Maldives resort offers taste of the 'Crusoe' experience
Ever wanted to live on water without experiencing the rocking of a boat? Or how about a Robinson Crusoe experience?At the Soneva resorts in sunny Maldives, you can do both. And in total comfort and then some. The Soneva Gili resort on the Lankanfushi island of Maldives is a series of villas built on water linked to the small piece of rock in the middle of the azure Indian Ocean with a number of jetties. A 15-minute ride by speed boat from the international airport at Male, the Maldivian capital, the resort offers visitors an experience at one with nature. The attention to the environment without forsaking the luxuries and conveniences of a modern life is astonishing. The 44-villa resort provides three accommodation options - 29 Villa Suites, nine Villa Residences and six Crusoe Residences which stand on their own at a distance from the island and are accessible by rowing boats. Each villa, made completely of wood, stands on stilts in water - a little island on its own. The first thing that strikes you as you enter is the little porcupine by the door - its purpose, to scrub the sand off your feet - highlighting the attention to detail at the resort. The second thing that strikes the visitor is space. The villas are big. From the living room as you enter, to the bedroom and the bathroom - space and a feeling of privacy are pervasive. The furnishings and fittings are luxurious and feature all the conveniences that a traveller will expect while blending in with the overall nature theme. The open-air bathroom offers a varied choice and includes bathtub, a special rain shower cubicle and a private little pool. There is also an overwater sun deck with comfortable lounges on the water's edge and a rooftop sun deck with day bed and dining facilities. "We offer complete relaxation," says hotel manager Marc Aeberhard, a Swiss national who has worked at some of the top properties in his native Switzerland and Europe. "Our guests are busy business people and executives who want to shed their ties and jackets and get away from it all for a holiday. "And that is what we provide." While the resort's guests currently are primarily from Europe, there is a major effort underway to attract visitors from the Middle East and Asian markets. "Maldives is just four hours from the Middle East or southeast Asia, making it an easy-to-reach holiday destination," says Aeberhard. The resort is fully equipped to cater to any taste or demand. An overwater bar with a small pool in the centre and a beautifully laid out restaurant ensure a choice of finest wines and gourmet cuisine. And for those who prefer their privacy, the resort offers a personalised in-villa dining service including a floating kitchen which docks along the villa while the chef prepares the dish of your choice. Maldives is an Indian Ocean diving paradise and Soneva Gili's PADI certified dive centre run by Marc and Tracy van der Steeg provide the latest equipment and all facilities to ensure a memorable dive. The dive centre is part of the Singapore-based Ocean Paradise. The Six Senses Spa is the place for total relaxation. A choice of massage, well-being and beauty treatments are aimed at pampering the mind and body. A fully-equipped gym is available at the spa for fitness enthusiasts. Soneva Gili also offers a wide range of excursions giving visitors to Maldives a glimpse of the island life. The country is spread over a huge expanse of ocean with nearly 1,000 islands so a tour of the atolls on the traditional dhoni with a picnic on one of the many uninhabited islands is a must-do for visitors. The Soneva Gili Resort is the top-of the line luxury brand of Bangkok based Six Senses group. From the Middle East, Maldives is linked by regular flights from Doha and Dubai. Qatar Airways operates regular flights from Doha to Male and also has convenient links from Doha to all over the Gulf and Europe.