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Soneva Gili by Six Senses - Maldives | Resort Review

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Soneva Gili by Six Senses - Maldives: Soneva Gili is a five-star luxury resort and private island nestled amidst one of the largest lagoons in Maldives. The resort boasts of sprawling over-sized villas offering a splendid vista of the water, an intimate atmosphere and world-class amenities combined with a natural and earthy setting.

We arrived at the Male Airport and were warmly greeted by a staff member of Soneva Gili who escorted us to the waiting boat for a 25 minute transfer ride to their island. Two other couples joined us and once the entire luggage was loaded, we were off. They offered us cool wet cloths to refresh ourselves and then came around to collect our shoes and put them into shoe bags labeled No News, No Shoes; kind of their motto at the resort. It was definitely a nice start to our stay.

First Impression/Lobby: We arrived at the resort and were met by the resort manager who gave us a quick hello, after which we were shuttled for a short tour of the property and then off to our villas we went.

Reception: Before we knew it we arrived in our Crusoe Villa number six, where we received a tour of our residence, our home for the next three days. After a complete tour of the villa premises we got down to completing our registration formalities. We never saw an actual “front desk” so to speak.

The Villa: We had Crusoe Residence 6 given to us. The environmentally friendly villa offered us a nice castaway feeling since it could only be accessed only by boat. Each natural yet luxurious residence came with the trimmings of a private a sundeck offering a gorgeous view of the ocean and bathrooms that featured a separate shower area along an open walkway. The wood and bamboo villas with thatched roofs made of dried grass were earthy, minimalist and rustic. It went with the ‘keep it natural’ appeal that the Six Senses Resorts proudly endorse.

The living room of the Crusoe Residence was a sprawling space with expansive windows, dark wooden flooring and a small albeit tasteful dining table. It also had a nice seating zone with fiery upholstery toned in bright red and orange. There was a staircase at the end of the room leading to the sundeck upstairs. The bedroom featured crisp white linen and a seating area similar to the living room along with a small work table in a corner. The bedroom again like the living room appeared spacious and roomy due to the large windows that overlooked the spectacular lagoon. The residence also housed a min bar and functional kitchenette, all made of wood and granite. There was a fantastic outdoor living area, perfect for a cup of coffee and dinner in the midst of the Maldivian ocean.

As nice as the villa was there were a few negatives; there wasn’t a cordless phone. What a pain when you are enjoying the sunshine out on the deck and the phone rings and you have to scurry down awkwardly, thus ending a beautifully created moment or when you are outside and want to order something or even make plans and you have to go in, not very user friendly at all.

The bathtub was too small for a luxurious and poetically romantic place like the Maldives, a bathtub built for two should be mandatory.

Water by our villa was too shallow. If you intend to do a Crusoe Residence, you need to do a number one or two as they both have deeper waters and the least amount of corals around them, making them better for swimming.

The amenities in the bathroom were in generic containers so I’m not very sure what brand they belonged to, but they smelled fresh and refreshing and they had shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, plus after sun shampoo and aloe vera. The aloe vera I used, and used and used. A day in the Maldivian sun can be quite rough on the skin!

The overall design of the Crusoe Residence, though some may find it ethnically classy, was just not my style of furnishings. It was way too rustic for my liking. On a plus note, each Villa has a dedicated butler who is available 24 hours a day.

Room Service: The room service food was very good and placing orders was always easy. The delivery was also prompt and consistently on-time. They set up our meal in pure five-star fashion and all orders were delivered accurately. We did not have a single complaint about room service.

Housekeeping: The housekeeping department did a perfect job of cleaning and maintaining our villa with precise attention to detail without intruding on our privacy or ever making us feel rushed. Invisible, thorough and consistent housekeeping is bombastic and that is what they were.

Concierge: The concierge services were handled by our butler.

The butler was thoroughly overworked; the first thing we asked of our butler was to unpack for us (a service that is included at many of the five-star resorts in the Maldives). He was happy to comply with our request but was unsure of how quickly he could get to it because he had other guests to attend to; however he did actually do it soon after we arrived.

We asked him to arrange a yacht for a day, this took until the next afternoon and we also asked for dinner reservations for the next few nights. This too seemed like a big chore for him. And whenever we saw him, he had the phone to his ear fielding other guests’ calls. It was easy to gauge that they had just too many guests assigned to one person, so much so that it took away considerably from our experience.

Restaurant: We ate one night at the Main Restaurant. They were having an all inclusive buffet, however we opted to go a la carte and had them set up a private table for us at the water’s edge-simply bombastic! It wasn’t as private as we’ve had at other resorts in the Maldives, but it was still very special.

We also ate at Sense by the Sea, their Japanese with a Peruvian twist restaurant. While it was good, it certainly wasn’t the best sushi and sashimi I’ve ever had. The casual atmosphere was in tandem with the resort’s informal appeal (no news, no shoes fittingly summed it up).

On a slightly negative note, for a property this size, the number of dining options were rather limited. They didn’t seem to be as creative with private dining options as other five-star, luxury resorts in the Maldives.

Pool/Spa/Activities: Amenities with a minimum three days package included a 20 min Six Senses Spa Treatment Experience per person, a nice Sunset Beach or Sandbank Cocktail Party along with fresh coffee and tea making facilities in the villa. Services for guests also included non-motorized water sports activities and yoga sessions. Patrons can also indulge in a Steam and Sauna at the Six Senses Spa. There was a lovely swimming pool fringed by palm trees in the backdrop of a tranquil ambiance.

We didn’t use the pool though; why use a pool when you have a whole island surrounded by pristine water, plus the private swimming at our villas wasn’t all that bad.

We arranged for a one day yacht rental. They took us out for a day of cruising to a deserted island, which ended up being a private island belonging to a different resort (we were asked to leave) and so we enjoyed our Champagne as we cruised around looking for an island to enjoy it on, but never found one. Our exotic lunch on a private island turned out to be a disaster (dirty location and lots of locals). The whole day was not exactly stellar. It was very disappointing to have this kind of experience from a five-star luxury hotel, no less.

Check-Out: The check out formalities were handled in our residence and before we knew it our stay at Soneva Gili was done and we were on our way back to Male to catch a sea plane to our next resort W Hotel Maldives.

Overall Impression Overall our stay at Soneva Gili was wonderful. While there were areas that had plenty of scope for improvement, the staff’s warmth and attitude helped make up for it. Even though the rugged and back to nature style of Six Senses is not my cup of tea, the spacious villas, the privacy allowed by being out on the serene water in a free standing villa and the amazing cobalt waters of Maldives make it easy to overlook their back to basics design. Rating for Soneva Gili by Six Senses - Bombastic.

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