Luxurious Lagoon: Soneva Jani, Maldives Resort Review

There’s eye candy, and there’s an eye candy buffet. Soneva Jani is an absolutely picture-perfect, almost entirely overwater luxury resort located in the Maldives. Sister resort to Soneva Fushi, Soneva Jani is located on the island of Medhufaru in the Noonu Atoll just a 1.5 hour boat ride from Soneva Fushi. The resort is very exclusive with its beautiful, powdery beaches and expansive, crystal clear views of the Indian Ocean with miles of lagoon access. The resort is unbelievably breathtaking and offered us the most relaxing and gorgeous vacation that we’ll remember for many years!

Booking

I partnered with Soneva on a hosted stay for this trip, but I would recommend booking either directly on the Soneva Jani website or through a travel advisor. It’s always good to compare the extras and benefits offered by each before booking. The Soneva website will let you know the benefits they’re offering with bookings at any given time. For example, Soneva Jani is currently offering 20% off for stays through December 2021 with a US$250 resort credit.

In the off-peak months around June to October, prices are as low as roughly $1,840 per night and during peak season around late December to early March, prices are as low as $2,632 per night; both prices include the 20% discount. Keep in mind that prices vary depending on the size, location, and amenities of the villa you choose as well as the time of year.

You can add on a half-board option for $180 adult/$90 child per day or full-board for $280 adult/$140 child per day. Similar to Soneva Fushi, Soneva Jani has a range of exclusive offers on their website, including reduced rates on boat cruises and spa experiences when booked with your villa. 

Half- or full-board options are a great way to go!

Note that taxes, fees, service charges and required transport to the resort are additional. Transfers are via seaplane for $1,100 adult/$550 child roundtrip. Taxes and fees add roughly 26% to your room total.

Property Overview

Soneva Jani is a private luxury resort that can only be accessed by seaplane (or speedboat if coming from Soneva Fushi like we did!). As mentioned in my Soneva Fushi review, we didn’t get to experience the full Soneva airport receiving ritual as we arrived at both Soneva resorts by boat transfer.

Soneva seaplane

However, if you’re coming from Male, the process is seamless. When you pass immigration at Male airport in the Maldives, you’ll be greeted by super helpful Soneva staff members who will take you to the Soneva Lounge. From there, you’ll be escorted to the seaplane. The flight is about 45 minutes features scenic views over the water the whole time – Maldivian atolls are otherworldly in their beauty from above!

If you’re coming from Male or from another resort that isn’t Soneva Fushi, you will be subject to Soneva’s current (at the time of writing) double PCR testing requirement and quarantine until results are returned. This usually only takes a meal or two. We found Soneva’s testing protocol to be very comfortable and allowed us to feel safe on site around other guests in what truly felt like a pre-pandemic vacation environment.

When you pass your PCR tests and can come out of quarantine, you’re given celebratory champagne!

Soneva Jani is an ultra-luxury resort whose name is inspired by the word wisdom in Sanskrit. Thanks to its unbelievable lagoon location, it is best known for its winding jetty over the shallow turquoise blues. We loved the curved jetties around the property, especially once we learned the significance behind them. Eva, of Sonu and Eva (the couple who founded Soneva resorts!), noted that by curving the jetty, she could encourage visitors to remain present in the moment. Most other paths you travel in are straight lines – from the driveway to your front door; from the entrance to your office to your desk; etc. – and you walk them on autopilot. When the winding pathway is introduced, you have to pay more attention, encouraging your mind to be attuned to that exact moment. It’s built with the purpose of keeping you present in your vacation!

The famed Soneva Jani winding jetty

Aside from its curved jetty in bright blue waters, Soneva Jani known for its amazing hospitality, focus on culinary arts (especially using food grown on site!), unbeatable villas, sustainability and overall luxury with an effort around curating a calming and rejuvenating experience for guests.

Soneva Jani is known for its lagoon

The Gathering is the heart of the resort and where we spent a lot of time when we weren’t in our villa. It’s an architectural feat as the largest overwater structure in the Maldives and is a three-story building with various restaurants, a spa, gym, wine cellar, ice cream and chocolate rooms, observatory, and dive center among other luxuries. While it doesn’t house all the experience Soneva Jani has to offer, it’s a one-stop shop for many of the activities on your vacation.

