Making our fantasy island dreams come true is the not-so-best-kept secret that is Soneva Kiri, on stunning and secluded Koh Kood. It’s an exquisite escape, just an hour and twenty minutes flight by private plane from bustling Bangkok (plus, a short speedboat ride to add to the spirit of the expedition). Yet it seems like a world away and is just what every OutThere escapist needs.
It’s hard to begin to explain the castaway ambience at Soneva Kiri, but the resort’s motto of ‘no shoes, no news’ gives it a good go. Even getting there was an amazing adventure, landing at a rural airstrip at Koh Mai Si ‘airport’ (with a beach shack for a terminal that only really serves the purpose to welcome and bid farewell to Soneva Kiri’s guests) on the resort’s chartered, private-air shuttle service.
Walking through the forest on our wooden walkway, we arrived at our enormous, four-bedroom villa to a mesmerising sunset over the sea in front of it, setting us right into the mood for some barefoot luxury. Our accommodation (and all villas here at Soneva Kiri, for that matter) is best described as ‘jungle-chic’; complete with a somewhat ‘no-walls’ aesthetic that brings the outside into our private spaces, and the inside out, too. In fact, the entire villa was mostly made out of wood, bamboo and coconut/palm leaves, designed to provide that remote-island sense of place and activate a playful spirit of adventure.
Beautifully appointed, each of our four suites was individual – from chic tree-houses with four-poster beds to more contemporary travel-themed rooms complete with steamer trunks that hid televisions. Despite great comforts, everything here at Soneva Kiri had been perfectly curated to always bring us back to what is important: the surrounding nature. Yes, the aesthetic is undoubtedly rustic, but the accommodation here comes with everything a modern traveller could need and want. Our personal butler (one is assigned to every villa) made absolutely sure of that.
The four suites and living areas of the villa, including outdoor dining, an indoor recreation room and an outdoor games room/snooker space, encircle a divine infinity plunge pool, flanked by a bright yellow water slide, for younger guests, and of course, those who, like us, are young at heart.
Right on time
While you’re Out There
The Soneva Kiri team is always keen to keep guests on their toes (and returning), so they have created an ongoing programme of stunning, experiential events and pop-ups that provide travellers with that added incentive or reason to come to the island. From celebrity chef residencies to unique festive celebrations or cultural events, there is always something special going on (on top of the already busy calendar of regular occurrences and experiences). It’s best to keep an eye out for what’s on offer so you can time your visit with some of them.
On the resort’s own bit of island sand, South Beach, there was no shortage of things to do, whether we wanted to kick back on a sun lounger and sip on freshly-felled coconuts or head out for a spin on the resort’s own Hobie catamaran, kayaks or paddleboards. Those who want to get deeper into island life can opt to snorkel or scuba dive in the crystal-clear, warm waters around the resort, where Soneva has embarked on a coral conservation project to help rebalance the underwater ecosystem. Or if that sounds like just too much active fun, the Soneva Kiri team can take you out in search of an amazing, secluded beach. The island has one such swathe of sand and sea for every single day of the week.
On one particular day, we decided to kayak out around the island’s mangrove swamps, to emerge at the jetty of a stunning little hideaway restaurant, Krua Mae Tuk. The charismatic Khun Tuk heads up the kitchen here and cooks up some delicious local Thai cuisine in a makeshift shack galley. The ambience is magical; we dined amidst the sounds of the mangroves, with only local village dogs and children for company.
Elsewhere in the resort, the cuisine is equally stupendous. Peruvian-Japanese fusion is served up at The View, which comes with its own sunset bar and subterranean, cave-like wine cellar. Here, Chef Christophe prepares a multi-course Nikkei tasting menu, with a view of the fiery sunset (dining also continues into the night, under the stars).
Breakfast each day was presented in the resort’s buffet-driven main dining room that caters to every possible taste, with individual all-day salas for chocolate fans, ice-cream enthusiasts and snackers alike. In the evenings, a wealth of international dishes are also on offer here. Each Wednesday and Sunday night, there is a special, belly-busting theme: an Asian street food buffet for the former and a Mediterranean feast for the latter.
Destination dining at beautiful, romantic spots around the island is available on request, a highlight was being hoisted up in a tree pod for lunch one day, with a bird’s-eye view of the bay as waiters zip-lined in to take our orders and serve our food. For plant-based gourmets, the resort’s own organic produce garden plays host to a pop-up eatery that comes complete with a medicinal mixology class with your own ‘biological bartender’.
The experiential holiday does not stop there. Other features include an amazing outdoor movie theatre, stargazing from the resort’s own observatory, and the exquisite Soneva Kiri spa. And while it all sounds like a rather packed schedule for an escapist holiday, believe us when we say that Soneva Kiri is all about getting away from it all. In hospitality, that phrase is often misused, but here on Koh Kood, it is a philosophy that is celebrated.