated private dining space and the food was memorable.
The resort advertises eco friendly surf, I asked about this and received varying responses about the surf. It doesn’t seem to be well organized or understood, there is no surf break near the resort and I would not book here with the purpose of surfing.
The final insult, towards the end of our trip our air conditioning went out in our bedroom, we asked a few times about this and was advised that it was working. We sat and suffered in the hot nights waiting to leave the resort.
My helpful tip is that when I had initially booked the hotel I had pre paid for some of the activities such as the observatory, the snorkeling etc. I had asked our Mr Friday a few times about how I was going to obtain a refund (since we weren’t able to participate in any of these). The resort seemed unable to provide a refund and offered to trade some of the food expenses against these fees. We had paid for a full board on the meals.
I desperately wanted off the island so I agreed too the trade, but in retrospect I do not think the trade was actually a good one. So it is my recommendation NOT to pre pay for any of the activities.
Understood that the resorts cannot control the weather, however you do find when things are at their worst that it is interesting to see how the resort respond to these less than optimal situations. I would have wanted every experience within their control to be spot on or above spot on. In this case it wasn’t. In my other report experiences management would check in daily with guests, I almost felt like there was no one out front during this misery.
Consider when you are traveling and think of what you would do if the worst was to occur. Would you be willing to still spend that money?