Embraced by paradise
Looking for a totally private getaway on a tropical isle? Then check out Soneva Kiri Koh Kood
Six Senses and Evason are hardly new names to Thailand with hotels and resorts in Phuket, Samui and Hua Hin, but the third brand under the Six Senses umbrella, Soneva, until recently had only been operating in the Maldives.
Now it's finally opened a property in Thailand and in keeping with its "intelligent luxury" format, the resort is far away from the madding crowd on the secluded tropical isle of Koh Kood in Trat province.
Embracing the signature concept "No News No Shoes", Soneva Kiri by Six Senses really encourages the guests to lead a slow, relaxing life, and hence does not provide newspapers or TV anywhere on the property, though free wireless Internet is available.
And no, you don't need shoes, as walking on pristine sand or the soft green grass is considered a "luxury" and true enough, it's one you don't normally enjoy as part of the urban lifestyle.
Though Koh Kood is very close to Trat, you can get to the resort only by its private 8-seater plane. At Bt12,450 round trip for adults, or Bt6,270 for children under 11, travellers board the one-hour flight at Suvarnabhumi Airport and land on the private plane strip at Mai Si Island, then hop on a speedboat for the 10-minute ride to Soneva Kiri's pier.
The property is massive, so each villa has its own buggy for the guests to get around the resort. Soneva Kiri comprises 28 Pool Villa and eight Private Residences, spanning 403 to 2,928 square metres in floor area. The villas are dotted among tall trees and slender palms along the beachfront and on the hillside, overlooking the Gulf.
All villas come with spacious living area and swimming pool, master bedroom, walk-through dressing area and bathroom, and outdoor shower and bath. The decor is simple, yet elegant and comfortable. Using natural wood planks, bamboo and natural fabrics, the villas are homey and welcoming. It doesn't take long for guests to settle in and feel at home.
The vast stretch of sandy beach at the resort is another appealing feature. Because the island is the country's least developed, nature is relatively untouched and pure here. An ideal afternoon for many guests is to take a dip in the crystal clear water and marvel the glistening ocean with lush, green mountains as backdrop. However, the beach is quite far from most of the villas, and it's about 10-minute drive in a buggy.
Children have their share of fun, too. The resort offers The Den - a funky spaceship made of bamboo - for the little ones to play. Most evenings, guests can enjoy open-air film screenings at Cinema Paradiso. Ever Soneva So Chilled is where everyone flocks to sample one of more of the 60 flavours of ice cream and chocolate galore every afternoon.
Food and drinks wise, you have quite a selection here, as there are several outlets in every corner of the resort. You can tuck into barbecue seafood, salad bar and international dishes, as well as authentic, no-compromise Thai cuisine by Chef Benz at her restaurant just outside the resort, where you occasionally see fireflies at night.
While Soneva Kiri is suitable for couples seeking a romantic getaway and families on a fun vacation, the resort is not ideal for elderly travellers or those with disabilities. Even with the buggy, there's some of walking involved and there are a number of features that could trip up the accident-prone. Also, the resort is very dark at night and driving around in a buggy or climbing the steps to get into the villas could well be dangerous for those not fleet of foot.
At a glance
High points: Comfortable, over-sized villas with thoughtful amenities. A good variety of healthy food and drinks available at many outlets and families with kids have lots of activities to enjoy.
Low points: The resort is conveniently accessed only by its own small private plane and is not suitable for elderly travellers. All villas have good view of the ocean but the beach is quite a distance. Some may not like the lack of newspapers or TV at the resort.
Find it: The resort is on Koh Kood near Trat province.
Pay for it: Contact the resort for the best rates. Thai residents pay Bt16,000 per night in Hill Villa Suites with breakfast for two till the end of September.
Browse it: www.SixSenses.com.
Contact it: Call (039) 619 808, (081) 345 2791 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.