Delicately poised on the Maldives‘ picture-perfect Noonu Atoll, this turquoise-fringed island bears all the hallmarks of its sister property, Soneva Fushi, in terms of polished service, barefoot luxury and stunning views. Picking between which of the two hotels to stay in just became that much more difficult, says Lauren Ho, with the debut of of 27 new Water Reserves at Soneva Jani, as well as a new, extended Soneva Spa Wellness Centre.
Hotel Review: Soneva Jani, Maldives
There is a childlike joy to Soneva Jani, the entire resort and its attractive squad of barefoot butlers conspiring to pull out all the stops to create a truly unforgettable holiday, whether a romantic getaway or a full-blown family affair.
It’s in the latter that Soneva Jani really comes into its own, treating younglings with the same care and respect as the adults. This explains the water slides hovering so tantalisingly over the sapphire blue lagoon, the extravagantly imaginative diversions of The Den kids club, and bedrooms with roofs that slide open to reveal a universe of stars wheeling overhead as you are gently lulled to a sweet sleep.
The arrival of Chapter Two has been a game-changer for Soneva Jani’s already overachieving CV. Without pulling any focus from the original collection of Water Retreats on the island’s sparkling north side (now charmingly dubbed ‘Chapter One’), the new arrivals feature 27 one- to four-bedroom Water Reserves, each furnished with capacious timber-decked terraces, freshwater infinity pools and, for select villas, curvaceous water slides for guests who prefer a little frisson of fun, even when they’re diving into the lagoon.
Complementing the new Water Reserves and original Water Retreats is a small but much-coveted collection of three- or four-bedroom Island Reserves. These sprawling estates stake out not just prime beachfront real estate cocooned within a thicket of palm and jungle, but which also feature, depending on the Island Reserve, a children’s treehouse, a viewing tower capped with a dining table (the highest point of the island, no less), or a water slide and a dedicated children’s pool.
Chapter Two is, in other words, a next-level USP that transforms Soneva Jani into a truly one-of-a-kind island retreat that stretches an impressive six kilometres from its northernmost point to its farthest southern tip.
Soneva Jani’s admirably extensive menu of activities takes full advantage of the island’s sun-drenched assets – among them, the astonishingly clear blue waters of the lagoon and its many-splendoured reefs, and pure white powdered beaches. Specifically, each activity is carefully calibrated to cater to the complete spectrum of guests, from the indolent to the most hyperactive in your party.
For the latter, the days are packed. Begin with a morning guided snorkelling tour with the resort’s resident marine biologist of Noonu Atoll and its mesmerising complement of manta rays and sea turtles. Then, catch a surf break, and end, perhaps, with a midnight picnic accompanied by the resident astronomer.
Guests travelling with children will be thrilled by the debut of The Den, a genuinely thrilling 1,500 square metre, two-storey kids’ club crammed with imaginative diversions, including a 32 metre zipline through the jungle foliage, a bowling alley and a skateboard ramp, and a jellyfish alcove.
At Soneva Jani, the pleasures of the table loom large as the resort’s brigade of chefs cook up the kind of feasts and treats normally associated with the high-living days of the Roman emperors. At any time of the day or night, there’s a dish or drink waiting to be delivered – say, a breakfast sail on a dhoni fuelled with champagne, plump crab cakes voraciously savoured on the beach, dainty canapés on a sunset cruise with the dolphins, or a seafood lunch on a deserted island prepped by a personal chef.
The launch of Chapter Two is another reason to celebrate the gastronomic good life, with a trio of dining venues headlining the feasting. Overseas by Mathias Dahlgren is the Swedish chef’s South-East Asian ode to organic produce and the sea; So Wild by Diana Von Cranach showcases a health-conscious, plant-based menu by the innovative raw food chef; and So Primitive is a tongue-in-cheek celebration of meats and seafood fragrantly sizzling over a fire-pit in the resort’s South Beach.
THE FINAL WORD
A number of key elements go into making an unforgettable luxury island resort. A trifecta of sun, sea and sand – alongside whip-smart service – is always a good touchstone, as is an obsessive attention to detail and a sense of, well, fun. On every score, Soneva Jani hits the mark. And then, some.
Inspiring Travel Company offers a seven-night holiday from £6,485 per person based on two adults sharing a Crusoe Villa with Pool for seven nights on a half board basis, including return economy class flights with Emirates from London Heathrow and shared seaplane transfers. Valid for travel completed by 21 October and between 11 November – 15 December 2022. inspiringtravelcompany.co.uk
Featured Image: An aerial shot of Soneva Jani, Chapter 2.