It wasn’t long ago that Song Saa was making news as Cambodia’s first luxury island resort, and now the private isle has won a prestigious award for sustainable travel.
At this year’s prominent ceremony for The Responsible Tourism Awards, all eyes were on a relative newcomer to the global luxury travel market – Song Saa, Cambodia’s first and only private island resort. This stunning getaway only opened its doors in March of 2012, but rave reviews and a dedicated culture of conservation have already put Song Saa firmly on the elite tourism map.
The resort’s owners, Rory and Melita Hunter, have shown an unwavering commitment to protecting the beautiful environment surrounding the island – particularly as the development took place in the remote Koh Rong archipelago, much of which was in a virtually pristine natural state, aside from some small communities. With great care for the island’s ecosystem, they built 27 stunning villas with locally-sourced materials, and have undertaken projects like creating a marine reserve.
The pair have helped regenerate the decimated fish population around the island, protected coral reefs, and built nest boxes for breeding hornbills. Their efforts have brought many new benefits to the local people; in addition to providing employment, they founded the Sala Song Saa school to teach eco-friendly marine management and organic farming.
The practices of sustainability implemented by the resort have had a profound impact on the whole area. Doctor Wayne Mccallum, the resort’s Director of Sustainability, said “Before we came people from outside the islands were using some very destructive fishing techniques in the area, such as blasting the corals with grenades. Now it’s amazing how the waters are teeming with life around Song Saa.”
According to Dr. Mccallum, the resort was developed with unique priorities from the outset. “What makes us different from other similar set ups is that elsewhere they have conservation people who come from the hospitality side, whereas we are conversationalists first,” he said. “We have had to learn how to be hospitable.”
It was with pride that the resort accepted this year’s Responsible Tourism Award for “Best Accommodation for the Environment.” A high-profile event held at London’s World Travel Market and sponsored by BBC World, the award is sure to bring this Cambodian gem to the attention of even more nature-loving tourists.
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