You arrive at Song Saa Private Island by speed boat and from the instant you step off the boat, you know you are somewhere very special. Situated 45 minutes from the south coast of Cambodia, the resort occupies two small islands and has created an exclusive environment with a laid-back feel. Guests and staff walk around barefoot which makes you feel a castaway, but with the benefits of cutting-edge luxury at your fingertips.
You feel like Robinson Crusoe most of the time and you can be as engaged or disconnected as you like. Many guests retreat to the privacy of their villas and stay put. You can indulge in spa and fitness or embrace your spiritual side with a monk blessing by the sea. It’s even possible to renew your vows in a commitment ceremony. This resort packs the punch of any resort in the Maldives, but gives it an Asian twist with a difference.
Eco-chic sustainability at Song Saa
Sustainability is at the heart of Song Saa Private Island, the buildings have been crafted from local materials including recycled and reclaimed wood. The Song Saa Foundation supports the local community with health and education projects, locals are employed on the island and were contracted in the build. The marine programme includes the protection and rehabilitation of coral reefs and conservation of sea turtles and mangrove forests. Even the grey water is recycled for use in the toilets. It’s the perfect example of eco-chic luxury which cares for its community.
Private villas at Song Saa
All 24 villas on the island are built from timber with rustic thatched roofs and have their own private infinity edge pool. Jungle villas are hidden amongst the trees, nearer to the sea are the impressive ocean view villas and then there’s the stunning over water villas.
Each villa is decorated with stone walls, wooden floors and have the most gorgeous bathrooms with an indoor and outdoor shower plus a large bath tub for two. Linen-draped canopy beds and repurposed furniture built from driftwood and salvaged wood creates a distinct look. On the deck, by your private pool there is a day bed to lounge on where you can watch the sun set over the main island of Koh Rong.
Little shacks dotted across the island house the Song Saa Foundation, a non-profit organisation established to protect the habitats of the Koh Rong Archipelago and improve the welfare of its communities. Guest services and the boutique are next door to each other and you can organise a trip to the main island to see the work of the Foundation by visiting the local village. In between this, there’s the large infinity pool and private beach to enjoy and water sports including: scuba diving, kayaking, snorkelling, speedboat.
Time on your hands? Then take a stroll across a wooden board walk to bring you to the larger jungle island of Koh Bong. Left largely wild, there’s a small path that takes you on a nature walk to see a variety of bird including the hornbill and kingfisher and a family of flying foxes.
What’s on the menu?
Local fish and Khmer cuisine take centre stage at Song Saa and there’s a small kitchen garden you can visit which supplies herbs and vegetables for the kitchen. The Vista Bar and Restaurant occupies the best site on the island with its bright and breezy overwater position and uninterrupted views of the ocean. The seafood, all locally caught is highly recommended, and the tasting menus are also excellent.
Breakfast is served at Vista and you can watch fish swimming by the deck as you feast of home baked breads, tropical fruits, Cambodian noodles or more hearty eggs and bacon. For more casual dining and a drink head to Driftwood Bar on the beach.
Destination dining is a big deal at Song Saa and a must for anyone visiting. There’s no better way to experience Khmer cuisine than by candle light, with your feet in the sand whilst the waves gently lap at the shore. It’s heavenly.
The spa at Song Saa Private Island
The spa is a simple affair, the reception area is an open sided hut at the top of the island made from bamboo, reclaimed wood and a thatched roof. Treatments are conducted in separate villas. Having had lots of massages during the trip, we booked in for Khmer Reflexology (60 minutes, £50) which featured a combination of pressure point massage on the feet and flowing strokes on the soles and tops of the feet. It’s soothing, relaxing and relieves aches and tension whilst also working up into the upper legs and calves. It’s an hour of total bliss and as relaxing as any full body massage.
The best bits
Yoga at sunrise – expertly guided by the spa manager, it’s the best way to welcome the new day with breathing and movement by the sea.
The stars – with little light pollution (you are on a remote island). Look up. The stars on a clear night are magnificent.
Private dining on the beach
Book an overwater villa – you wont regret it as you get to watch the sunset
Room to improve?
I expected the spa to be bigger and a more complete offering. It’s a simple affair with just a small outdoor reception and a couple of treatment villas.