Soneva Kiri’s dinners conclude with Buzz Aldrin

IT’S ALREADY BEEN a big year for Soneva Kiri, which became the epicenter of a series of dinner and talks by adventurers and thinkers.

Each event an insightful and learned view about the earth’s fragility and how best to support it – in line with the Soneva core principals of SLOW LIFE (standing for sustainable, local, organic, wellness – learning, inspiring, fun, experiences) and intelligent luxury.

When Shelley von Strunckel, international astrologer, was invited to Soneva Kiri, the stars were consulted for the most prescient dates for the trip. With the heavens aligned, Shelley spoke to guests about the turbulent times we live in, the positive nature of change and how a change in thinking alone can – both personally and globally – result in golden opportunities.

Spending time with guests individually, Shelley identified issues, understand them and by so doing change them from challenge to a gift. During her stay Shelley shared the news of the spectacular planet formation and her spectacular stay at Soneva Kiri by tweeting with followers around the world.

Following Shelley was charismatic adventurer Charley Boorman, who entertained guests with colourful tales of motorcycling around the world with Hollywood actor, Ewan McGregor, and of how to travel the planet without using airplanes (much). Always the man of action, Charley escorted guests on many of the adventurous activities available at Soneva Kiri, particularly kayaking among the mangrove forests and klongs.

With the moon now full and hanging bright, the scene was set for an historic meeting, dinner and discussion between two eminent explorers, Buzz Aldrin and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. 1n 1969 Buzz was the first to travel through space and land on the surface of the moon and in the same year, Sir Robin, the first to sail solo round the world.

Guests gathered at Soneva Kiri’s Ice Cream Parlour, under a full moon, with Venus, Jupiter and now Mars in full view, to meet and listen to this meeting of minds. It had all the feeling of an historic moment.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston opened the evening, telling of his four circumnavigations of the globe. He had seen every mile of the global oceans first hand and about its expansive beauty, sailing alone on a boat made by his own hands. “He’s a gentleman explorer, what he did alone was very impressive,” said Buzz.

In contrast Buzz Aldrin was part of a cast of literally thousands. He spoke of his life from the age of two, when he flew for the first time with his father (interestingly a close friend of Orville Wright) and of his career as a fighter pilot in the Korean War.

And then, of course, about his historic moon landing. “From space, the earth was as small as a marble he could hold  up his thumb and block out its view. When asked how he felt looking up at the big full moon, Buzz replied: “The same as you. I see the same moon you see. I just have some pretty incredible flashbacks mixed in there, too.’

He described the moon as a “magnificent desolation”.

Both Buzz and Sir Robin also enjoyed the experience of meeting each other. Sir Robin took several guests for the sail of their lives in Soneva Kiri’s zippy catamaran. Buzz and his family enjoyed snorkeling, diving and spending time at the Observatory – particularly the solar telescope allowing guests to view the sun.

Sir Robin: “We loved Soneva Kiri – it is a fabulous place. And it has been fantastic to meet Buzz, something I’ve wanted to do all my life, so I’m very grateful to Sonu to have had that opportunity. I offered to take Buzz sailing, but he grinned at me as if to say he thought it would be a bit slow for him. Holidays are a rare occurrence for me and this one has been very special indeed.”

Buzz: “My family and I love Soneva Kiri because there is so much to do here. You could keep coming back and still find something new. I know about the ‘No News’ idea, but I have stayed in touch a little with the world’s going on whilst here, but it’s wonderful how much less important the emails seem from here.  That’s a good thing. We’ve all enjoyed the scuba diving, snorkeling and even washing down the elephants. It’s great to relax on holiday, as I have maintained a travel schedule that most twenty-year-olds would have a hard time matching.”

Buzz concluded the evening with the quip: “Something Sonu Shivdasani and I agree on is that the real definition of luxury, is really well-made coconut ice cream!”

The Soneva Dinner Series will continue later in the year.

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