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Maldives splash-down at world's largest overwater villas

Slippery dip fun at Soneva Fushi - the brand new villas with waterslides launch this month.

The Maldives’ luxury barefoot resort of Soneva Fushi is about to launch a collection of stunning new overwater retreats with waterslides.

Slip and slide your way into the sparkling Indian Ocean from what are set to be the largest overwater villas in the world.

The eight one- and two-bedroom retreats are family-friendly with indoor and outdoor space, private pools, children’s rooms and lockable doors to the deck to protect curious youngsters.

Soneva Fushi is located in the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and boasts a heap of fun activities for pint-sized guests, including Cinema Paradiso, an observatory, a chocolate room and an ice cream parlour. The Den, an expansive children’s club, offers a Lego room, dress-up room, music room, two pools, a waterslide and plenty of games and activities.

The resort reopened earlier this summer as the Maldives began welcoming back international visitors in July. Soneva, which includes the resort islands of Fushi and Jani as well as Soneva in Aqua, a luxury two-cabin yacht, reopened carefully and with a well-thought through hygiene and safety programme to protect guests and keep the islands virus-free.

“We are very proud to announce this exciting new phase for Soneva Fushi,” said Soneva founder and chief executive officer Sonu Shivdasani. “While we will always remain true to the much-loved spirit and laid-back ethos of Soneva Fushi, the new Water Retreat villas will elevate our offering.”

The retreats’ private pools are suspended over the ocean on the front of a spacious pool deck that houses longers as well as extra overhangs to create more shade. Catamaran nets have been suspended so guests can relax over the turquoise waters while the kids splash down on the 19m slide that curves into the waves from the upper floor. Guests can also choose a sunrise or sunset view from their deck.

The master bedroom in a Water Retreat villa.

The ground-floor master bedroom is flanked by an en-suite bathroom, dressing room and children’s sleeping area, plus a second guest bedroom, also with a king-size bed, ensuite and dressing room in the two-bedroom retreat. And at the push of a button, a retractable roof over the master bedroom slides back to reveal the starry night skies.

Upstairs can be found a dining sala and an outdoor bathroom with direct ocean access. A fully-fitted pantry with wine fridge and minibar will keep guests topped up with snacks and drinks.

Unlike most overwater villas, these retreats have been raised high enough so that the waves don’t break against the underside, reducing noise and vibrations. Recycled styrofoam has been used on the walls to keep interiors cooler and muffle the sound of wind and waves. Other clever design features include laying the jetty planks lengthwise on the jetty that links the water retreats to reduce the noise of buggies and bicycles riding along them.

“When we had to add more villas, we didn't want to touch the beach,” said Eva Malmstrom Shivdasani, Soneva’s creative director and conscience. “We believe it should be left for guests and for the turtles that visit our shores. So, we built over the ocean. We hired all the right people to come and assess the proposed location, ensuring there would not be any live coral in the area.”

The new Water Residence villas open at Soneva Fushi on September 25. Prices start at US$2,626 per night,


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