The Maldives has remained one of the most resilient regions for tourism during the coronavirus epidemic. Despite many other borders being closed, the island escape introduced stringent health and safety measures since the beginning, and continues to implement regulations to all its guests to ensure safe travel. Soneva, the award-winning luxury hotel group, is no exception, providing guests with on-resort arrival testing and the highest standards of hygiene across its properties. After these protocols, guests are invited for a mask-free experience in the tropical paradise. We speak to the CEO and founder of Soneva Sonu Shivdasani on welcoming back guests and how he has coped during this unprecedented era.
What was your first healthy holiday experience? My first healthy holiday experience was when I was about 8 or 9 years old. My parents use to visit Champneys. Young children were not allowed, but I used to visit them on the weekends for dinner. I was fortunate enough to have travelled a lot when I was young, so I was a very lucky eight-year-old. I remember having my first Japanese Shiatsu massage in Kyoto when I was that age. I have been to many of the best destination spas around the world such as Chiva-Som Health Resort, SHA Wellness Clinic, Ananda in the Himalayas, Henri Chenot in Merano, and Lanserhof and really admire their work.
Who would this healthy holiday destination suit? Soneva Jani’s healthy day options suits couples and families looking to carry out some form of cure and eat healthily. They would be able to avoid red meat, dairy, white flour, sugar, and generally focus on plant-based cuisine or cuisine based on Ayurvedic principles, while the other members of the family can enjoy a fantastic idyllic Indian Ocean escape.
Describe an ideal retreat experience here in five words? An ideal retreat experience covers the following:
- In terms of food, the menu should comprise delicious but healthy meals that avoid dairy, white flour, sugar, beef, and is generally plant-based. The food should be rich in herbs and minerals that boost your immune system and generally improve your health, whether it is red onions, turmeric, garlic, or cinnamon. The food should also have a lot of Omega 3 and Omega 6 in it. The best source of this is nuts. The food should also support the gut bacteria, as Hippocrates explained many hundreds of years ago that the source of good health is a healthy gut. This wisdom remains true today, for example sprouting vegetables are good for gut health.
- There should be varied and great options for exercise.
- A retreat should have a strong focus on meditation and yoga.
- There should also be fantastic alternative healing options, like traditional health such as Ayurveda or traditional Chinese medicine, energy healing, osteopathy and healers that have an intuitive sense as to what is needed to resolve chronic challenges.
What sets this resort and the retreats you offer apart from the rest? What we are offering at Soneva Jani is a unique combination of overall wellness in a resort setting. The resort setting itself is exceptional and this is why Soneva Jani has won so many awards.
What are your travel essentials? I never travel without a magnet that helps me overcome jetlag, a bottle of Aconite (it is a homeopathic remedy that assists with sleep), and Andrographis Paniculata (a fantastic anti viral that has had amazing results, supporting and treating people during the SARS epidemic a few years ago and now against COVID-19).
How do you overcome one specific obstacle that you encounter daily? I believe that there are never obstacles, but there are challenges which lead to opportunities to refocus, change and improve.
How has the power of positive thinking helped to change your life? It has had a huge impact. I have survived many crises—including a serious health crisis—by taking on a positive attitude. I am a strong believer in the words of Lao Tzu; “good fortune has its roots in disaster.” If one embraces a crisis with a positive attitude one will not just survive but thrive. I believe that the following 8 pillars are very helpful in addressing a crisis:
What is one app that has significantly changed your life for the better? I use the Bihar Yoga App at least once a week when I carry out Yoga Nidra. I believe very strongly that before one starts the day, one must do either meditation or Yoga Nidra or some other exercise to ground oneself and put everything into perspective.
You have set and achieved big goals. What process do you swear by? It is very important to have goals and to continuously focus on these key goals every morning before one starts. It is a continuous repetition of these goals on a daily basis that will result in our achieving them.