Soneva Kiri Bangkok and Beyond

If you’re sitting on a plane enroute to Bangkok, for what might be the second or third time in last two years, you need to read this now.

Just a short flight away (70 minutes to be precise) from Bangkok International Airport lies Thailand’s least inhabited island – Koh Kood. This island is home to crystal clear waters, beautiful beaches and a rather tiny population. But for those who are fortunate enough to have touched the pristine shores of Koh Kood, its real charm lies in the fact that it is home to the truly one-of-a-kind Soneva Kiri resort.

And here’s why you won’t find another resort like this one (other than its two sister resorts in the Maldives) in a hurry. For those who don’t like long lines at the airport, the resort has its own check-in counter. Rumbling along asphalt isn’t your thing? A private eight-seater plane gets you there. Think room service is passé? Enter Mr Friday – your very own butler. Need a new pair of shoes? No you don’t, because they’re not allowed here. As a matter of fact, neither is the news.

It gets better. This villa-only resort is home to some of the most stunning villas you’ll see in this part of the world. They all boast of more space then you’ll ever need your entire stay there as well as their very own pools. Some of the larger villas come with features like kids’ rooms, bunk beds and even a slide right from the kids’ room to the swimming pool. And if this isn’t enough, each villa gets its own little buggy for its guests to drive around.

Eating at Soneva Kiri isn’t something that you just do – mealtimes here is an art that needs to be experienced. You will journey by boat through mangroves to Benz’s, the resort’s traditional Thai restaurant built on water over stilts; lunch will be savored in a bamboo pod hoisted above the trees and served by a waiter attached to a zip line; breakfast will have you feasting on raw food, locally cured fish and fresh coconuts.

For visiting families, this resort is home to not one but two kids’ clubs, with one for toddlers and the other for older ones. The kids’ club for the older lot, The Den (aged five to 12), is to be seen as much as it is to be enjoyed. This gigantic manta ray shaped bamboo structure sits amongst the tops of trees and has a slide to zip out.

This resort is also likely to host a holiday of “firsts” for many. It might be your first time in an observatory for from where you count the rings around Saturn; many might end up watching their first movie under the stars here with a screen set up in the middle of a lake and for many it might be their first time ferrying themselves across an island in their very own buggy.

Also, not many of us can boast of a childhood where we had to constantly battle the lure of a chocolate room, with unending varieties of homemade premium chocolates or an ice cream room serving umpteen flavors of delicious homemade ice cream. This resort has both, both are open the whole day (as well as late into the night) and both are free!

The resort’s latest ace up its sleeve is its newly opened beach. In what can only be described as true Soneva style, the beach can only be accessed from the resort by a threeminute private speedboat ride, which makes getting there a little adventure in itself. Once at the beach, expect nothing less than warm, clear waters and talc-like sand. A bar with innovative cocktails, a restaurant dishing out unbelievably fresh island catch, hammocks to catnap in and unending coconut palms to climb make spending an entire day here seem like child’s play.

But the true takeaway from this resort, apart from the memories of a lifetime, of course, is how the highest level of luxury can be had responsibly. It is heartening to see how one of the most coveted resorts in the world goes by its day-to-day operations with minimal damage to the environment. It is almost challenging to find any plastic anywhere in the resort (the handles of beach toys have been painstakingly removed and replaced with wooden handles); water is only available in glass bottles; used cooking oil is recycled to produce energy and as far as possible, locally sourced food is used, so as to reduce transportation induced carbon. SLOW (sustainable, local, organic, wellness) LIFE is the resort’s (and the Soneva’s groups) guiding principle behind everything they do.

So if you’re now ready to go to Bangkok, only to leave soon again, Soneva Kiri promises to be waiting with arms wide open. Bon Voyage!

More on luxury family-friendly hotels from our columnist Mandira Rai on www.withmandy.com

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