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Soneva Kiri creates a Resort within a Resort for its Hosts

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

Six Senses’ Hub, Bangkok: Located on a remote tropical island on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand, Soneva Kiri by Six Senses, scheduled to open at the end of 2008, will not only be the most desirable resort in the Kingdom for high-end visitors, but it will also offer its hosts an unequaled lifestyle – their own resort within the Soneva Kiri estate.

As with all new properties created by Six Senses, the materials used in the construction of Soneva Kiri and its Host Village focus on natural materials from sustainable sources and are designed to tread lightly on the earth by applying techniques that are adapted to sustain the integrity of the environment and the local communities into which they become a partner.

The Host Village

In addition to modern and comfortable accommodations, the host village will include a library and personal computer facilities, with broadband connection for e-mail. There is a barber shop-cum-hair salon and a convenience store where prices are kept to the minimum.

Supporting one of the Six Senses Core Values – We maintain a good standard of personal health as a duty to ourselves and so that we may be of service to others… – leisure facilities in the host village feature a swimming pool complete with sun loungers, a state-of-the-art gym plus a full program of regular wellness activities that includes yoga, tai chi and jogging. Hosts will also have access to the tennis and volleyball courts.

Following the lead from its sister flagship resort, multi-award winning Soneva Fushi in the Maldives, Soneva Kiri’s host restaurant will offer an extensive selection of food items, many of which are prepared using local produce including ingredients grown from the resort’s own organic gardens. By sourcing in this way, the carbon footprint resulting from shipping is greatly reduced.

Ground-breaking Working Conditions

Soneva Kiri will employ 350 hosts, of which 90% will be Thai nationals – including the Resort Manager, who has already been on board for almost one year. Career paths and training programs are prepared for all hosts, with emphasis on skills training. A five-day work week, pioneered by Six Senses in its other Thai resorts, will allow hosts to accumulate days off for longer periods of leave. To this end, hosts will be able to utilize Soneva Kiri’s private air service to Bangkok to keep touch with family or avail themselves of the fine medical facilities for which Thailand has earned an enviable reputation.

With a significant number of hosts being recruited from Koh Kood and surrounding islands, Soneva Kiri’s commitment to local communities becomes very relevant, with .5% of total revenue being ear-marked for environmental programs and Six Senses SERF (Social and Environmental Responsibility Fund), which provides strong development support to local communities in terms of education, training and the development of local suppliers for goods and logistics where possible. Currently two SERF projects are in place. One is a landfill issue for the island for which a quarter-million Baht initial investment has been made for a long term project to check the water table and treat waste. The other program will purchase new computers for the local school.

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Another invaluable community benefit will be the use of an airstrip being developed by Soneva Kiri on Koh Mai Si – a small nearby island. In addition to the availability of resort hosts being able to schedule themselves on seats of the fuel-efficient Cessna Grand Caravan being used for guest transfers, the airstrip will be used for emergency transportation which will be able to access Bangkok in 45-minutes, rather than the current 2-hours by boat to Trat airport before commencing the flight to the capital. With the environment always being a key issue, the 820-meter airstrip replaced some coconut and cashew trees. A replanting of indigenous foliage will take place when the airstrip is completed.

Some Eco-initiatives at Soneva Kiri

Turn Waste Into Wealth: A Six Senses Resorts & Spas garbage handling program will be used to ensure that there is zero discharge of local and solid waste. All liquid waste will be treated and then recycled for landscaping and produce garden watering. All solid waste will be collected, separated, and then further processed for use in composting and fertilizing.

Every resort vehicle is energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Electric carts have a reverse engine charge and separate solar panel charging station. A bio-fuel plant is being established to produce fuel for use in conventional engines. The fuel will be made from recycled landscape and garden waste, and used cooking oil.

Soneva Kiri will produce drinking water to replace the need to import bottled water. Rain and bore water will be treated in a reverse osmosis process and stringently treated for bacteria control, resulting in the purest crystal clear water, which is then mineralized to produce spring water quality drinking water for hosts and guests. It will be available still or sparkling. This process is already in use in several Six Senses properties including Soneva Fushi and Soneva Gili and has proved a big hit by negating the significant carbon trail caused by water being shipped from all corners of the world.

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