Floating lodge sits lightly

CAMBODIA'S first floating eco-lodge has opened in Koh Kong province. The 4 Rivers Eco Lodge is on the Tatai River, halfway between Bangkok and Phnom Penh. Owner Valentin Pawlik, who arrived in Cambodia five years ago from Romania to work in the boat industry, says the pristine beauty of the area has led him down the eco path.

"I'm not [yet] an eco-maniac but I totally agree that we urgently need to do something in the area of sustainable development," he says.

Pawlik says the resort fulfils all the tenets of responsible eco-tourism. It is treating black water, managing waste, has an energy-consumption policy and a green-energy transition plan.

"So I'm proud to say we're not leaving any environmental footprint," he says. "If we are to move the resort there will be no sign of it following our departure."

Local people have helped build the resort and staff it in maintenance and housekeeping roles as well as in the kitchen, which uses fish and local produce.

The resort is aimed at the traveller who likes wilderness with a dash of luxury. Each of the 12 floating tents is stylishly fitted out and has Wi-Fi and a flat-screen television.

Tents are $US120 ($133) a night including breakfast until April and $US102 from May until September.

See ecolodges.asia.

Australian stars

In the accommodation categories at last night's Qantas Australian Tourism Awards, Avalon Coastal Retreat at Swansea on the east coast of Tasmania won the deluxe accommodation category. Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse Holiday Accommodation at Seal Rocks was named best new tourism development, Skycity Darwin took out the luxury category, Uluru's Longitude 131 won the unique accommodation award and Sydney Central YHA the best backpacker accommodation.

Noorla Heritage Resort in Ingham won the standard accommodation category, Big4 Beacon Resort at Queenscliff on the Bellarine Peninsula was best tourist and caravan park and Hidden Valley Cabins, north of Townsville, won the hosted accommodation category.