ILTM: Green is the colour for Cambodia's first island resort

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Cambodia’s first island development will, the owners claim, set a new standard in responsible high-end luxury.

Song Saa Private Island in Cambodia's untouched Koh Rong Archipelago will open in late 2011 featuring 25 rainforest, beach and over-water villas built from sustainable materials.

Owners Rory and Melita Hunter have been careful to set a responsible precedent.

"We've tried to create something unique, something that reflects our love for Cambodia and for the environment," said Chairman Rory Hunter.?

"Think Thailand 40 years ago, before Koh Samui or Phuket became the international hubs they are today.

“We have the pristine rainforests and empty white sand beaches but without the over-development or crowds."

The resort will span the two islands of Koh Ouen and Koh Bong, connected by a footbridge over a marine reserve established to safeguard the islands' reefs and marine life including dugongs, seahorses and tropical fish.

Central to Rory and Melita's vision is respect for the environment and the people, and a belief that private operators have an important role to play in the preservation of these locations.

They have established a marine reserve that covers one million square meters and extends 200 meters from the outer edge of the reefs around both islands.

Hunter added: "A healthy environment depends on healthy communities, so we've made a commitment to donate a portion of all revenue to the local community, to donate resources such as schoolbooks and help fund local health initiatives."

The island is 30 minutes on the resort's luxury speedboat service from the newly opened Sihanoukville International Airport, which links Cambodia to Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing.

Hunter plans to build two more resorts in Cambodia and then expand into the region.