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Olivia and Alice in Wonderland (Soneva Kiri)

Soneva Kiri on the tropical island at Koh Kood, Thailand has been one of our favorite new family resorts since its opening in 2009.

Olivia and Alice recently returned from a few days discovering this fantasy island, straight out of a fairytale.

After a few days in Phuket, we arrived in Bangkok and were met straight off the plane by a smiling Six Senses representative and taken to relax in the lounge as they collected our luggage and we waited to board the plane to Koh Kood. The plane itself, aptly named “Ever Soneva So Over the Top” is a remodelled Cessna Caravan, fitted out with only 8 sumptuous leather seats.

On board, we were encouraged to help ourselves to the homemade Six Senses goodies such as marshmallows and cookies, whilst we relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful flight across to Kiri, starting our experience in the utmost style.

Just a short hour later, our skilful pilots touched down on the 800m x 20m runway on Mai Si Island, across a narrow stretch of water from Koh Kood. Our next mode of transport was a waiting James Bond-style speed boat, that whisked across in style to meet our ‘Miss Friday’, who took away our shoes – our ‘no news, no shoes’ experience had begun…

Even from first impressions of Soneva Kiri, your every sense is enticed, as you enter via an enormous ‘dragon mouth bridge’, drawing parallels with falling down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland – into a rather magical land.

Our Beach Villa Suite was incredibly light and spacious, built out of natural woods, with colorful soft furnishings and an amazing outdoor bathroom, complete with two showers and safari style sinks and cupboards. We had to laugh when the leather suitcases at the end of our bed were opened to reveal the inevitable flat screen TV and surround sounds system – nothing was as it seemed!

The staff at Soneva Kiri really are one step ahead, with a letter from our Friday, outlining our stay and the endless options available to us, from massages, tai chi and boat trips to cooking classes, yoga and even shamanic healing seminars with the visiting practitioner from Bali.  Alice and I decided that the fun really began when we were given our own buggy to zip around the resort, aptly named “Ever Soneva So Fun”!

Having relaxed into our heavenly surroundings and had a dip in the private pool, we headed to the beach for cocktails and canapés as the sun went down.

The atmosphere was amazing, with a stunning fire pit, candles everywhere, Thai music being played and drinks being expertly mixed at the vintage VW camper van that sits on the sands.

Alice really indulged with her mini massage on the beach, whilst we tucked into canapés of crispy noodles, spicy minced chicken and delicious lamb served on tiny spoons made of pineapple. As the sun set and the champagne flowed freely, the sky turned incredible shades of pink and gold, and we made our way by buggy to the Dining Room, the open kitchen style restaurant in the main heart of the property for an Asian street food style dinner.

With different kitchens creating mouth-watering offerings for you fresh in front of your eyes, Alice and I (both avid fans of Thai food) were in heaven! Rice paper rolls, fresh made Som Tam salad (made with green papaya, shrimps and lime juice) followed by the freshest grilled seafood (rock lobster, prawns, squid, scallops, sea bass, mussels) all topped off by a visit to the ice cream parlour and chocolate room.

Those with a sweet tooth take note, Soneva Kiri’s ice cream parlour “Ever Soneva So Chilled”, serves up 60 mouth-watering flavors from extreme dark chocolate, roasted almond and banana toffee, to thai tea, licorice and coconut coriander, and you have all day, every day, to try them all. The adjacent chocolate room “Ever Soneva So Chocolicious”, houses 50 varieties of truffles (including green tea, lemon grass and coconut), macaroons, petit fours, fondues, chocolate milk, brownies and cookies – we really were like kids in a sweet shop!

The next morning, we headed for the beach to soak up the blissful Thai sunshine. The beach at Soneva Kiri really does conform to the picture postcard idyll, with powdery white sands, gin-clear waters and palm trees that list almost drunkenly over the ocean in the tropical heat. Aside from the stunning setting, if the mood takes you, you can play boules, sail a hobie cat or paddle a kayak over to the tiny palm-clad island opposite, before settling down to a mouth-watering lunch – the pizzas cooked in the wood-fired oven are our top tip.

That afternoon, following a strenuous day of sunbathing, we drove our trusty buggy to the spa for our Six Senses Signature massage. We were asked our individual preferences for a massage, and the skilful therapists made their recommendation based on our request for a relaxing, medium pressure massage – the “dancing light”.

An hour later, Alice and I floated out of our treatment rooms, our skin having been nourished with warm melted beeswax oil, feeling utterly relaxed and completely limber as they had promised. As much as we wanted to take a little catnap in our tranquil state, the next stop on our ever-so-diligently organized itinerary was a cooking class at “Ever Soneva So Interactive”. We stood with one of the chefs as we learned to cook Pomelo Salad and green seafood curry. To encourage a little playful competitiveness, the chef created dishes spiced for the Thai palate, as we cooked up some treats for more timid taste buds, and we compared the two. Triumphant, we were incredibly proud of our efforts, heading back to our villa clutching recipes to try at home.

The rain began to fall as we headed to the jetty in the early evening, to take the boat to Benz’s restaurant, hidden away in the Mangroves. Having worked out in the Maldives for Six Senses for the past 10 years, Khun Benz is bringing her incredible skill and subtle touch with Thai cooking back to her homeland, to her very own restaurant.

We made our way along the coastline before turning up a mangrove-lined tributary of the Klong Yai Ki River, where the mist had settled low amidst the jungle, giving a mysterious swamp-like feel and setting the scene. Once safely ensconced at our low table under the thatched roof, we began our incredible tasting menu, based around the ingredients that Khun Benz could find at market that day.

We began with a bitter leaf appetizer, followed by banana flower salad, toasted rice with chicken tamarind dip, hot pork rib soup, spicy jungle curry, steamed prawns with thai basil and wok fried morning glory with steamed rice. Every mouthful brought a smile to our faces (the more ferociously spiced dishes had Alice reaching for a glass of water!) and these delicacies were followed by Thai deserts and accompanied by delicious Thai wine.

After our mouth-watering experience at Benz, we were driven back through the jungle to the Cinema Paradiso, Soneva Kiri’s giant cinema screen set under the stars. As we settled down on the comfortable cushions, we were given a bowl of popcorn and left to enjoy the movie with a soundtrack of croaking frogs, with shooting stars flying overhead.

Waking up once again in paradise, we soaked up our final few rays and our shoes were handed back, just in time to board the boat that tore us away from our island paradise, towards our private plane back to Bangkok. Whilst the landing was smooth, we were definitely brought back down to earth with a bump having spent the most magical few days at Soneva Kiri. We were left asking each other, “did that just happen to us?”

A truly hedonistic experience that conjured elements of Robinson Crusoe, Willy Wonka, Castaway and a some intangible magic touches here and there, Olivia and Alice really were in Wonderland.

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