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“Expectations gaps”
Review of Soneva Kiri

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Soneva Kiri
Ranked #2 of 14 Hotels in Ko Kut
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Level Contributor
72 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 73 helpful votes
“Expectations gaps”
Reviewed September 15, 2012

Earlier this year we stayed at Soneva Gili, Maldives and became Soneva fans as the place and the service were second to none. Based on that experience we booked Soneva Kiri in Thailand, unfortunately the result was a major expectations gap and we departed with a dent in our belief in the Soneva brand.

First impressions
This is where the gaps started – the website description of the check in process and the 8 seater plane turned out to be a less than efficient check in process and an 18 seater substitute plane with a terrible smell of aviation fuel (return flight was the correct plane - a huge difference). Next, upon arrival many of the things we wanted to do were not available due to off season (local fishing, waterfall lunch, boat transfer to Benz, etc) and no effort was made to discuss/offer alternatives. In addition to this the Den (kids club) facility was closed for renovations and instead offered in a different location. None of this was mentioned on check in which I find utterly unacceptable for a resort of this stature and price.

The resort:
There is no doubt that the resort and the villas are beautiful and without question the highlight of Soneva Kiri. The villa was excellent with typical Soneva flair in the design touches, the beach is beautiful and of course the kids loved the ice cream and chocolate shop as well as the outdoor cinema. On our first night there were a lot of mosquitoes but to be fair you are in the middle of a tropical forest setting, on the other four nights of our stay the mosquito issue subsided significantly, so there must have been insect fogging taking place.

Service:
This is by far the most disappointing service level I have ever encountered vs expectations.
Firstly the positives, there are some staff at Soneva Kiri who really care – the in villa dining team, the outdoor cinema folks, the beach team are all excellent and I have the highest compliments for everything about Benz restaurant – excellent.
As for the rest, mediocre is the appropriate word – in villa cleaning was not thorough, breakfast team were in disarray most mornings (heaven help them when its busy), we made a reservation 2 days in advance to eat at The View (which has the name for a reason) only to be told there were no tables outside on the view and hence we had to sit inside – we were the only ones in there, everyone else got a table on the outdoor balcony, we would have happily moved our reservation a day if we had been warned but those kind of thoughts do not seem to matter at Soneva Kiri – food at the View was excellent. Another expectation gap was the advertised treepod dining – 4 people only (we were a party of 5), and it’s a set menu at around 600+USD per group of 4, since my kids didn’t want anything on the very adult menu I asked if the kids could order from the in room kids menu – I was told yes but still at 600+ USD – now that’s pricey kids food! For a resort marketing to families, a little more flexibility would have been in order.
Perhaps the single biggest disappointment was the way we were treated by our Guest Services representative (Soneva call these “Fridays”) – our Friday had absolutely no idea (or concern) about the needs of a family and did not take the time to ask either (strange since that’s her job). She avoided questions on activities, promised to get back to us on things but did not, and actively tried to put us off certain activities. At the end of the trip she started by asking us if we had left the resorts ipod “or not” (it came across as an absolute lack of trust – I was dumbfounded and very offended), she then asked us to make our own way to the jetty to catch the boat – we arrived at the time she had given us (in the rain) to be told we were too early and had to go back – our Friday was nowhere to be seen – when the other guests turned up it was interesting to see them with their Friday, being helped and escorted with a friendly goodbye. As we boarded the plane to leave our Friday did not even say goodbye, again I was shocked (especially given the usually very polite Thai culture) but I had had enough by then and just left.

I appreciated the assistant manager Alex apologizing for the poor stay as we left at the jetty, at least it was decent that someone openly acknowledged that this was not the image Soneva Kiri aspired to, I did appreciate that honesty and professionalism.

Without any doubt, Soneva Kiri is a beautiful place, but there are many beautiful places on this planet and for me, service is the differentiator – sadly Soneva Kiri fell way short of the expectations and benchmarks of other places we have stayed not least Soneva Gili which is simply outstanding in every way. To conclude, Soneva Kiri has a new General Manager, trust me it needs it, and hopefully some improvements will be coming – however for us its one huge hit and one huge miss with Soneva and frankly at these prices a 50% score is just not good enough. To be fair and balanced, Id say that based on other trip advisor reviews and what I know of Soneva, our poor experience was not normal and was a combination of poor Friday, visiting out of season, the Den being refurbished - all versus a high expectation I had based on price paid and the previous superb Soneva Gili experience.

