How Cambodia’s five-star Song Saa Private Island leads sustainable luxury travel in Southeast Asia

Over lunch at Louise in Central, Rory Hunter and Melita Koulmandas Hunter, the Hong Kong-based couple behind Song Saa Private Island resort, talk about environmental conservation and empowering the local community.

I first met Rory Hunter and Melita Koulmandas Hunter nearly a decade ago when they were completing a resort on the twin islands of Song Saa in Koh Rong, near the Cambodian beach town of Sihanoukville. Song Saa Private Island was a project born out of the Australian couple’s love for Cambodia – their adopted son Naryth, now 11, is from the area.

On a sunny Wednesday, I join them in the downstairs bar of Louise – Jia Group’s latest collaboration with Singapore-based French chef Julien Royer whose eatery Odette currently tops Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants.

The two-storey restaurant’s bright bistro vibe comes courtesy of Hong Kong’s design wunderkind André Fu. A long bar faces a casual room with wicker and bentwood chairs leading to a leafy patio spilling out to the renovated former Police Married Quarters (PMQ). At the far end is a colour-saturated private dining room outfitted with a green fireplace mantel, a back wall depicting a jungle landscape and a tropical-patterned rug.

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