For the past three years, Ultimate Library have worked in collaboration with Soneva Fushi in the Maldives to introduce the power of books to the guests on this desert island resort. The Barefoot Bookshop has captured the imagination of the world, with international press picking up on the position as desert island bookseller as one of the most desirable jobs on the planet. The collaboration was introduced to fuse Ultimate Library’s passion for bringing reading to holiday guests with Soneva’s culture of sustainable luxury.

As the placement now enters its third year, Ultimate Library and Soneva are pleased to have opened a second bookshop in the Maldives, located on the beautiful Soneva Jani resort which resides just a short boat journey from Soneva Fushi. Both island locations are now complete with specially stocked bookshops to help keep guests entertained and enlightened during their stays in the Indian Ocean.

As bookseller Aislinn Shivakumar returned to the successful shop on Soneva Fushi in November for the third year running, Alice Spencer, travelled to the new bookshop on Soneva Jani. Suspended over the ocean, the Soneva Jani bookshop sits for guests to enjoy a slice of paradise whilst browsing a selection of specially curated titles provided by Ultimate Library.

Initially, starting the bookshops in the Maldives was an excellent way to bring contemporary fiction straight to the guests at Soneva and provided a cutting-edge form of bespoke luxury for the clientele who visit the Maldives. As the years have gone by and the operation has developed, it has become clear that the art of reading now sits somewhere within the wellness agenda for luxury resorts such as Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani. The ambiance that books provide is at once relaxing, comforting and also formative for many travellers who find themselves away from home.

So far, both of the booksellers have achieved great successes at their respective shops and have learnt invaluable lessons about the power of reading for pleasure whilst on holiday. As well as helping to provide guests with a bespoke bookselling experience, Aislinn and Alice also help in other ways to get guests to think about how reading can aid in cultivating everyday wellness. From creative writing workshops, to digital detoxing in the form of thinking about solving the social dilemma, guests are invited to take part in a number of exercises and classes that will help them understand how reading fits within a practice of living better.

As we are all aware, reading can act as a form of mindfulness and the health benefits of picking up before bed have been lauded by sleep professionals far and wide. Reading allows one the ability to exist in the present moment, whisked away by the language and world of a writer. At Ultimate Library, we have increasingly found that resorts are looking to incorporate books in their plans for guest engagement, as a way of encouraging their guests to slow down and immerse themselves in the full experience of their holiday destination.

For both Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani, books were chosen on island life, nature and the sea to help reflect the stunning surroundings and landscapes of the Maldives. Books that are location specific in resorts and hotels are often popular for guests who are looking to travel more consciously, and as sustainable travel becomes ever important, this desire for travel consciousness is something that a good book on the area will often help to illuminate. Books that help to capture the culture of an area are indispensable to guests who are mindful of their environment.

More deeply, titles were chosen to reflect the new trend of wellness more explicitly, with a large selection of books pertaining to yoga, mindfulness and better living. These titles are always popular and often go hand-in-hand with the activities that take place on resorts like Soneva Fushi and Jani, where a spa and yoga studio are crucial to the activity agenda.

Overall, Ultimate Library’s collaboration with the Soneva Resorts in the Maldives has helped to show how books are increasingly being used by resorts and consumers alike to facilitate in the conversation surrounding wellness. For centuries, the act of reading has been one likened to meditation, and now in a world distracted by the bright lights of social media, books are more important than ever in encouraging people to return to themselves.

To find out more about Soneva please visit their website here. All images are credited to Julia Neeson.