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Desert island bliss at Soneva Secret

Floating villas, barefoot butlers and a restaurant accessed by zip wire put this latest Maldivian resort at the top of our bucket list

Desert island bliss at Soneva Secret

Fly in by seaplane

It’s been 30 years in the making, but Soneva Secret is finally ready for its big reveal. 

The remote, barefoot resort has just 14 beach and overwater villas including Castaway, the Maldives’ first floating villa, and lagoon 'Crusoe' villas that can only be reached by boat.

Soneva Secret is located in the Maldives’ most remote atoll, Haa Dhaalu; it's a 75-minute seaplane flight from the international airport - or a full-day cruise from sister resort Soneva Fushi on board the resort’s own vessel, Soneva in Aqua.

High-end service includes no fewer than 14 private chefs on site (that’s one for every villa), as well as a ‘Barefoot Guardian’ and a ‘Barefoot Assistant’ allocated to each villa. Next-level design features include retractable roofs fitted over master bedrooms that slide back to reveal star-strewn skies.  

If you tire of crafted, bespoke menus, the resort's Out of This World dining tower promises a night to remember with access to the dining room by zip line. Other restaurant options include toes-in-the-sand fire pit dining at So Primitive and casual dining at The Living room, which also serves Soneva’s own ice creams, chocolates and cheeses. There are also charcuterie rooms and (natch) a lagoon wine cellar.

Desert island bliss at Soneva Secret

Overwater villa fun

Family fun runs to castaway picnics on desert islands and sunset dolphin cruises, to guided snorkeling tours with marine biologists and star-gazing with the resort’s resident astronomer. 

Of course one of the biggest drawcards of a trip to the Maldives is the underwater world. Haa Dhaalu atoll offers a plethora of marine life and its crystal-clear waters are a haven for dolphins, white sharks, manta rays and tropical fish. In partnership with the Soneva Foundation Coral Restoration, Soneva Secret has established a coral nursery of submerged frames and structures fostering the rejuvenation of marine ecosystems.

Sustainability plays an important role at Soneva resorts. At Soneva Secret, villas have been constructed from fast-growing wood species like pine and cedar and the resort embraces nature's air conditioning, capturing those beautiful Maldivian breezes wherever possible. 

Soneva is also in the midst of implementing a floating solar PV system which aims to meet 90% of the resort’s energy needs. The resort also produces its own drinking water which is packaged in glass bottles to reduce plastic pollution. 

Soneva Secret opens to guests later this year, bookings are available now.

More magical Maldives retreats

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

Stay in one of the world’s only underwater suites at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island. The Muraka lies five metres down on the seabed with floor-to-ceiling glass windows in the master bedroom and bathroom through which to enjoy the marine life from the comfort of your snowy white bed or from what is the ultimate loo with a view.

The resort also boasts an underwater restaurant, a perfect spot for enjoying a glass of bubbles as you watch the bubbles.

The resort is located in the plankton-abundant waters of South Ari atoll, the only location in the Maldives where you can view whale sharks year-round.

Naladhu Private Island Resort

The opulent retreat of Naladhu has recently undergone a sleek redesign by New York-based designer, Yuji Yamazaki. This stunning resort boasts just 20 ‘houses’, all attended to by a personal ‘kuwaanu’, or butler.

Before you’ve even taken off for your holiday, the kuwaanu will be stocking your house with your favourite snacks, drinks and wines before laying out the correct sized dive and snorkelling equipment. The butler service runs to unpacking on arrival and serving your morning coffee, to organising your daily dining requests with the chef.

Fabulous facilities include a cinema under the stars, private yoga classes, an island wine cellar and a snorkelling trail led by the in-house marine biologist who can point out some of the more 2,000 species of fish and corals.

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