First of all, let me say that this is the best and most luxurious hotel location I have ever visited. If you can even call it a hotel. Soneva Kiri is one of the top hotels and hideaway locations in Thailand. The resort is located on Koh Kood Island, in the far southwest of the country, near the Cambodian border. And to put it in other words: Soneva Kiri – the coolest jungle ever! So, following the motto: into the jungle, out of the jungle, and now here’s the review for Luxvisor…
The arrival already hinted at what was to come. After a relaxing business class flight on an Austrian Airlines 777-200 from Vienna to Bangkok, a hotel butler was waiting for us unmistakably at the gate. After a brief greeting, he organized our luggage, speedy immigration, and check-in for the private transfer flight from Bangkok to Soneva Kiri. I was curious about how a private flight with a Cessna Caravan would be handled at the large international airport in Bangkok. The checked luggage was simply placed at the last check-in counter by the butler, with the comment that it would be taken care of, and he would escort us through security to the Thai Airways Business Class lounge for private flight guests. We were already expected there to spend a pleasant waiting time exclusively in our own room. Of course, a butler escort was always present, whether for a trip to the buffet or the toilet. Due to bad weather conditions and only one runway without major landing aids at Soneva Kiri Airfield, the departure time was delayed by 60 minutes.
Just before takeoff, we were taken by the butler in a minibus to the waiting Cessna Caravan with the melodious name “Ever Soneva so over the top.” The two pilots in uniform were already in the cockpit, the luggage was loaded, and shortly afterwards, we rolled onto the runway for takeoff from the large Bangkok airport with the tiny Cessna Caravan. After about 60 minutes of flying at an altitude of 3,500 meters, we landed at Soneva Kiri Airfield – a runway specially designed for the hotel. No tower, no apron staff, no fuel truck, so nothing else that belongs to an airport. Exciting and beautiful at the same time. Pure James Bond feeling…
We were welcomed by our personal butler “Mrs. Friday” and asked to board the buggy, which would take us to the speedboat dock, as the Sonvea Kiri Airfield is located on its own small island. The further journey was by teak wood speedboat in 5 minutes to Kooh Kood in the Soneva Kiri resort. On the boat, we were informed that the hotel manager would personally welcome us. A warm welcome, a few personal words from the host about the resort, and a refreshing welcome drink in the bar area immediately made us forget any stress from the outside world. By the way, it is customary here that neither the hotel director nor our butler “Mrs. Friday” asks for a credit card for check-in. That is unusual, but actually, the credit card only came into play at check-out. Wow…!
Oh, and the only rule for check-in: shoes off! Because the entire resort follows the motto: “No news, no shoes.” It may take some getting used to in the first few hours, but it is very relaxing…
About Soneva Kiri
Soneva Kiri offers only 27 villas, each one built either nestled in lush jungle vegetation or right on the beach. The hotel boasts an outdoor cinema (weather permitting), treetop dining, several excellent restaurants, a chocolate and ice cream room with over 61 refreshing and extremely delicious ice cream flavors, and even a hotel-owned observatory that will make the hearts of amateur astronomers skip a beat. It’s no wonder the stars seem within reach here, and as a result, the resort has received several accolades, including:
- 2012 | World Traveler Awards: Winner of World’s Leading Eco Resort and Spa
- 2012 | TripAdvisor Travelers Choice Awards: Top 25 Relaxation/Spa Hotels in Asia and Thailand
- 2012 | Soneva Kiri on the Islands wish list
- 2011 | Travelers World Magazine: The Best Spas
- 2010 | Condé Nast Traveler USA: Hot Hotels
- 2010 | Condé Nast Traveler Spain: Hot List Hotels
Soneva Kiri can rightfully be considered one of the best hotels in the world.
Upon arrival, each guest is given a personal electric buggy that is free to use day and night. Distances at Soneva Kiri are further than one might expect, as the resort places great emphasis on providing guests with the utmost privacy, even in the smallest corners of the property. And even if a flat tire occurs, the gardener will help organize a new buggy, albeit with a slightly surprised look. According to the hotel, such an incident has never occurred before. As long as nothing worse happens, I thought to myself because the incident occurred right in the middle of the palm garden where a nice sign with the information “Danger of falling coconuts!” catches your eye. Fortunately, everything turned out okay.
