BY BRUNO AVEILLAN
TEXT BY ZOÉ BALTHUS
Table of Contents
Welcome to Soneva
Guardians of places that have existed long before us, our unique vision is inspired by nature’s magnitude, mystery and enchanting beauty.
Founded on shared passions and committed to innovation, we are a thriving community working hand in hand with the environment to craft beautiful, beyond bespoke experiences where discovery is a way of life.
With our expert hosts as your personal guide, we invite you to explore and delight in the possibility of each moment as time melts away, and lose yourself in experiences that will stay with you for a lifetime.
Sonu and Eva
About love and friendship
This huge island villa is probably the best investment I ever made for the future of my family, in my whole life. Not to say that I have ever really stopped spoiling them. But this property is a real treasure and in such an enchanting location. It is a parcel of pure happiness with never a trace of ill humor to be perceived.
Nothing disturbs the peace and quiet prevailing over the villa, which we chose very carefully among a thousand other potential havens in the world. Here, we are safe from misery and terror, far from the hue and cry. We abandon our anxiety off shore.
We chose to make our holiday home here, on this superb stretch of sand, where the clear blue waters compete with the luxuriant greenery of the Pacific jungle. I often think of Rothko’s painting here, White & Greens in Blue.
The whole clan is happy here. We enjoy our wonder space! Nobody is in anyone’s way, you can be on your own whenever you want to be, undisturbed by the adults’ cheerful chatter and the gang of playful children excited by their water games.
My wife and I have started coming here more often throughout the year. My sons are taking over the business and I am moving gradually towards retirement. I can still take the reins from a distance in case of emergency.
We have Internet access and mobile networks and there is always a seaplane ready to take me to my private jet only if I really need to attend an important meeting at a moment’s notice. But most of the time the best is, for everyone, to stay away from electronic tools, being really disconnected from the rest of the world. I abide by the local saying, “no news, no shoes.”
Luxury, Calm and Voluptuousness
It makes me so happy to spend time here on my own with my wife, resting the two of us, in love. It is delectable. We have the most beautiful romantic candle-lit dinners with starry skies on the shores of the Indian Ocean. We enjoy the sheer sweetness of our life together, in this place which is so perfect for us. We also spend family holiday several times a year, here on this magnificent island full of oriental flavors. My gorgeous daughter and grandchildren come out to join us. My son-in-law will be coming later. I have a whole list of surprises lined up for them.
I filled the children’s bedrooms with new books as I want them to read here, my blonde daughter’s room with refined presents I brought back from Paris and Milan. Also a divine little painting I acquired for her at Sotheby’s in London. She is such a graceful lady, in love with Art. I am proud of her. Showering my beloved ones with exceptional gifts is a little fault of mine.
Playground & Pleasure
Sometimes we come with couples of friends to spend a few days here, laughing and playing like kids, taking boat-trips, going game fishing, deep-sea diving and going at the discovery of other atolls around. The area is a beauty. The bravest among us might devote themselves to a cool game of tennis while others go and work out in the air-conditioned gym. Some would rather go to the spa to enjoy some Asian massages, have a relaxing treatment or just lounge in the shade reading with the deep blue sea in sight. Sometimes I invite special business partners here, in moderation of course for the Soneva villa is above all our secret garden. Nevertheless, sometimes when we are on the brink of signing a major deal, I do like to celebrate it here. The place inspires trust and respect. The wine cellar is always well stocked and we have the world’s best vintage wines to drink. Everything is always done in the best possible taste. There is a sort of perfection here which enthralls me.
My sister and her grand-children sometimes join us.
The family has bonded here over the years. Tender memories have been raised here among us, memories which are shared by children and adults, old and young, men and women alike and which now stand firm like indestructible bridges between us.
Our reunions have become traditional, all like Christmas in the sunshine, full of love and true warmth.
The Inner Child awakens
Perhaps what pleases me most on the island of Soneva, is rediscovering the innocence of my own childhood. Here I relive my youth walking barefoot for weeks on end and cycling in the forest, my grand-children and I stuffing ourselves with sweets or observing little rabbits and chameleons in the woods. It’s not unusual for me to experience here feelings that I thought I’d lost forever and have old memories awoken. I enjoy dragging my grandson down to the beach by the hand, sitting together on the white sand, under the shade of wild flowers, watching majestic herons fishing in the crystal clear water while I tell him stories, some true, some invented. Just for the pleasure of seeing his eyes sparkle, or seeing him roll around laughing, to hear him ask all sorts of questions and to share these secret and intimate moments with him, times which belong to he and I alone.
“Were you really a pirate as well, Papy?” “Yes, when I was your age, I dreamt of all kinds of heroic adventures and I invented whole worlds full of danger but also of amazing and wonderful things. I was a musketeer to please Milady. I was a sailor who sailed the world over. I was prince and dragon-slayer. As Robin Hood I drove off evil bandits. And as Robinson Crusoe, I had my Mr Friday. His real name was Simon and he was my best friend.”
“Papy, will you tell me the stories of your adventures with Simon? Please?” “Alright, but only if we go straight to the chocolate pavilion, I’m dying to go.” “Oh, me too, but Mamie said we weren’t to go there anymore.” “Well we just won’t tell her!”
