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“Must Be The Best Family Holiday in Asia”
Review of Soneva Kiri

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Soneva Kiri
Ranked #2 of 14 Hotels in Ko Kut
Reviewed 10 February 2014

The Soneva Kiri was for us the best family holiday we have ever been on. From the moment we arrived (yes by Helicopter but not a problem whatsoever for us) we knew we where in for a special time. I had read most of the reviews on trip advisor before we arrived and had seen many a photo on travel websites and on trip advisor itself but nothing prepares you for what you see and experience whilst there.
We stayed in Villa 53 a two bedroomed cliff villa which was perfect for us and our children aged 8 and 12. The second bedroom was quite far away so I wouldn't recommend this villa for families with very young children. The space and view are things that you cannot appreciate from photos. As our luggage did not arrive at the villa until 20 minutes after us there was only one thing to do, strip off and get in that pool, magical absolutely magical. Don't bother packing shoes as everyone is barefoot 24/7.
Villa 53, very comfortable, gym with second ensuite bedroom above, dressing room, bathroom, outdoor showers and bath. You are undercover, although outside when you leave the bedroom to go to the bathroom/dressing room, I liked this.
It was a refreshing chance to be surrounded by wood, which even the door handles are made out of. Not a bit of marble or good plate in sight and I am not sure I will go back to hotels with either.

Ate at Benz, the View the main restaurant near swimming pool (forgotten name) and beach BBQ -all superb with service that was very attentive but not overpowering in any way. we especially enjoyed the breakfasts, all cooked to order, fruit prepared to order, juice squeezed to order! Stefan the head waiter here is friendly, professional and an asset to Soneva Kiri. The chocolate room ( a huge glass fridge) was visited each day as was the ice cream selection. Our favourite where the Sorbets, no the crunchy icy things you get in the UK but more like frozen pureed fruit and the mango one was my favourite. The children visited more than once a day!
Before our trip I learnt that the wine was over budget for us but how pleased I was when we got there as the cocktails are amazing and great value too. We found the food good value, yes a little pricy but this is an exclusive resort on an under developed island.

The Kids Club:
Amazing, truly amazing. We are not fans of hotels children's clubs and although we met one member of staff on our arrival and on the first night at the beach BBQ where she held activities with the children, we enjoyed the beach and our pool together for the first few days which I am pleased we did as once our children went to The Den we couldn't get them out!! They couldn't wait to get there in the morning and wouldn't leave until it closed! The staff Kat, Laura, Jenny and Bay are all extremely dedicated to their job, professional and above all great fun. Activities in The Den, swimming in the main pool, paddle boarding on the beach-all none stop fun. This allowed us to use the Spa and go on an two hour trip to the local fishing village and ferry pier. The Den's design is worthing of awards and the toilet, its a door in a tree-magical!
Our children miss The Den and its staff and I am not sure they will allow us to go anywhere else on holiday.

The Beach:
Private, clean, with comfy beds, great beach bar-an old VW camper van and sea water that varies from warm to having pockets of hot, yes bath hot water dotted around. Paddle boards, canoes and a beautiful view.

The resort

Is huge so the golf buggy was a necessity rather than a luxury. The charging fairies came out at night and we loved the journey from our villa to the beach, it took about 7 minutes. One day on our journey to the beach we passed 0 residents and 17 staff! The resort is so spread out that every villa is extremely private, the upkeep of public areas is very good and clean and tidy. The area near to the chocolate room was being power washed during our stay but the men didn't get in the way and where improving the look of the wood very much.

The Spa

My husband and myself had a massage in the Spa which is a mini village in itself. Very professional staff who gave an excellent massage.

Cinema Paradiso:

Went one night, loved it. If you need the toilet whilst the film is on you don't need to worry about missing any as although the toilet is completely private there is an open window so you can still see the film!

A large 5 bedroomed villa had an open day during our stay and we took full advantage of the larger pool and water slide, the children had great fun and we talked to Hannah, head of sales and members of staff from the spa and learnt a great deal about the resort, its philosophies and how dedicated all members of staff are. Kai, who was the GM during our stay could always answer questions asked and we saw him to speak to most days. Our Friday was efficient, especially during check out, which is in the cools of the peaceful library.

In conclusion, get it booked, our best family holiday ever and we do hope to return one day.

Room Tip: Go for the best your budget allows, I would recommend the 5 bedroomed villas with slides. Our 2 bed...
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  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled with family
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Thank Lexion480
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Frank G, General Manager at Soneva Kiri, responded to this reviewResponded 12 February 2014

Dear Lexion480,
thank you so very much for your time to post your impression of your stay at Soneva Kiri. Thank you for commenting so comprehensively on all aspects of your stay. I am glad that my assistant Kai and the entire team at the resort provided you with exceptional service. Needless to say that all of us look forward to welcoming you back soon.
Warm regards
Frank Grassmann
General Manager

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Reviewed 8 February 2014

A truely fantastic place! The resort in it self, the beautyful villas, the nature - withe beaches and the turquise water! The choise of restaurant and activities are very good, and the service and friendlyness of all the staff are exceptional! The Six Sense Spa is also amazing! I hightly recommand this resort.

