Sonu Shivdasani

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Sonu Shivdasani
Born 1965 (age 51–52)
Occupation founder and CEO of Soneva
Sonu and Eva Shivdasani by Antonina Gern
Sonu and Eva Shivdasani by Antonina Gern

Sonu Shivdasani (born 1965) is an Indian- British hotelier, who is the founder and CEO of Soneva which owns the luxury resorts Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani in the Maldives, Soneva Kiri in Thailand, and Soneva in Aqua(a two-cabin luxury yacht that sails from Soneva Fushi.) He is also the founder and former CEO of the Six Senses Resorts & Spas, across South East Asia and Europe, which he sold in 2012.

Early life and education[edit]

Shivdasani was born in England, youngest son of Laxmi and Indoo Shivdasani (1918-1979), a noted[citation needed] Indian merchant and banker who made fortune while trading in Nigeria and had offices in London and Geneva.[1] His parents originally hailed from Sindh in British India (now Pakistan), though his father had migrated to England long before the Partition of India.[2] His grandfather was an Indian Civil Services officer, while his father after studying at Clare College, Cambridge built a large business, in finance, trade and agro-allied industries in France, West Africa, India and Europe. Later he founded the Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation in 1976, which funds foreign education for meritorious students in India.[3] His father died in 1979, when he was 13, while his elder brother looked after the family business.[1]

He studied at Eton College in England, followed by Le Rosey in Switzerland, and later graduated from the Oxford University with an MA in English Literature.[1][4][5] His elder sister, Bina Shivdasani, Countess Sella di Monteluce (1949 - 2006), worked in the field of women's education and became the first Asian High Sheriff of Greater London in 2002.[6]


After his education, he started his career working with his older brother Azad Shivdasani in managing their family businesses from Geneva.[1] After having worked in his family business for two years, he founded Six Senses BVI and also Soneva Fushi spa and resort on the island of Kunfunadhoo in Maldives in 1995, along with his Swedish wife, Eva, who was the creative director. Thereafter, they started Evason group of hotels and the Six Senses Resorts & Spas, across South East Asia and Europe. Soneva Kiri on the island of Koh Kood, Thailand opened in 2009.[4][7] In 2006, Soneva Fushi made a revenue of approximately US$20 million and by 2011, Six Senses was a $150–175 million international luxury spa and resort chain with 26 resorts and 41 spas.[8]

Eventually he sold Six Senses to Pegasus Capital in mid-2012, to focus on owned resorts with private residences, as part of the "One Owner, One Operator, One Philosophy, One Brand" strategy under Soneva.[9][10]

Sonu was one of the founders of the Soneva Foundation (previously known as the SLOWLIFE Foundation). For nearly 20 years Sonu and his wife, Eva, have created the template for sustainable tourism, coining the concepts of SLOW LIFE and intelligent luxury which recognises the ability for luxury holiday making and care for the environment to co-exist with perfect ease.[11] The Soneva Foundation is a UK registered charity (#1138811) which supports the development of innovative and imaginative projects whose impacts directly address social and environmental challenges around the world.

The Soneva Foundation has so far raised almost USD six million from Soneva's 2% environmental levy. The money has been used to fund a forest restoration programme in northern Thailand where around half a million trees have been planted to mitigate 255,000 tonnes of CO2. The money has also funded a windmill in South India. The Foundation is also using the money to provide heavily subsidised cooking stoves in Myanmar and Darfur benefiting around 180,000 people to date. These stoves are extremely efficient and thus prevent the need for trees to be felled, reduce indoor toxic emissions, and save the families huge expenses from buying firewood. In Darfur, it also means that women do not need to spend as much back-breaking time carrying firewood and away from the protection of their IDP camps.

Personal life[edit]

He first met Eva Malmstrom, a Swedish fashion model, upon his sister Bina Sella di Monteluce's yacht in Grand Prix in Monte Carlo, they later married.[1] They spent their honeymoon travelling around some of the world’s most exclusive hotels and resorts and decided that they'd like to open a resort like no other. So they leased an abandoned resort on a far flung 100-acre atoll in the Maldives and set about creating their dream and a few years later opened the Soneva Fushi resort.[12] Eva turned into a designer, and went on to become creative director, designing interiors, fabrics and furnishings at their resorts.[13]


  1. ^ a b c d e Vir Sanghvi (March 27, 2010). "A rich man's world". Hindustan Times. Retrieved Apr 25, 2013. 
  2. ^ "The luxury king: Sonu Shivdasani's Six Senses resorts are playgrounds for the super-rich". The Telegraph. January 10, 2010. Retrieved Apr 25, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Poets of hope". Business Standard. September 24, 2011. Retrieved April 25, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Executive Profile: Sonu Shivdasani". Business Week. Retrieved Apr 25, 2013. 
  5. ^ "'Life's easy if you enjoy what you are doing'". The Times of India. Feb 17, 2002. Retrieved Apr 25, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Obitiaries: Bina Shivdasani, Countess Sella di Monteluce". The Times. October 4, 2006. Retrieved Apr 25, 2013. 
  7. ^ "What the butler sees on Paradise Island". The Telegraph. 17 Mar 2007. Retrieved Apr 25, 2013. . Indian entrepreneur, Sonu Shivdasani 
  8. ^ "Six Senses to redefine luxury for Indian consumers: Shivdasani". Economic Times. Mar 18, 2011. Retrieved Apr 25, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Soneva Group History". Soneva website. Retrieved April 25, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Q & A SONU SHIVDASANI, Chairman & CEO Soneva Group". Luxury Travel Bible. Updated 19/6/12.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  11. ^ "The Soneva Foundation". Retrieved 2016-02-25. 
  12. ^ "Vir Sanghvi". Retrieved 2016-02-25. 
  13. ^ "Travel Insider: Sonu and Eva Shivdasani". Harper's Bazaar. 16 November 2010. Retrieved Apr 25, 2013. 

External links[edit]