Once a seafront playground for French-colonial administrators and then local elites in the early decades of independence, the compact Cambodian Riviera now finds itself back in the spotlight thanks to the emergence of offshore luxury. Occupying a 25-hectare slice on the western shore of Koh Russey, Alila’s first Cambodian property sprawls along a honey-colored beach dotted with pine, coconut, and ironwood trees, strung with hammocks for lazing by the jade-green Gulf of Thailand. Singaporean architecture firm Studiogoto imbued the resort with a sleek tropical modernism; buildings are painted gunmetal gray, with clean lines and simple geometry inspired by the krama(Cambodia’s ubiquitous checkered scarves). The 63 indoor-outdoor rooms and pool villas sport a neutral color palette so as not to compete with the verdant surrounds and ocean views. Come mealtime, fresh seafood and tapas beckon at the sand-floored Beach Shack restaurant, while Horizon specializes in Asian-influenced European fare. Free hatha yoga is offered at the spa most days, but if it’s off-island pursuits you’re after, the Alila can organize cycling tours, mangrove boat rides, fishing excursions, and a full-day trip to visit the pepper farms of Kampot and the crab market at Kep.
—855-86/800-732; alilahotels.com; doubles from US$315