The pioneer of barefoot luxury guides us around his life online.

Sonu Shivdasani is a pioneer in the sustainable luxury hotel industry. The chairman and CEO of the Soneva Group, the umbrella group which comprises the exquisite Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani resorts in the Maldives and Soneva Kiri in Thailand, it is a trailblazer in barefoot luxury travel. The exemplar of the tropical paradise, the onus is on doing no harm to the natural wonder that makes these idylls; as such, Sonu is a leading advocate for environmentally sustainable travel. And, when it comes to relaxed yet high-end holidaying, he’s a man who knows his fluffy bathrobes; as well as founding the Soneva Group with his wife, Eva, he was the brain behind Six Senses luxury resorts too, while also operating a collection of spas scattered across the world. Today, however, the couple adhere to their own principle of ‘slow life’, having divested themselves of everything but Soneva. Their rationale? To do one thing and to do it to perfection with utter commitment.

Educated at Eton and Oxford, he met his now wife Eva Malmström shortly after graduating, during which time he also began to help his brother Azad to manage the family business. That hands-on practical experience, in alliance with the couple’s passion for the Maldives, planted the seed that would go on to find expression in Soneva. Fast forward to 1995, and their dream to one day live on the archipelago was made flesh in the form of Soneva Fushi, which they built on the island of Kunfunadhoo.



Fifteen years later in 2010, they founded the Soneva Foundation, a UK-registered charity which supports projects designed to have a positive impact, whether socially, economically, on the environment – or all three. Their abiding mission, meanwhile, is for luxury travel and the care for the environment to co-exist symbiotically. They call it ‘intelligent luxury’ and ‘slow life’; others look to it as the future.

Here Sonu tells us how one TED Talk impacted his resorts directly and why LinkedIn is utterly indispensable to his work.

My favourite website…


TED or Mind Valley. Both are packed with great content.

My favourite app…


Bihar Yoga. I like their guided yoga nidra. I also use Voice Pro 7 for dictating messages, and of course, WhatsApp is essential for communicating.

My most recent buy online…


I regularly buy books. The latest one was Rebel Rules by Matthew Syed.



Favourite tech gadget…


I am not sure how I would manage without my iPhone

The most useful gadget/item on your desk…


I love my MacBook.

Most useful digital resource during lockdown…


Worldometers, as it gives a good update on the spread of COVID in various countries.

Most inspirational digital resource during lockdown…


I have enjoyed a lot of great content on Gaia and Mind Valley.

First thing/app you look at on your mobile when you wake up/in the morning…


Skype and WhatsApp.

Last thing you binge-watched…


My wife Eva and I tend not to watch episodes, but I have recently watched The Last Dance – it is the story of the Chicago Bulls on Netflix. Eva and I also binge-watched Downtown Abbey when that was around.

Social media allowed me to meet…


So, many incredible hosts have initially contacted me through Linkedin. For example, Christoph Pentzlin, our executive chef approached us that way. We have just hired a new Wealth of Waste Manager from India who will further evolve our recycling goals. We currently recycle 90 per cent of our waste. We hope to make this higher. We have also just recruited one of India's best permaculturists. All of these were initially introduced through Linkedin.



The best digital advice I've been given…


Turn your phone off at night.

My screensaver is…


My screensaver varies based on the seasons. At present it has images of mantas and whale sharks that I have personally seen at Hannifaru Bay, which is literally ten minutes from Soneva Fushi.

My standout online memory…


I was introduced to a Ted Talk about the irradiation of mosquitoes. I immediately reached out to the speaker and now, at Soneva Fushi, we have achieved a world record of 98 per cent reduction in the mosquito population.

My pet online hate is…


Constant interruptions.

Do you have any online rules or resolutions…


Yes, whenever I go into meeting or conference calls my phone is on airplane mode. I turn it off at night and on certain days off I will turn it on in the morning because there is so much you can learn from the internet but then I always turn it off in the evening.

By Nancy Alsop
October 2021

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Nancy Alsop

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