Room Tip: The villas are the highlight here - I don't think there are any bad choices on villa!
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
11 Thank cc_KL
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 review, October 5, 2012
Dear cc_KL,
thank you very much for your detailed description of your stay at our resort. I truly appreciate the time you have taken to elaborate on areas we can improve on and am happy to read that other areas met your expectations. Rest assured that your points have been taken serious and shared amongst my team. We endeavor exceeding each guest's expectations and I am sorry that we failed in your case. Your points motivate us even more to work harder and to make improvements.
Thank you again.
Warm regards
Frank Grassmann
General Manager
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English first
Arcadia, California
Level Contributor
47 reviews
36 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 140 helpful votes
Reviewed September 1, 2012

Not really sure where to start except to say that this is the best resort I've visited so far. I fly private a lot, but the view of the slanted runway with talls trees around the red soil was quite a sight. The speed boat ride to the island was equally fun for the kids.

We stayed in Villa 21 (a five bedroom villa), and it was a lot of fun. There's are two pools separated by a divider with a water-park slide into the upper pool.

Two things really stood out:
1. I think the maximum capacity at the resort is about 80 guests. At any given time, I probably saw no more than 10 people.

2. The food is AMAZING.

I'd recommend staying at least three nights. I was there for only two but wished I had a couple more days.

I have all my pictures on loveit.com - you can see them at http://loveit.com/collections/B0BRYB8-WxOSGbODpvo6ZH-

Room Tip: Villa 21 has it's own private beach which is cool. However, I hear most people prefer the cliff...
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank tsaoh
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 review, October 5, 2012
Dear tsaoh,
thank you for your positive review of your stay with us.
You are correct in your assumption of the number of guests. Privacy is paramount at our resort and if privacy is what you're looking for, privacy is what you get. One tends to meet other guests either at breakfast in our Dining Room, at the beach of course or at the sunset cocktail at The View Bar.
Thank you again and I hope we have the chance to welcoming you again one day.
Best regards
Frank Grassmann
General Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Essex
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed August 19, 2012

My husband and I spent two weeks at Soneva Kiri in May 2012 and cannot recommend it enough, the location, villas, service, staff, food and attention to detail make the entire experience one that you will never forget or find elsewhere.

We have both travelled extensively, both business and holidays and stayed in some fantastic places, but Soneva Kiri operates at another level.

As soon as you arrive at Bangkok Airport you are greeted by Soneva staff who collect your luggage and whisk you through check in for your flight to Koh Kood. We were escorted to a VIP lounge shown to a private room and offered refreshments whilst we waited for departure, the journey on the small plane is fantastic about one hour long and great views across Thailand. You land on a neighbouring island and are taken by boat to Soneva Kiri, on the jetty you are warmly greeted by your Friday and various members of staff. No conventional lobby check in, instead you are allocated your personal golf buggy, your Friday then gives you a quick tour of the resort and drives you directly to your villa to check in where everything is prepared for your arrival.

Our personal “Friday” was Marissa who looked after us for the entire two weeks, you are given a mobile phone when you arrive and can contact your Friday at anytime. Marissa organised everything for us from trips to restaurant bookings, wine tastings, cookery classes, whatever we wanted Marissa was happy to help.

The Villas are stunning, we stayed in a beach villa that had a fantastic view, very private with its own private beach area and big private pool. The villas are huge, great outside space with large decked areas with numerous loungers, day beds and places to relax in or out of the sun. The outside bathrooms are amazing, a tropical garden setting with two showers, stone bath and double sink/vanity areas, even a couple of loungers.

Within the resort there are also larger Villas, (up to 6 bedrooms), these tend to be privately owned residential Villas managed by Henry.

The choice of restaurants and bars cater for all, we loved the informal beach lunches with fresh grilled tiger prawns and local caught fish. In the evenings you had a great choice of venue all offering a different experience, we particularly like the View restaurant, but wherever you choose you can guarantee top quality food and service and great wines to accompany, talk to Mark the Sommelier.

We had the pleasure of meeting and talking to the resort’s Executive Chef Stephen Quinn on a few occasions he is responsible for everything connected with food and beverage at Soneva Kiri and he does a fantastic job. We had a great “Chefs Table” evening and laughed all through dinner !

All staff were good, a mention for Meaw, Num and Pom, who made sure that we were well looked after.

Can’t not mention the ice cream and the chocolate rooms, hand made chocolates and ice cream available throughout the day in glass air-conditioned rooms, my husband was like a child again, Albert the sweet/pastry chef creates some amazing dishes and daily makes the chocolates/pastries/deserts and more for the resort.

