If there’s one resort I’ve been clamouring to gain a review for, it’s Soneva Kiri in Thailand. As goes with all the famed Soneva resorts, this place is the ultimate in laidback luxury. The location of the property is billed as ‘Untamed jungle, pristine beaches, and a local fishing village, Koh Kood is an unspoilt island far beyond Thailand’s tourist trail.’ It also comes with a decent price tag. So is this place worth the splurge? Here’s Celine with a review of her recent April trip.
Who went to Soneva Kiri?
My husband and our three kids, Edouard 8, Hugo almost 6 and Arthur 3.5
How was the weather there?
We went during the first week of April. We had gorgeous weather apart from a few late afternoon showers, which was apparently unusual for the season.
How did you book the trip?
We booked our flights to Bangkok, then from Bangkok everything was booked through Soneva. We used Chinmoy Lad to help us to negotiate to combine two packages offered on the Soneva website, one with a free night and a family one with a bunch of advantages… Not sure what gave us which benefits but in the end, we got a free night, 2 kids planet tickets, a free dinner, 5 B&B in a beach villa (we got upgraded), kids full board, an in villa bbq dinner, private snorkelling experience, a private sunset cruise, 100 min free spa… Highly recommend his service and we actually think this was a fabulous deal.
Did you request anything from the hotel in advance?
An extra bed (max occupancy is normally 4), they accommodated our family of 5 free of charge.
How was the flight from Hong Kong to Thailand?
We flew Cathay Pacific from HK to Bangkok, not much to say!
I was a bit ‘anxious’ about the whole transfer part as we boarded without even having a planet ticket for the second ride. ‘Someone will wait for you, don’t worry’… and someone was. The service was actually top notch. Someone was waiting at the plane gate and took us through Security and Immigration via the fast lanes, picked up our luggage, took them to the domestic check-in and put us in the lounge while checking that the private plane (8 seater) was ready. Soneva recommends you have at least 2 hours in between. I would say 1.5 is more than enough.
Our second flight was about 1.5 hours. You land on a tiny island that is just a landing strip! Then you take a boat about 10 mins to the hotel.
How was your room?
Upon arrival our personal butler showed us the way to our Beach Villa. We followed with our private buggy, definitely THE highlight of the trip for my boys :-))
The villa was huge with a massive outdoor bathroom, huge terrace and big swimming pool. Inside the villa there’s a master bedroom with a daybed turned into a bed for a kid on one side and a ‘dressing room’, the size of a HK living room, set up with the other two beds for the kids. Everything is tastefully decorated in luxury robinson crusoe style. The TV is hidden in an old luggage trunk and wooden furniture dotted around.
How are Soneva Kiri’s facilities?
The place promotes the whole barefoot luxury experience, so some facilities might not look as fancy as in other places in the same price range. The pool is not breathtaking but all villas have big pools (some come with waterslides from the first floor) and I don’t think people come to this place to just sit by the pool.
There is a tennis court, an outdoor cinema (kids loved it), a real observatory, 2 Kids Clubs (1-5yo and 5+), a chocolate room and an ice cream parlour with 20 flavours, both free of charge. There’s also a pool table/room, diving club, a spa with a great gym and yoga/muy thai pavillion.
There is also a photographer onsite that you can book for an hour a day and he can just follow you and your kids around to get family pics in action.
How’s the beach?
The beach in front of the villa is nothing amazing, more mangrove style.
However you take a speed boat (super easy, available in 5 mins so really not an issue) to go to the North beach of the island. This one is ABSOLUTELY stunning, like Maldives stunning. Crystal clear waters, white sand, sunloungers under the coconut trees… They have paddle boards, body board, sailing boats, kayaks free of charge (or you can take lessons), you can also waterski (including kids) or wakeboard although it is quite pricey (150 USD for 30 mins). The beach has its own bar and beach restaurant. Whenever you feel like heading back to the hotel, they call the speedboat.
How’s the Kids Club?
There are two Kids Clubs, one for 1-5yo and one for older kids. For us it was a tad complicated as our youngest totally refused to stay in the ‘baby’ one and desperately wanted to join his brothers. This was a problem given the architecture of the big kids one, with lots of stairs. The baby one was really nice with aircon and a sleeping area for little ones to nap, all wooden toys and beautiful.
The Den (the big kids one) is this super funky structure in the trees with hanging rooms and a big slide to get out. Toilets are in a super cool small grotto, everything is gorgeous. There is a music room, a library, board games (obviously no electronics) and a good range of activities that happen either there or in the pool/bar area. The Kids Club ladies are amazing.
Among the things our boys loved were the pool games, the ice cream blind taste testing, the chocolate lollipop and milkshake making, kite making and snorkelling outing. The ladies were quite at ease taking Arthur with his older brothers for these.
How are the dining options at Soneva Kiri?
The food was great, very fresh and if you’re not happy with the menu, the chef is happy to try and accommodate! They have three restaurants (one is always closed, depending on the day) and an all day dining cafe.
The Benz, the Thai restaurant is reachable by boat or buggy depending on the tide and has a fixed 6 course menu. It was very good but quite expensive.
The buffets are delicious but I’m not a big eater so not the best deal for us!
The View was probably my favourite, a la carte innovative cuisine.
The all day dining tapas and dishes were great.
The Ice-cream parlour and chocoalte roo are a diet killer but SO good… The Chef would actually create any ice cream flavour you ask him, if you give 24 hours notice! Highly recommend you try the surprising mango and goats cheese one.
How are the excursions?
Excursions were included so our butler made us a little programme which was great.
Private snorkelling in the reserve is totally worth it. Our eldest loved it and then we got a fabulous picnic on a secluded desert beach.
The private sunset cruise is super nice as well.
I got lazy for the cooking class which was included as well and ended up doing extra sunlounger time.
I highly recommend the in villa BBQ. The food was amazing and the kids had a blast helping the chef to cook. They then jetted off to the outdoor cinema with the babysitter to get ice-cream and watch Peter Pan.
What tips would you give for someone planning a similar trip?
Stop hesitating and book Soneva Kiri! Take repellent for the sand flies 🙂
Honestly the whole trip was amazing and somehow so different from the other luxury hotels in Thailand. Teh hotel only has 35 villas (although some have 6-7 bedrooms) but it is so secluded that you feel alone for the whole time. It is completely lost in the jungle, between Mangrove and Sea so the setting is unique. We loved this rustic luxury feel and the fact that they were so eco-friendly (which also menas that there is not a single piece of trash on the beach or in the sea).
The service was one of the THE BEST we have ever had. We had a mobile to reach Milk our butler who would help with anything. All the staff greet you by your name, and every one of them was such a gem with the kids.
I did a massage at the spa and when I wanted to book for a second one, it was fully booked. The therapist said it was her day off but she would come back to accommodate.
On the last day we were leaving at 2pm. When the butler came for check-out and I said , oh we also just ordered lunch, she said please don’t worry, this one will be on us… Funnily enough something I’ve never heard of anywhere else, no matter the price of the night.
The kids never got the chance to use the Observatory as they were asleep by the time it opens. On the last day at breakfast, someone came to open it and show them inside.
We had the same babysitter every night and every night and she would actually give us the feedback about who slept at what time and we were charged by slot of 15 mins, not full hours.
All these things made such a difference and highly contributed to make the experience even more memorable.
Would you return to Soneva Kiri?
I hope so! This is a fabulous getaway in the region, much easier access than anticipated. Next on my list, their resort in the Maldives… 🙂