KSL Acquires Minority Stake in Thai Resort Operator, Soneva

Main Photo: The Soneva Fushi Villas, Maldives

Date: December 2019

Location: Maldives and Thailand

Name: Soneva

No. of Keys: 88 villas – 156 rooms at Fushi and Jani, which they own….plus 35 villas, 72 room at Kiri, which they manage.

Seller: Soneva and Chinese investor Saliling Capital, who bought into Soneva in 2014, for around 300m yuan, RMB (around US$43m)

Buyer: USA based KSL, a private equity company has reached an agreement to take up a significant minority stake in Thailand-based resort developer and operator, Soneva. The agreement includes the redeemed investment of Hong Kong-based Sailing Capital which invested in Soneva in 2014.

Sailing’s investment eased the expansion of Soneva’s portfolio in the Maldives and opened the award-winning 25-villas Soneva Jani Resort in 2016 which made Soneva a leader in overwater villa market with its beautiful design and architecture.

“The more we have gotten to know Soneva, the more excited we are about the opportunities to help Soneva grow. At KSL, we invest solely in travel and leisure, and we recognise the power of the Soneva brand platform in the expanding market for luxury experiential travel,” Tina Yu, a principal at KSL, was quoted in a statement, as saying.

“We are immensely grateful to Sailing Capital for the faith it showed in Soneva and our management team. Sailing has been instrumental in our success to date,” Sonu Shivdasani, founder and CEO of Soneva, said.

“We are delighted to welcome KSL as our partner in Soneva. We have many exciting plans, and I cannot imagine better partners to help execute the next stage of Soneva’s growth.”

Soneva has earlier announced plans to open two new resorts in Maldives over the next three years.

Founded in 1995 by Indian British hotelier Sonu Shivdasani and his Swedish wife Eva Malmström Shivdasani, Soneva currently runs two resorts in the Maldives, Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani, and luxury yacht, Soneva in Aqua. The world-leading luxury resort operator also operates Soneva Kiri resort in Thailand.

In 1995, the award-winning luxury resort Soneva Fushi set the standard for all desert island barefoot luxury hideaways in the Maldives. Located in the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Soneva Fushi pairs Robinson Crusoe fantasy with intelligent luxury.

Sixty-two private villas with their own stretch of beach are hidden amongst dense foliage within touching distance of a pristine coral reef. Eight new one- and two-bedroom Water Retreats, perched above the turquoise depths of the Indian Ocean, are scheduled to open to guests by April 2020. Intuitive service is provided by Mr./Ms. Friday butlers.

Highlights include the open-air Cinema Paradiso, counting Saturn’s rings in the high-tech Observatory, the home-made chocolate and ice cream rooms, five hundred wines to choose from, six different restaurants and countless destination dining options. In November 2015, Soneva launched a floating villa concept, Soneva in Aqua, a treasure trove children’s Den and a multi-purpose facility encompasses a glass gallery, boutique and studio where guests can learn the art of glass blowing.

If the experiences are magical, the philosophy is simple: No news, no shoes. No pretensions either.

Opened in December 2016, Soneva Jani is Soneva’s newest property and the world-leading luxury hotel group’s second resort in the Maldives.

Soneva Jani is located on the island of Medhufaru within a 5.6 kilometre lagoon in the Noonu atoll, and has uninterrupted ocean views in all directions. The lagoon is 35 minutes by seaplane from Velana International Airport and one hour by speedboat from Soneva Fushi.

Meaning ‘wisdom’ in Sanskrit, Soneva Jani currently comprises 24 overwater villas and one island villa, with additional villas to be built in phase two. Five islands encircle the lagoon, each one with soft white sands and covered in rich tropical vegetation. Four of the five islands will remain untouched, making Soneva Jani the lowest density development in the Maldives. The overwater villas are spaced across the expansive lagoon, offering privacy and extensive views over the Maldives’ turquoise waters. The island villas will be tucked into the lush greenery, providing the ultimate privacy, and all within steps of the beach.

Soneva Jani’s main guest facilities are located at The Gathering, the heart of the overwater villas. This dramatic three story structure is home to the main dining outlets, in addition to the Soneva Spa, library, retail area and wine cellar. It is located next to the Maldives’ first overwater Observatory.

Facilities on the island include the overwater Cinema Paradiso, the Eco Centro Waste-to-Wealth centre, organic gardens, tennis courts, water sports champa and Zuhair’s Beach on a desert island in the lagoon.

THPT Comment: Interesting move for KSL who have been active in Europe in recent times.
Good deal for Sailing and Soneva.

First Seen: Maldives Insider

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