Thailand’s Eco-Resort Gem: Soneva Kiri

Thailand’s recent troubles have now begun to subside, and the country is once again welcoming guests to exceptional experiences like the latest innovation from the award-winning Six Senses hotel group.

Thailand’s Prime Minister recently proclaimed things are “stable and secure,” the protesters are gone from central Bangkok, and things appear to be returning to normal in one of Southeast Asia’s most popular tourism destinations.  If you’re considering returning to Thailand to experience the destination at its most sublime, we can’t think of a more  apt retreat than the eco-chic Soneva Kiri, one of the offerings from the award-winning Six Senses Group. Here, the SLOW LIFE credo reigns supreme: Sustainable-Local-Organic-Wholesome Learning-Inspiring-Fun-Experiences.

Located on the remote but accessible Thai island of Kood, Soneva Kiri is set amidst a lush tropical rainforest overlooking the Gulf of Siam not far from the Cambodian border. Upon arrival, guests are personally met at Bangkok’s airport and transferred to the resort’s own luxurious custom-fitted airplane for a one-hour scenic flight to the Soneva Kiri airfield before being swept across a perpendicular antique bridge that leads you through to an eco-wonderland imaginative enough to enthrall and excite even the most jaded adventurers and exhausted children.

Soneva Kiri prides itself on nurturing the indigenous elements of design, architecture and service. Constructed with natural materials sourced on the island and local environs, the 29 handcrafted beachfront and hillside villas are made of bamboo, acacia, teak, and built by craftspeople from Chiang Mai under the tutelage of Eva Shivdasani, the Six Senses in-house design guru with a passion for sustainable design ideas and principles. Then there is the Eco Villa, a new prototype zero carbon emissions hotel suite; a forerunner to the forthcoming zero emissions brand–Evolutions by Six Senses. The evolutionary structure serves as a showcase for a range of experimental environmental technologies incorporated into a bio-climatically designed luxury pool villa made from locally sourced building materials. The villa has been created to demonstrate that during both construction and operation, it is possible to provide five-star comfort using modern building techniques to achieve zero carbon emissions with renewable energy technology with permaculture design principals to ensure waste is minimized or reused. Moreover, it looks great. The furniture is made from naturally carved driftwood and even the ceiling is lined with teak leaves. The only man-made additions are your own personal Mr. and Mrs. Friday Butler service.

But the most dramatic structure of all is the Maurice Sendak-like children’s den where the wild things are! Designed by a well-known Dutch architect, Olav Bruin, the den is an extraordinary over-ground bamboo-framed edifice shaped like a gigantic manta-ray suspended in the tree tops with a cavernous belly full of unique spaces for children to play in and let their imaginations run wild. To enter, kids must walk across a drawbridge that leads up to a wave of stairs, creating a feeling of excitement and anticipation. Inside, there is an art Room, music Room, fashion Room and a library with a catamaran-style netting floor with overstuffed cushions and windows in the flooring peek down to the forest floor below. But wait, there’s more… Here, you don’t have to feel bad about abandoning your kids to finish that book or down that cocktail. In fact, you may even want to join them as they make books, write poetry, tell stories, make candles, vases, jewelry, hats, paper maché, jigsaws, mobiles and origami, go on nature walks, act in plays, face paint and even grow beans. You may never see your kids again…or become one!

There’s plenty for adults to do too. The beautiful island of Koh Kood offers a range of nature experiences, from time at local waterfalls to guided jungle treks to speedboat, snorkeling excursions, fishing tours and mountain biking. There is also a wide selection of water sports on offer, which include catamaran sailing, water skiing, wake boarding and snorkeling at resort’s private South Beach. Feeling lazy? Head to the library–a magical little hut filled with literary treasures specially curated by a London librarian who has assembled an inspired mix of recent titles and classics for your reading pleasure. Need to nurture your inner child? The Six Senses Spa offers plenty of wellness activities, workshops and lifestyle programs along with spectacular views. Cooking and gardening classes are also an option for those who like to keep busy. At night, guests can take a tour through the stars with Astronomy classes or at Cinema Paradiso–Mother Nature’s amphitheatre. This outdoor theater presents classic movies with some of Hollywood’s greats in an open auditorium of personal loungers with cocktail service and hot buttered popcorn.

Dining at Soneva Kiri is another experience which can’t be overlooked. Perched atop the cliff, looking over the rain forest to the sea beyond, pre-dinner drinks at Ever Soneva So Spirited is a must do at sunset. Have a sweet tooth? You’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven when you peek around the corner. That’s where you’ll discover the ice-cream parlor–Ever Soneva So Chilled–featuring a wall of more than sixty flavors of homemade sorbet, gelato and ice cream at any given time. And next to that is an adjoining chocolate room. Ever Soneva So Chocoholic takes you straight to cocoa nirvana featuring fair trade premium chocolate sourced from cacao trees in Thailand’s south. (The chocolate is presented in blends of up to 95%.) Be it mousses, cookies, drinks, bon-bons or truffles, this little piece of heaven is a magnet for chocoholics and children should be kept far away.

But for the pièce de résistance, Tree Pod Dining could be the most innovative dining aloft since in-flight silver service was introduced at 35,000 feet, half a century ago. Although in this case, the dining is just 16 feet, or around 5 meters, off terra firma. The dining pod, engineered with a rigid frame swathed in woven rattan, is not unlike a cocoon with an open panorama window. Up to four diners board the pod, and are then elevated to the lofty height by a system of safety winches. Food courses arrive courtesy of a flying waiter–harnessed to a zip line–as do the beverages. However, unlike the other form of first class dining aloft, this experience enjoys the ultimate exclusivity, and very little turbulence. The Catalan chef Jaume Esperalba has come a long way since his early days at ElBulli in Spain. This is where wild things definitely go!

Rates: Start from USD$1,788 per night for 2 adults and vary according to villa type and season booked. For reservations and further details, call: +66 (0) 3961 9800  or 1800-591-7480 / E-mail: reservations-kiri@sixsenses.com

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Latest posts by Kate Ayrton

4 Comments

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by team*wandermelon, Ann Wycoff. Ann Wycoff said: Thailand’s Eco-Resort Gem: Soneva Kiri: Thailand’s recent troubles have now begun to subside, and the country is o… http://bit.ly/dzW7fk […]

  2. beachfront luxury villas on July 23, 2010 at 2:15 am

    At least, the political protests have ended. If that have been prolonged, it would cost millions of losses in the hospitality industry of Thailand.

  3. Jimmy on November 8, 2010 at 4:12 am

    Thanks for a very informative post. Can’t wait to get back to Thailand again soon. Great pics BTW.
    Cheers

  4. Nanci Blavenstone on March 3, 2011 at 10:37 am

    I agree wil you that dining at Tree Pod Dining is an unforgettable experience!

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