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4 reasons why Cambodia is the ultimate luxury destination

Asia

Phnom Penh - Cambodia has long been considered one of southeast Asia's grittier destinations, perhaps better suiting the intrepid backpacking type than the traveller accustomed to cold towels and cocktails on arrival.

But after the country's first-ever private island resort, Song Saa, opened in 2012, the luxurious potential of Cambodia caught the eye of cash-splashing globetrotters tired of the crowds flowing into Bali and Thailand.

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Siem Reap and its temples of Angkor are Cambodia's biggest draws.

 

 

And now the new wave of Cambodian luxury is set to make an even bigger splash, with three brand-new, top-tier big-hitters set to open in the coming months. Here, we take a look at the most opulent options for new hotel stays in Cambodia. How well this new luxury will sit in one of the world's poorest countries remains to be seen.

 

Rosewood, Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh is one of the region's more challenging cities – an often chaotic place where Cambodia's genocidal recent history hangs particularly heavy. It is also, however, a beautiful destination, sitting where the Mekong and Tonlé Sap rivers meet and offering an exotic skyline of traditional Khmer architecture.

 

 

And there’ll be a bit of added sparkle come next year, when the Rosewood Phnom Penh opens on the top 14 floors of the Cambodian capital's (and indeed the country's) tallest building, the 616ft-high Vattanac Capital Tower One. Offering a panoramic view of the city and the Mekong below, its position in the Central Business District along Preah Monivong Boulevard places guests on a buzzy thoroughfare, barely 1km from top sights including the unmissable Royal Palace.

The luxurious development – designed to resemble a rising dragon – will feature 175 rooms and suites, a 120-seat bistro, two specialty restaurants and a sky bar on a cantilevered terrace.

In addition, there will be a relaxing spa with five treatment rooms and a 20-metre swimming pool on the 33rd floor, no doubt letting you make the most of those views as you do your laps.

Rosewood Phnom Penh is scheduled for completion in 2017 (rosewoodhotels.com)

 

Six Senses, Krabey Island

The Six Senses brand has made a habit of creating fabulously luxurious hideaways in far from obvious destinations (see its fantastic village-like resort in Zighy Bay, Oman), and next year will see its latest open on Koh Krabey, a private island off Cambodia's south coast.

Comprising 40 pool villas dotted around the 30-acre island – which lies a short boat transfer from the forests and wetlands of Ream National Park - all villas include a private plunge pool and some will also offer that particularly dreamy tropical experience, the outdoor shower.

An elevated bar will give stunning sunset views out to sea to pair with your cocktails – and you needn’t feel too guilty about indulging, as there's a big focus on wellness here, too. The spa will feature a menu of ancient Cambodian healing traditions and “multi-day rejuvenation journeys”, along with yoga and detox workshops. A special juice bar promises to incorporate the rich varieties of fresh fruits and herbs from the island.

Fun-sounding extras include Cinema Paradiso – a poolside outdoor cinema screening classic movies – and an observatory with astronomical telescope and scheduled stargazing sessions is also planned.

Six Senses Krabey Island is due for completion in 2017 (sixsenses.com)

 

Phum Baitang, Siem Reap

Siem Reap and its temples of Angkor are Cambodia's biggest draws, and for that reason the town isn’t short on swish hotels. What it is short on, however, is peace and quiet, which is why the launch of Phum Baitang earlier this year offered a welcome dose of tranquillity to the area's hotel scene.

 

 

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Located just outside of Siem Reap, in the Cambodian countryside, Phum Baitang – which translates as “Green Village” – consists of 45 villas designed to mimic a typical Cambodian community (on the outside, at least - your typical rural-dwelling Cambodian is unlikely to have a Nespresso machine). Wooden thatched houses on stilts are dotted across the lemongrass and verdant paddy fields, creating luxurious serenity that's still within easy reach of the temples teeming with crowds.

All the villas have terraces from which you can thoroughly absorb the jungle feel – and 20 of them have private pools. The resort also offers two restaurants: Bay Phsar, which brings local flavours to the table; and Hang Bay, which draws from across the globe (think wafer-thin pizza straight from the wood-fired oven in the garden).

There is also an on-site spa, aptly named “Spa Temple”, as it is carved in stone. It houses five treatment rooms as well as a sauna, steam room, fitness room, yoga pavilion and relaxation area.

Phum Baitang, Phum Svaydangkum, Sangkat Svaydangkum, Siem Reap, Cambodia (00 855 63 961 111; phumbaitang.com). Terrace villas from £193 (about R3 200) room only.

 

Alila Villas, Koh Russey

The hotly anticipated Alila Villas Koh Russey will be located on unspoilt Koh Russey island in the Gulf of Thailand, less than 5km off the coast of southern Cambodia. The first all-villa retreat from Alila outside of Bali, the five-star eco resort is set to serve up pristine bays, dramatic peninsulas, white-sand beaches and tropical forests.

It's also a good option for families thanks to a kids’ club and villas that offer the privacy of their own terrace, pool and garden. The resort is due to open in the second quarter of 2017.

Villas are due to be completed in 2017 (alilahotels.com)

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