The Gathering is the heartbeat of the resort

Rooms

All of the rooms at Soneva Jani are intricately designed to give visitors a private, yet open feel. Overwater villas at Soneva Jani are equipped with floor-to-ceiling windows, glass-bottom water views, and beautiful driftwood designs. We also noticed that the villas were nicely spaced out from one another to give you privacy.

Main bedroom suite

We stayed in a Two Bedroom Water Reserve with Slide in Chapter 2 (more on that in a moment!) and absolutely loved the design and private setting on the brand new jetty. As of this writing, since not all Chapter 2 villas are open yet, you can still book amazing soft opening rates for the Chapter 2 villas and be one of the first to stay in yours! (We were just the third guests in villa 106 – so cool!)

Main bedroom suite
Water Reserve deck pool and lounge chairs
Water Reserve deck seating area

The villas all have open-air concepts with bathtubs on outdoor decks, outdoor showers, and decks with generous seating areas. Inside, the villas are laid out to maximize space. In our villa, we had a full reading room that could be converted to another bedroom complete with its own bathroom and closet, a pantry with a full-size refrigerator, a dining table for six, an office with epic pool and ocean views, and more.

Reading room

Our main suite was equipped with a retractable roof, a little nook for smaller children to sleep, a huge spa-like bathroom with dual vanities, daybed, and walk-in closet. The secondary bedroom upstairs had its own bathroom and walk-in closet, and a beautiful balcony with a seamless glass insert that allowed for uninterrupted views of the ocean from the bed. To say our villa was well-appointed would be an understatement!

Second bedroom upstairs
Balcony off the second bedroom

The original accommodations of Soneva Jani are the Chapter 1 villas which come with private pools, butler services, and reduced rates for longer stays. There are 24 private Water Retreats that come equipped with waterslides into the lagoon and retractable roofs for stargazing. Not all villas have waterslides, so make sure to book one with a slide if you want to feel like a kid again! There is also a single two-bedroom Island Retreat in Chapter 1.

Chapter 1 villas

The Chapter 2 villas, where we stayed, are newly constructed one- to four-bedroom villas and are built on the south side of the island. These villas started opening in January 2021 and are known as Water and Island Reserves. (“They’re still birthing,” per our Barefoot Butler; not all villas are open yet!) All Chapter 2 accommodations come with the Soneva Jani Unlimited package which includes all-inclusive experiences, dining, and spa therapy. The 27 private Water Reserve villas are slightly larger than the Retreats with slightly different design and aesthetic choices. These villas also take into account guest feedback from the Chapter 1 villas, including details like improved light switches. Similar to their Chapter 1 counterparts, many of these villas feature slides that are unbelievably fun and totally worth the hype.

Chapter 2 villas

Close by, the two- to four-bedroom beachfront Island Reserves of Chapter 2 are surrounded by the jungle and feature pools, lots of indoor and outdoor living spaces, private gyms, and spa suites.

The slide was the best part of our villa!

Given their distance from one another, you can think of Soneva Jani as being divided into the legacy section (Chapter 1) and the newer section (Chapter 2). No matter which section you’re staying on, guests are provided with bicycles so they can leisurely stroll around and discover the tennis courts, deserted beaches, and gardens. We were actually provided with electric bicycles. I’m not sure if that was just a Chapter 2 offering given many amenities are a fair distance away at Chapter 1, but they were fun to ride!

The South Beach is by Chapter 2

When we didn’t want to bike from Chapter 2 to Chapter 1, there was a small boat on call through our Barefoot Butler that took two minutes to get from Chapter 2 to Chapter 1 and was very convenient. The dock to board was located next to our villa.

Amenities at Soneva Jani

There is a large variety of things to see, do and experience at Soneva Jani. To start, visitors have a complimentary Barefoot Butler at their service; ours was easily accessible via Whatsapp and was eager to aid during our stay. The Soneva Jani butlers will help you with anything you need, like booking or moving reservations or excursions, troubleshooting any issues, and making sure your stay lives up to your expectations.

Activities galore!

There are many activities to indulge in, one of which was Cinema Paradiso, the largest overwater cinema in the Maldives. We enjoyed a delicious Japanese fusion meal at Director’s Cut in front of Cinema Paradiso, where we wore Bluetooth headphones to tune into the movie. Cinama Paradiso screens two movies on the nights it is open, starting with a children’s movie followed by an all-ages selection.

