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Body & Soul: Song Saa

A Cambodian getaway imagined by an adventurous husband and wife focuses on personal well-being, sustainability, and local outreach 

Written by Jenny Bradley Pfeffer

The sweethearts. It’s the English translation of the Khmer phrase “Song Saa”—a name chosen by adventurers Rory and Melita Hunter for the resort conceived after the then-newlyweds spent two weeks exploring Cambodia’s Koh Rong archipelago.  

Song Saa is a 24-villa resort located on Cambodia’s Koh Rong archipelago. Created by Rory and Melita Hunter, the luxury retreat features design motifs—such  as thatched roofs and driftwood furnishings—inspired by local fishing villages. 

“We instantly fell in love with the islands’ remarkable tropical environment—with their pristine beaches, rain forests, and vibrant communities,” Melita says.

Honoring that landscape—and the area’s rich heritage and artisanship—was paramount for the couple when they designed the retreat that occupies two islands linked by a wooden footbridge.  

An infinity pool beckons.

Inspired by the region’s fishing villages, Song Saa is made up of outwater buildings with thatched roofs, rough-hewn timbers, and driftwood furnishings.

“We felt that it was important for Song Saa to hold a strong sense of place,” Melita says. “We wanted the hotel to fit in with its surroundings. This meant working alongside local craftsmen, taking inspiration from traditional techniques, and implementing them throughout the resort’s design.”

Guest villas—situated to offer both sea and jungle views—take full advantage of Cambodia’s abundant natural beauty. Linen-clad beds, flooring salvaged from old fishing boats, and thatched roofs create an aura of sustainable luxury.
 Reclaimed materials—driftwood, oil drums, and old fishing boats—were used for furniture, sinks, and flooring. 

Perhaps the product of Song Saa’s embrace of the local environment, tranquility, and wellness come naturally here. 

Guest accommodations—24 luxury villas outfitted with linen-draped beds, sunken bathtubs, outdoor showers, and sun decks with private pools—offer panoramic views of the lush jungle and jewel-like sea. 

“Guests can come here and totally switch off from the outside world,” Melita says. “We want each guest to leave feeling refreshed, revived, and rejuvenated.”

Song Saa’s wellness programs (including spa treatments, private yoga, and meditation) are based on the Buddhist principle of metta bhavana, or loving kindness. “We promote a holistic approach to personal well-being based on stillness, healing, and blessing,” Melita Hunter says.

Aiding in that effort, the spa and wellness retreats are based on the Buddhist principle of metta bhavana, which translates as loving kindness. Treatments take place in sanctuaries sprinkled throughout the island and emphasize stillness, healing, and the surrounding natural beauty. For romantics and soul searchers, nighttime spa services can be booked under vast, starry Cambodian skies.

Dining under those same dreamy skies is an experience in itself. Chef Michael Pataran’s focus on sourcing local seafood, herbs, spices, and produce (organic whenever possible) encourages partnerships with local farmers and fishermen, and means guests will dine on only the freshest of scallops, fish, and rock crab.

Earthenware used in the resort’s restaurant was handmade by local artisans.

“Our focus is on combining unique Khmer flavors and age-old Cambodian techniques with fresh, sustainable, and locally produced food,” Melita notes.

The best of both worlds—an island-style afternoon tea.

Having long ago fallen in love with this little piece of paradise, Melita and Rory have also taken it upon themselves to ensure that they leave as positive a footprint as possible. Through their Song Saa Foundation, they have worked to clean up the islands’ reefs and have put in place programs for the conservation of the area’s mangroves, sea grass meadows, and sea turtles. They’ve also spearheaded initiatives to encourage education, organic farming, and the improvement of local medical care. 

“Song Saa is so much more than just a hotel,” Melita says. “Guests can interact with the local community, getting a truly authentic experience and being a force for good.”