What is Soneva Kiri if not for the happiness of little fantastical elements bunged into a luxury resort, finds Anand Kapoor.
Through the small windows of the private jet I gazed warily at the clouds that were swirling angrily in the distance. The rising funnel of dark storm clouds laden with torrential monsoon rains threatened to wash out the trip. After an hour and a half we began to descend into an uninhibited jungle with a short runway that dropped into the turquoise blue sea lapped the shoreline. On disembarking, the salty sweet air was a sharp contrast to the sweat laden air of the airport where frantic passengers tried to get through security with packages and cases of various sizes.
As we skipped across the short stretch of crystalline water on a speed boat, the jetty on the neighbouring island became visible with what looked like a line of pillars in multi-coloured hues. We had arrived at what is possibly one of Asia’s best kept secrets—Soneva Kiri.
On arrival we were greeted warmly like old friends and then, barefoot, we were ceremoniously guided to our home for the three days in paradise. Our villa was much more than a place to rest—think Swiss Family Robinson mixed with every conceivable luxury. The villas are made from natural materials and the bathroom was open sided with a covered canopy that swayed carefree in the light island breeze. The tree house-like second ﬂoor was reached by a winding bamboo staircase that opened up to a magniﬁcent panorama of the bay.
Instead of walking down to the beach that lay at the foot of our villa, we decided to explore the main beach, where we were greeted by a sight that was even more majestic than the view from our villa. Soft crystal waves caressed the shoreline and the unforgettable island perfume of sea and ﬂora permeated the air. We were on our own private deserted beach with a small army of man Fridays at our disposal.
The island certainly delivered on its promise of natural organic produce. Soneva Kiri has several restaurants and experiences that are on rotation for ‘residents’ to experience. These include a traditional Thai restaurant tucked into the mangrove swamps that feels more Floridian in its location than Thai but adds to the unique ambience of the dinner; a pod dining experience that lifts you into the rainforest canopy by a winch where you are served by a waiter on a zip line reminiscent of a Da Vinci drawing brought to life and a Roald Dahlesque ice cream and chocolate room where the inner child can be unleashed and thrilled by the sheer selection available.
Island time has a way of creeping up on you weaving days into hours. Three relaxing and pampered days later it was time to depart this rare undiscovered jewel. The memory of the island and the immersion into the beauty and music of nature lingered in our minds and left a warm glow of contentment.