The Gathering houses many of the activities available on site

Similar to Soneva Fushi, Soneva Jani has other activities like a sunset dolphin cruise, water sports, snorkeling, diving, stargazing at their observatory, garden tours, local fishing, and more. The layout of Soneva Jani also lends itself to some unique opportunities, like visiting the four deserted nearby islets or booking a private sunrise breakfast, picnic, or beach dinner on the North Beach.

We enjoyed our time at the serene Soneva Spa, a relaxing and rejuvenating experience with treatments from all around the world. Guests are encouraged to focus on their wellness and learn and rethink their lifestyles through advice, healing, treatments, and services. And while this isn’t what most people would go for, the tea served at the end was incredible – a perfect, strong blend of lemongrass and ginger with a touch of honey!

The local Marine Biologist can make sense of the waters around you!

There is also a marine biologist on site that can guide guests through a variety of experiences, including Turtle on Call or the Marine Conservation Expedition. Turtle on Call is the chance to experience turtles laying eggs in the sand or babies being hatched and making their way to the ocean, while the Marine Conservation Expedition allows you to learn more in-depth about the fragility of coral reefs in the Maldivian sea. The marine biologist on site will let you know when these events are occurring if you express interest to your Barefoot Butler.

Dining

You will never get bored of the dining options available to you at Soneva Jani! The menus are extraordinary and truly live up to the expectations of a luxury resort. Even better, much of the food at Soneva Jani, including fresh fruits, vegetables, and healing herbs are supplied directly from the gardens on the island.

The Crab Shack

The Crab Shack was probably our favorite meal of the entire Maldives trip! You choose between a freshwater or mud crab, and several different sauces. We chose to order one crab and split it in two to try with two different sauces, both of which were simply delicious. Every sauce brought a unique flavor, and it was plenty of food for two people with a couple of additional sides. I recommend The Crab Shack so highly!

Our split crab!
Unique swinging tables at The Crab Shack

Down to Earth

Down to Earth is located in The Gathering and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s where you’ll have dinner daily if you’re not enjoying in-villa dining and has numerous live cooking stations to satisfy any appetite.

Table at Down to Earth

Director’s Cut

Director’s Cut, described above, is a delicious Japanese restaurant in front of Cinama Paradiso that you can enjoy on nights when movies are showing. We went with the tasting menu and our meal here was super flavorful and fresh!

Overseas by Mathias Dahlgreen

Swedish Chef Mathias Dahlgreen’s exclusive and beautiful restaurant in The Gathering features light fare and pescatarian-forward cuisine. If you choose to dine outdoors for dinner, the tables are a treat themselves, with views straight down into the ocean. We dined here for lunch and enjoyed the views from inside The Gathering.

Overseas by Mathias Dahlgreen

So Wild by Diana Von Cranach

So Wild is a mostly raw, plant-based menu with ingredients sourced directly from the Soneva Jani garden. It’s quite a treat with how innovatively the Indonesian and Southeast Asian dishes are prepared.

So Primative

Just steps from The Crab Shack on the South Beach by Chapter 2, you’ll find the new So Primative. So Primative is centered around a fire pit with a menu of seafood and meat that, depending on the cooking technique being highlighted, can be roasted, salt-crusted, seared, and more. There are also plant-based dishes for vegetarians.

So Cool and So Guilty

Like Soneva Fushi, there’s a focus on bringing out your inner kid at Soneva Jani with dedicated chocolate and ice cream rooms. We definitely spent a lot of time indulging in these rooms!

So Imaginative

Other dining and drinking options at Soneva Jani include The Wine Cellar, The Gathering Bar, So Starstruck, So Imaginative, So Engaging, in-villa dining and private dining experiences. You’ll remember these culinary experiences long after you’ve left Soneva Jani!

In-Villa Dining is also a win!

In Conclusion

Soneva Jani is one of the most expansive and luxurious resorts in the Maldives and lived up to our high expectations with its incredible beauty. With 360° views of the Indian Ocean, a lagoon that could fit 7,000 Olympic Pools, four deserted islets to explore, and lush jungles, it amazes even the most discerning of guests. There are no words for the beauty of the water in many breathtaking shades of blue or the carefully crafted architecture with impeccable details throughout the villas. It truly is the experience of a lifetime, especially with its mission to be eco-friendly and non-damaging to its environment.

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