Six Senses Krabey Island: Cambodia's new private tropical island resort

I'm hanging upside down from a silky piece of parachute material fashioned into a hammock when I ask my "flying yoga" instructor if I should now let go with my hands.

"NO!" he cries, the alarm clear in his voice. "DO NOT LET GO!" He races over and tucks my legs more properly around the swathes of cloth. "Now!" he says, breathing out for the first time. "Now it's safe to take your hands away."

The vast spa at the newest Six Senses resort, on a private tropical island off the southern Cambodian coast, is astonishing for the range of activities – and passitivities – it offers.

As well as a huge menu of massage and body treatments in either eight indoor or outdoor rooms, there are also saunas, steam rooms, Khmer-inspired herbal steam tents, jacuzzis, relaxation areas, a meditation room and regular yoga in an outdoor pavilion in addition to that flying, or aerial, yoga inside.

The spa at Six Senses Krabey Island is intended to become the star of the luxury boutique travel group's tropical wellness escapes, and it certainly is dazzling in both size and design. More than 2000 square metres of space pays homage to the country's Kbal Spean River in wood-turn patterns that look like floating bubbles, rippled ceilings and stone walls decorated with light-on-water reflections.

Then there's the Alchemy Bar where I mix organic herbs and oils together into a Khmer-style detox face mask, hand scrub and foot soak. As I blend honey and oil to nourish my skin, bentonite volcanic clay to draw out impurities, charcoal to trap chemicals and some essential oils to energise and reduce stress, I can't help noticing the glowing skin of the instructor. I wonder if I can upscale my production.

There's also an optional biomarker health test for those who either want to know how well they are, or those interested in their weak spots so they can be improved. I score 69 per cent – and am congratulated. Lots of scope for progress there, I'm told cheerfully.

I take it to heart and check out the gym to find the biggest array of upmarket machines and equipment I've ever seen in a resort, ever. Then I decide the inspection has so exhausted me, I'd better relax for a couple of hours with a chilled coconut, pomelo, cucumber and ginger juice by the private pool of my villa, overlooking the ocean. The act of drinking it alone, I'm sure, is boosting my score.

Krabey Island is a 12-hectare slice of paradise a 15-minute ride by speedboat from the mainland, near Sihanoukville, and what feels like a million miles from anywhere.

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Over the water lies expeditions through the Ream National Park, a trip to the resort's own organic farm that grows most of its produce, a visit to a Buddhist pagoda and the lure of a little island-hopping.

But here, amid the luxuriant rainforest that coats the island are a set of just 40 freestanding pool villas each hidden away among the trees, two restaurants, an infinity lap pool, an oceanfront boardwalk and an open-air cinema. Oh, and yes, even an ice-cream parlour … Why would I ever want to leave?

To add to the resort's attractions, its manager Alistair Anderson is also Australian so has a keen understanding of what we might want. Snorkelling? Kayaking? Stand up paddle boarding? Surf skis? Walks through the forest? Cooking classes?

There's also an outdoor fitness circuit and one set of steps up from the beach displays on a small discreet plaque on how many calories you've expended just getting that far. "It's not in your face, just quirky and fun," says Anderson.

Executive chef Todd Adams is also from Australia, most recently heading up the restaurant at Tasmania's Saffire Freycinet, and has designed a series of menus inspired by Khmer dishes.

And even behind the scenes, the 170 staff seem determined to make sure your stay is memorable. In their own canteen, I spy a handwritten notice on the wall: "Our vision is to help people reconnect with themselves, others and the world around them."

I reflect on that later as I have a Khmer massage and the table afterwards lifts me up electronically into a sitting position so I don't even have to make the effort to sit myself up. Yes, it's certainly worked for me.

TRIP NOTES

Sue Williams travelled at her own expense but stayed as a guest of Six Senses Krabey Island.

MORE

traveller.com.au/cambodia

tourismcambodia.com

FLY

Qantas, Vietnam Airlines. Thai Airways and Emirates all fly to Phnom Penh from where it's a four-hour drive, or half-hour flight on one of Cambodia's airlines, to Sihanoukville

STAY

Six Senses Krabey Island organises pick-ups from the airport and a speed cruiser ride to the island. Villas from $US663 a night including breakfast. See sixsenses.com/resorts/krabey-island/destination

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