On the occasion we used the Spa it was very enjoyable, relaxing surroundings and experienced staff. The Spa and the resort activity programme is the responsibility of Mark and both are very well run. We enjoyed seeing local life on the island and snorkelling trips. You can pretty much organise most activities or trips from Soneva. The trip to Maisie Island is worth it, the family produce honey and even have a working monkey called Handsome.

We didn’t try the open air cinema due to the location and mosquitoes, but it looks fun.

Thanks also to the medical staff who work in the resort, my husband had a small accident whilst there and the nursing staff were in attendance within minutes and checked him everyday.

You get a great sense of natural tranquillity, the eco- friendly policies, the natural beach, the materials used for the buildings the planting etc makes it a nice environment to stay in. Much thought goes into the detail, anticipating guest’s needs and always delivering any special requests without question. The philosophy of Slow Life is well executed and does come through.

Overall we had a wonderful time, I have and will continue to recommend Soneva Kiri to friends family and business contacts. We came away feeling that although the special offer that was available to us in 2012 was still expensive it was worth it. We would like to return and it would be a shame if the same or similar offers are not available for 2013. If they are not, the additional expense would make me think twice and I would look at alternatives.

Room Tip: For great viewes shoose a Cliff or Beach Villa. Beach Villas 1-9 are closer to the main resort build...
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  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
10 Thank raysan
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 review, September 8, 2012
Dear raysan,
thank you so very much for your time to write this very detailed review of your stay with us. I am delighted reading that you had such a wonderful time. Thank you also for mentioning a number of our hosts. Rest assured they will receive the recognition they deserve.
We would love to welcoming you back next year and please do not hesitate to contact me in due course directly under frank@soneva.com to find out about any special offers we may plan for next year.
Warm regards
Frank Grassmann
General Manager
Soneva Kiri
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Singapore
Level Contributor
31 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 77 helpful votes
Reviewed August 16, 2012

Soneva Kiri is excellent in all categories as previous reviewers have mentioned. I will attempt to summarize the positives and also highlight what makes this place special.
Positives:
1. Service (the best you can ever get from everyone working at the resort)
2. Beauty (the design of the villas and the entire surroundings of he property are incredibly beautiful)
3. Food (the food was simply great. P/S: you have to try the lemongrass chocolate milk at the Chocolate Parlour)
4. Activities (there is no short of activities to keep you occupied)
5. Beach (one of the very best and cleanest beach in the whole of Thailand)\
6. Spa (this is the only spa that makes me relaxed during massage)

What makes this place special:
1. Spaciousness of the place
There are so many public places outside of your villa that allows you to just be alone. From the library to the relaxing corner in the spa facing the mangrove trees and beach, you have so many places to just be with nature and yourself, to relax and to reflect. This is really what helps you to find inner peace.
2. Special experiences
Going to the obervatory and seeing Saturn and its ring, seeing the castor star and Mars up close is truly special experience that helps to put things in perspective. You realize how small you really are and that the world is filled with so many wonders and you are not alone. Watching "Love Actually" under the starts with homemade popcorn and having the entire cinema to yourself is another unforgettable experience.
3. Soneva Kiri's corporate philosophy
From the hiring of locals, to the school for locals to the ecofriendly design and the recycling efforts at the resort, Soneva Kiri makes a postive difference to the local community and to our planet. Seeing is believing. When you see for yourself how nice the host village (where the staff stay is), you understand why every staff serves with genuine pleasure--because they are happy. There are many top-notch resorts/hotels out there but none comes close to what Soneva is doing in terms of impact to community and the green movement.
4. Housekeeping and pest control
The unseen folks who do a wonderful job of making my stay paradise perfect. It is truly difficult to keep the mosquitos and other insects away given the natural environment of this place but they did it. The staff took special efforts after I requested for it (since I am indeed afraid of insects) and during the 3 days I was there, I was only bitten 4 times by a mosquito and I had no close encounter with any insects. Bearing in mind this is the rainy season and that it did rain for the whole Thursday that I was there, this is no mean feat. The villa was also kept immensely clean. Just how clean you may ask. It was so clean that I could walk around outdoors and still have my feet look clean without dirt. Khun Nen who looked after my villa also took special notice of the way I place my things and made sure everytime he cleaned the villa, my things were exactly in position when I return.

To sum it up, this is a wonderful place that helped me find my inner peace. If my husband hadn't broken his arm and couldn't go at the last minute, I'm sure it would have been a great experience for us as a couple too. And the knowledge that I am helping to do some good through my patronage of the resort certainly makes me happy too.

