If you are travelling to Southeast Asia from North America, you will have to contend with a few days of jet lag-induced disorientation. The best way to soften the blow and adjust for the adventure ahead is to treat yourself to a stay at the eco-luxury resort Soneva Kiri.
Sprawled over a bluff and beach on the island of Koh Kood, 350 kilometres southeast of Bangkok and 80 km off the Thai mainland, Soneva Kiri is great for couples and multi-generational families. It could serve as base to start your exploration of Thailand, Cambodia, including the magnificent temple city of Angkor Wat, Myanmar and Vietnam. Or it could also be your pampering reward after an active itinerary of biking or hiking through the region.
Like all the Soneva resorts, this one espouses the “Slowlife” philosophy – embracing sustainability, social responsibility, local buying, wellness and engaging experiences. It recycles waste, conserves water, preserves local environments (including the fragile marine ecosystem), grows organic food and also buys its meat, vegetables, fruits and seafood from local farmers and fishermen.
The adventure begins after landing in Thailand. You reach Soneva Kiri via a private flight from Bangkok or Siem Reap, and then taking a short boat ride to the fourth largest island in Thailand and the resort with its “rustic-chic” design, with recycled wood, including poles reminiscent of the stilts of local fishing villages. When signing in, you get your own electric buggy to transverse the custom-built pathways connecting the sprawling resort. And more importantly, you are introduced to your own personal concierge.
All accommodations are well-appointed luxury villas, ranging from one to six bedrooms, with both beachside villas and ones perched on the cliff. Each spacious villa has its own pool, outdoor showers and bathtubs with all-natural bath products, iPod music systems with speakers place strategically throughout the compound, TVs with DVD libraries and more.
While the resort sits on a beach, the bay here is a bit shallow. But a short shuttle boat ride takes you to a lovely white sand, private beach on the south side of the island, where you can indulge in watersports, such as kayaking, sailboarding, waterskiing and wake-boarding.
You can also take guided snorkelling trips to reefs teaming with colourful sealife or go to one of two-dozen dive sites (some 30 meters deep) in Koh Chang National Park.
There are, of course, great restaurants throughout the resort. For example, you can cruise through the mangroves of Klong Yai Kee to the open-air lantern-lit Benz’s restaurant, perched on stilts. Talented chef Khun Benz offers signature Thai cuisine with an ever-changing nine-course dinner menu only using ingredients grown on Koh Kood and neighbouring Koh Chang.
Or there is the The View, which takes its name from its sweeping outlook from its cantilevered location at the top of the cliff. Its bistro menu pairs fresh local produce with Western cooking techniques.
Among the other resort eating choices, one of our favourites is Treepod dining, where you enter a bamboo pod and are winched six meters in the air. While full meals are available, we went for the decadent but life-affirming Champagne Tea. From our view on high we enjoyed panoramas of the ocean and rainforest, while our waiter used a zip line with athletic prowess to retrieve our drinks and edibles from ground level.
Soneva Kiri’s Six Senses Spa really blew me away. Very unique and innovative. You can sit down first with a wellness practitioner – who is both versed in Western medicine and Ayurvedic practices from India – for a consultation, looking at the state of your health and giving you a suite of treatments to try at the spa. It’s a customized regimen that you can continue at other Six Senses Spas in the region or when you go home.
Soneva Kiri is a great way to start a trip in Southeast Asia. But watch out, you might find it hard to leave when the time comes.
Natahsa Rhodes specializes in creating adventurous travel experiences for her clients. As a lover of experimental travel herself, Natasha has always taken the road less traveled. As a travel advisor with more than a decade of experience, Natasha specializes in creating one-of-a-kind experiences for a discriminating clientele of world travelers. To learn more about Natasha, please visit her website Rhodes Less Travelled or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org