Soneva Gili - Read our Stories and Reviews

Soneva Gili

When I took Sheira on a surprise, island paradise getaway to celebrate her 40th birthday, I sought out the unmistakably idyllic experience of an over-water villa- amongst the infinite turquoise expanse of the Indian Ocean in the Maldives Islands, southwest of Sri Lanka.

The perfect weather, island charm of Soneva Gili’s thatched domed roofs and dreamily hypnotic effect of endless ocean lapping up against the poles of our villa suite let us be luxe castaways. We enjoyed the harmony of life by the water's edge and the unusual cultural mix of South Asian, indigenous and East African influences - which we experienced through the imaginative food and gentle locals…
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"Searching for the best luxury travel destinations in the Maldives? Jonathan and his family share their luxury holiday experiences in Soneva Gili..."

When Sheira and I first discovered the Maldives six years ago, (the archipelago of 26 major atolls just south of the Equator) none of our friends had been there to lend us any advice

But as we love beaches - and discovering new corners of the globe - it was inevitable that I would become curious about this region, which ticks all my boxes for beauty, endless sunshine and exotic, boutique luxury with a genuine smile…

My inspiration was Sheira’s 40th birthday. I had already found the secret location I wanted to whisk her to after a big Moroccan-themed surprise party at home in Sydney, Australia. We would visit this exceptional property in the Seychelles (see NORTH ISLAND), so why travel all that way across the Indian Ocean for 3 days without seeing somewhere else….like the Maldives again ?

I planned a stopover in the Maldives Islands on our return journey from the Seychelles to Singapore - a convenient hub for those traveling from as far away as the US, UK or Australia.

I could have chosen any of the amazing looking luxury Maldives hotels (see OTHER OPTIONS in this story). But I loved the peaceful look of SONEVA GILI, which has the novelty of over water luxury accommodation instead of our usual experience of being on sandy beaches. I wanted to dazzle Sheira, who was going to be surprised every leg of the way!

I knew the hotel would be well-run because it constantly won top industry awards, which helps a traveler place their trust in an unknown destination. The World Travel Award named it LEADING RESORT in the MALDIVES, and the prestigious Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards placed it in their TOP 25 for all of ASIA.

I was also impressed by its owner ‘umbrella group’ of boutique resorts, SIX SENSES, whose reputation for distinctive luxury is second to none - which was proven to me in subsequent years (see KOH SAMUI, Thailand). The group’s sister product, SONEVA FUSHI, which was built beforehand on an island beach, was another terrific option - but would have involved the extra dimension of catching a light plane in limited time. So the beckoning waters, piers and pole structures of Soneva Gili won out. 

The closest fly-in point is the bustling, colonial style island of Malé, the capital of the Maldives Islands. We arrived at night, which is generally not my first choice, as it is disorienting. The luxury Maldives resort had one of its fleet of speedboats waiting for us, so we were just a 25-minute ride away from our luxury Maldives resort Soneva Gili - skimming over the ocean surface filling the air with sea spray as we passed the traffic of other boats.

Join Jonathan Said and his family on their luxury travel journeys as they share their best restaurants experiences and luxury hotels and resorts holidays around the world. The comprehensive travel tips and ideas include some of the most popular things to see and do at each destination including a local shopping guide, photos, video, music and much more. 

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