Stayed: January 2014, travelled as a couple
1  Thank KariAnne_12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Frank G, General Manager at Soneva Kiri, responded to this reviewResponded 10 February 2014

Dear KariAnne_12,
thank you very much for taking your time to post your impression of your recent stay with us.
I am very happy to read that you enjoyed your stay so much. The sea at the moment is quite amazing, indeed. I have the pleasure seeing it several times a day when I welcome and bid farewell to all our guests. It is tempting to just jump in - I might do this tonight after the last departure...
Warm regards
Frank Grassmann
General Manager

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Reviewed 30 January 2014

There's a lot of good things about Soneva Kiri. Many of them have already been listed in the previous reviews. The breakfast is incredible, the villas are nice, the beach is incredible, the NYE party was fun, many of the services they offer have the potential to be incredible. However, looking back on our vacation I will continue to have mixed feelings about the time we spent at Soneva Kiri. I was hesitant to write this review, because I addressed many of our problems with the resort during our check out survey. The manager who was there at the time sent us a brief email, and said he would follow up with us. We never heard from him again (it's been about a month), so now out of pure frustration with the complete incompetence of the management staff I have turned to trip advisor to share what happened during our vacation.

First, our transfer from Bangkok to Soneva Kiri was a complete disaster. The driver that picked us up from Bangkok International brought us to the wrong airport (an hour away from Bangkok international), and then abandoned us there until he realized that he had made a mistake. He spoke minimal english, but was able to communicate that he had no clue where the right airport was, so we had to pull over multiple times on the side of the street and ask pedestrians where we were going. This took added about another 90 minutes in the car...not particularly enjoyable. When we finally arrived at Soneva Kiri, and mentioned what happened the manager who was there ( i don't believe it was Frank) instead of just apologizing made us feel like we were being unreasonable about the extra two hours of travel.

The Villa's are very nice as I stated earlier, but the one that we stayed in is a one bedroom, but we are a family of 3. Not a problem as the daughter, I have slept on my fair share of pull out couches/cots etc in my time. When we got to the Villa they had prepared a sort of make shift bed in the large walk through closet of the master bed room, not ideal location wise, but not a problem. The mattress was kind of like a stiffer pool cushion so they had put a down comforter on top of it and under the cover sheet in order to make it more comfortable. However, the down comforter was kind of lumpy and it was cold in the villa so i decided I would rather have the comforter to sleep under. When I pulled it out I can't say I was anything other than DISGUSTED. It was COVERED in multiple period blood stains as large as the palm of my hand. It should have been burned not continued to be used for guests that are paying an insane amount of money to stay at the resort.

If you are familiar with Soneva Kiri or you've read some of these reviews you know that upon arrival you are assigned a Friday who helps you plan things while you are at Soneva Kiri. Our family jokingly called our Friday more of a Monday, because of how annoying we found having him to be. It just seemed like an unnecessary step between making reservations at half empty restaurants. He always forgot to get the things that we had asked for, and in general was pretty incompetent. There was a total lack of follow through, not surprising since we saw the same thing from the manager so I don't know why we expected more from the Friday. It's a nice idea in theory, however the execution was less than ideal.

Speaking of the dining options there are a few different options on the island, and the food overall is pretty good to very good. On one of our nights we were sitting at The View, which as your guessed it, has a wonderful view of the sunset over the ocean. They have an outdoor patio where most people were sitting, and while we were out there a HUGE rat ran under our table where our shoeless feet were (their philosophy) and across the deck. This was more disgusting than the first time we saw a rat at our villa, because it was at our feet and where we were eating.

There are a lot of things that Soneva Kiri can do and does do right, however if you are planning on forking over so much money to go to a luxury resort I would recommend looking at other options. Soneva Kiri certainly has the potential to be an incredible place, they seem to have the playbook for how to be great, but have yet to master how to execute it. After staying at the Four Seasons Tented Resort previous to Soneva Kiri it was impossible not to juxtapose the two, and I can tell you that Soneva Kiri just doesn't match up on a service level. Service is the key to making that jump from a good resort to an excellent one. I would recommend the owners to do a detailed review of their management team. I hope that in the future that Soneva Kiri is able to work out these problems, because I do think that it offers a unique product at a beautiful location.

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
10  Thank TrustmeIknow11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Frank G, Owner at Soneva Kiri, responded to this reviewResponded 26 February 2014

