During construction at Song Saa Private Island, Melita Hunter sent fishing boats on daily excursions through the Gulf of Thailand to gather branches, warped tree trunks, and remains of painted longtail fishing boats. Hunter, a talented organic-sculpture artist who owns Song Saa with her husband, Rory, then placed the found items discreetly throughout the island’s 27 villas and other buildings. Not always noticeable at a glance, the wooden accents—hiding the piping of an outdoor shower, shading a daybed, supporting a vanity, framing a mirror—come increasingly into view the longer you stay at this sleek new resort.
Hunter’s Song Saa journey began six years ago, when she and Rory took a two-week holiday from their work renovating French Colonial homes in Cambodia. Inspired by rumors of little-known islands, the Australian couple chartered a fishing boat to explore the Koh Rong archipelago. On the last day of their trip, they discovered a pair of small rain-forest-covered islands whose few residents expressed a desire to move to the mainland. The Hunters agreed to purchase the two islands that same day.
Set to open in December, Song Saa offers unprecedented access to the pristine Koh Rong chain, which remains largely unknown to the outside world. The resort is unlike anything else in the archipelago, with its oversize pool villas, Khmer-inspired cooking by chef Neil Wager (who came over from Seychelles’ North Island), and many other indulgences. Another reason to visit: Through a close relationship with the Amansara resort in Siem Reap, guests can venture to Cambodia’s ancient temples of Angkor Wat before flying privately to Song Saa to see a less-traveled side of the Southeast Asian kingdom.
ACCESS One-hour charter flight from Siem Reap, or 45 minutes by plane from Phnom Penh.
OVERNIGHT 22 one-bedroom pool villas and five two-edroom pool villas, located either on the beach, in the center of the island with ocean views, or over water.
FEATURES Over-water restaurant, beach bar, Champagne bar, swimming pool, gym, water-sports and dive center, children’s club, and marine education center. A wellness center and nature trails are located on an adja-cent private island, accessible via a footbridge.
DIVERSIONS Diving and snorkeling in Cambodia’s first private marine reserve; longtail boat trips to communities on surrounding islands; kayak adventures through mangrove forests and estuaries; ocean-fishing excursions.
Song Saa Island, +855.236.860.360, www.songsaa.com; prices from $40,000 per night for as many as 50 people, all-inclusive; individual villa rates from $668 per person