The Luxe List 2012, Cambodia: Song Saa Private Island

Cambodia’s first five-star island getaway has just 27 thatch-roofed villas, some positioned on the beach, some on stilts above the water, and some tucked into the forest canopy of Koh Ouen, a tiny outcrop in the Koh Rong archipelago just 30 minutes by boat from Sihanoukville. Designed by Australian founders Rory and Melita Hunter as a low-impact but high-style retreat, Song Saa is awash in natural features such as gleaming floorboards of salvaged timber and walls of locally quarried sandstone, not to mention goose-down pillows, plush Ploh robes, and private pools and sun decks.

A wooden footbridge connects the main island with neighboring Koh Bong, a leafy, four-hectare preserve of nature trails and nesting boxes for hornbills. Chef Neil Wager, lured here from the Seychelles’ North Island resort, works with Cambodian farmers to procure ingredients for his contemporary take on Khmer cuisine. Also on hand is a team of conservationists who oversee Song Saa’s 100-hectare marine reserve, which encompasses reefs where snorkelers might encounter seahorses, giant clams, and sea turtles.

855-236/860-360;; doubles from US$1,336, including boat transfers, meals, and drinks.

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