One of the joys of being a grand-father is to face the perils of forbidden fruits just to amuse the children. They’re not forbidden here anyway. You can’t punish them for appreciating delicious food, but being ill-tempered is not allowed.
A Garden of Delight
The chefs of Soneva come from all over the world and their every meal is a sensory feast. They fill and satisfy us with an extraordinary variety of dishes with their healthy and delicious ingredients.We really miss these cooks, for weeks after we return to our daily lives in the city.
We can even learn how to make dishes with the cooks, wearing their white chef’s hats. Kids love the cooking classes. We also go and watch the mushrooms growing in the amazing mushroom farm. Soneva has its own vegetable gardens where you can take in the scent of fresh mint, thyme, rosemary and basil growing alongside the lettuce, tomatoes and squash.
This is yet another place where I like to bring my grand-children and teach them a little about botany. I talk to the children about the ecosystem. Today’s world is threatened by pollution for which we humans are responsible. It’s important to ensure that the future generations are aware of our impact on the planet and how important it is to be conscious of our decisions in order to maintain a healthy and sustainable environment for our children sake. At Soneva, one raises awareness and sensitivity of this vital matter.
It should not be a luxury to walk in clean countryside, unpolluted by plastic bags, uncluttered by bottles, tin cans, household and industrial waste. But sadly it is. People should learn to respect the original beauty of the planet, not to throw things on the ground. Here it is ideally clean, the sand is soft and white. “The colorful fishes need unpolluted waters to survive, as people need clean air to breath. Delicious food is above all healthy food. To be beautiful and safe, a place needs to be clean.”
“Papy, if everyone on the planet was careful with these things, could the whole world be like Soneva?” “Yes child, that’s right, it could. Wouldn’t it be supreme to live in a world that was always like our precious island... a garden of delight?”
Bruno Aveillan, international film director, photographer and visual artist, dedicates his activity to several fields of expression. He has developed a very personal approach to his art which includes photography shows and books as well as experimental films and installations which are regularly exhibited throughout the world. The work of this globetrotter artist focuses above all on the human condition and on the concepts of wandering and memory. His style is characterized by a certain way of “drawing with light” or “obscuring with light” as stated by artist Marcos Lutyens in the foreword of Aveillan’s book Diotopes. As film director and photographer he has received over 180 awards and his work is internationally acclaimed. Many of his pieces feature in prestigious collections, both private and public, throughout Europe, the United States and Asia. Further to the exhibition Bruno Aveillan, retrospective of a world master held in 2014 at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) of San Diego, the Multimedia Art Museum in Moscow (MAMM) held a major exhibition entitled Isolation Ceremony in 2015. Again in 2015, Aveillan’s work was shown at the Grand Palais during the Art Paris show and a major retrospective entitled Flashback was held at the Contemporary Art Center of Perpignan. In 2014, the eminent house Hasselblad published the work of Aveillan’s work in its book VICTOR #2, alongside such great names as David Hockney and Anton Corbijn. Aveillan has published several books including Diotopes (Léo Scheer, 2008), Mnemo # Lux (Kerber, 2010), Fascinatio (Chez Higgins, 2011), Fulguratio (Chez Higgins, 2011), Bolshoi Underground (Au-delà du raisonnable, 2012), Acetate Spirit (NOIR, 2013) and produced experimental films such as Minotaur-Ex (2006), Morpholab (2009), WHEAT (2008) and Papillon (2012).
Zoé Balthus is a writer, an art critic, a blogger and a culture reporter for an international news agency. She has spent about twenty years abroad (Vietnam, USA, Britain, New-Zealand, Pakistan, Uruguay) and keeps on travelling around the world. She wrote essays on Bruno Aveillan’s work published in Mnemo # Lux (Kerber, 2010), Fascinatio (Chez Higgins, 2011), Fulguratio (Chez Higgins, 2011), Bolshoi Underground (Au-delà du raisonnable, 2012), poems Acetate Spirit (NOIR, 2013), foreword and texts in Flashback (NOIR, 2015) as well as texts for his experimental films such as Minotaur-Ex (2006), Morpholab (2009) and Papillon (2012). She also worked with the photographer Olivier Coulange, Txiki Margalef, Claude Rouyer and the sculptors Paul de Pignol, Nicolas Alquin, François Weil, the visual artists Cécile Hug and Bruno Hadjadj. She published the short story Voir, toute une histoire in the litterature review Behind (2015) ; the essay Les Trahisons terrestres de Marina Tsvétaeva in the review La Moitié du Fourbi (2015) ; the short story Amande douce (Derrière la Salle de bains, 2015) ; the essay Walter Benjamin, la plume à l’envers in the review La Moitié du Fourbi (2014) ; the short story A l’extrémité fuyante d’elle-même (Derrière la Salle de Bains, 2013) ; the essay Rilke et Tsvétaeva s’effleurent au septième ciel in the review Nunc (2012).
© 2015, Éditions
Photographs: Bruno Aveillan Texts: Zoé Balthus
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