Flight of Fancy Luxury

Guilt-free at Soneva Fushi

At Soneva Fushi  

What a contrast. From thumping Mykonos to the majestic Maldives, I was transported from beach party to beach serenity. I’ve just returned from a spectacular, whirlwind 48 hours in Kunfunadhoo Island in the Baa Atoll, where the Soneva Fushi resort is located. It goes without saying that the Maldives is paradise on earth. And Soneva is about as eco-friendly and sustainable a resort as any can be. So even though Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate crisis champion, would not approve of the plane travel, she would be pleased with the efforts made by Sonu and Eva Shivdasani, the resorts’ founders, to make their company a zero-waste, environmentally-friendly one.

Back in May, while I was navigating the country side of Ireland, my phone had rung. It was my friend Beenu Bawa, inviting me to the Maldivian resort in August. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I immediately said yes. Beenu, a director at Good Earth, is a larger than life personality. Her title ought to be ‘Director of Fun,’ because that’s what she is. She’d brought together a small group to experience the just-launched Good Earth Holiday line, a mix of resort friendly clothes, accessories and home goods that puts one straight into vacay mode. Our small group included Imran Ahmed, founder of Business of Fashion (which has just received an investment from the Financial Times group), uber fashion stylist Nikhil Mansata, fashion journalist Bandana Tewari, Architectural Digest India editor Greg Foster, Instagram influencer Prerna Goel and, of course, Beenu. Each one is a character. Imran has the best music playlists on the planet, Nik can make anyone look good in anything, Bandana is an eco-warrior all by herself (she tried to get us to do a month-long no shopping pledge, but to no avail), Greg is hilarity personified, and Prerna is a healer who also happens to sing. Oh, and she has the best phone photo filters!

Gayatri with Anita Lal

Gayatri with Anita Lal  

Being among this fun group was wonderful, but the real highlight for me was spending time with Anita Lal, Good Earth’s founder, whom I’d known tangentially but never really spent time with. An incandescent 71-year old, her zest for India and for life are, in equal measure, infectious. AL, as she’s popularly referred to, is the original Make In India advocate. She started her company 25 years ago to contemporarise our crafts and textiles, and introduce a new audience to Indian design heritage. What I found over the few days I spent with her was how easy and unassuming she is. She has no airs and graces. She dresses only in simple, sustainable clothes, is completely informal, and loves spending time with people younger than herself. Her democratic leadership style is in sharp contrast to hierarchical corporate India’s. She ought to lecture at the IIMs.

I also spent some time with Sonu, who is planning to open a few more Soneva properties around the world. A health freak, we discussed the merits of a diary-free, meat-free, flour-free and sugar-free diet. He made me try ice cream and dark chocolate made specially for him, without sugar, and it was delicious. I told him I wish we had a ready supply in India. It was a travesty to leave after just two days, but, that’s the thing about paradise. It is elusive, and can’t be taken for granted.

This fortnightly column tracks the indulgent pursuits of the one-percenters.

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 21, 2021 2:26:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/luxury/guilt-free-at-soneva-fushi/article29374710.ece

Next Story