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Sleek & Chic | Knai Bang Chatt Hotel, Kep City, Cambodia

September 1, 2010

At times likened to Asia’s new Riviera, Cambodia’s southern coast is an unspoiled stretch of seashore on the cusp of a boom.

While most attention currently focuses upon Sihanoukville, and the bustling beaches around the country’s only deep-water port, the smart set is focusing on – and flocking to – the sleepy seaside town of Kep.

Long before former Cambodian King Sihanouk directed the building of a road linking his capital to the beach town that took his name, Kep was the getaway of choice for sun and sea lovers in this laid-back part of French Indochine.

Originally called La Perle de la Côte d’Agathe, this was unquestionably the country’s hippest resort area right through the 1960s.

You still witness ample reminders of that era in beach villas with curved stairways, porthole windows and other art deco features. Kep’s serenity was smashed by decades of Cambodian fighting (many abandoned villas still show mortar holes), but some old estates have recently been reborn as smart resorts, and the central promenade and main beach restored to its heyday of half a century ago.

Knai Bang Chatt in the little town of Kep, is the biggest unexpected surprise. With stunning minimalist architecture, this luxe boutique resort perched at absolute land’s end has become the hippest boutique hotel in Cambodia.

Comprising three Le Corbusier—influenced villas built by Khmer industrialists and one modern house that stylistically links the historic buildings to form one intimate retreat, Knai Bang Chatt offers 11 minimalist-chic rooms with elevated beds that face either the calm Gulf of Thailand or artfully landscaped gardens.

Brainchild of Belgian art dealer Boris Vervoordt as an exclusive residence, the rooms are starkly, but smartly outfitted. Facilities will soon expand with a beach and sailing club, and over-water restaurant in traditional Kep wooden house on stilts.

Far from being content as just another pretty face on the hip Asian hotel scene, Knai Bang Chatt is an active promoter of Responsible Tourism, and works with the local community to bring good and make a difference.

As part of community development in through Hand in Hand Cambodia Charity Foundation, the hotel gives a hand in improving the lives of over 256 families, by providing education, clean water and economic opportunities through its umbrella organization Bridges Across Borders Southeast Asia. 3% of its total income goes to this project, based in Chamcar Bei. To learn more about this program or to participate, please visit www.handinhandcambodia.com.

Inspiration: Ron Gluckman

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