Sometimes we come across a place in the world where we want to stay forever.
A place so special that our cares drifted away at check-in; a place where we were inspired, nurtured and revitalised. A place where every detail was perfect; the beautiful natural design, the friendly laid back atmosphere, the impeccable personalised service.
Not to mention the awesome location on one of Thailand’s most picture postcard, idyllic beaches.
It may be hard to believe for some but heaven on earth really does exist and can be found safe and well on Koh Kood in Thailand, at the beautiful ‘Barefoot Intelligent Luxury’ resort, Soneva Kiri.
We got to explore every inch of the resort in our very own electric buggy and we squeezed in as many luxury experiences as we could including a guided snorkelling trip to explore the vibrant house bio-reef, a cool star-gazing evening at So Celestial (they have a magnificent, state-of-the-art observatory) and an amazing open air cinema viewing at Cinema Paradiso, including freshly prepared popcorn toasted with homemade coconut oil.
We stayed in one of the two bedroom Junior Beach Pool Retreats, which like the rest of the resort, was constructed from sustainable timber. Described as a ‘playful luxe kingdom by the sea’, it was spread over different levels and buildings, all connected by wooden walkways, spiral staircases and boardwalks.
Now you see why we didn’t want to leave?
We had the choice of cooling off in our own infinity pool that wrapped around the front of our villa or a taking a short walk down to our own private beachfront to dip our toes in the sea. It’s nice to have dilemmas like this in your life…
As well as being purveyors of luxury travel dreams, The Soneva Group was the 2015 winner of the World Travel and Tourism Council’s prestigious Environment Award. As vegan travellers and people who care about the planet this is something that we were really impressed by and after a tour around ‘Eco Centro’, the resort’s garden and recycling hub, we could see why they topped their category at these industry awards.
Soneva Kiri is a resort where ‘green’ initiatives are not just token gestures but are integrated, well managed and valued features of a the resort’s sustainability.
You won’t be surprised to hear the vegan food was amazing, but you will be surprised to hear just how amazing it really was. We’re talking extra special, downright awesome amazing, with bells on.
They just seemed to add the extra ingredients of playfulness, adventure, romance and magic; all things that make great food taste even better.
The Vegan Food:
Our vegan culinary extravaganza began at breakfast time with the theme very definitely being ‘fresh’. Think fresh fruit platters made to order according to your fancy, a juice bar where you can pick your own ingredients from a display of every tropical fruit you can imagine (and vegetables too). Freshly made noodle soups or vegan sushi; salads including an array of different oils and vinegars to add, nuts, seeds, healthy breads. They even had fresh cashew nut milk.
We had the option of eating lunch at The Beach, overlooking the crystal clear water whilst being sat in the shade of a coconut tree, or at So Spirited in the heart of the main facility area where our lunch was served in a sunken dining area surrounded by an infinity pool that overlooked the rainforest.
More tough decisions…
Things started to seriously mind-blowing when it was time for afternoon tea in The Treepod (although you can have your mind blown here at other dining times too if you choose). High up in the ancient Koh Kood rainforest treetops, we sat in a woven, hanging bamboo pod which had been hoisted 8 metres up into the canopy where we ate gorgeous food, admired the breathtaking views and had one of the most memorable experiences of our life.
As if Soneva Kiri isn’t already amazing enough, and you might want to steady yourself while you read this next bit; there is also a complimentary room full of chocolate (aptly named So Chocoholic) and a complimentary ice cream Parlour (So Chilled) where vegan options are abundant.
Oh yes, like a childhood fantasy come true, you can eat vegan sorbets and scrummy chocolates until your heart is content.
At night we made our way to The Beach where our table was set up in the sand right next to the ocean, lit by candles (and twinkling stars); a backdrop to write home about. We ate freshly tossed salads, marinated vegetables and tasty hummus with slow cooked jacket potatoes. We even squeezed in one of the pasta dishes made with fresh tomato sauce… it’s very hard to go hungry at Soneva Kiri.
But we couldn’t leave without visiting Benz, Soneva Kiri’s signature Thai Restaurant, and neither should you.
The very talented Head Chef, Khun Benz veganised their usual 9 course tasting menu, presenting us with one of the best tasting Thai meals we have ever eaten. The location was perfect, the food was outstanding (you can find a full write up of our fine dining authentic Thai tasting menu here); quite simply, we loved every minute (and every mouthful) of our Benz experience.
The Vegan Essentials:
Like everywhere else at Soneva Kiri, The Spa is wonderful. With treatments and therapies provided by the renowned luxury brand, Six Senses Spa, you can get seriously pampered here. We took part in the Himalayan Singing Bowl Class which is part of the regular activity programme and was a whole new experience for the Vegan Food Quest team (but definitely one that we’d recommend).
Our Signature Treatment Massage also incorporated the use of the singing bowls resulting in a massage that was particularly memorable. Put yourself in the hands of the experts and let the Six Senses Spa team work their very special brand of magic.
Normally this part of our review might just contain a small celebration for a feather free sleep but you might have guess by now that Soneva Kiri is no normal kind of place.
We had a choice of fully vegan buckwheat crescent, isotonic, tempur viscoelastic or butterfly pillows (the latter being a shape not made of butterflies may we add!).
We could choose from a selection of scented mini pillows to be scattered around our bed with the choice of bergamot, lemongrass, orange, peppermint fragrances.
And the duvet? An anti allergenic duvet with microfibre filling and 100% cotton sheets.
A truly luxurious vegan sleep.
In keeping with the Soneva Kiri’s commitment to sustainability, amenities were 100% natural and contained organically grown plant extracts and pure essential oils. There were no parabens, no synthetic fragrance or colours and products are not tested on animals.
They were lovely to use too with all guests getting to choose their preferred fragrance from a choice of Sense of Tranquility lemongrass, Sense of Tranquility lavender, Sense of Vitality peppermint or fragrance free.
The Vegan Food Quest Verdict:
Make a reservation at Soneva Kiri for a luxury stay that is like no other. Enjoy the laid back luxury, embrace as many playful, magical experiences as you can and be seriously impressed by the vegan food.
Don’t forget to visit The Six Senses Spa (it really was amazing) and make time to dine in The Treepod because let’s face it, how often do you get the chance to eat in a giant woven basket suspended high up in the trees of an ancient rainforest?
We were guests of Soneva Kiri but please rest assured that their generosity in hosting us didn’t influence our views.
Telephone: +66 (0) 82 208 8888
Cost From: £720 / $1080 per night (June 2015)