Dear Guest, Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Sonu Shivdasani. My wife Eva and I created Soneva. We are very concerned when we do not meet expectations let alone blow them away, as is usually the case. Soneva has thrived because of the attention to detail and guests feedback. Please accept our sincere apologies for the lack of response to your feedback. I have seen correspondence with our General Manager, and you since, and we have also been in touch directly by email.
I would like to apologize for the shortcomings that you experienced and let me reassure you and other readers on how we are addressing these issues.
As you know Soneva Kiri is unique for a Resort in Thailand and compared to most resorts in the world, you are picked up directly from the gate and whisked through immigration and baggage control by our airport representative. One then flies with our privately owned plane to our privately owned airport.
During the time of your visit, Thailand was experiencing a few challenges and we were having difficulties with the Bangkok airport base where the plane would take off from. On the day of your arrival our plane was relocated to another airport and our airport representative unfortunately gave the driver the wrong airport to transfer you to. I apologize for the challenges that you experienced here. You were quite right that this error was inexcusable. We have discussed this with our Resort Manager, who met you on arrival and he is apologetic and understands the seriousness of this error.
You mentioned blood stains on the comforter that we placed between our Mattress and our bedsheet in order to make our beds soft and comfortable. We have discussed this with housekeeping and it turns out that the stains are old rust stains. For, last year we had some issues with our water purification system with the water going into the laundry. The water from the Reservoir contains a high mineral content.
A lot of our sheets were stained. The ones that were exposed to guests were immediately replaced and those that were below the covers were kept as our guests usually never see this. These were certainly not blood stains and I apologize if you felt like that they were.
I am disappointed that you did not enjoy the personalized Mr. Friday service. Our guests usually love the idea of having a butler who is there to assist and to generally ensure that the holiday is a success. We are fortunate to have a very high level of return business. (At Soneva Fushi return business accounted for 70% of our revenues in the month of December and at Soneva Kiri 37%). A bond is developed between the Mr. Friday and the Guest and the Mr. Friday just makes everything so much easier for our guest. The Mr. Friday is very disappointed that he did not meet your expectations and he has taken on board your feedback.
The incident with the rat is unfortunate. We are fortunate that Soneva Kiri is located on the island of Kood, the 4th biggest island in Thailand after Phuket, Koh Samui and Koh Chang. Unlike the other islands which have large populations and millions of Tourists every year, on Koh Kood there are only 5,000 local inhabitants and very few tourists. The huge untouched jungle is a charm of the island. Unfortunately, being so natural it is much more prone to animals of whatever type. We have a dedicated team managing pest control and it is unfortunate that this slipped.
Thank you for agreeing that there are many things that; “we do and do them right”, and thank you for agreeing that Soneva Kiri is a “unique product in a beautiful location”.
The fact that as the Owner and CEO of Soneva I am replying, shows how seriously we take your comments and the fact that we are working towards them. Once more, please accept our sincere apologies for these short comings.
Yours sincerely,
Sonu Shivdasani

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Reviewed 23 January 2014

Since a lot of the reviews here are already very detailed anyway, I will stick to the highlights. I visited around the end of summer 2013, but just got down to writing my review now.
I visited with my mother and brother and we were celebrating my mother's birthday.

Lets just say we didn't start on quite the right foot with this resort as a couple of days before our arrival we were emailed and told that the chartered flight was undergoing maintenance. We were transferred to the resort via a speed boat - and it made for quite a bumpy ride. Needless to say, by the end of the speedboat ride, my mother had a splitting headache and the other couple that was with us threw up.

However, we were greeted by Frank, the GM and our 'Friday' at the resort who quickly tried to smooth things down for us. A paracetamol was offered to my mother within 10 mins of our arrival. The no shoes policy was amazing, really grounds you to nature in some way.

The resort in itself is really eco-freindly. I believe sustainable luxury is their way of life. We stayed in hill Villa No. 54, and it was humongous (in comparison to one I stayed at in Bali). The views were beautiful - especially from the private pool. you were right at the edge of the jungle. The mosquitoes seemed to be a little bit of an issue, but really small in comparison to a lot of the other amazing offerings.

This place had one of the best breakfasts I have had at a resort - I loved everything about it. Food at the main bar was nice, and our dinner celebrating my mother's birthday at the Benz restaurant was excellent - note: let the Chef Benz know in advance if you don't eat spicy food - ours needed to be changed.
The tree pod dining experience was supposed to be the highlight when it came to the food related experiences, but I wasn't impressed solely due to the value for money. for $600 for 3 persons, the price seemed steep. The views were gorgeous though.
The chocolate room and ice cream parlour deserve a special applause - some of the ice cream flavours were mind blowing!

We only took one excursion outside of the as we were at Soneva for only 4 days and wanted to make the most of our time at the resort.

Things you shouldn't miss out on:
Watching a movie at the outdoor cinema
Getting a massage at the spa - one of the better ones I have had
Check the weekly timetable and attend activities you might be interested in - such as yoga, tea tasting, cocktail making class etc.
Make use of the beach
The chocolate room and ice-cream parlour

I totally ignored my phone for the 4 days that I was there, and didn't miss it at all.

  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank travebuff_m
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Frank G, General Manager at Soneva Kiri, responded to this reviewResponded 26 January 2014

Dear travebuff_m,
thank you so much for posting your review on this forum. I am pleased that you enjoyed your stay with us so much. I am sorry that you had a bumpy ride to the resort, however, I am pleased to read that we responded swiftly within minutes of your arrival. The Treepod Dining indeed is a unique experience and the amount we charge not just covers the food and drinks served but also the fact that our treepod waiters have to undergo stringent and regular training as they need to be especially skilled to perform their duty zip lining through the jungle. I am glad that you found the experience worthwhile, though. I hope we can welcome you again soon.
Warm regards
Frank Grassmann
General Manager

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Reviewed 5 January 2014

Sorry for a long review, but I want to put in all my thoughts of this excellent resort. I was in Soneva Kiri with my wife late November early December to escape hosting a birthday party.
As a summary, the resort and people were excellent, food from good to excellent (only). Very different compared to glass and steel five star resorts. Would recommend this to everyone except people with mobility problems (there are lots of stairs) and people who are afraid of nature. Value for money ratio could have been bit better though...

