Private beach with watersports facilities, spa, swimming-pool, tennis and volleyball court, fitness room, restaurants, bars, observatory, outdoor cinema, kids' club, library, CD and DVD libraries, free WiFi throughout, concierge. In rooms: flatscreen TV and DVD player, CD player, iPod dock, minibar, full-size Soneva amenities, outdoor bathrooms, private pool, personal concierges called Barefoot Butlers to see to your whims. Electric buggy for exploring the resort.
How to choose, since they’re all divine, with billowing mosquito nets and stacks of old-school suitcases at the end of the bed hiding away the television? For couples Cliff Pool Villa Suite 53, with huge outdoor living spaces and a massive pool, is perfectly private. For easier beach access, bag one of the 12 romantic Oceanfront Pool Villa Suites with dreamy sea views.
As stunning as the main infinity pool is, it is oft ignored by Soneva Kiri’s guests, possibly because each of the villas has its own huge private pool.
Now’s the time to catch up on all those books and magazines on your ‘to read’ list – load them on to your Kindle to lighten your bags.
Both smoking and non-smoking villas are available.
Kids love Soneva Kiri. Beaches, pools and an amazing kids’ club will keep them amused. Baby cots are free and extra beds for children under the age of 11 can be added to all rooms for US$73 each a night (US$146 for over-12s).
Promising jungle-meets-ocean charm, switched-on service and child-friendly activities, beachside Soneva Kiri boutique hotel on Koh Kood ticks all the boxes for families. Vast villas with private pools, mouthwatering Thai food, a sensuous spa and an am-I-dreaming kids' club mean the entire brood will be blissed out. Treetop dining, an outdoor cinema and free sweet treats up the fun factor.
Kids of all ages. Baby cots are free and extra beds (US$73 each a night for under-11s, US$146 for over-12s) can be added to all rooms.
Got a little tyke or two? They’ll be happy in the bayside, one-bedroom Oceanfront Pool Villa Suites. The spacious two-bedroom Cliff Pool Villa Suite or Ocean Pool Villa Suites will be best for teens and larger families.
This is one holiday where leaving the kids in childcare will also leave you feeling misty-eyed and warm-hearted. Free kids’ club the Den is one impressive facility: Dutch eco-architect Olav Bruin asked groups of children to design their dream play area – and then built on that. His fun, elegant bamboo construction resembles a manta ray swimming through the treetops. There’s a drawbridge entrance, a slide exit and rooms dedicated to art, music and fashion, as well as a climbing frame. Activities, both indoor and out, focus on creativity, nature and the environment, so there’s not a games console in sight. As well as keeping children occupied, the Den gives kids a taste of Thai culture, as they can learn the Thai alphabet, create a local toy, learn a Thai instrument, or try their hand at traditional batik. The Den operates daily from 9am to 6pm for kids aged 6–12; under-6s are also welcome but must be accompanied by a parent or babysitter.
This really is a tropical paradise, so the whole family will want to spend days building sandcastles, snorkelling or splashing at the soft white-sand beach, where watersports rule – there's windsurfing, kayaking and sailing up for grabs, as well as snorkelling and dive classes. Each of the villas has a private pool and garden for swimming and playing, or you can take a dip in the pretty main resort pool. During peak times, the kids’ club also runs a tennis camp (pitched at four to 16 year-olds with private classes) on a first-come first-served basis, although it’s worth booking in advance. Family or children’s yoga and t’ai chi classes are also yours to command. You can also book treatments at the spa for children aged four or above – the therapists will customise sessions to suit – although it’s primarily an adult pampering zone.
In the evening, head to outdoor Cinema Paradiso, where films are shown on an overwater big screen (kids will love the mini fish burgers, house-made popcorn and chocolate snacks), or to the observatory where professionally trained hosts can help you view the rings of Saturn or identify constellations through the state-of-the-art telescope – special family-friendly sessions keep the facts simple for smaller guests.
If you had dinner at Benz's and loved it, learn how to cook some of the dishes yourself. Female chef Khun Benz takes cooking classes that include a visit to the Ao Salat fishing village in the morning. Active teens will love the night-snorkelling sessions for adventurous thrills. Younger guests will want to compete in the Eco Olympics, hosted occasionally in peak times, with beach games from egg and spoon races to coconut shot-put and coconut 10-pin bowling.
Every villa has a large, unheated private pool, but you’ll need to keep a close eye on tots because they’re not fenced. There is a beautiful infinity pool near the main part of the property, but it’s not often used and has no lifeguards.
The Dining Room, the Beach and poolside snack-purveyor So Spirited are the most geared to children, but kids are welcome in all Soneva’s family-friendly restaurants at all times, with casual grazing encouraged (Mrs Smith won’t need heels). Highchairs and children’s menus are available, and chefs can customise dishes on the main menu to suit developing palates (at mod-bistro the View, they’ll knock up chicken with vegetable fried rice for mini guests, the Dining Room can whip up chicken nuggets with chips, and the crispy prawns in coconut breadcrumbs at Benz’s should prove a hit). The smalls will love the buffet breakfasts, where house-made breads, croissants, jam, cheese, ham, muesli, fruit and juices can be topped up with cooked-to-order eggs, pancakes and waffles. Staff can also heat up baby food or milk, and you can buy baby food and child-friendly snacks at the hotel, too. If you want to treat the kids to a meal in the bamboo Treepod (only suitable for over-12s), book ahead – there's only one and it's very popular.
Given a day’s notice, your Friday can organise a babysitter for US$20 (THB600) an hour per child. If you'd like to leave your under-6 at the Den for some alone-time during the day, they'll need to be accompanied by a babysitter.
No need to pack
Highchairs, bottles and sterilisers, baby cots, buggies, baby monitors, stair gates, craft materials, picture books, soft toys or board games.
They’ll love Ever Soneva So Chilled and Ever Soneva So Chocoholic, always-open, help-yourself ice-cream and chocolate bars. You may be tempted by their Willy Wonka-esque charms, too.
Carbon neutral resort Soneva Kiri is eco-friendly to the core. The size, layout and location of all buildings were planned to integrate the native vegetation and preserve the majority of the trees on the property. The resort’s Eco Centro plant recycles 90% of its solid waste in a ‘Waste-to-Wealth’ programme that includes compost for the restaurant gardens and all natural ventilation is used extensively throughout the property. Toiletries are organic and in reusable containers, lights are LED and single-use plastics are nearly a thing of the past. As for waterworks? The resort is self-sufficient thanks to a water reservoir, deep wells and gardens that fare well from rainwater alone. It also supports student-funded enterprise Glassic, which provides local restaurants and resorts with drinking water in glass bottles.
Soneva is involved in a number of other community-benefiting projects, including the Soneva Forest Restoration project, which saw 500,000 trees planted covering 300 acres in the Chiang Mai region of northern Thailand; the project will mitigate an estimated 255,000 tonnes of CO2 over a 40-year lifespan. Soneva Kiri has a strong focus on hiring locally and is involved in English language programmes in local schools.