Last but not least, I would like to commend my Ms Friday Khun Marissa for her wonderful company, Khun Nen who took care of my villa for making me feel at home and Khun Nook and Khun Nuna from reservations for accomodating my various last minute changes.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank astropoeia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Manjit G, Villa Operations Manager at Soneva Kiri, responded to this review, August 22, 2012
Dear Guest,

We appreciate you taking the time to provide us with feedback from your recent stay at Soneva Kiri. Thank you for your nice comments about our service, food, spa and the Resort in general. We are also glad that we could play a part in helping you attain "Inner Peace".

We also appreciate you writing to us and pointing out an error in the 3 points rating shown along side an otherwise fantastic review.

Thank you for choosing to stay with us and we look forward to welcoming you again along with your husband in the not too distant future.

Warm regards
Manjit Ghosh
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bangkok, Thailand
Level Contributor
50 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
Reviewed August 15, 2012 via mobile

I m a returned guest , use the full board promotion

V were upgraded into 5 bedroom private reserve villa , the villa was so big especially v had in villa slider that made us play like a child OMG

V have own buggy car , can drive every time v want , no need to call as another resort

The butler was very nice to service us

The pool was so big too , around 200 sqm , v were swimming all day long , more lucky that 2 days stay the weather so sunny and made skin all of us tan , anyway v happy to get tan when back home from this fabulous trip

According to full board promotion ,v can enjoy free flow of foods and beverages as much as v want , v can have it at restaurant or room service as well

Don't forget to try so many taste of ice-cream and chocolate , the taste and quality so good

  • Stayed August 2012
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Yossakorn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Manjit G, Manager at Soneva Kiri, responded to this review, August 22, 2012
Dear Guest,

Thank you for the great review. We are delighted to know you enjoyed our hospitality as well as the water slider in your Villa, which is one of the unique features present only in our private reserves.

Our Unique Offer concept is truly amazing and non restrictive, allowing guests lots of options to choose from.

We hope that we will have the pleasure of welcoming you back and we look forward to it.

Warm regards

Manjit Ghosh
Villa Operations Manager
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London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed August 13, 2012

A good romantic hideaway. My partner and I stayed 5 nights for our special occasion. The services we had on a few occassions were a miss, but that was rectified with management. Food in general was good, but from our perspective it wasn't really authentic as it lacked spice, we did inform the waiters to make it more spicey, the local way, but i dont think the request was followed. Nevertheless, we did get to try some authentic dishes during the cooking classes. The private beach picnic and the tree top dining were nice. The ice cream parlour and the chocolate room were a hit. The observatory was a nice touch with a knowledgeable staff ready to answer any questions you may have. Overall, it was a nice relaxing romantic island get away.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank dllm
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 review, September 8, 2012
Dear dllm,
thank you for taking your time to post your impressions about your stay with us on this forum. I am glad to read that you had a good time with us. I have taken note of your comments regarding the authenticity of some of the dishes and will address this with the chef, in particular Khun Benz.
I hope to be able to welcoming you back again to our resort.
Kind regards
Frank Grassmann
General Manager
Soneva Kiri
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cape Town Central, South Africa
Level Contributor
84 reviews
50 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
Reviewed July 21, 2012

We spent 3 nights on the island resort and it was absolutely wonderful. When one pays these prices you could always find small "faults" to complain about, however there is nothing of note to put in this review. We chose the cliff villa which has 2 private swimming pools, both off which are long enough to do laps in. There is ample space and facilities to cater for sun shine and rain. The service is outstanding with everyone we met seeming to be truly happy to be working at the resort. The food (and drinks) leave you wanting for nothing...except a serious diet once you leave. So if you are even considering going...consider no more..just do it.

Room Tip: Review the choice of rooms closely. We found the cliff villa to be completely private and wonderful...
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank kelvincraig
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Andrew A, Managing Director at Soneva Kiri, responded to this review, April 13, 2016
Dear kelvincraig ,

I am sure this response will surprise you given that you wrote a review on your stay at Soneva Kiri so long ago.

I am sorry that no one was able to respond to your comments at the time but thank you for staying with us and we are still here!

As such please let me know if I can forward any information to you and hopefully welcome you back to Soneva Kiri soon.

Kind regards

Andy
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Soneva Kiri

Property: Soneva Kiri
Address: 110 Moo 4, Ko Kut, Thailand (Formerly Soneva Kiri by Six Senses)
Location: Thailand > Trat Province > Ko Kut
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center 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 On the Beach Hotel in Ko Kut
#2 Top resorts Hotel in Ko Kut
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
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 6 Senses
Soneva Kiri By Six Senses Hotel Koh Kood

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