Koh Kood’s most prestigious property offers barefoot luxury at its best
The island of Koh Kood is Thailand at its tropical best—full of pristine beaches and jungle hillsides—but getting to it from Bangkok can take the better part of an entire day. However, when you book a stay at the über-luxe Soneva Kiri Resort you can be taken there in exclusive style aboard an 8-seat Cessna Caravan 280B, which drops you off at the resort’s private island landing strip in just over an hour (departing from Suvarnabhumi International airport, a slight additional fee applies).
The flight itself is unforgettable, and from the low cruising altitude of 9,000 feet you get great views of the other islands in the Gulf of Thailand. But soon enough you’re on solid ground again, and after a quick speedboat ride across the bay you are welcomed by the Soneva Kiri staff and appointed your own personal ‘Mr. or Ms. Friday’, a staff member who’s task it is to see that you have everything you need to ensure a pleasant stay. The resort also playfully enforces a ‘no shoes’ policy, so guests are encouraged to go barefoot for the duration of their visit. In fact, a key philosophy of the Soneva group is the ‘slowlife’ approach, which promotes sustainable, organic, and inspired experiences.
Each of the 36 villas on offer has a private pool and guests also have access to their very own electric golf cart—which comes in handy for getting around the sprawling but well-organized property. The villas range in size from the seven 403 sq.m Ocean Pool Villa Suites, to the six-bedroom Private Cliff Pool Reserve Villa which encompasses an extraordinary 2,928 sq.m and can accommodate up to 16 persons.
We found ourselves comfortably housed in one of the four Beach Pool Villa Suites (403 sq.m), and while the unit exuded luxury at every turn, it also blended in beautifully with the surrounding greenery. Bamboo and other woods are utilized extensively in the construction, and the bathing facilities are almost entirely outdoors—including a sexy oval-shaped bathtub built into the wooden terrace. The room also has many high-tech amenities, including fridge, espresso machine, air-conditioning, flatscreen TV, and in-room Wi-Fi, but it still feels charmingly rustic (the TV, for instance, is not even revealed until you flip open the lid of what looks like a stack of vintage suitcases by the foot of the bed).
The sunrise-facing villa also came with its own private strip of beach, but the gorgeous swimming pool—which wraps around the length of the villa’s façade—was utilized a bit more on our trip. There’s also a spacious outdoor deck which overlooks the pool, complete with two sun loungers and an enormous L-shaped shaded sofa.
Each morning a bountiful breakfast is served buffet style—with an array of made-to-order options available as well—at the ocean facing The View restaurant. However, “the view” is even better if you make a booking for the Treepod Dining experience (available for breakfast, lunch, or dinner). This specially-designed dining booth seats four adults and motorized pulley system hoists it high in the air, giving lucky diners an unparalleled view of the bay, looking out from between the treetop canopy. The meal is then served by a designated waiter who uses a zipline to whisk himself back and forth to where the food arrives fresh from the kitchen.
More “down-to-earth” dining experiences are readily available at Soneva Kiri, including à la carte dining at the beachside So Spirited restaurant. But for a true taste of Thailand have at least one dinner at Benz restaurant. Housed in a traditional wooden stilted house, with a deck built over the water, the concept here is “no-menu”—meaning that Chef Benz prepares her dishes using whatever is fresh that day. The multi-course menu we sampled was absolutely delicious and the quality of the ingredients was undeniable.
There are many unique recreational diversions scattered throughout the property, including the charming Cinema Paradiso, where movie buffs can watch classics under the stars at an overwater outdoor cinema. Another section worth a visit is the resort’s vast Eco Centro facility, where leftover cooking oil is transformed into bio-diesel, and where row upon row of carefully tended gardens produce much of the produce used in the on-site restaurants.
The resort also boasts the Six Senses Spa, which consists of eight spacious treatments rooms nestled deep in the tranquil jungle greenery. Here a team of highly skilled therapists take guests on uplifting sensory journeys— from mud massages, to Thai herbal baths, silk facials, and warm oil Ayurvedic body massages.
And while the Sovena Kiri is perhaps the ultimate destination for carefree couples on a romantic retreat, the resort also takes good care of families with children. Little ones under five years of age receive dedicated childcare at the Eco Den, while older kids are invited to explore their creativity at the fantastically constructed Children’s Den, all under the supervision of dedicated caretakers (leaving mom and dad some time alone back in that glorious villa).
Soneva Kiri Resort
110, Moo 4, Koh Kood District
Tel: 082 208 8888
Koh Kood Island Excursions
The staff at Sovena Kiri can organize an array of daytime excursions, and one of the most popular is a snorkeling trip out to some of the neighbouring uninhabited islands which are ringed with coral reefs and home to schools or brightly coloured fish and other marine animals. You can also go inland, by car, and have a guided tour of the local fishing village at Ao Salad. But if weather permits, don’t miss the thrill of swimming in the freshwater tidal pool that forms at the base of the Khlong Chao Waterfall.
To get to the falls takes a short trek through the forest, and a clamber over some slippery rocks, but the reward is a refreshing dip in the cool waters. You can also stand under the falls themselves—if you are a good enough swimmer to fight the current and make it to the rocks below the cascade. The falls are also famous for a 1911 visit by His Majesty King Rama VI who carved his initials in the face of one of the boulders.
By Bruce Scott