July 31, 2017
Thailand, Trat Province
Whoever decided that the starter menu should be “canapé in the canopy” deserves an award.
There’s much to compliment Soneva Kiri’s luxury resort on Thailand’s Koh Kood. There’s an observatory for stargazing, an immaculate beach, and even a private cinema where guests can lounge on cushions in the jungle and watch classic films over a lagoon. But, the resort’s signature Treepod is perhaps the most unique experience to be had at the resort.
It’s jungle canopy around you, ocean in front of you, and little beneath you but gravity.
Hoisted to the Treeline
The popular – and often booked – Treepod experience finds itself on the southernmost island of Koh Kood in Trat Province. Thailand’s eastern seas are less famous than the Andaman, but they’re still blue, clear, and warm. And, while the forests of the more northern island of Koh Chang bustle with visitors, Koh Kood’s trees are quiet, pleasant, and deeply green.
Guests enter via a “bird’s nest” made of rattan and filled with cushions that is lifted to the canopy of the local massang trees. Staring off the Western edge of the island, the view leads into the deep blue of the Gulf of Thailand.
A maximum of four guests are allowed in the Treepod, and each fasten their leather belts for safety. The belt isn’t for speed. No, diners are pulled up very slowly indeed, but 16 feet in the canopy is no small distance to fall.
It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Our Entrée
The element I am particularly proud of is that we actually managed to build it without any bolts or attachments into the actual trees.
It is at this point that the astute diner might notice a problem of logistics, namely, the food. Waiters keep themselves at a respectable distance until they are needed and then zipline in to receive your order.
Yes, the wait staff swing in – not like, but not entirely unlike, Batman – to deliver your goodies. They don’t need to squeeze into your Treepod, which might be a little intimate, as they just zip onto an easily accessible platform.
The construction of this epic dining experience took two years from design to implementation, according to the Treepod’s designer Louis Thompson “The element I am particularly proud of is that we actually managed to build it without any bolts or attachments into the actual trees,” says Thompson. “I strongly feel that the concept has a range of other applications which I am really looking forward to investigating.”
The Fare Above the Forest
The canapé in the canopy (again, bravo) fare begins with a natural palate cleanser of an elixir of apple, celery, and cucumber and marinated whitefish. The next course, the “forager’s basket,” includes more tropical Asian tastes: Kaddafi duck, prawns, scallop escabeche, and smoked sea bass with lime. The “woodland offerings” seems to skew more savory, with dishes that include rosemary and lentil king prawns, braised pumpkin, and vegetables in a Thai pistou.
The food is chiefly from the resort’s own organic garden and the seafood is taken from the island of Koh Kood. Of the Soneva barefoot luxury brand, the cuisine is certainly a highlight. Those not sated by the delights of their lunch or dinner in the canopy will want to find the Soneva ice cream parlor or chocolate room – which, as you might have guessed, is a room filled with chocolate.
Chances are, though, that the Treepod experience will fill both the belly and the mind.