Arriving by sea plane, Soneva Jani first appears to guests like a chain of smoothly rounded driftwood objects, floating out along the tideline north of Medhufaru Island. From directly overhead, the chain of elliptical roofs resembles plankton, geometric yet organic, tethered tenuously to their island host.

At sea level, this floating chain of objects transforms into a luxurious marine ecosystem, perfectly located on Noonu Atoll’s 3.5-mile-long (5.6-kilometer-long) crystalline lagoon.

Most of the resort’s guest accommodation and facilities are located on this jetty that extends just over half a mile (around 1 kilometer) from the island24 water villas, restaurants, bars, spa, and diving center.

The unifying construction material of this lagoon-bound component of the resort is a sea-bleached timber. Against its intense turquoise background, this material acquires a unique luminosity, yet is natural and appropriate.

The arrival jetty is positioned halfway along the jetty, in front of its largest structure. The three-story The Gathering is the heart of the resort. It houses a variety of dining outlets, as well as the spa, library, and retail area. The Observatory Bar and Marine Biology Centre/Dive School are also clustered in this central location.

To either side of The Gathering is located the guest accommodation, ranging from one-bed to four-bed water villas. 

Their elliptical roofs and curving privacy walls shelter living areas and bedrooms, generous sala, and private lagoon plunge pools. All main bedrooms feature a retractable roof that allows stars to observed at night.

Further resort facilities are dispersed across 150-acre (60-hectare) Medhufaru Island. The sparse placement of tennis courts, water sports champa, and Cinema Paradiso restaurant allows the island’s lush vegetation to remain intact. This creates shaded forest paths for guests to ramble through, in contrast with the sun-drenched experience of the lagoon. The forest also conceals back-of-house facilities and accommodation for 100 Soneva staff, including mosque and football field.

  • LocationMedhufaru Island, Noonu Atoll, Maldives
  • Date2016
  • Interior DesignerSoneva Creative Department