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Maldives and Abu Dhabi

Posted on: August 5th, 2013 by myriad No Comments

“Ever Soneva family friendly ” should now be Soneva Fushi’s motto as we

discovered when we stayed there for 5 nights in July. We flew with Etihad

Airways from Manchester via Abu Dhabi, the flight entertainment was

excellent with a great choice however the  inflight meals were not so good

and despite having pre-ordered a  children’s meal there were none

available,the quality and service of the meals was poor and the stewardesses

seemed quite rude at times. There were also no children activity bags given

out.  What we did like was the seating configuration 2-4-2 which meant we

could pre-book two sets of twin seats without having a stranger sitting next

to us.

We landed at Male airport late afternoon and were swiftly transferred to

Soneva’s first class lounge were we were welcomed with ice cool watermelon

juice  and  lemon grass scented cold towels. We had a little wait due to

technical issues with the seaplane but we were soon seated in comfy leather

seats flying over the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean dotted with

teardrop shaped islands. Thirty five minutes later we were landing at most

probably the smallest airport in the world before being whisked by speedboat

to Soneva Fushi, a 10 minute journey away.

I think the most remarkable change I have seen at Soneva Fushi since I was

last there 8 years ago was how family friendly the resort has become, there

were kids everywhere and very cleverly Soneva Fushi has found a way to keep

them entertained. There is now a “den” offering the kids their own swimming

pool, cooking classes, marine biology classes, jewellry making, treasure

hunts, story time, a Lego room and so much more……. whilst still keeping

it’s Eco friendly philosophy nothing has been compromised. Bunnies and

chickens are free to roam the resorts and a great hit with the kids.


To encourage the profitable family market the resort has knocked down the

smaller Rhendi rooms replacing them withs larger 2-3 bedroom villas, all

with private pools. Villa no.1 has been totally transformed and now is home

to a 3 bedroom more contemporary villa with white washed wood and cool

vibrant colours rather than the dark wood and orange/yellow decor- this

villa was by far my most favourite! All villas have direct access onto a

white sandy beach and guests use bicycles/tricycles to get around this vast

resort, prepare to get lost on the island as being one of the largest resort

islands in the Maldives navigating your way through the tracks can be an

adventure in itself.


The attention to detail in the villas is  remarkable with a choice of over

20 pillow types ,an iPod pre-loaded with your favourite music and films, an

espresso style coffee machine and finally I am glad to say they have sorted

out the lighting in the bathrooms with a dressing table surrounded by “movie

star lights”

The dining experiences have been enhanced greatly too…… There is now a

chocolate room offering delicious home made chocolates which guests are free

to enter and sample free of charge at any time of day, also it’s the coolest

place on the island beside the wine cellar so great to step in to cool down.

There is a deli room with cold salami’s and meats and a huge selection of

cheeses, a dessert room housing the infamous ice cream of which there are

over 30 flavours to choose from. “Fresh in the garden” the aptly name

restaurant located in the middle of the island surrounded by the island’s

herb and vegetable garden is an absolute delight, with an open kitchen

serving the most delicious organic cuisine in tree house like surroundings.

To top it all there is an observatory “Soneva Celestial ” which my kids

described as awesome, they managed to download the most amazing shots of the

moon and Saturn from the state of the art telescope located here, of course

being Soneva there is also an in house astrologer! The main restaurant or

“Nine” as it is now called offers Asian Fusion inspired cuisine and the

other alternative restaurant called “On the Beach” is a Mediterranean styled

tapas restaurant offering fabulous seafood. It goes without saying that all

of the food & beverage outlets offer a children’s menu which would suit even

the fussiest of eaters and all freshly made using the very best ingredients.


Other dining experiences include sunset dolphin  cruises with canapés &

champers, sunrise cruises with breakfast, desert island picnics, wine

tasting with the  in-house  sommelier, romantic candle-lit dining on the

beach…… Also a must is the managers cocktail party held every Tuesday,

guests are ferried by boat to a sand spit in the middle of the ocean where

they are served cocktails & canapés whilst watching the most spectacular

sunset – its the only time you’ll get to see how many guests are staying on

the island!


The resort now also offers a great bar called “Bar a Bar” which is located

at the end of the pier on the sunset side of the island and serves a vast

array of cocktails offering a really cool vibe with clients relaxing on the

enormous daybeds and jumping off into the crystal clear waters to cool off

and partake in the amazing snorkelling on offer.


In the past I always warned clients the islands are small and if you are an

active, adventurous type then the Maldives may not be your ideal

destination- these days however the resorts have gone out of their way to

offer guests an array of activities and Soneva Fushi offers more than

most…… There are cookery lessons ranging from Sri Lankan to chocolate

making and yes you can guess which one me and the kids chose when my husband

went off diving for the day, there are water sports galore from catamaran

sailing, canoeing to water skiing and for kids and adults Like there are

“ringos”. There is a diving school offering the best diving in the world and

all snorkelling gear is free of charge to use. There are talks from marine

biologists and environmentalists, a subject close to Soneva Fushi’s heart,

there are trips to local villages, there is star gazing and gardening

classes, an outdoor cinema screening some of the old classics whilst serving

fresh popcorn, ice cream and cocktails and then there is the spa.


Set amidst the jungle is the Six Senses Spa offering the most marvellous

treatments, I particularly like the range of Ayruvedic treatments and there

are even treatments for the younger guests such as mini facials. Yoga and

meditation is also available as well as a small air conditioned gym, a flood

lit tennis court and table tennis.

Our stay at Soneva Fushi was very memorable and It is indeed a very special

place, despite travelling in their low season the weather was fantastic with

no rain and glorious sunshine! Highly recommend going at this time of year

as most resorts offer great deals a this time.

it wasn’t long before we had to say goodbye to Soenva Fushi and move to Abu

Dhabi, a 4 hour flight away for the second part of our family holiday.  We

arrived to blistering heat and were visiting during the month of Ramadam

which meant eating and drinking in public was strictly prohibited except in


A short transfer from the airport led us to The Fairmont Bar Al Bahr, a

large modern hotel opened in 2008. The rooms are large and comfortable but

if I am honest I would say the service and facilities are more 4 star than

the 5star they claim to have.  We had a bad experience on check-in, our

reservation had been incorrectly input into the reservation system (human

error on their part) which can happen but they did not handle it well.

Despite this setback the hotel has a wonderful pool and some great staff,

the concierge and housekeeping staff were especially helpful.  It is more of

a business hotel with no facilities for children or a spa and the fact that

you had to pay £20 for Internet access every 24 hours was extremely

unsatisfactory. There are 3 restaurants, one serving a very poor buffet

breakfast with items not refreshed, the other is “Frankies” and Italian

restaurant owned by Franco Detorri and lastly there is. Marco Pierre White

steakhouse.  We ate in Frankies which served great pizzas and pasta and was

of a very good standard with impeccable service.

Abu Dhabi is fast becoming an alternative to Dubai with great weather, a

fantastic waterpark, some great shopping and Ferrari World, a grand prix

inspired attraction park.  Culture is also available in the form of the

largest Mosque in the world which is outstanding architecturally and some

great museums and art galleries due to open including The Louvre and The

Guganheim- it definately makes for a great twin centre holiday with

destinations such as Maldives, Thailand and Australia.  My advice would be

to stay at either the Ritz Carlton, The Shangri La ,

the St Regis or Viceroy on Yas Island.

For more information or advice contact me on 44 (0)  151  738  1393,


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