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Soneva kiri by Six Senses provides Learning-Inspiring-Fun-Experiences for Children

The search for the perfect family resort is all too familiar to parents seeking a little R&R. At Soneva Kiri by Six Senses in remote Koh Kood, the architects revisited childhood dreams to construct the kind of facility that inspires children and brings a big smile to the faces of their parents. The Den at Soneva Kiri is an extraordinary over-ground bamboo-framed structure exclusively for the use of younger guests. It's built in the shape of a gigantic manta ray hovering amongst the tree tops with a cavernous belly full of LIFE (Learning-Inspiring-Fun-Experiences).

Designing and constructing The DenChildren's entertainment at Soneva Kiri does not stop at The Den. The astonishing array of confections in the Chocolate Room is a firm favourite after a hard day of fun, there is a comprehensive library of children's DVDs, private screenings of favourite family movies can be enjoyed at Cinema Paradiso, an outdoor screen inflated over a reservoir, and there are many activities that take place away from The Den such as kayaking, snorkeling, stargazing and nature walks. The Six Senses Spa offers specialist junior treatments and many of the excursions are suitable for younger guests. Special children's menus are available in restaurants and there's also one of the finest beaches in Thailand on which to build good old sandcastles.Dutch architect Olav Bruin was identified as the man to create this ray of hope for parents who realise their children will love them more when they're enthralled by their surroundings. Olav had built a summerhouse in Sweden, which pressed all the right eco-buttons – treading lightly on the Earth being a prime concern for all Six Senses developments. At the time, Bruin was also working on a prestigious London conversion in which materials would age beautifully and textures take on new character, and had recently completed an eco-resort in Suriname. The Den at Soneva Kiri was, however, a completely different kettle of fish.Developing eco friendly construction techniques.A nearby source of ideal bamboo had been found north of Trat. Although it grew to impressive lengths it was still not long enough for his purposes so a system for joining 'poles' had to be devised using dowels lashed with ropes. It was to prove both durable and organic, fulfilling the brief on both counts. The next task was to figure out how to mould the bamboo lengths into precise shapes without putting too much stress on the framework. To do so, Bruin and his team built an on-site steam oven and consulted bamboo construction experts in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai on the use of steel grids to aid the bending process. At one time there were 15 architects on-site simply bending bamboo!Next came the 'skin' of the structure. After testing many materials, bamboo shingles provided the ideal solution. Shingles had been used successfully for the undulating roof at the Gourmet Cellar at Soneva Gili and in other Six Senses projects. It would weather beautifully and provide an organic feel to this vast creature gliding through the forest. The interior was another challenge. The central space needed to be broken into different functional areas. Together with Six Senses founders Sonu and Eva Shivdasani, Bruin established four dedicated 'rooms' within the free-flowing auditorium. Each is distinct and features various natural finishes such as river red gum and rattan, cloth with resin-adhered soil, and texture derived from bamboo sawdust.A monumental manta rayThe finished giant manta ray structure measures approximately 30 metres by 30 metres. Vast and beautiful, it has space inside for an Art Room, Music Room, Fashion Room and a library with a catamaran-style netting floor covered with overstuffed cushions. Windows in the flooring peek down to the forest floor below. Bruin's final flourish was the entrance, which features a drawbridge that leads up to a wave of stairs, creating a feeling of excitement and anticipation on arrival.Professional care, educational and fun experiencesSix Senses is a great believer in stimulating children through fun experiences that also have educational depth. At Soneva Fushi, for example, a visit to the resort's Eco Centro recycling hub is one of the most popular activities. So when parents drop their children off at The Den to enjoy the more adult-oriented delights of Soneva Kiri – amazing food, heavenly spa treatments, unforgettable activities and excursions, a little bit of peace – they do so in the safe knowledge that their loved ones are in the care of professionally qualified carers who know how to make fun educational, and education fun. At The Den children learn how to play music or design clothes but are gently reminded of their social and environmental responsibilities. An awareness of local culture and values is key so the Music Room is filled with traditional Thai instruments, mobiles and bracelets are made from recycled magazine paper and children are always encouraged to learn a few useful Thai phrases.And there's so much more for children...Children's entertainment at Soneva Kiri does not stop at The Den. The astonishing array of confections in the Chocolate Room is a firm favourite after a hard day of fun, there is a comprehensive library of children's DVDs, private screenings of favourite family movies can be enjoyed at Cinema Paradiso, an outdoor screen inflated over a reservoir, and there are many activities that take place away from The Den such as kayaking, snorkeling, stargazing and nature walks. The Six Senses Spa offers specialist junior treatments and many of the excursions are suitable for younger guests. Special children's menus are available in restaurants and there's also one of the finest beaches in Thailand on which to build good old sandcastles.

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