Here is the biggest minus of them all (and from this you can guess the other ones are quite minor), I was SO expecting the flight from Bangkok to Soneva Kiri, so the normal charter from Bangkok to Trat and the following short helicopter ride were a disappointment. Hopefully they get their private plane back at some date! Soneva Kiri personnel were visibly present at Bangkok airport at the gate on arrival and on package claim during the departure to guide and help us through the immigration and to the proper gate for continuation or to airport hotel during the departure. One wish for next time though, please slow down a little! During the arrival there was another couple our greeter needed to guide through after us so we ended up walking pretty fast to the Bangkok airlines lounge. We didn’t enjoy that much after 10 hour flight.

Arriving to the resort by boat from the airport island was nice. We did our “check-in” at the main bar, which consisted mostly of getting rid of my shoes. (My wife’s shoes were bagged already at the jetty.) This voluntary no-shoes policy was something we really enjoyed, I really hated to put them back on when leaving!
Resort itself is really much like indicated in all the pictures. Mostly open air, wooden and spread on quite large area (from main resort buildings to the beach the distance was close to one kilometer) so golf buggies are quite needed to get around. 95% of the other 5-star resorts tend to be constructed from glass, chrome and steel, Soneva Kiri distinctly goes towards luxury Robinson Crusoe style, which was incredibly relaxing. Combination of the style and distances created unprecedented amount of privacy to almost everything you did. You could hardly hear you neighbours through the jungle, let alone see them. (Our other alternative for this vacation would have been a water villa style resort in Maldives, but the privacy wouldn’t really have been there!) Many of the resort main buildings are concentrated on the same area, but then some are spread around (especially restaurant Benz which is outside the resort).
Environment wise, the resort is in jungle. So there are mosquitoes (and cicadas as previous reviewer found out) and other animals around, and short of poisoning everything around and in the resort there really isn’t a way to get around that. And the big point in the resort is to live with the environment rather than mould it to suit city tastes… To my surprise there were quite less mosquitoes than in other areas of Thailand I’ve been (Phuket, Khao Lak, Hua Hin and Bangkok) so I didn’t even need to use the mosquito repellent during our stay. This might have been due to quite a large amount of geckoes around. :-)
Checkout was easy, fast and contained no surprises (read: no surprise charges). There was one surprise though, our flight back left from the resort quite late (17:00 or so) and we needed to vacate our villa at midday. We were expecting to lie around in the beach and in main resort when we were actually given another villa to use until our flight. Cool.
There was an advice to avoid using mobile phones in public areas, and it really made a difference. E.g. during dinners lots of people nowadays keep checking news, facebook, mail and messages (and tripadvisor), here it was completely missing and made life a bit more relaxing. Of course Soneva Kiri went even beyond that and had a full page of non-scientific stuff about radio frequency radiation hazards in the villa Wi-Fi manual, which was a bit annoying.
There was some renovation happening on villa #7, which caused some slight noise on few of the days. Not really bothersome and understandable considering that most of the areas in villas are outdoors and rainy season must put quite a stress to those.
As a side note the electric buggies were tuned to quite low power and limited in speed, which made the cresting of the hills around the resort annoyingly slow. Most likely they had to do that to keep the visitors from killing themselves with them while racing around but still…

We had a beach villa #9 (and one hill villa during the checkout day), and according to my wife it wasn’t quite like what was promised. It was more. It is huge for two people and has a huge pool! Two minibars! Piles of towels everywhere! I’ve been in some hotels and resorts where you usually get one towel per person; here there was a bunch of them. And they were fluffy and big! There were three showers, including one under open sky inside the jungle, which quickly become our favourite. And the privacy, it was absolute. It was impossible to see our neighbours, you could sometimes hear them if they were loud, but at least ours were not. (What we could see from the hill villa during our checkout day, at least that one wasn’t as private as our beach villa was. There were areas where you could see to the neighbour villa and of course vice versa.)
We had the all-inclusive package so everything in the minibars (there were two of them, filled once per day) belonged to the price.
Housekeeping was efficient and invisible during those days we went out for breakfast. During the first days we were sleeping late so we had to call them (via our Friday) to tell them to come in. Even dropped leaves were cleaned from the pool every day and the bath to the private beach was brushed as well.
Oh, the private beach. Beach villas all have a small beach in front of them which faces the gulf where the arrival jetty is. Beach is not as nice as the resorts common beach on the other side of the cape, but swimmable. There are some rocks and you need to wade out a bit before the water becomes deep enough though.

