Thailand has no shortcomings of beautiful resorts and islands and after traveling here for countless times I have been lucky enough to have quite a few. But on my most recent trip, it was time to try something new and when Soneva Kiri on Koh Kood invited me to stay I couldn’t say yes fast enough.

Staying at Soneva Kiri in Koh Kood

I make no secret of my love for barefoot luxury and the Soneva resorts are right up my alley when it comes to their relaxed ways of indulgence especially as it is always paired with a truly sustainable approach to tourism. Having previously experienced their resorts Jani and Fushi in the Maldives, I was super excited to find out that this stay wouldn’t be just another hotel stay either. First up: a ride with their private plane. While I usually try to make the most out of each flight that I take i.e. maximize the time I stay in my destination, I couldn’t resist the old-world charm of their little machine and the ease of traveling especially early in the morning. I left from Bangkok airport comfily tucked into a big leather seat heading over the Gulf of Thailand only to arrive on Koh Kood an hour later. Or rather two as the island sports an hour time difference, unfortunately, depriving me of one whole hour in paradise.

My personal Ms. Friday, Gig, fetched me from the airport and took me to my villa at Soneva Kiri. The resort has 34 villas which offer something for various kinds of travelers: beach villas are great for families and offer not only a pool but also direct beach access as the name implies while my sunset ocean view villa offered maximum privacy, sweeping views over the ocean and not one but two private pools. If you are traveling with an entourage you can even hire a 6-bedroom villa!

Mind you, my highlight wasn’t the discovery of those two pools but when Gig told me that I was allowed to drive my own buggy around the resort. Driving my own buggy is something I have been wanting to do forever and is usually denied by most resorts. Not so at Soneva Kiri where each buggy comes with a personal greeting on the steering wheel and for returning guests even a customized ‘license plate’. Driving here is lots of fun as the resort is quite hilly and I personally preferred the independence of not having to call staff in order to get from A to B.

The Villas

Soneva villas offer a beautiful merge between outdoor and inside living spaces something I absolutely adore. Bathtub and shower are outside and you can gaze at the jungle while you get your bubbles on while toilets and sinks are inside, cleverly hidden in beautiful trunk set-ups.

Living and dining areas are also outside and offer plenty of space to chill, come rain or shine. Only problem? You will need to venture out for your morning coffee and might on occasion make new creepy crawlie friends on the way. But after all, this is part of being one with nature and part of the reason to come to a place like Soneva or so I liked to tell myself after seeing a mean miniature spider.

Beds at Soneva come with their signature soft cotton covers and pillow menu. Before you arrive you will get an email asking you for preferences of bathroom amenities, bathrobe size, and pillow order which includes choices like water pillows, anti-allergenic and memory foam options. And while you do have a big TV screen cleverly hidden in yet another trunk at the bottom of your bed, there are no news channels but only movies available – after all, Soneva’s motto of “no news, no shoes” is being taken very seriously. Not to worry though, the wifi is great so if you wanted to sneak a peek at what is going on in the world you could always do so online – chances are, you won’t want to!

Activities at Soneva Kiri & Local Life on Koh Kood

Unlike many high-end resorts, Soneva Kiri really tries to provide an authentic stay to their guests and island explorations are very much encouraged. A daily schedule of various activities is on offer, many of which are free of charge that will take you around the island or teach you more about Thai life.
You can trek through the rainforest, swim in secluded waterfalls, take a boat trip through the mangroves or even learn how to make coconut oil – there is something for everyone!
A highlight is a dinner at Benz’s Restaurant which is located a short drive from Soneva overlooking a small lake. Here you will feast on an 8-course dinner with the some of the best (not to mention most authentic) Thai food I have had. Make sure you lather up on mosquito spray, bring your camera and don’t forget to order a glass of Thai rosé – the perfect way to toast to your holiday!

For those who are too lazy comfortable to leave the resort (I do not blame you one bit), there is plenty to do on the premises. From Cinema Paradiso and stargazing in the resort’s own planetarium to chocolate truffle making classes and watersports on the private North Beach, chances are you won’t get bored and time will fly just a little bit too quickly.

Food Indulgences

There are various restaurant and food choices on offer but probably the most famous is Soneva’s signature chocolate room and ice cream parlor which are aptly called So Guilty and So Chilled. Feast on chocolate truffles around the clock or try your taste buds on Thai ice tea or butterfly pea sorbet. The ice cream bar officially opens at 11 am but if you ask nicely you can already get some for breakfast!

Their main restaurant, So Dining, offers a variety of international and Thai dishes as light or as hearty as you want throughout the day. In the evenings there is usually a themed dinner like an Asian street food market or you can eat at my preferred place: The View. The name says it all as this restaurant is perched on the cliff overlooking the ocean and usually a killer sunset. The menu is refined and elegant, perfect for a romantic dinner whether you take your partner or a good book.

And then there is the infamous Treepod, Thailand’s most famous dining table. Take a little walk through the jungle to arrive at the pod which will rise up into the treetops with you. From here you can enjoy ocean views and either high tea or dinner amongst the canopy. For those scared of heights, fear not because you are a) not very high, b) can’t really see the ground thanks to the foliage, and c) are secured by seatbelts in your pod. Food and drinks arrive by zipline and the designated pod operator will be more than happy to take your picture.

Make sure to make a reservation sooner than later as Soneva only has one pod and it tends to book out quickly!

Mermaids & Beach Bums

Needless to say, visiting any Thai island should be all about living your best mermaid life and staying at Soneva Kiri is no exception. While the Gulf of Thailand can’t quite compare with the crystal clear turquoise of the Maldives at least for me, Soneva is all about water. For pool lovers, the private pools in the villas are big enough to take laps and there is one communal pool which is perfect for kids and families. Swimming in the ocean will depend on the tide and your best bet is to head to their private North Beach accessible by a quick speedboat ride. Here you can enjoy a coconut or lunch by the beach and take a kayak or Hobie Cat out for a spin when it is high tide.

If that is not enough you can go snorkeling around the island and of course, a sunset cruise is an absolute must to soak up the views and toast to your new mermaid life with bottomless bubbles.

Soneva Sustainability

As with all Soneva resorts, sustainability is key at Kiri. While their eco-center is definitely smaller and still in the making compared to their Maldives counterpart quite a lot is being done to bring down the environmental impact of the resort.

This starts with little things like refillable glass bottles for still and sparkling water in the rooms, paper straws, and big shampoo bottles instead of single-use plastic ones. All other amenities are available upon request and as much paper packaging as possible is used.

The resort has its own vegetable garden and is composting all food waste, is making biodiesel, drainage water is recycled through various ponds and reused, and Soneva has started a new program reintroducing hornbills to the island. With all efforts, the communities in Koh Kood are involved to make sure sustainability isn’t just exclusive to the resort but the whole area.

Either way, you can be sure to have a guilt-free indulgent holiday and focus on the important things like trying all the ice cream flavors and eating dim sum for breakfast!

Disclaimer: I was invited by Soneva Kiri for a 3-night stay. All opinions are of course my own – to be honest, it is hard not to love this place!

This post was written by Annika Ziehen who was a Travelette until 2019. Originally from Germany, Annika has lived in New York and Cape Town and now travels the world full time. She considers herself a very hungry mermaid and writes about her adventures, scuba diving and food on her blog The Midnight Blue Elephant. You can also find her on Instagram here!