When Eva and Sonu Shivdasani built Soneva Fushi as well as their home on the deserted island of Kunfunadhoo in the Maldives in 1995 they had no idea that their intensely personal vision of a locally crafted villa and environmentally responsible lifestyle would form the basis of a successful collection of world-class hotels, resorts, and spas. But that’s exactly what happened. Soneva Fushi was the first ‘castaway’ resort in the Maldives, pioneering a trend for back-to-nature luxury holidays.
It established a blueprint for a highly acclaimed international business, followed by spectacular Soneva Kiri on the unspoiled Thai island of Koh Kood in 2009 and Soneva Jani in the Noonu Atoll, Maldives, in 2016.
The success of the Soneva brand also paved the way for Six Senses Resorts and Spas with award-winning properties in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.
Under Eva’s and Sonu’s direction, the Six Senses brand gained a global following before being sold in 2012. Hidden among dense foliage within the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Soneva Fushi inspires the imagination. The award-winning resort truly defines the essence of barefoot luxury with Robinson Crusoe simplicity.
The resort’s down-to-earth personality is reflected in its nature-inspired architecture. If the experiences are magical, the philosophy is simple; no news, no shoes.
An imaginative journey that began over two decades ago, the Soneva story continues with Soneva Jani, the brand’s newest luxury resort offering. Inspired by a word that means ‘wisdom’ in Sanskrit, Soneva Jani encompasses a collection of Water Villas and Island Sanctuaries set within a lagoon of crystal clear waters, fringed by pristine beaches and blanketed in lush tropical greenery.
The highlight of the islands that the resort calls home is the 5.6-kilometre private lagoon that surrounds it; an awe-inspiring azure spectacle that inspires a sense of calm.
Soneva Jani, located in the Medhufaru lagoon in the Noonu Atoll, comprises five islands, the largest of which is Medhufaru, which is 150 acres in size. The resort can be reached by a scenic 40-minute seaplane flight direct from Malé International Airport, a 60-minute speedboat ride from Soneva Fushi, or by a leisurely half day cruise from Soneva Fushi onboard Soneva in Aqua.
Through integrated hospitality, design, property, solar energy and investment enterprises, as well as a standard-setting Foundation, Hong Kong-based Song Saa Collective combines ethics-led business practices and needs-based activism to honor the past and build better futures throughout Southeast Asia and beyond.
Song Saa’s first venture, the award-winning Song Saa Private Island, opened in 2012 and pioneered conservation-based luxury tourism in Cambodia’s Koh Rong Archipelago, working with surrounding villages, the Cambodian government, financial investors, donor partners and broader stakeholders to improve local livelihoods and preserve the region’s marine life and rainforests.
With this knowledge and experience, the Song Saa Collective has created a 21st-century business model that employs business as a positive-and-profitable agent of change. It is currently developing a 200+ hectare bio-reserve outside Siem Reap that will include a Song Saa resort, ecological and cultural conservation initiatives, and a solar project that will supply power to rural communities. The Collective also works with local weavers and artisans to create textiles and ceramics and will be launching an ethical fashion collection in 2017.
Each Song Saa endeavor is committed to authenticity, integrity, creativity, innovation, and beauty, along with a focus on the triple bottom line: delivering outstanding products and services, running a profitable business, and benefiting people and planet. By incorporating cutting-edge technology, respect for cultural heritage and a design-led aesthetic, Song Saa seeks to empower people from around the world, reviving and regenerating local societies while fostering intimate connections between individuals and the items and experiences they consume.
Four-star superior boutique aparthotel located in Barcelona’s historic center in the heart of the Gothic Quarter inside the triangle formed by Las Ramblas, the Cathedral, and Barcelona’s Port. Purchased in 2012 by Derby Hotels Collection, this renovated former eighteenth-century palace completely preserves the character and beauty of its original architecture. The result is a luxurious hotel that showcases works of art from the private Clos Foundation collection as well as a seemingly endless range of objects and photographs uncovered during the building’s renovation.
The aparthotel boasts a meeting room, terrace, swimming pool, solarium, gym and sauna in addition to its 31 exclusive rooms that provide a sense of elegance and comfort through down to the smallest details. The finest materials combined with seventeenth-century brick walls, nineteenth-century hydraulic tile headboards, tables made from the building’s old wooden beams and wardrobes with doors saved from the palace’s former balconies. Restored wooden shutters as decorative elements and recovered lintels and engraved stone are displayed as works of art. The paintings and drawings on the ceilings have also been restored along with old wood that has been repurposed as flooring.
RUSTICAE TORRE DE PALMA WINE HOTEL Portugal
In the heart of the Alto Alentejo, lost in time near the village of Vaiamonte, you will find this gem. Beautiful vineyards surround Torre de Palma, a white-washed Alentejo architecture that has been reformed for optimal enjoyment of peace and privacy. You can find a covered pool, spa, and wellness center, which grace this beautiful property and maintains its warm homely ambiance.
Elegant rooms and suites have a country feel with prints and vivid colors. Here the interiors are equipped with a country look, traditional furniture, and modern soft furnishings, while the white color of the walls is combined with wood, glass and special pieces of decoration. The modernization of the hotel has allowed it to maintain its charm while incorporating most amenities that guests would demand.
This peaceful and quiet place is ideal to enjoy a meal with a glass of wine. Here you can have a drink in the tasting room, accompanied by cheeses, olives, and hams from the local area and have an experience like none other.
Hotel Gran Claustre, Spain by Rusticae
In the heart of the historic quarter of Altafulla amongst cobbled streets, this former convent built in 1732 lies next to the castle walls. The refurbishment has respected the former balconies, the arches, and the original wrought ironwork, the walls of the passageways have been lined with wood and the rooms have been painted with different colors after which they have been named: Carbón Piedra, Acero Dulce, Ocre Campo, Tierra Africa, etc. The bathrooms combine traditional materials such as slate with modern design bathroom fittings. The hotel also offers its guests an interior patio with a swimming pool, a roof terrace with solarium and jacuzzi which has panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea and the Tamarit and Altafulla castles.