The southern coast of Cambodia is flourishing with new sustainable hotel openings that are doing wondrous things to boost the country's green crede
The southern coast of Cambodia is flourishing with new sustainable hotel openings that are doing wondrous things to boost the country’s green credentials.
Sitting at the forefront of these is Six Senses Krabey Island, a James Bond-style luxury castaway experience on a private island in the Gulf of Thailand.
The resort is an eco-conscious enclave discretely tucked away among lush foliage, providing all the seclusion needed for secret spy activity.
Six Senses Krabey Island is an eco-conscious enclave located in the Gulf of Thailand in southern Cambodia
Scattered around the island are 40 villas with private pools, sun decks, ‘living’ roofs and beds with billowing canopies
Glorious proximity to tropical waters is guaranteed at Six Senses Krabey Island
Each room is fully controlled by an iPad, while other high-tech features include Japanese-style toilets
The MI6 vibe is actually first felt with the arrival.
Guests are collected from a swanky departure lounge and transported via speed boat from a private jetty.
It was an exhilarating, oh-so-exclusive way to start my stay at Six Senses. At the other end, a dozen or so staff were lined up on the jetty ready to personally greet us – an extra special touch.
They work at a resort dedicated to a planet-friendly existence.
It has committed to being plastic-free by 2022 – it even has a bottling plant that provides drinking water for guests to avoid plastic waste – the villas have ‘living’ roofs, the main building is covered with solar panels and much of the resort’s produce comes from an organic farm on the mainland.
The accommodation – 40 villas with private pools, sun decks and beds with billowing canopies – is scattered around the island.
Each room is fully controlled by an iPad, while other high-tech features include Japanese-style smart toilets – with options to spray, dry and make the seat nice and toasty.
I was utterly smitten with my one-bedroom ‘hideaway’ pool villa and loved the floor-to-ceiling glass windows, which made it feel like you were sleeping in the jungle.
Eco-mission: The island has a bottling plant that provides drinking water for guests to avoid plastic waste and the main building is covered with solar panels
The Beach Retreat – ‘a two-villa oasis’ – comes with an infinity pool and an outdoor bathtub
The Beach Retreat – the last word in private island luxury. Its floor-to-ceiling windows showcase amazing coastal panoramas
The resort has a slice of beach for sunbathing, water sports and watching films at an open-air cinema
There are two restaurants serving Cambodian classics, such as the traditional amok. Pictured is Tree restaurant, which Samantha particularly enjoyed
The food and beverage assessment? It’s a firm thumbs up. There is the swanky Sunset Bar, an ice-cream parlour and two restaurants.
I particularly enjoyed dining in the elegant signature restaurant, Tree, which specialises in Khmer and Southeast Asian cuisine with a focus on seafood.
I recommend trying the locally-sourced mud crab amok (a traditional Cambodian curry) and coconut tapioca pudding.
The entrance to the top-class spa, where you can relax in a sauna, herbal steam tent or de-stress with a traditional Khmer treatment
Guests can make their own natural skincare products in the Alchemy Bar, take a yoga class on the pavilion (pictured) or go for a full-body health MOT
The ice cream parlour (above) serves up more than 15 flavours daily on a complimentary basis
If you want to witness sunrise over Angkor Wat – the world’s largest religious building and the crown jewel of Cambodia – then you’ll need to set your alarm early, writes Samantha
MailOnline Travel’s Samantha Lewis pictured exploring the Ta Prohm temple in Siem Reap
The wellness offering is similarly appetising.
There’s a world-class spa where you can relax in a sauna, herbal steam tent or de-stress with a traditional Khmer treatment.
You can also make your own natural skincare products in the Alchemy Bar, take a yoga class on a pavilion or go for a full-body health MOT.
I set aside a morning to explore the spa and had fun playing around with lotions and potions in the Alchemy Bar – but I preferred the hour I spent lying face-down on a heated massage table.
Its excellent wellness offering continues in the kitchen where chefs prepare a bountiful buffet each morning of healthy tropical fruits, granola-topped yogurt pots and nourishing nut milk beverages.
I had the mango bircher muesli and an iced cashew milk latte – both were creamy and delicious.
When further features including a seductive slice of beach and water sports facilities are factored in, the result is an island that’s heaven to while away time on.
But a spot of island hopping is a must, not least because no trip to Cambodia is complete without seeing the country’s greatest attraction: the famous temples.
Getting to them from Six Senses Krabey Island is a cinch, with Sihanoukville Airport a boat trip and short drive away.
From there take a 50-minute flight to Siem Reap, home to the Unesco-listed Angkor Archaeological Park and around 50 jaw-dropping temples.
The best way to experience the incredible ruins in a one-day itinerary? By Vespa.
Vespa Adventures (vespaadventures.com) offers a guided tour where you can zip around off-the-beaten-track temples such as Ta Prohm, famous for being used as a location in the film Tomb Raider, and Banteay Srei, known for its fine pink-hued stone carvings.
And if you also want to witness sunrise over Angkor Wat – the world’s largest religious building and the crown jewel of Cambodia – then you’ll need to set your alarm early.
We arrived at the sacred site around 6am and it was filling up fast. The best view is from behind the lotus pond so we got in position, cameras poised, and waited for the sun to appear.
Sadly you’re unlikely to find a solitary moment away from the crowds of tourists to appreciate the temple’s true spiritual significance.
However, seeing its sprawling silhouette framed against coral skies is totally worth battling the crush.
Audley Travel offers tailor-made trips to Vietnam and Cambodia costing from £3,495 per person for 14 nights, including international flights with Vietnam Airways. For more information visit www.audleytravel.com or call 01993 838100.
Cambodia is currently exempt from the FCO advice against all non-essential international travel.