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Get ready for Soneva Kiri from the incredible Sonu and Eva Shivdasani

Thirteen years after they created Soneva Fushi – the Maldives benchmark for high-end, eco-friendly, all-natural opulence – the innovative husband and wife team Sonu and Eva Shivdasani are getting set to launch Soneva Kiri, just the third Soneva on the planet. In the interim, they have built Six Senses Resorts & Spas into a company that demonstrates to the world that luxury lifestyle and environmental responsibility can complement each other beautifully, to deliver “Intelligent Luxury”. Soneva Fushi was awarded the Best of the Best for 2000 by the readers of Conde Nast Traveller, as Soneva Gili – the second Soneva – was in development. When Soneva Gili opened in 2002, it almost immediately was awarded Hotel of the Year from Tatler Travel Guide, plus Hideaway of the Year by Hideaways Magazine. This confirmed to Sonu and Eva that they were absolutely on the right track, and they set about creating Soneva number three – Soneva Kiri. This time, the Soneva phenomena  is heading for Thailand. Sonu and Eva discovered a stunning site on the island of Kood, on the south-east side of the Gulf of Thailand, referred to as Thailand’s last frontier. Sonu had always described the ideal Soneva location as “remote but accessible”, and remote is certainly the case with Soneva Kiri. Accessibility has come  later, with the construction of a private airstrip, reducing the travel time from Bangkok from more than three hours to less than one hour, with the convenience of a private, ultra comfortable 8-seat Grand Caravan. It’s a Soneva – an amalgam of their names – so Sonu and Eva are intimately involved with every aspect of the property. It carries their DNA. And when it comes to design, Eva is quite formidable; an inspired zealot with all things concerning the environment, from furnishings to food. Yet she still manages to create some of the most innovative and memorable interior concepts for Soneva, whilst at the same time, leading the Six Senses creative team, who are simultaneously working on another dozen properties in development. A former top model, working as Eva Malmstrom, she graced the front covers of more than one hundred fashion magazines in the 70s and 80s. Sonu and Eva’s own home is a Soneva, so they set about designing villas and facilities the way they would enjoy entertaining in them, themselves. They consider personal space and privacy to be one of the greatest luxuries, so this becomes integral to the Soneva philosophy; an extension of their own lifestyle. At Soneva Kiri, they have gone one better, by setting aside some villas for purchase by loyal Soneva Repeaters. Owners get all the benefits of the resort, while enjoying their very own piece of Soneva Kiri. As with guests, they also have the Soneva Kiri Grand Caravan for transfers. Soneva Kiri will also be a showcase for SLOW LIFE, the philosophy that the couple have created for the Six Senses group. An acronym for Sustainable-Local-Organic-Wholesome Learning-Inspiring-Fun-Experiences, this has become the nuclei for the group’s core purpose: To create innovative and enlightening experiences that rejuvenate our guests’ love of SLOW LIFE, and an individual mission for hoteliers extroadinaire, Sonu and Eva Shivdasani. Soneva Kiri is scheduled to open in the middle of 2009.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. Thanks for the fantastic article.

    OMG…This is really something and the one to watch for 2009. As a Six Senses member, I always admire their design, philosophy and the efforts for the environment. I know it’s gonna be VERY expensive, but I still dream of it. Maybe I’ll win some lucky rotto who knows? Well, it’s just amazing and I’m sure it’ll win some best awards sooner or later. Well done Sonu and Eva !!!

    Hey Paul, is this an exclusive interview? wondering if you ever met the couple in person?

  2. A real great Resort on a fantastic Island in Thailand. We spend one week for honeymoon on Koh Kood at the Soneva Kiri, a great place for luxurious holidays and deluxe traveling on a lonely island in the Gulf!

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