More Luxury in Kep – Behind the Scenes of a 5 Star Resort

I was a ‘preview’ guest at Samanea Beach Spa Resort, part of the Secret Retreats group, and I had no idea what to expect.

The French project manager, Florian, took time out of his busy schedule of getting the resort ready for opening towards the end of July and collected me from Knai Bang Chatt. I had assumed we would go straight to the resort but Florian had other plans in mind. As the kitchen at Samanea was not yet open, Florian, took me to Breezes, a well known restaurant on the coast in Kep town. I’d over indulged at breakfast (again) but still managed a little something.

On hearing that I hadn’t yet visited a pepper farm, Sothy’s was our next stop. Kampot pepper is renowned for being the best pepper in the world and you shouldn’t leave the region without visiting at least one plantation.

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We then turned our sights to the resort. A grand long driveway greeted me. The extensive gardens abound with flowers and are dotted with the eight villas that make up the resort. My villa was a junior suite. The porch had a couch from which to watch the sea and antique ceramics.

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Although the hotel is owned by Cambodians, a Belgian antiques dealer, Alain Garnier, was been engaged to complete the development. Therefore, history is making an appearance in the decorations, particularly ceramics and decorative trunks.

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Inside the villa, a modern, spacious living area greeted me and a four poster bed. I have to admit, I got a kick out of being the first person to sleep in the bed, the first person to use the fluffy white towels.

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The bathroom was my favourite. The toilet and double sinks were inside but the shower, large bathtub and washing pot were outside. I love al fresco bathing. The solar hot water was almost instant and piping hot.

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Florian then took me on a tour of the grounds, including staff quarters and areas for development, such as the potential cooking school and areas allotted as a vegetable and herb garden, and massage pavilions.

The glass house restaurant is now ready and waiting for the head chef to arrive. Innovative former Sonsaa chef will be joining the team.

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I was pleased to see that the swimming is larger than most hotel pools and is long enough to swim laps without getting dizzy.

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One of my favourite features of Samanea is the 250 metre pier. I truly feels like you’re walking out into the middle of the ocean. It’s perfect for a morning stroll or from which to watch the sunset behind the Bokor Mountain peninsular.

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I was shown amazing hospitality throughout my stay. I was taken to a local restaurant in Kep for dinner and to a clifftop resort, Veranda, for a delicious breakfast.

Management are taking great care to select the right staff in order to provide a 5 start service. If they are even half as good as the team who showed me around, then a stay at Samanea is set to impress.

Samanea is a member of Secret Retreats, a collection of boutique residences, hotels and boats throughout Asia and a brand that provides experiences for the discerning traveller.


I was a guest of Samanea but all opinions are my own and nobody from the company reviewed or approved the text.

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