I’d rate the food from good to excellent. There was naturally quite heavy emphasis on the local seafood which was very tasty, but most western foods were not on the same level. With one exception, if you get a chance to go on organized dinner activity called “The Laboratory”, do go. Idea there is that the View main chef and sommelier create a four-five course dinner for up 10-12 people, where all the foods and wines are not disclosed until the end. Menu and wines changes every time depending on what are the best ingredients they get and are in mind to try. They expect all participants to write down their impressions, and there is long discussion about them at the end. Food there was the best of our trip and we loved it, even though the other participants were wine experts while we are really not (come on, Finland is known for distilled alcohol, not wines. :-) ).
The restaurants in the resort are “The View”, which has more European style foods. One minus for them is that the lights (candles) at the tables are not bright enough to read the menu and wine list.
Restaurant “Benz” is outside the resort and has a changing set menu of 6-9 courses. Food there is more traditional Thai. Transportation there is supposed to be by boat but for some reason (low tide?) we were taken there by car.
Once a week there is a barbeque at the resort beach with huge selection of appetizers, meats and seafood for main courses (which they prepare on request) and very wide selection of desserts. By the way, this was first time I’ve seen a sommelier at BBQ. Beach bar/restaurant is also open for lunch or just for drinks every day.
Some dinners are served in the main area as well; we had this “Asian street market” there during our first evening. Lunch and breakfast are served on this restaurant every day. You can also order food from the main bar.
Most of these dining venues are open on alternate evening, i.e. when View is open the Benz isn’t, but it varies.
In addition of these there is the treepod dining, where you are hoisted up to a tree in a basket with space for 4-6 people (private reservations only) for dinner or lunch. We had dinner in there, but unfortunately the weather was bit cloudy that evening and we didn’t get a proper sunset… Food there was ok, experience being more important.
And of course you can order food to your villa as well, the menu there is huge!
These last two (treepod and in-villa dining) are not included in the all-inclusive (nor are drinks outside meals), but that is clearly stated everywhere.
Biggest minus for me was that I never managed to get my breakfast eggs over-easy, they were always over-well (once over-hard), even after specifically complaining about them.

As I said the villa beach was good enough, but the real beach on the other side of the cape was excellent. You’d want to use your buggy to get there (there seemed to be bikes available as well) since the distances from villas is close to one kilometre. There is a full restaurant and bar at the beach and loungers set quite widely apart. Nothing like throngs at the Phuket beaches! Sand is white and there are no rocks in the water. Sea was also deeper here than in front of beach villas, but not dangerously deep. In contrast to what some other reviewers have said, the beach was clean during our stay and every day we were there, there were also two guys with a cart collecting what little trash there was on the tideline.
You can also get lots of water sport equipment from the beach to use (kayaks, SUP-boards, etc.). Some people were using those; we enjoyed cold beer and good books.

Yes, there is an outdoor movie theatre at the resort. They have two screenings on about 4 days per week, for those other days you can book it for private screenings. We went there during our last evening (they were showing “The Beach”, where Leonardo DiCaprio goes mad on paradise island in Thailand :-) ) and it was nice. The movie experience outdoors was excellent, the premises only ok. (The loungers were damp due to the water condensing on them late in the evening. Towels were provided though.)

There are a lot of excursions available (up to one really expensive trip to Angkor Wat), including snorkelling trips other reviewers have mentioned in not so good terms. We only took one of them, the Koh Kood Experience, which is basically a drive around the island. Visit of a fishing village Ao Salat, back down to the main village on the western side of the island and a swim at the Klong Chao waterfall. All in all, a nice trip. At least some of the excursions belong to the all-inclusive package.

There is a Six Senses spa on the premises which we used once. We had the oriental massage for a couple and really enjoyed it. I don’t know how it compares to other spas, since I’ve only been in few, but it was very relaxing.
However, if they had been at the pier when we arrived or been offering in some other way at that time, I’d have loved to get some kind of jetlag treatment at that time. However being too lazy to contact them we settled for a short nap at that time. They could get much more business if they would offer their services during the arrival! On the other hand it was nice that they were not pushy with their sales!

Weekly timetable:
They publish an A4 every week containing all the things happening during that week. Which restaurants are open, what movies are shown, what excursions are available and are there any special activities arrange. However during our later week we only got it on Wednesday when the previous one ended on Sunday.

Everything in Soneva Kiri is about service. People there are incredible! Thai people are very pleasant and polite and everyone in Soneva Kiri went even beyond that.
Chompoo (our “Friday”) very efficiently organized everything we needed and made suggestions on what to do on which days. She was very nice, friendly and capable. Our only problem was that since we were there only to relax, we didn’t have enough for her to do.
People at the main bar, where we had a drink or two every evening after dinner, very also were warm and attentive.
And last but not least Kai was very friendly and always visible. He was greeting people in every possible place and seemed to remember names of everyone after a single introduction; he more than filled Frank’s shoes during his absence. Bloody guy even congratulated me on my birthday on chance encounter on the resort.

Room Tip: Beach villas (at least #9) are VERY private.
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  • Stayed: November 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank Petri S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Frank G, General Manager at Soneva Kiri, responded to this reviewResponded 15 January 2014

Dear ParaUnSite,
Thank you so very much for posting a very comprehensive review on this forum. I am delighted about your positive impression and that in summary you felt that "everything in Soneva Kiri is about service, the people there are incredible! Thai people are very pleasant and polite and everyone in Soneva Kiri went even beyond that." I will not hesitate to share your comments with my team who will be happy to receive this praise as it serves them as a well deserved motivation and recognition.
I agree with you that the unavailability of our resort plane is disappointing but we are hopeful that all the necessary bureaucracy with the aviation authorities will be overcome soon and we will be up in the air again soonest. Our plane is ready to fly already now... Just waiting for the paperwork...
Warm regards
Frank Grassmann
General Manager

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Reviewed 3 January 2014

It’s difficult for me to reflect on my time at Soneva as it was one of frustration, anger, and left me in utter disbelief.

Upon arrival, we were initially intrigued by the helicopter and subsequent boat ride to the resort (it was supposed to be a private plane to eliminate a transfer in Trat, but supposedly the plane was not allowed to fly). No doubt, the location is quite remote and beautiful.

