It’s my job to visit 5-star hotels and resorts, which can be the likes of former palaces or exotic safari lodges. Having stayed at some of the world’s most over-the-top hotels over 16 years, it takes a lot to impress me—and Soneva Jani in the Maldives blew. My. Mind. Here’s my honest Soneva Jani review.
Not only is the secluded, luxury-drenched resort very private with only 24 overwater villas, half the villas are equipped with their very own, two-level water slide—but that’s only a fraction of what makes them unbelievable.
I traveled to the Maldives (pre-pandemic) with two friends. We needed a week to chillax, and we booked resorts we knew would completely pamper us. We started the getaway at Soneva Fushi, Jani’s sister property famous for treehouse villas (also amazing), then took a speedboat to Soneva Jani, which is surrounded by miles of calm, crystal-clear lagoon.
As soon as the humongous overwater villas with waterslides came into view, we knew we were going to be utterly spoiled, especially because the resort is brand-spanking new. In the Maldives, resorts like to one-up another, so newer properties will always be dramatically more baller. Imagine a board meeting where management asks: “What can we do ten times better than the last resort that opened?” Then they do it. Soneva Jani is whimsical, fanciful, sophisticated, modern and, above all, deeply luxurious with unique features like no other resort.
Locals like to call Soneva Jani in the Maldives a “virgin” island. Soneva is the first resort to take over this 150-acre sliver of paradise. It’s kept pristine and untouched, including Turtle beach (a sanctuary for sea turtles), the dense tropical foliage of the main island (chockfull of passion fruit trees) and a natural lake and mangroves (these wetlands are home to giant crabs and migratory birds). Tennis courts, organic garden and overwater theatre are available.
Connecting the island to the 24 overwater villas is the longest jetty in the Maldives, which serves as the lifeline of the resort. Right in the heart of the resort is the ultra-swanky The Gathering, a three-story, al fresco overwater structure with domed, thatch-roof that includes the restaurant, bar, swing chairs, overwater netting to lay on, spa, retail shop, dive center, gym with floor-to-ceiling windows and observatory deck with the largest telescope in the Maldives and Southeast Asia.
It also has a two-story waterslide (if you don’t book a villa that has its own), and a lone hammock set far out in the lagoon that you can swim to. The Gathering was very Robinson Crusoe meets Million Dollar Listing, and it’s truly one of a kind. I’ve seen nothing else like it, and it compelled me to write a Soneva Jani review.
Naturally, we spent little time at The Gathering: our two-bedroom overwater villa was insane. As soon as we entered, we staggered from the floor-to-ceiling, sliding glass walls in the main living area, which revealed our own glimmering pool, a massive sundeck, a sunken-in sitting area and, of course, a two-story waterslide that goes straight into the lagoon.
The villa was outrageously huge, decked out with lots of native, white wood; a purple, pink and teal color scheme that pops with color; and all windows sliding open to integrate indoor/outdoor space. The main floor has a living area with sunken-in dining table and booth seating (so nothing obstructs that precious view), a separate parlor room/library with daybed and outdoor bathroom (including a toilet with glass floor!) and a fully equipped kitchen with wine fridge.
On the second floor with covered outdoor deck (with balconies) accessible by a spiral staircase, my bedroom with vaulted ceiling had its own private veranda, as well as a bathroom with rain shower (and a separate outdoor rain shower) and a toilet with glass floor. It’s not common for overwater villas to have a second floor, yet here I was, taking in breathtaking views of the sea that sprawl for miles, and experiencing a sunset I took hundreds of photos of.
As I slept at night, here at Sovena Jani to do a review, I listened to the sound of calm lagoon water lapping from the gentle, ocean breeze. It was hella exotic, and I slept like a baby. My room was everything, but my friends’ bedroom on the main level was even more decked out. It had its own outdoor bathroom with Jacuzzi tub, as well as a retractable roof over the bedroom! The design was masterful (TVs are hidden in the white trunk in front of the bed) and quite future-forward for something this rustic.
Of course, the best part of our villa was the waterslide, and any Soneva Jani review will have this. Sure, the slide might sound great for kids, but the waterslides add a fun factor for adults, too. Obviously they’re perfect for photos, especially if you have a waterproof GoPro, they’re one of a kind (no other overwater villa in the world has personal water slides) and, best of all, you’re not lazing around all day.
The villa has tons of privacy (every villa is strategically staggered out but there are also privacy screeners), so we truly felt like we were the only guests at the resort. We never saw another soul from our villa—and I now have a new appreciation for water slides.
Do you have a Soneva Jani review in the Maldives? Let us know in comments below.
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