Cambodia’s Koh Rong archipelago is reminiscent of what Koh Samui or Phuket were like before Thailand’s tourist boom. While they share the same dazzling qualities that made Thailand’s islands so famous, Cambodia’s islands remain a truly unspoiled paradise. Just 40-minutes by luxury speedboat from the domestic airport in Sihanoukville, Cambodia’s hot spot beach resort destination, Song Saa Private Island feels secluded, yet is easy to reach.
Being the first to develop a private island in Cambodia, husband and wife team, Rory and Melita Hunter, realised their dream of creating a sustainable sanctuary of uncompromising luxury with the 2011 opening of Song Saa Private Island. Born the day the couple returned to Cambodia from their honeymoon, the Hunters faced mountainous personal and professional challenges during the resort’s development, only making it all the more satisfying to watch their vision take shape.
As a guest at Song Saa, lovingly named by locals as ‘The Sweethearts,’ you’ll be among the first foreigners to experience this beautiful, untouched world, where rare hornbills land on your balcony to welcome you. Connected by a footbridge over a marine reserve, the resort spans the islands of Koh Ouen and Koh Bong, and has been established to safeguard the islands’ reefs and marine life including dugongs, seahorses and exotic species of tropical fish.
Featuring 27 luxury over water, jungle and ocean view villas – designed by Melita, the creative mind behind the project, the property is quickly gaining a reputation as an ‘it’ destination. Whether it’s yoga at sunrise, on the island’s eastern shore, or cruising by luxury sailboat, Song Saa is an ideal home base to explore the islands’ reefs, wander among virgin rainforest, lie in pure white sands or with more than twenty deserted islands close by, include an offshore adventure in your itinerary.
If being a foodie is your thing, you won’t be disappointed by the Hunters’ choice of Executive Chef, Neil Wager, an accomplished chef and insatiable traveller who feels he’s finally found home – and a career making challenge – on Song Saa’s exquisite twin islands. Neil is no stranger to island life, having come to Song Saa from the renowned six-star North Island resort in the Seychelles. He has cooked for the likes of Prince Andrew, the King of Spain, David Beckham and Brad Pitt.
Salt. Heat. Raw. Scent. Sweet.
Whether you are dining under the stars on Song Saa’s private beaches, in your villa, or at the over water restaurant, these elements will underpin everything that passes your lips. “You’ll taste the ocean in our own sea salt, made from some of the cleanest oceans in the world,” Neil says. “Everything on every plate will be grown locally, and our seafood sourced from Cambodia’s growing community of sustainable fishers. I’m on a very personal journey to create a menu that blends old and new. It is fresh, truly individual and will tread lightly.”
Striving to embrace the Buddhist tradition of ‘metta bhavana’ or loving kindness, Song Saa’s signature spa has united with ila, a globally renowned spa lifestyle brand that is committed to using the finest natural plant and mineral ingredients, wild-harvested in remote, untainted regions by artisan producers who value sustainable practices. The ‘Sancutary’ is comprised of a number of private treatment rooms positioned spectacularly in the island’s rainforest and along the water’s edge, providing a gentle space that reflects the essence of its environment, where nature is untouched and respected. Understanding the reality that life often pulls us away from our centre, the Sanctuary helps guests find the tranquility to reconnect with the happiness within.