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History meets luxury at Knai Bang Chatt in Cambodia

The province of Kep in Cambodia was once an oasis for the fortunate owners of lavish villas in the 1950s and 1960s, but the civil war left the area deserted. Over recent years, the area is making a comeback thanks to its delicious seafood, stunning natural views, and architectural history including the Knai Bang Chatt.

History meets luxury at Knai Bang Chatt in Cambodia

The province of Kep was once a tranquil oasis for wealthy French and Cambodians who built luxury villas in the 1950s and 1960, however, the civil war in Cambodia left the area and villas deserted.

Over recent years, since the end of the civil war in Cambodia in 2009, the province is making a comeback with many travellers visiting the region to explore its architectural history and natural landscapes, and sample its delicious fresh seafood.

Knai Bang Chatt, which translates to "rainbow encircling the sun", is the development of three of the historical villas which has become a luxury resort.

The CEO of Knai Bang Chatt Jef Moons originates from Belgium. He said he arrived in Kep as a tourist in 2003 when the area had no water, no electricity and very few Western tourists.

The Belgian fell in love with the people and the community, so he and a friend decided to create Knai Bang Chatt which blended the old-school glamour of the 1950s with modern luxury.

All guest rooms have private balconies and in some, holidaymakers can watch the sun rise or set every day, and a minimal effect applies throughout with no paintings or pictures on the walls and TVs only available upon request.

According to Moons, connecting guests with the culture of Cambodia is vital, and many traditional Cambodian elements from homes have been used to decorate rooms such as raised beds and concrete floors.

Talking about the renovation of the three villas, Moons said:

"Everything that was beautiful that we could keep, we kept."

Two additional villas have also been added to the luxury resort.

Facilities include a swimming pool and cabanas with ocean and rocky coastline views, a library with books and magazines in different languages, and an onsite restaurant called the Strand with its signature crab dish. The Sailing Club also provides local seafood, as well as Western dishes, cocktails, beers and wines.

Room rates at Knai Bang Chatt start from $238 in the low season and $275 in the high season.

Cambodia is a country in Southeast Asia that is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination. The nation is home to ancient temples and sites as well as the Ta Prohm temple, Angkor Thom, and famous Angkor Wat with its 12th-century ruins at the UNESCO World Heritage site.

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