The Maldives’ first SOUL Festival at Soneva Fushi promises to nourish mind, body and spirit

Words: Selma Day

Soneva has always been at the forefront of the wellness industry, merging ancient healing wisdom with science and innovation to reconnect mind, body and soul. But post-pandemic, living a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle has become even more important and, in response to this growing trend, the hospitality brand launched its wellness concept Soneva Soul in 2021.

Now, in partnership with international wellness enterprise Organic India, it is to launch the first SOUL Festival in the Maldives. The health and wellbeing-focused festival will take place from September 29 to October 8 at luxury resort Soneva Fushi, located within the Baa Atoll Unesco Biosphere Reserve.

Over the course of ten days and two weekends, the intimate festival retreat invites guests from across the world to explore wellness in all its forms, from personal to planetary.

SOUL will offer guests the opportunity to move, eat, explore and be creative, while celebrating ancient healing traditions and modern innovations that benefit individuals, communities and the planet.

Each weekend, the festival will include a diverse programme of panel discussions with globally-acclaimed health and wellness leaders, interspersed with group yoga and meditation classes, healing rituals, live music performances and barefoot gala celebrations on the sand.

Weekdays at SOUL will focus on a more immersive wellbeing journey for guests, with intimate, experiential workshops each day, and one-on-one consultations with world-renowned wellness specialists and practitioners.

Guests will be able to rejuvenate and relax within the idyllic surroundings of the island location, while delicious, wholesome menus will be specially curated to support their wellness goals, with an emphasis on plant-based cuisine and adaptogenic foods that rebalance and restore.

Man and woman doing yoga on the beach

One-of-a-kind experiences will also offer the chance to reconnect with nature and embrace the Slow Life in between sessions: from zip-lining through the rainforest to dine in the treetops, to snorkelling with expert marine biologists, to swimming with manta rays or escaping to a private sandbank to watch the sunset.

The inaugural edition of SOUL will welcome a global line-up of visionaries, thought leaders and wellness pioneers to further explore the frontiers of health and wellbeing. The list of international speakers includes psychologist, scientist and social entrepreneur Shamini Jain; gastroenterologist, neuroscientist and author of The Mind Gut Connection author Dr Emeran Mayer; clinical psychologist and mindfulness expert Shauna Shapiro; Goi Peace Award recipient and best-selling author Bruce Lipton; renowned spiritual leader and motivational speaker Sadhvi Bhagwati Saraswati; award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author Jo Marchant; American director, producer and cinematographer Louie Schwartzberg; 13-time best-selling author and founder of Bio Blends Dr Libby Weaver; award-winning science journalist Gaia Vince; naturopathic doctor and doctor of oriental medicine Dr Lilly-Marie Blecher; Ayurvedic doctor and author Dr Robert Svoboda, who is the first-ever Westerner to graduate from a college of Ayurveda and be licensed to practise in India; and anxiety and mindfulness coach Amanda Huggins.

Woman sitting at outdoor spa

Throughout each day during their stay, guests will be able to explore and indulge in everything that Soneva Fushi has to offer: miles of pristine sandy beaches edged by tranquil turquoise waters; exquisite private villa accommodation, with Barefoot Guardians on hand 24/7 to anticipate every request; exceptional dining destinations serving the finest cuisine from across the world; and a range of unique experiences.

In addition to the live, in-person sessions for Soneva Fushi guests, SOUL’s sessions will also be streamed to a vast global audience. Online participants will be encouraged to make a donation to support the event, further raising funds and knowledge about the causes and initiatives supported by the Soneva Foundation and the Organic India Foundation.

“We are so proud to host the first edition of SOUL Festival at Soneva Fushi,” says Sonu Shivdasani, CEO and co-founder of Soneva.

“Wellness permeates all that we do at Soneva: our sustainable, barefoot philosophy that reconnects our guests to the earth; our life-affirming natural locations; our delicious yet health- focused cuisine; and our life-changing guest experiences.

“The festival’s remarkable programme is an opportunity to explore every facet of health and wellbeing, and I cannot wait to welcome the line-up of outstanding wellness experts to our shores.”

“SOUL Festival is a rare opportunity to experience a deeply-immersive journey with some of the world’s leaders in wellness, health and regeneration,” adds festival director Chris Deckker.

“From keynote talks and interactive panels to immersive workshops, intimate dinners and remote Island adventures, this unprecedented festival retreat is unlike any other in the world, hosted on one of the most magical Islands in the Maldives.”

Woman doing yoga beside pool and overlooking trees

For those wanting to attend SOUL Festival, Soneva’s exclusive offer starts from USD 6,900 for two guests for a minimum three-night stay. This includes two festival tickets and full access to the entire programme during guests’ stay, with luxurious private villa accommodation alongside daily full board at selected dining destinations and complimentary round–trip wheeled plane domestic transfers.

Proceeds from the sale of SOUL Festival tickets will go to the Soneva Foundation and ORGANIC INDIA Foundation to support the development of projects that have a positive environmental, social and economic impact.

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