Slowing Down on the Barefoot Island by Michaela Cordes | 28th March, 2015 | Personalities
Soft sand, gentle service and surroundings that glisten in jewel-like colors. Why our visit to Soneva Fushi in the Indian Ocean will remain an unforgettable experience.
From above, they look like the happy freckles of the Indian Ocean – the Maldives: 1,196 islands, of which 220 are inhabited by locals and 87 have been developed for tourism. My daughters and I are sitting glued to the windows of the tiny seaplane that picked us up in Male and is now bouncing through the skies above the luminous atolls. After the bumpy ride our plane touches down on the waves and we land next to a wooden jetty where the guest boat already waits with cold drinks and delivers us to our destination. Soneva Fushi – the magical island – will be our home for the next ten days.
The welcoming committee greets us on the jetty of the idyllic resort that is foremost renowned for its intelligent luxury and gentle tourism. “Please remove your shoes,” we are requested gently the moment our feet touch the softest sand. Of course! “No shoes, no news” is the motto of the island. No news for ten days? For me, a true news junkie, that might be a real challenge. Next, we are picked up by our very personal butler Nimo in his golf cart. He takes us with our luggage through the thick, rainforest-like vegetation and down a few winding paths to our Robinson Crusoe villa. Leaning up against the wall outside are our three bicycles, which all the guests here use to get around. Inside we simply can’t contain our excitement: instead of the one cottage we had booked – we’ve got two! One for me, with a large bedroom overlooking the garden, a spacious patio, my own pool, and an outdoor bathroom with a sunken bathtub and outdoor shower. The other one is a true but very luxurious tree house, where my girls are supposed to stay. We stroll through the soft sand down to our private beach, watching the sunset. Suddenly, a large bird flies over our heads and lands in one of the trees that surrounds our little patch of paradise. “That’s a fruit bat,” says Nimo casually. What?! That thing that just flew by with the wingspan of an eagle was a bat? “Don’t worry. They only eat mangoes,” says Nimo with a smile and promises to pick us up in half an hour for dinner in the “Fresh in the Garden” restaurant.
Somewhat tired from the long journey we walk carefully one after the other across the wooden hanging bridge that leads to the restaurant high above the resort. Our first meal at Soneva Fushi is a brief affair: jetlag and the five-hour time difference catch up with us faster than we had expected, and the moment Nimo drops us off back at out cottage we fall into our soft beds and slumber blissfully until morning.
The next day, Nimo pops by to wake us up and escort us down to the main area and the beach where breakfast is served. Like everywhere else in the resort, solid wooden tables and chairs à la Flintstones are dotted around in the sand. We happily help ourselves to the buffet-style breakfast, which is absolutely delicious: There is a choice of eggs in all styles, exotic fruit, freshly pressed juices, bread, porridge, cereal, bacon – it is a veritable feast. The moment we sit down at the table the first birds join us; they wait patiently until we have finished and then peck up the remains faster than the elegant waitresses can clear the table. Afterwards we set off on a tour of the island in Nimo’s golf-cart; he shows us the beaches, the four other restaurants, the Six Senses Spa, the recycling point where, for example, old bottles are crushed and mixed with concrete to build new work surfaces. My daughters begin to get impatient. They want to go down to the beach for a swim. “No problem,” murmurs Nimo and explains that he has already arranged for three loungers and sunshades to be put up at one of the resort’s three broad beaches. “We never imagined it would be this special here,” my girls declare delightedly, as they lie down to sunbathe and pop their headphones in their ears. There is not a single soul anywhere to be seen; very occasionally we see another guest walking by. As the sun slowly sets we see Nimo and his colleagues lighting torches that look like miniature pink tents in the sand in preparation for the weekly cocktail party on the beach. We sip our new favorite drink – fresh watermelon juice –, admire the bubble-gum pink clouds in the sky and plan the rest of the evening.
After another lavish buffet-style meal and a stop at the “chocolate room” where you can find everything from cookies to fine pralines, we want to watch a movie at the spectacular open-air “Cinema Paradiso” under the clear night sky. Tonight they are showing Message in a Bottle with Kevin Costner on the gigantic screen. We lie down on the cozy loungers with bags of popcorn, sipping healthy fruit drinks. The next day, we have a very special treat lined up – the “Robinson Crusoe Castaway Picnic.” After selecting what we would like to eat from among the enormous choice available, we are picked up in a speedboat and raced off to a tiny, remote island to spend an entire day on our own! Our personal castaway island comes complete with three loungers, two sunshades, a dining table under a canopy and the luxury of a 5-star bathroom in a wooden hut. We snorkel, swim, romp in the water and take tons of photos. The picnic turns out to be divine. “What happens if they forget us here, Mommy?” asks my 12-year-old daughter. A cell phone that connects us with the resort should protect us from anything unforeseen. We spend the afternoon reading, dozing and enjoying the solitude until the boat comes to pick us up again at 5 pm.
The following eight days seem to fly by. We go waterskiing, try out all the other restaurants, enjoy heavenly massages, go diving to see the most colorful fish and enjoy all the other delights that Soneva Fushi has on offer. Early in the morning on the day of our departure we very reluctantly put our shoes back on – for the first time in ten days. We are tanned and incredibly relaxed! Grateful, we watch our island getting smaller and then tiny as our plane takes off. A holiday we will remember forever! MC