We were greeted by our “Friday,” who whisked us on a golf cart to give us a tour of the grounds which are quite spread out. There is the main area where the breakfast and buffets are served, a pool area with bar and restaurant, an observatory (interesting but not staffed by a professional), and chocolate and ice cream room (fun for evening treats). They also offer an outdoor cinema, which we didn’t not utilize but felt it appeared to be well done, as well as a lovely beach with full drink and food service. As we were riding with our Friday, there was a piercing noise which sounded exactly like a fire alarm. I inquired as to what I was hearing and she replied, cicadas.

We have had many experiences with cicadas and other insects and animals which make noise, but we had never encountered a noise at this level. Setting the noise aside, we were eventually driven to our villa which was quite large and comfortable. In fact, there are over four day beds outside along with a nice pool - clearly a welcome to spend more time outside than inside. The villa however was up in the jungle (Hill View) and much more exposed to the cicadas. Therefore, the piercing sounds were at the highest level where were were staying! The sound was so intense that my ears began cracking. I had remembered my Friday mentioning the cicadas would calm down once the sun went down. I looked at my watch at it was 1PM! Not wanting to jump to conclusions, we decided to wait it out to see if the noise level would subside. Instead of going outside and utilizing any one of the day beds, we couldn’t stand the noise and went into the bedroom. Although the doors and windows gave some relief, the sound was just incredible and I began to get a headache. I thought to myself, this couldn’t really be happening. There is no way I paid this substantial amount of money only to be cooped up in the bedroom to get some relief. After more than hour I couldn’t take it and asked my Friday to summon the manager. We purposely met him outside so he could experience the noise level we were, and soon enough we were yelling at each other to simply maintain a conversation. I explained to him that while I didn’t expect him to control nature, I did expect to stay in a location which would encourage relaxation. He nodded his head and spoke to me as if I was being high maintenance and ridiculous. We went back and forth and he never offered to do anything. Finally he asked, “what do you want me to do?” A question which should never come out of a 5 star hotel. At this level and rate, you need to be proactive and figure out a solution. I asked whether there were any other alternative villas we could utilize knowing the resort was at 50% capacity. He said he would look into it and get back to me. (Again, why did I have to ask him to do this in the first place?)

Long story short, after remaining cooped up in the bedroom we learned there was another villa available after dinner. Our Friday recommended we go the dinner buffet and then our room would be ready. Having come off of the heated discussion with the manager, we decided to let everything go and go to dinner to have a good time. We arrived at the buffet which was very well executed. The food was delicious and we felt the frustration was behind us. However, just as we were beginning to relax, we were presented with a bill for $100 each! I couldn’t believe the cost of the dinner - rather, buffet! While the food was good, I couldn’t not see how or what could substantiate $100 each. That said, we bit our tongues, paid the bill and said tomorrow will be a better day.

The next day was better as we spent most of our time on the beach and found our new villa to be substantially quieter during the cicada hours. We also booked the tree top dining which was a fun experience, although extremely over priced. Each night, there is a recommended location - The View, The Benz, Beach BBQ, etc. Our Friday was aware that I could not eat seafood, so when we were approached to eat at The Benz or at the Beach BBQ there was no attempt to offer non-seafood options. This was very disheartening and although I could have pressed the matter further and demand they accommodate me, I once again felt awkward having to broach the subject myself. Because these accommodations weren’t made we found ourselves eating (alone) at the main bar every night except the last. The food was still pricey but pretty good. It did feel strange, however, knowing that everyone else at the resort was off enjoying this and that while we felt isolated by having a seafood allergy. On our very last night, we went to the View where oddly enough we ran into a couple who informed us the Beach BBQ had copious amounts of non-seafood items. Of course, we still were questioning whether it would have been worth $100 each, but the fact that we weren’t encouraged to go was strange and uncomfortable. The View experience itself was okay. Again, the food was decent but definitely not worth the money or much of a departure from eating at the main bar other than the scenery.

One note was there were only about four bottles of wine under $100. After which the bottles quickly began moving towards $1000 and up. I frequent many high end resorts and expect high bottle prices but I also expect a range of prices.

Our highlight was certainly the beach and found it quite pleasant save the two days when stormy weather blew in enormous amounts of trash in the water and on the beach itself. While I certainly understand this is out of their control, there was zero effort to remove the trash or even to pick up the large items which could have easily been removed in a matter of minutes. I was so depressed by the amount of trash that I began picking it up myself and creating a pile by our day bed to make my area enjoyable. On the first day, there was so much trash I didn’t feel comfortable going in the water. I eventually saw a single staff member raking the sand for the small pieces of trash, but again, no attempt to remove the large items along the shore line and floating in the water.

One aspect we were looking forward to is our private snorkeling trip. Upon departure, we learned there was another couple joining us. (Wait, I thought this was private?) Since things were already in motion, we bit our tongues again and set off for our trip. We went to a small island where we can swim around. The fish activity was not that exciting which I don’t blame Soneva for, obviously, just don’t expect to see any ‘wow’ sights. After about an hour of snorkeling, I poked my head up to see four large double decker tourists boats swiftly approaching. In a matter of seconds, they had pulled up, docked, and well over a hundred tourists were climbing out of the boats and into the water. I couldn’t believe my eyes having been told that this would not only be a private tour but in a secluded area “away from tourists.” Needless to say, we ended the trip early and returned to the resort. Of course, when we noted this experience and the lack of a private tour, Soneva played dumb. We were so exhausted having to argue over the villa, bite our tongues over the buffet cost, pod dining expenses, inability to have a decent wine selection, clean up our own beach area of trash, have little to no response on accommodating our dietary concerns that we threw up our hands.

