First you fly into Sihanoukville and then it’s a ten minute drive followed by another ten minutes by boat to get to Krabey Island. The buildings are scattered across twelve hectares on this private island. The atrium and lobby were inspired by the homes of the local sailors, built on raised platforms, akin to the sea and fishing based theme of the ceiling decorations. A wooden chessboard carved by local craftsmen is on the main sofa on the veranda in front of the bar. Fishing nets hang over a tank used to collect rainwater.
Forty rooms – each in a separate building hidden in the forest: a living room, bedroom and bathroom with stone floors. The interior decor was made by local craftsmen, the furniture legs have inlay inspired by Rumduol flowers, the National Flower of Cambodia and native to Krabey. The glass and concrete pillar structure, with the wooden panels inside, has a hint of the unfussy designs of Van der Rohe. The herbs used in the kitchen are grown in the central spice garden.
Garlands of green and purple semi-precious stones are a symbol of aerial yoga: taut ropes over a veranda built at the highest point of the island. The Spa, a fitness center, a workshop for medicinal herbs and natural scrubs – salt and pepper, sugar, various minerals, herbs, flowers and every type of oil – avocado, coconut, seeds, and cocoa powder: the scrub is mixed, ground, and stored in individual glass bottles ready for use. You need a strong will for the Turkish Bath, as it should be – it’s hard to stay in, but your lungs will thank you for it. There is a pool of cool water next to a pool of warm water for a complete sauna experience.
There is an area of stones on the beach where you can go looking for turban snails: the snails seal their shells with a flat limestone lid for protection against attack. Kids and grown-ups can spend hours in the water looking for them in the sand, where the sea breaks on the narrow shoreline. Put on a mask and snorkel and the coral reef is teeming with sea life just a few meters away. Going into the sea with nothing on your feet is not a good idea. The island is surrounded by a wooden deck footpath: there are no decks or diving platforms – as you might find on the Côte d’Azur, in Liguria or anywhere in the Mediterranean with a rocky coastline. This is the only thing that you really miss on the island because it restricts your enjoyment of the sea. Six Senses Krabey Island is not a Beach Resort but a Jungle Destination – where you experience an oceanside rainwater forest.
The resort intends to eradicate the use of plastic over the next few years. There is not much plastic around already – the soap dishes are made of glass; all the containers are made of stone or wood – even the toothbrushes are not made of plastic. The raincoats provided to guests are still plastic, like the protection in case of bad weather, the safety grille in the spa pool, and the buggies to get around the island.
It is an intellectual and interesting challenge to eradicate every possible use of plastic and replace it with natural materials, made locally if possible. Sustainability is the main mission of the company, along with the water purification and mineralization project that is directly on the island. Organic waste is collected and turned into fertilizer, supplied to the farms that in turn supply the restaurants with raw materials. The fruit in the cocktails is recycled and then distilled and mixed with other components to make air fresheners and for cleaning surfaces instead of using vinegar. The Earth Labs project was launched in each resort in 2017. Areas designed to make sustainability a tangible reality by growing products that can be used in the day-to-day running of the structure, creating a dialogue with its surroundings for a ‘zero waste’ approach.
Koh Krabey Island, Ream Commune