The first thing you may be told about Six Senses Krabey Island, the new private retreat off the Cambodian coast, is that it isn’t a beach resort. If the hotel is trying to manage guests’ expectations of mile after mile of white sand—the property’s beach is lovely but limited, it’s true—it also exceeds many other expectations of what an ultra-exclusive tropical enclave can be in the age of sustainable travel.
Krabey is a hilly, forested speck 20 minutes by boat from the mainland, near Sihanoukville. Most of the 40 guest villas, each with its own pool, cascade down the sunset-facing side of the island, some tucked into the trees and others open to views of the Gulf of Thailand. The resort makes heavy use of dark, craggy volcanic stone, the kind used in the temples of Angkor, and indeed many of the buildings have a silent majesty, as if they’ve been standing in the jungle for centuries. And a jungle it is—barely a tree fell during construction.
The juxtaposition of sensitivity to the environment with absolute refinement was what I loved most about the place, and what feels most forward-looking. Excellent cuisine, warm and attentive service, thoughtful design touches—books everywhere, Khmer-style fabrics, one sensational soaking tub by the sea—everything is beautifully executed. But this is really the cherry on top of a rigorous devotion to waste reduction and responsible use of resources.
In keeping with Six Senses’ overall mission (among other things, the company has committed to being plastic-free by 2022), Krabey aims to be as self-sufficient as it can: It produces its own eggs, drinking water, goat’s milk, and fruit and vegetables, and it turns food waste into animal feed. Biodiesel, charcoal, and organic insecticide are also made on site, and there are plans to add glass crushing and paper pulping. The resort also works with local schools to teach the benefits of organic farming.
Six Senses expects that its guests are as interested in their own longevity as they are in the planet’s. The resort rotates on the axis of wellness, with a 20,000-square-foot spa offering a regimen of Western and Ayurvedic treatments and activities that can be personalized according to an evaluation by the resident naturopath. And opportunities to exercise are everywhere, literally—the island is dotted with outdoor workout stations.
Not to give the beach short shrift. It’s a lovely spot to cast off into the water to kayak, snorkel, and standup paddleboard. Activities that will only get better when the resort kicks off a reef regeneration program. Rooms from $663