For this article, we want to delve into the wonderful and exciting practices at the resort brand; Soneva. This Hospitality chain offer Soneva Kiri in Thailand, Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani in the Maldives, and Soneva in Aqua; a luxury yacht that sails from the Soneva Fushi resort.
Soneva envision themselves as guardians of the Earth. They believe that luxury travel should not rob the Earth of its natural beauty, in favour of man-made designs and tourist attractions. Co-Founder Sonu Shivdasani states: “At Soneva, we believe quite strongly that we’re able to offer our guests luxuries, while minimising our impact on the planet and enhancing their health. The more sustainable we are, the more luxurious we are.”
So how exactly do they implement this ideology?
Well, whilst exploring Green Travel destinations, we came across the acronym SLOW LIFE. This stands for; Sustainable, Local, Organic, Wellness, Learning, Inspiring, Fun, Experiences. These are all the aspects that encapsulate the concept of Green Travel, and thus we thought it would be best to answer this question in accordance with these core values.
All of Soneva’s resorts are situated in virtually untouched locations. The founders, Sonu and Eva Shivdasani, were adamant that the construction of these resorts did not disrupt the landscape or biodiversity of the regions. Documented and shared in yearly sustainability reports, Soneva are truly committed to reducing their environmental footprint whenever it is possible. This is especially demonstrated through their purchasing of sustainable resort equipment. Now, there are some examples that go against their sustainability ethos. This is referring to the fact that Soneva offers a private plane to pick guests up from the airport, and fly them to the resort. Regular private air travel definitely builds a large carbon footprint over time however, Soneva have addressed this by holding yearly conferences with esteemed Scientists, Business Leaders, Policy Makers, and Philanthropists to discuss current sustainability issues. The conference is usually 3-days long, and any viable solutions that arise during the discussion are put straight into action by the Soneva Foundation.
Soneva are innovators in responsible tourism. They promote the idea, that if tourism is going to have an impact on the local area, it should be one of a positive nature. For this reason, Soneva charge a carbon emissions tax on their rooms, which is donated to the Soneva foundation. The foundation then uses this money to support local conservation and restoration initiatives. Their active participation in preserving local biodiversity is recorded in yearly Botanical reports and Biodiversity surveys. These are created by live-in biologists at the resorts.
Do you remember when you were young and a relative would say to you “waste not, want not”? Well, Soneva has taken this popular phrase to new heights, by their various waste management strategies. The food that is leftover at their restaurants provide nutrition for their compost heaps. They incorporate any leftover Styrofoam packaging into their building and construction work; and any plastic that cannot be recycled is turned into works of art to be displayed by the Soneva Maker Programme. We also can’t forget that the wine bottles from their restaurant are turned into glass sculptures and art pieces by The Soneva Glass Studio.
It cannot get more fresh or organic, than fruit and vegetables being grown right on your doorstep. Soneva grow all of their fruit and vegetables on-site for two very important reasons. The first, is so that they can monitor the way in which the produce is grown. Soneva promote clean eating from the very beginning of the food’s production. By this, we mean that it’s not enough to just eat a good amount of vegetables and fruits; this produce must also be clean and free from pesticides or artificial chemicals. Secondly, growing on the grounds of the resort reduces emissions caused by food transportation.
Soneva offer spa and wellness treatments at all three of their main resorts, in their Six Senses Spa. In keeping with the true meaning of luxury, you won’t find generic spa therapies carelessly shared amongst the three sites. Instead, each site holds its own menu of treatments that have been inspired by the area and surroundings. Whilst staying at the Soneva Kiri, you can expect to invigorate your senses with traditional Asian inspired treatments that include silk facials and Thai herbal baths. Should you find yourself relaxing in Soneva Fushi, you can instead indulge in locally sourced coconut scrubs, and Tibetan hot stone therapy. Lastly, if you headed straight for Soneva Jani, their wisdom gurus will be on hand to counsel you on the best ways to transition to a more wellness focused lifestyle. This complimented by the lavish sauna and steam rooms. With world renowned, and international practitioners; you can also choose to utilise their tailored wellness and nutrition programmes.
With a strong clientele of guests who are arriving from urban cities, Soneva make it a part of their experience, to educate guests on intelligent luxury and sustainable luxury. This is the concept of travel, that leaves a lasting impact on your mind and wellbeing instead of just being a fleeting fancy. When guests stay with Soneva, they are catered for spiritually, physically and mentally, so that they may return to their urban cities with a newfound feeling of contentment; having embraced the spirit of living the SLOW LIFE. Soneva then demonstrates that this momentous impact to your life is gain with a very minimal impact to the Earth.
With two resorts in the Maldives, and Soneva Fushi being their first venture; the husband and wife team found it disconcerting that Maldivian women only made up 4% of the workforce within the hospitality industry. Of this 4%, very few were in senior roles. As natural pioneers, they actively sought to change this at their resorts. By the time of Soneva Jani’s opening in 2016, Maldivian women accounted for 25% of their staff, and many in leading roles. This is an effort that Soneva dedicates itself to improving every year.
With Soneva, fun and experience more or less go hand in hand. Whether you are sampling chocolate made in-house by their world-class chocolatiers, following a nature trail whilst learning about the surrounding ecosystem, or enjoying the delights from the overwater cinema; Soneva have ensured that every one of their resort’s features will uplift, excite and intrigue you.
So, with the Queen of Green and Clean, Gwyneth Paltrow, keeping Soneva in her book of go-to destinations, it’s safe to say that Soneva know what they are doing and do it impeccably well.
This resort brand is a visual representations of just how fulfilling Green Travel can be.