Each of the villas has a minimum area of 450m2. Additionally, each villa has its own outdoor pool, double beds, and large outdoor daybeds. All villas have been built by locals using local materials, such as exclusive woods. Great emphasis is placed on environmental friendliness. Even the pen is made of wood. Although a television is available, it is without a TV connection. This would not fit into the “Slow Life” concept of the Soneva philosophy of relaxation. Therefore, only DVDs can be rented. And of course, there is no need to pick them up or return them. “Mrs. Friday” will almost read your desired movie from your eyes and wish you a lot of enjoyment. Communication on the island is via a Nokia mobile phone for each house. The device is handed over to you directly at check-in. Pre-programmed numbers of the hotel manager, “Mrs. Friday,” or the resort doctor are, of course, available. It is also natural that all numbers can be dialed 24 hours a day. Wi-Fi, or WLAN, is available throughout the hotel for free.
Restaurants and “Private Dinings”
An excellent Thai restaurant is located in the main area of the hotel. A Thai buffet evening takes place on several floors in the middle of beautifully located wooden terraces/structures in the jungle. Of course, with a unique view over the sea. Meat is cooked and fried directly at the buffet under the guest’s supervision. Everything is fresh! Here, it becomes clear for the first time that European guests, especially German-speaking (to my delight!), are not present. Thus, the hotel automatically classifies itself as a secret tip in our latitudes.
Other “Fine Dining” restaurants in the complex offer culinary or simply spatial alternatives: such as “The View” with a wonderful view over the sea. An inviting bar area and a restaurant directly on the private beach round off the offer.
In addition, there are also a number of “Private Dinings” options. These are unique locations that are usually arranged for two people in a beautiful spot, so completely private. For a romantic evening, the resort’s employees have come up with, among other things:
- Treetop Dining (dining on the trees/tree crowns, waiter comes by climbing equipment)
- Benz’s (10-course menu in the jungle, arrival and departure by speedboat)
- Secluded beach (food delivery by speedboat)
- At the waterfall (and with your feet always a little bit in the water)
Soneva Kiri, which is part of the Six Senses Group, guarantees the best spa treatments. Of course, all common spa treatments are offered at the highest level, but Soneva also offers its own applications based on the in-house “Slow Life” concept. “Slow Life” means: local, wellness, learning, inspiration, and fun. Only the best ingredients from the jungle are used. You can be sure that even after seven days, there are still enough treatment options available to stay for at least another seven days. In fact, this is a reason to stay and not an obstacle.
Sports facilities and the nightly tennis test
Excursions from visits to the locals, rainforest tours to private flights from Sonvea Kiri to Cambodia – it simply cannot be boring. Commonly offered sports facilities such as surfing, snorkeling, diving, Thai boxing, yoga, and more keep you fit.
Our test shows that it is possible to do something extraordinary with the usual sports. We asked ourselves whether the tennis court with floodlights, which is located in the middle of the jungle, is also available in the middle of the night. Perhaps surprising for the staff, but not impossible. Because shortly before midnight, “Mrs. Friday” had prepared everything perfectly, and after our buggy ride through the night, we arrived at the brightly lit court. Game, set, and match: everything was there, from cold towels to chilled drinks to complete tennis equipment. “Service at its best!”
On the day before departure, a handwritten letter from our beloved “Mrs. Friday” was waiting for us in the villa. Individual lines, such as about various activities we had taken part in, made the desire to stay even greater.
As previously mentioned, the mentioned credit card is only required at check-out. This is to be expected in hotels of this class, but it may be seen as a sign that the number of financially affluent guests is above average.
By the way
It can happen that in the prevailing climate, a short but heavy rain shower suddenly appears. Murphy’s Law also requires that it happens when you’re driving the buggy. But magic happens when a resort employee (security, butler, etc.) waits with umbrellas at the villa’s buggy shelter for the drenched guests with every rain shower. The last few meters home are therefore sheltered.