Song Saa, Cambodia
Tucked away 45 minutes into the open seas, between Sihanoukville and Thailand is the archipelago of about 2 or 3 small islands that is home to Song Saa. Covered with virgin rainforests and tropical reefs, it is mainly un-inhabited. Even the Five Mile Beach (FMB) is yet untouched by tourism and Song Saa, the first and one of its kinds is still finding its roots in the forest. Unlike Thailand which is crowded, Song Saa – the sweethearts island, rests in perfect silence.
With the increase in tourism to Cambodia, mainly to the cultural centres of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, both with excellent hotels to choose from, I have often wondered if only there was a place in Cambodia where travellers could finish their trip with an R&R. Before now there has been little in the way of luxury to entice a traveller to stay, moving them to head for another destination to quench their thirst for blue seas and sandy beaches along with pampering and luxury.
We heard of Song Saa sometime ago and couldn’t wait to visit and experience what was being planned. Once complete, I couldn't wait to see if they had created the perfect slice of paradise in the Gulf of Thailand.
The entire space is beautifully constructed using natural materials, a high ceiling with an all-encompassing canopy so as to integrate seamlessly into the natural space. At the centre of its architectural design is its creative art by Melita, Rory Hunter’s lovely wife. Her creativity and personal touch can be felt even in our two bedrooms villa, so beautifully designed. The focus is on relaxing the mind, with a beautiful sunken bathtub, offering views over the bay through the full length window or lazing outside in a small pool. And a complimentary mini bar to spoil you.
It has 27 thatched villas scattered variously over a forest-covered hill, along the water'sedge, and above the water on stilts. All the villas have secluded terraces, private pools, and all the high-end creature comforts Robinson Crusoe could only fantasize about. There is also a sanctuary where you can shower looking out over the sea, a private verandah to watch the sunsets and yes, should you wish, the resort’s chef can come and treat you to fresh seafood under the stars.
Meals are served at the over-water restaurant, beside the infinity pool (or even in it), in your villa, or on the beach. They say, meals in the resorts are mostly dependent on the chef and his moods. Luckily Neil, the chef here is fabulous with his creations, jovial and would happily cook for you even if the restaurant is closed. With no worries of being late for your meal at any time, life seems to be too good to be true.
The resort is small, that is the beauty of it, but the nature around is big. We heard that the adjacent Island had been dedicated to wildlife. So we jumped into a speed boat to see the wildlife for ourselves. There are horn bills, sea eagles and an abundance of sea-life, visible from walkways over the water. Snorkelling though not so great is possible and there’s a spa. However, a good way to build your appetite is to go kayaking in the mangroves.
One More Thing: While we set off for our rooms to rest, Rory, the owner struggles with new ways of making the development of his resort sustainable. In these economic hard times sustainable development for Rory has not been easy and so wasn’t the cancer for Melita but they have done well in sharing their passion with those who have found their way to this little paradise. The Hunters are what the islands are – Song Saa, meaning in the local language, ‘The Sweethearts’.
From Phnom Penh. A luxury vehicle from the property will pick you up in one of their brand new BMW 5 series vehicles for the 3-hour transfer from Phnom Penh Airport to Sihanoukville Port, where a luxury speed boat will be waiting to whisk you away to the islands. Please contact the resort for more information and pricing of transfer options from Phnom Penh.
From Siem Reap. Both Siem Reap and Phnom Penh Airport have multiple daily services to virtually all Asian gateways, including Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Taipei, and Kuala Lumpur.
Cambodia Angkor Air operates 3 weekly flights (Mon, Wed and Fri) on their brand new ATR72 aircraft. The 50-minute journey will bring you directly to Sihanoukville International Airport, where we will pick you up for the 15-minute drive to Sihanoukville Port.