Unpaid advertisement | Disclaimer: Soneva invited me to spend a night at Soneva Kiri with full-board and they also covered my wonderful private jet from Bangkok.
Hi, my name is Annika and I love luxury hotels.
There I said it, sue me. Usually, my travels revolve around Airbnbs, local guesthouses, and the occasional homestay but to be honest, I don’t share this decidedly unglamorous side of my trips very often or in detail.
But if you are reading me frequently it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise when I say that it is luxury hotels which make my heart beat faster. By now I am almost grown up and have learned to behave too so the last time I flooded a bathroom in a marble jacuzzi or locked myself out on the balcony without even knowing my room number yet are long gone. Or so I like to think.
Mind you, it is not just about the luxury and the beds with a neverending army of pillows but I love hotels with a certain something. A unique concept that turns the hotel from a mere place to sleep into the destination itself. Usually one of the most important aspects of that is a setting of unspoiled nature – to me the biggest luxury you can have in this day and age.
After having stayed at Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani in the Maldives last year, I was incredibly excited to be invited to the Soneva Kiri Resort on Koh Kood. If you are looking for a luxury escape in Thailand this is the place to go.
My stay came at the exact right time for me: I had been in rainy Bangkok for two weeks (I am an involuntary off-season traveler simply because I always forget to check the calendar) and my tan lines were in dire need of an update. And since my princess phantasies don’t revolve around a Prince Charming but outdoor showers, private plunge pools, and sushi for breakfast a trip to Soneva was just what I needed.
Soneva Kiri – The luxury escape in Thailand
Getting to Soneva Kiri & Getting Around
Getting to any Koh Kood beach resort is an adventure but the arrival at Soneva Kiri takes the cake. Move over, Maldives seaplanes, because Soneva Kiri has its own fleet of tiny private planes to get you to the island. Unlike seaplanes, they come with comfy big leather seats, a snack compartment (which I didn’t get to see thanks to a greedy person who was sitting upfront and didn’t share), and the ultimate jetsetter feeling.
Honestly, flying in this plane was a big part why I really wanted to go to Soneva Kiri. I love tiny planes as they remind me of the splendor and adventure of the very first flights; they scream old-world Hollywood somehow – even though I was allowed to board in my Birkenstocks. I would have called shotgun but as it was, I was happy chilling in my super comfy seat reminiscent of a Lazy Boy.
Flights depart early in the morning from Bangkok and while you still have to go through security like a mere mortal everything else is taken care of. A boarding pass with no seat assignment, no luggage restrictions, and dumplings for breakfast at the Bangkok Airways lounge that Soneva guests can use. And of course, there is no waiting at the luggage claim once you arrive.
My second highlight followed quickly after I was picked up by my Ms. Friday, Gig. I was already familiar with the concept of Fridays from the Sonevas in the Maldives – a cute term for a personal butler who looks after you 24/7 if needed. Personally it is a concept I struggle with a bit at times because I really don’t need anyone to color coordinate M&Ms for me and tend to feel a bit awkward if I don’t have anything to do for my Friday or have to fight off advances for them to do things I am very capable to do on my own. But with Gig, it was different as she was always there when needed but luckily left me mainly to my own devices after check-in. I guess that is a special skill in itself to figure out what kind of guest you have and how much attention they want and need.
Soneva Kiri is quite expansive and hilly which is why guests get around on buggies. After many ‘no’s’ when inquiring in the Maldives whether I could drive the buggy myself (apparently staff has a to get a special buggy license), my question to Gig whether I could drive the buggy here was almost rhetorical. But to my utter delight, she explained to me that yes, indeed this was my buggy to drive around. Hurrah! Speak about a kid in a candy store… Families and return guests even get their customized wooden nameplate, a cute feature that makes me want to come back so I can get my own too. And since I love driving in general, let’s just say that I was enjoying myself maybe a bit too much racing driving up and down the hills.