I have single handedly NEVER encountered five star prices at a five star resort and only received two to three star service. Management here has no clue what other companies provide at this level and I have no other recommendation other than to send them to their competitors resorts to see what true customer service is.

To top off of everything, when we received our bill, every single line item from the tree pod dining, to the wine, to the mini bar was overcharged. We had to go over the bill line by line with our Friday on our last day. It was so uncomfortable and unfortunate way to end our stay. In hindsight, my experience at Soneva was bizarre at best. There was no value in the amount of money required to spend, and the Friday experience was completely unnecessary.

Room Tip: Definitely inquire about the cicadas and where you can have limited exposure to their disruptive noi...
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  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled as a couple
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18  Thank travel_dc_2009
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Frank G, Owner at Soneva Kiri, responded to this reviewResponded 26 February 2014

Dear Guests, Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Sonu Shivdasani. My wife Eva and I created Soneva. I would like to reply to the two reviews that you have posted on Trip advisor regarding your experience with us.
Thank you for your feedback. Whilst I am happy to read this feedback, I am nonetheless disappointed that we did not meet your expectations. Soneva Kiri is indeed “remote but accessible”.
It is the 4th largest island in Thailand after Phuket, Koh Samui and Koh Chang, Unlike the other islands which have large populations and millions of tourists every year, on Koh Kood there are only 5,000 local inhabitants and a few thousand tourists. The beauty of this remoteness is the incredible natural vegetation and the fact that there are animals. Our “Intelligent Luxury” philosophy is all about questioning and challenging what is truly luxurious for a successful, wealthy individual living in an urban environment. In an urban environment one can often forget the beauty of nature and wild life. Seeing birds and listening to Cicadas can actually be an enriching experience since, we have lost touch in cities with nature and the healing effects that this can have. I apologize that the cicardas were so loud.
I would like to apologize on behalf of Soneva Kiri, Soneva and my wife Eva and I for your interaction with our Resort Manager. He has read your feedback and taken it on board and we will be more pro active in the future, should there be any other complaints regarding Cicardas.
I was also disappointed to read that you were not satisfied with the gentleman that was manning our Observatory. We have 5 Hosts (we call our employees Hosts as we like to create a sense of ownership) within the property that are passionate about Astronomy. They have been trained over the years by an expert in Astronomy. In fact last year Buzz Aldrin the 2nd man on the moon visited us and we have other famous experts on the planet and space who have also visited and they have generally been quite impressed with the competence of our team and the Observatory.
I am sorry that you had issues with the food prices and that you were not aware that we had vegetarian options in all our outlets. Our core purpose at Soneva is to create “innovative and enlightening” SLOW LIFE, which stands for... Sustainable, Local, Organic, Wellness, Learning, Inspiring, Fun, Experiences. Given that “W” stands for Wellness and the S, L and O stands for Sustainable, Local, Organic, it is natural for us to have an extensive selection of vegetarian dishes where the ingredients are freshly cultivated in our own gardens or neighboring farms.
Our food prices are a result of surveys with our competitors and it is our understanding that our prices are similar to that of other Luxury Properties in Thailand. I am attentive to guest comments and I have very seldom in the last 5 years had comments on our food prices.
The high wine prices in Thailand are unfortunate. Please bear in mind that just the duty in Thailand is 400%. In fact, our own mark- ups on the wine is considerably less as per the industry norms. It is usual for Restaurants and Resorts to mark up wine 400% to 500%. At Soneva Kiri there are some wines where the mark up is as little as 10%.
I apologize for the state of our main beach. On the two days that there was a storm, it is unfortunate that so much rubbish is thrown in the sea. Soneva has put a lot of effort to teach and campaign not to litter our ocean. We have programs for local children to educate them on waste management; in fact David de Rothschild famous for his adventure to the large plastic island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on a plastic sailing yacht, the “Plastiki”, was recently our guest at an ecological gathering at Soneva Kiri. Our gardeners do clean our beach twice a day. This was clearly not enough.
Koh Rong where you went is a part of the National Park. Usually it is empty and this emptiness is actually rare for Thailand where resort destinations tend to have very large numbers of tourists and a lot of the great spots are crowded with boats. It is unfortunate that your visit to Koh Rong timed with a tour. Over the last 20 years, as a Resort developer and operator, I have visited many locations through out the world, and Koh Rong certainly ranks in the top five. I am, however, informed that you were not charged for this trip.
I am sorry to learn that there was an issue with the price charged for your In villa dining order. We were programming our point of sale at the time and unfortunately, the co-ordination of this was slightly delayed causing a discrepancy in the prices.
I am happy to hear that we upgraded you to one of our Cliff villas at no extra charge.
The fact that as the Owner and CEO of Soneva, that I am replying shows how seriously we take your comments and the fact that we are working towards them. Once more please accept our sincere apologies for these short comings.
Yours sincerely,
Sonu Shivdasani

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 December 2013

We stayed at Soneva for 7 nights. We expected one of the greatest experiences of our lives. The reality left a lot to be desired.

