Every once in a while we need to treat ourselves and never more than after the two years of uncertainly. Luxury escapes are always a good idea and nothing says absolute lux in the time of Covid than jet-setting off to an island on a private jet. Enter Soneva Kiri on Koh Kood where all this comes true.
The moment you touchdown (after a rather thrilling descend on a short runway that ends at the edge of a cliff with the ocean on the horizon), the sense of tranquility is immense. The short boat ride from one island to another lets you soak in the atmosphere and immerse yourself in the surroundings. While on the boat, you are introduced to "barefoot luxury", which means that you're encouraged to pack away your shoes into cloth bags and step off the boat barefoot. You're also informed that although while in Thailand, you're in a different timezone -- an hour ahead of normal Thai time -- to ensure you have plenty of daylight saving time. Early to bed, early to rise makes a wo/man/everyone else… you get the idea.
From the boat, head straight to the large open air lobby, which houses an amazing chocolate room and hosts a complimentary afternoon tea, daily. Off the walkway from pier to lobby, you also pass a two-storeyed library, which would be the perfect place to spend a lazy rainy afternoon, should the weather not hold up. Also off the walkway is the all-day dining restaurant that offers comfortable seating overlooking the communal pool and glimpses of the sea through coconut trees.
This is a resort that gives each villa its own buggy so you can drive yourself around through canopies of bamboo that shade concrete paths. A delightful personal touch is that your name is embossed into small wooden planks at the back of the buggy, which also ensures you know which one is yours. Depending on the villas you choose, each come with a minimum of two bedrooms; I stayed in a five-bedroom villa with two private pools, a treehouse bedroom, common dining and lounge area, private gym and my bedroom came with an outdoor shower and bathtub. Though if you're not comfortable with nature looking on, there is an indoor shower, too. The best bit of the villa is the waterslide from the treehouse terrace straight into one of the pools. A plus for the child in all of us.
Breakfast is a huge deal at Soneva being the most important meal of the day and offers a humungous selection of breakfast, brunch and even whole meal items, complete with a vast selection of drinks. There are hot stations, cold stations, drink stations and a massive 10-page a la carte menu. The best thing of all is that vegans aren't left behind and there is a huge vegan menu, too. Indulge in freshly-made soy milk and pair it with a chickpea pancake with cinnamon. There is also a Vietnamese pancake filled with delicious goodness, which I paired with fresh coconut water.
If you have space for lunch after the mighty breakfast, do indulge in the restaurant on "South Beach". No better place to strain the sand between your toes, while chowing down on the quintessential Thai lunch of som tam and southern grilled turmeric chicken. Though, you could head back to the lobby for the afternoon tea and savour the chocolate room. The best tasting vegan chocolate in Thailand is found here, along with smashing cold chocolate milk!
It's best to end the day with sundowners at "The View", a lookout spot from the top of a cliff where you can watch the sun melt into the ocean, leaving a golden shimmer behind. This view spot also has a restaurant that offers a twist on Japanese cuisine. Though there is a tasting menu available, I suggest going a la carte but leaving space for dessert because the chocolate ones on offer are excellent.
The best meal during my stay at Soneva Kiri was at Krua Mae Tuk, which is a five-minute drive from the resort. Set across a backdrop of small inlet of water and hills, with occasional passing canoes, Krua Mae Tuk is described as a Thai gourmet restaurant (B5,000 per head) with a no menu dining concept with dishes inspired by ingredients grown on Koh Kood and Koh Chang. The menu showcases seafood caught by local fishermen, while the kitchen is manned by an all-woman team and is served samrub-style.
If you're the adventurous type, take a good pair of trainers for a small excursion to a waterfall and to view 200-year-old trees, including a huge banyan tree, which is simply spectacular.
Is there anything more exciting than dining high in the treetops over looking the ocean to islands nearby? A right adrenaline rush. Book a retreat at Soneva Kiri and enjoy a 20% reduction on your villa rate for stays until Dec 17, with additional savings for Early Bird reservations and longer stays. Visit soneva.com/offer.