• Nikki Busuttil

Ever So Escape... Soneva Kiri, Koh Kood

Updated: Sep 19, 2019

Seeking seclusion from the Songkran (Thai New Year) water-splashing madness that occurs every year around this time, I looked to a name that inspires thoughts of luxury, sustainability and calm...

The Soneva brand is synonymous with effortless luxury, and Soneva Kiri, on Koh Kood, with its 'no news. no shoes' policy, was exactly what I was craving. Songkran is an incredibly fun time in Thailand, but sometimes I only want to get wet on my own terms, swimming in a pool, untroubled by others, or paddling around in crystal clear waters, lapping white sands. Koh Kood, although Thailand's fourth largest island, is very sparsely populated, serenely beautiful and usually a trek to get to from Bangkok.

There are a myriad of ways in which to reach this island sanctuary that is home to Soneva Kiri, tucked away in the Eastern Seaboard of Thailand, close to the Cambodian border. From Bangkok, by far the most extravagant is a small resort plane from Bangkok to their private airstrip on the tiny neighbouring island (70mins) and a transfer (10mins) by speedboat to the resort's pier (approx. USD800 per person per way). This can be arranged directly with the resort.

You can also travel by car to Trat (Laem Sok pier) on the mainland (from THB3,500-4,500 per way), or take a one-hour flight with Bangkok Airways (check prices) from Suvarnabhumi to Trat airport. The time taken for both journeys door-to-door is roughly the same. The pier for Koh Kood is at Laem Sok, so from the airport you need transportation to the pier (about one hour at THB500Baht per person per way). Then, either take a private speedboat (approx. THB15,000 per boat per way) across to the island, or public speedboat/ferry/catamaran (from THB350-600 per person per way). From the Ao Salad pier on Koh Kood, there is then a free shuttle to the resort, but you land in the host village (staff quarters), since this is the only (slightly rocky) road access to Soneva Kiri.

Unless you are willing to splurge on the island-bound flight, expect a rather long journey to the resort, but whichever route you choose, it is well and truly worth the expense or time... Even if you can't afford the award-winning luxury of Soneva Kiri, Koh Kood is still a must-visit destination in Thailand.

The resort, open since 2009, is currently made up of 35 villas, varying in view, size and degrees of luxury, snaked around the coastline on a huge plot of land, with an eco-friendly, environmentally responsible focus, discreet service, assured privacy and gourmet dining, in a nutshell. Innumerable thoughtful and mindful touches abound to ensure every single experience at the resort makes for an unfettered, uncluttered escape. The tagline of the Soneva brand is 'Ever So...' and it is just that... It is ever so... everything!

I stayed in a Cliff Pool Villa Suite (above), and, as its name suggests, this one-bedroom villa is perched above the ocean with a resplendent view, by day and by sunset. Huge in size, as with all villas at Soneva Kiri, the wrap-around infinity pools are impressive and perfect for a private morning swim. The layout is best described in picture format (above and below), but to summarise: three separate buildings make up the bedroom, dressing room and double washroom, each with daybeds. Between the two latter rooms is an outdoor sunken bathtub, as well as one indoor and one outdoor shower. The sun terrace and open-air dining/lounging area is perfect for entertaining and in-villa dining with a view.

From the vast selection of in-room amenities, daily sparkling and still water refills in glass bottles, the sheer villa comfort, your personally assigned 24-hour Mr/Ms Friday (butler service), the private golf cart given to you on arrival (which is magically turned around and charged every morning ready for use), and daily diverse offering of activities, to the complimentary handmade chocolate room (below), and ice cream/sorbet room, with around 60 different flavours to choose from, it's heavenly bliss. In fact, it's definitely worthy of the title as one of the most luxurious resorts in Thailand, year after year.

Buffet breakfast is an extravagant affair, complete with wheatgrass shots, smoothies, an exciting array of fresh fruits and veggies from the resort's 'Eco Centro', with live cooking stations, featuring daily changing local Thai specialities, an entire refrigerated cheese and cold cuts room, and ordering ã la carte of eggs, waffles, pancakes and other tempting breakfast favourites. Those with gluten and lactose issues are well-served here too, and staff are versed in all manner of other dietary requirements and restrictions. Hurrah!

Sadly, as with many areas of Thailand nowadays, snorkelling and diving is not the most ideal around the island, especially if you are used to more colourful coral and sea life. However, there are many other activities on offer. Just some include a boat shuttle to and from the resort's private North Beach at your leisure, paddleboarding, wakeboarding, kayaking, jungle treks, eco tours, an outdoor cinema (below), kids' club, high-tech observatory, yoga, spa and detox programmes. During Thai cooking classes, Chef Benz takes students to the market and teaches a few local dishes in her restaurant. Soneva Kiri also hosts visiting specialists in mind, body and soul matters. I was able to attend an interesting introductory session with a visiting practitioner on dream interpretation and the inner child, with Claude Simard.

One of my ultimate requirements for any luxury getaway is a comprehensive 24-hour gym (below). Anyone who knows me enough or has travelled with me is aware of my burning desire to work out every day and at any hour of my choosing. Soneva Kiri, again, does not disappoint; laden with well-maintained TechnoGym equipment and more, open all hours, this gym is stocked with fresh towels, water, fruit and homemade health bars, as well as a loaded iPod sound system.

One of the most striking aspects of being at this resort, on top of all of the above, is the feeling of being at one with nature there. Surrounded by tropical rainforest and all structures made of repurposed wood, bamboo and stretched canopies (the only sign through the thick trees that the resort is hidden there), Soneva Kiri achieves a sense of tranquility and oneness, blending almost seamlessly with its environment.

This connection with nature helps to completely relax and rejuvenate, as if there were something in the air... Instead, it's just good old fashioned fresh air and unadulterated luxury: a recipe for indulgence. You leave the island in part with a heavy heart at having to rejoin the real world, but invigorated, all the same, at having accomplished your goal of switching off and escaping, even if you cheated from time to time by checking emails.

For more information on this inarguably world-class resort, visit www.soneva.com.

(NB: Certain images were supplied courtesy of Soneva Kiri - photographer credit on mouse over)

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© 2019 created and curated by Nikki Busuttil.