There are things to like – the villas are large (though the cicadas are ear-splittingly loud in the afternoons), the golf cart is fun and the wait staff/housekeeping are extremely nice. The breakfast and chocolate room are overwhelming large, but also mostly average (as was most food).

Unfortunately, there were way too many issues, starting with our final bill. We were overcharged for every mini-bar purchase, as well as the treetop dining (gimmicky and expensive but a nice setting). We also were overcharged for the pre-ordered wine for the treetop. Our personal “Friday” told us later it was available and provided us an alternative at the same price. But we were charged a higher rate on the bill. We spoke with another couple on checkout that also was significantly overcharged, which is truly disturbing for a resort of this stature.

Speaking of the “Fridays,” they appear to be a total joke. We really didn’t need someone to make “reservations” at half-empty restaurants or get us a DVD from the front desk. Her communications skills were terrible and she did not seem very interested in dealing with a few basic dietary requests we had. It seemed her job was more to milk every dollar out of us, rather than to be our advocate to ensure we have a good time.

The beach experience was generally nice but on Sunday afternoon, Soneva again showed what its priorities are. There was some trash washing up on the beach. While that is in no way Soneva’s fault, there was only one person that would occasionally pick up a small amount of trash, while there were about 10 people setting up the beach for that night’s barbeque. Why? Because enjoying the beach in the afternoon is free, but the bbq was $100 US per person.

Our snorkeling experience was also a major letdown. It is made out to be a nice, quiet experience. However, after 30 minutes, 4 massive tourist boats pull into the same area and literally hundreds of tourists pour into the same space. The 4 of us who went out from Soneva were all very disappointed that we spent twice as long getting to and from the snorkeling area than the amount of time we actually were in the water. We ended up getting a refund. They cannot control the tourists but at the very least should have explained what we were going to do more accurately rather than wasting our entire morning.

Soneva also has an impressive-looking observatory. On the night we went to check it out there was a teenager using a free iphone app to try to find some stars. He tried his best but was just another example of another activity turning into a giant letdown.

Finally, we have to call out Frank. The phones in the Villas have a button that was supposed to connect directly to him. Since he responds to so many of these reviews, we wanted to speak directly with him to share our experiences, especially since we did not really care for the attitude of the manager on duty when we shared a few of our experiences. Not only did Frank not answer – no one did. It range a few times and then a message popped up that said “hang up.”

It was a fitting capper to our week, one that should have been so much better than it actually was. We left knowing we will never consider staying at another Soneva resort ever again. We would encourage the management of Soneva Kiri to try to Four Seasons in Chiang Rai and experience for themselves what a true first-class experience is supposed to be about.

Room Tip: Don't unpack until you spend a few minutes inside and make sure you can hear yourself think.
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  • Stayed: November 2013, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank travel2014a
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Frank G, General Manager at Soneva Kiri, responded to this reviewResponded 16 January 2014

Dear travel2014a,
thank you for taking your time to post your impression of your stay with us.
Whilst I am happy to read that there were elements of the resort and your stay that you liked, I am disappointed to read that you felt that you have been over-charged for and received services that fell short of your expectation. I am very much aware that Soneva Kiri and also Soneva Fushi for that matter are two very unique and different resorts and do not compare with other more known hospitality brands. Judging by most postings on this forum we receive an overwhelmingly positive feedback from our guests. I am sorry that we did not meet your expectation and also that you were not able to get through to me personally while you were staying with us. I was travelling abroad. However, I believe that you met up with my assistant on several occasions during your stay.
Best regards
Frank Grassmann
General Manager

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Additional Information about Soneva Kiri

Address: 110 Moo 4, Ko Kut, Thailand (Formerly Soneva Kiri by Six Senses)
Region: Thailand > Trat Province > Ko Kut
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Spa Hotel in Ko Kut
#2 Top resorts Hotel in Ko Kut
#2 On the Beach Hotel in Ko Kut
Price Range: £633 - £1,974 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Soneva Kiri 5*
Number of rooms: 27
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Remote yet accessible, Soneva Kiri sits on Thailand's fourth largest but least populated island, Koh Kood, in the Gulf of Siam. Surrounded by lush, vibrant tropical vegetation and white beaches, fringed with palm trees, the resort has been tastefully and cleverly designed to complement the landscape and blends seamlessly into the outstanding natural beauty. Soneva Kiri epitomises the Soneva concept of 'intelligent luxury'. Only an hour's flight in the resort's private plane from Bangkok, it feels a million miles from the real world. The sense of tranquillity, seclusion and harmony with nature is second to none. Far away from the beaten track and well-trodden tourist attractions this is Thailand as it used to be thirty or even fifty years ago, genteel and untainted. And also just one hour by boat from the wonders of Cambodia. The 35 pool villa resort is perfect for groups or families, as it provides villas with up to 6 bedrooms. It also has a unique children's den in the form of a manta ray, and a newly launched Intrepid Explorer's Club for the children under 5 years old. It was recently awarded with The Smith Award "Best for Families" from Mr. & Mrs. Smith. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Soneva Kiri By Six Senses Hotel Koh Kood
Soneva Kiri By 6 Senses

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