July 11, 2011

Cambodia gives birth to its first luxury eco-island resort

[Travel Daily News]

"Song Saa" Private Island
In December this year Cambodia will open what is set to be the first of several private island resorts that will combine luxury and conservation. Known as Song Saa, which means ‘The Sweethearts’ in Khymer, the eco-retreat extends to two tiny pristine islands joined together by a footbridge over a marine reserve. Luxury specialist Bridge & Wickers is now taking bookings for this exciting new development, as part of a tailor-made package to Cambodia.

Way off the beaten track in Cambodia’s Koh Rong archipelago, just off the coast of Sihanoukville, are Koh Ouen and Koh Bong, the two islands that together make up Song Saa Private Island. On one island is the luxury accommodation: an array of 25 stunning overwater, rainforest and beach villas built with sustainable materials including furniture that has been created from restored driftwood on beaches.  The other island will house the wellness centre and spa suspended among the rainforest, and a yoga and meditation centre on the eastern shore – ideal for yoga at sunrise. As well as a large infinity edge swimming pool straddling both east and west sides of the island, there are beachside water-sports with sailing, diving, kayaking and snorkeling.

At the heart of the resort is the world-class Vista restaurant and lounge, spectacularly positioned just off the island’s shoreline with a 360 degree view of the sea. Guests can explore the islands’ reefs, wander among virgin rainforest and lie on the pure white sands of Song Saa’s beaches.  With more than 20 deserted islands close by, there are plenty of opportunities for offshore adventures.

A major focus for Song Saa is the protection and improvement of the local environment, marine life and communities, according to the Australian owners, Rory and Melita Hunter. The Hunters have been working closely with government and non-governmental organizations, conservation authorities, marine biologists and community leaders to protect the environment, safeguard local livelihoods and responsibly pave the way for future developers who are likely to follow suit. Having established a marine reserve to safeguard the islands’ reefs and marine life - which includes dugongs, seahorses and many species of tropical fish - Song Saa will allow guests to experience the area’s flora and fauna by dipping into its fascinating ecological program.

Combine with Angkor Wat and its newly opened Temple
Flying into Siem Reap, it’s easy to combine a stay at Song Saa with a trip to Angkor Wat where, after four decades of closure, the Baphuon temple has finally re-opened. The £9 million project to restore the 11th century, three-tier step temple began in the 1960s but was disrupted by Cambodia’s civil war.  The French-led team pieced together 300,000 sandstone blocks in an archaeological jigsaw and it is now open for all to see.

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