Soneva Jani: Family-Friendly Barefoot Luxury in the Maldives

With its winding jetties and iconic overwater villas, Soneva Jani epitomizes the casual glamor of the Maldives. What many people don’t realize though, is how family-friendly this luxury resort is! We enjoyed a lovely stay here and at its sister resort, Soneva Fushi (read that write-up here). Many thanks to Soneva Resorts for hosting us!

Photo: Carmen Sognonvi

Covid-19 Safety Protocol

By following stringent Covid-19 safety protocols, Soneva Resorts has been able to turn both of its Maldives properties into pandemic pods, where neither guests nor staff have to wear masks or social-distance. For more details on the protocols that made this happen, see our review of Soneva Fushi.

The Accommodations

We stayed in a stunning 4-bedroom water retreat, part of the original Chapter One villas. This massive 13,000 square foot residence has a spacious living-dining area on the ground floor, as well as a full kitchen. On the second floor, there’s a private gym, a pool table and a massive couch where you can cuddle up to watch movies. All four bedrooms have incredible views of the turquoise blue waters. Stretching the entire length of the villa is a deck with a water slide and a private infinity pool.

Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi

Kids Club

The kids club at Soneva Jani is known as The Den. It’s really simple and small, but the hosts were fantastic. They were both so personable and fun that when we came to pick them up, our girls were having a great time and were in no rush to leave!

Soneva Jani actually in the process of building a brand-new facility. When it opens a year or two from now, it’s expected to be the largest kids club in all of Southeast Asia!⁠⠀

Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi

The Dining

Breakfast

The breakfast buffet is at the restaurant Down to Earth. This is a really stunning space, with a circular shape that gives diners beautiful views of the ocean in every direction. There are individual rooms for bread and salad, and all the food was fresh and well-prepared. At breakfast we met a couple other families, and our daughters had fun playing with their kids. After nearly a full year of minimal social interactions due to the pandemic, it was heartening to see.

Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi

Overseas

Overseas is the pescatarian, vegetarian, and plant-based restaurant by Swedish chef Mathias Dahlgren. Whether you love sashimi or grilled fish, you’ll love the offerings here.

Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi

Crab Shack

Crab Shack is probably the most popular restaurant at Soneva Jani. They specialize in — you guessed it — crab. They offer both blue crab and mud crab, prepared with many different sauces. We loved the black pepper and the provençale sauce, so those are definitely preparations I’d recommend. The cocktails here are fun too, especially Message in a Bottle, made of basil, lemon and vodka.

Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi

So Wild

So Wild is a plant-based restaurant by raw food chef Diana Von Cranach. It’s located in middle of the organic garden. Unfortunately the night we went, it was raining, so they seated us right next to kitchen where there’s some shelter. But on a non-rainy evening, there’s a much nicer setup in the garden itself. We had a tasting menu that took us through a series of dishes that were all plant-based – even the dessert! It was definitely a departure from our usual culinary preferences, but it was very well done and a fun dining experience!

Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi

Spa

There are actually two spas at Soneva Jani: the primary spa in the main building, and there’s also a smaller Ayurvedic spa near Crab Shack. The spa is very simple and pretty small, but the quality of treatments is really amazing, so definitely don’t miss out. The gym  is a must-see as well – it has incredible views of the ocean!

Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi

Other Activities

Dolphin

Soneva Jani offers a variety of excursions and on-site activities. We had the opportunity to go on a dolphin safari. Of course, with any type of marine animal watching tour, you never quite know what you’re going to get. Unfortunately we didn’t have much luck. We caught a glimpse of one or two dolphins, and then it started raining, but it was still fun being out on the water.

Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Photo: Carmen Sognonvi

We had an incredible time at Soneva Jani. Even though it’s a resort with a good deal of glamor, it offered a lot of fun for our family of four!

Photo: Carmen Sognonvi
Soneva Jani
Soneva Jani
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