About Us

Our History

Today, Soneva has many imitators, but no equals. It is still the original barefoot luxury brand and still one of the travel industry’s greatest innovators.

The story behind Soneva

Soneva Resorts was founded by Sonu Shivdasani, Chairman and CEO, with his wife, Eva, who is the Creative Director in charge of resort design concepts and interiors. Sonu is an Old Etonian with an M.A. in English Literature from Oxford University. He has attended various management development programs at IMD, London Business School and Ashridge. Eva is a former top fashion model from Sweden who has appeared on over a hundred magazine covers world-wide, including Vogue, Marie-Claire and Elle, and launched a successful clothing company in Paris. Sonu and Eva met at the Monaco Grand Prix, during his time at Oxford in 1986.

Eva had visited the Maldives during modeling assignments, and had fallen in love with the islands. When Eva suggested that they return there for a holiday, Sonu also fell in love with the location.

In 1995, they leased the 40 acre island of Kunfunadhoo in the Baa Atoll and set about creating a dream destination which they named Soneva Fushi – an amalgam of ‘Sonu’ and ‘Eva’, and ‘fushi’, meaning sand spit in the local language.

They had no idea that their intensely personal vision of a locally crafted villa and environmentally responsible lifestyle would form the basis of a successful collection of world-class resorts. But that is exactly what happened. Soneva Fushi was the first 'castaway' resort in the Maldives, pioneering a trend for back-to-nature luxury holidays. It established a blueprint for a highly acclaimed international business to which in 2009 spectacular Soneva Kiri was added on the unspoilt Thai island of Koh Kood.

The success of the Soneva brand also paved the way for Six Senses Resorts & Spas with award-winning properties in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Under Eva's and Sonu's direction the Six Senses brand gained a global following before being sold in 2012. In 2016, Soneva’s latest resort, Soneva Jani, opened in the Noonu Atoll. The collection of 24 overwater and island villas is set within a sparkling 5.6 kilometre private lagoon.

It is still the original barefoot luxury brand, and still one of the travel industry's greatest innovators. Intelligent Luxury, as interpreted by the Shivdasanis, is all about creating unforgettable, enlightening experiences. It's about illuminating lives whilst treading lightly on the earth.

Each Soneva impresses on a wide range of levels. Breathtaking, 'remote but accessible' natural locations, effortlessly chic accommodation, incredible food, truly memorable activities, an inspiring ethos of sustainability and service that is uncannily intuitive. Before you even set foot on a Soneva you are asked whether you would like to remove your shoes. No news, no shoes. Why? Because without shoes you feel everything.

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