Soneva Kiri Villas
There are various categories of villas at Soneva Kiri that differ in size, layout, and location. I had a Sunset Ocean View Pool Villa Suite set on the cliff which is perfect for a solo traveler or a couple offering maximum privacy and solitude. One bedroom with direct access to one of two (!!) private pools as well as an outdoor bathroom, indoor vanities, and dressing room. In addition, my villa had a whole outdoor lounge and dining area next to the second pool. Why anyone needs two private pools in one villa I do not know but who am I to question the existence of beautiful pools big enough to take laps?!
Something I adore from my previous Soneva visits is the option to customize your stay before you even arrive. Upon booking, you will get an email to choose anything and everything from minibar contents to bathroom scents and robe size. For me, that meant a big collection of sparkling water (drinking water is free and provided in pretty glass bottles) as well as laundry detergent waiting in my bathroom and various pillows to try on my bed.
For those traveling with kids, the villas with beach access offer plenty of outdoor space as well as the possibility to put up extra beds in the dressing room. And if you are coming with a whole entourage, Soneva Kiri even has an expansive 6 bedroom residence!
There is no shortcoming of luxury escapes in Thailand but what makes Soneva Kiri so special are the sheer endless possibilities to catch a glimpse into the local culture. Staying at a luxury resort on an island can sometimes make it quite hard to escape the grounds and actually get to see something of the country but luckily Soneva’s got you covered. Their activities itinerary offers various experiences on the ground and in Koh Kood. From chocolate truffle making to waterfall excursions and sunrise cruises, there is something for everyone and best of all, quite a few of these experiences are completely free of charge.
There are movie nights at their Cinema Paradiso as well as daily stargazing in the astronomy tower and the hotel’s very own North Beach is perfect for watersports (if the tide allows) as well as getting Insta-worthy swing shots. On the note of Instagram: you have to dine in their famous Tree Pod, a unique dining experience in the canopy. The pod is booked up quickly since they only have one and so I only got to go for a quick photo shoot. Mind you, I can imagine this setting to be super romantic at night or fun during the day as the waiters zipline your food to you.
As it was, I didn’t mind my quick stint as I was feeling quite sick at this point. Just know that next time you see a blogger or Instagrammer gazing pensively into the distance, not showing their face it might just be because she has a cold, is red and blotchy, and sweating profusely.
Another food highlight is a dinner at Benz’s Restaurant which was already praised by no other than Gwyneth Paltrow. A short drive from Soneva Kiri Resort you will find this small wooden restaurant overlooking the mangroves – welcome to Benz’s! The menu is always local and seasonal comprising of a set 8-course meal. The dishes are authentic Thai dishes and make for a welcome difference from your usual hotel dining experience.
Talk about dining, Soneva is also known for its So Guilty and So Chilled rooms which provided unlimited chocolate and icecream. Make no mistake: this is not just for kids! Even I, a non-chocolate lover, tried my way through the chocolate room (the peanut crunch truffle is the best, but stay away from the spicy green tea!) and the ice cream bar. Especially after coming down with a bad sore throat, this became my favorite culinary experience at Soneva. They even made me cones for breakfast before the official icecream bar opening hour.
Soneva’s eco efforts
I have mentioned before that I was a bit shocked returning to Thailand and seeing the lack of environmental friendliness at most restaurants and hotels. And I guess unfortunately being green isn’t the first thing that would play an important factor for most when looking for a luxury escape in Thailand. Luckily Soneva makes it incredibly easy for guests to make greener choices while not compromising on any of the luxurious amenities.
This starts with glass bottles and refillable bathroom products and ends with their little eco-center. While it doesn’t quite hold up to Soneva Fushi’s, there are many exciting products in the works: biodiesel, wastewater being filtered in natural pools, vegetable gardens for local produce and a reintroduction program for Hornbills to the island.
Mind you, I know that flying in a private jet for such a short amount of time is not green at all (as Meghan & Harry can probably attest to) so I vowed to offset my carbon footprint and also make sure to stay a couple of weeks upon my next visit to make the most out of my flight.
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