Languishing on Cambodia’s southern shores, Kep was the beach destination for French colonials and Khmer high society back in the day, and the spirit of a bygone era is elegantly recaptured at boutique hotel Knai Bang Chatt. With bold Seventies modernist architecture set right by the seafront, this simple, design-savvy retreat has enough style and seclusion to please the adults, with an abundance of aquatic activities to win over the kids.
Style: Bauhaus goes tropical
Setting: Frond-fringed south coast
Need to know
Rooms: 11, spread over three villas, all with ocean or garden views.
Facilities: Computer, library and video room with movie projector, small spa, beachfront chill-out area, ping-pong table, free WiFi throughout, sailing club with Hobie Cats, kayaks and a speedboat. In rooms: fruit plate, free bottled water.
In the know
Sleeping: Knai Bang Chatt can cater for kiddies of any age, with baby cots and mattresses for older children provided for free and extra beds available for US$30 a night. Most of the rooms are doubles and are therefore not ideal for families with more than one child, however rooms 7 (a Double Sea View) and 8 (a Sea View Twin) can be linked together to provide kids with their own space and parents with privacy.
Playing: Kep doesn’t have the country’s best beach, so the emphasis here is more on active watersports. The helpful staff at Knai Bang Chatt can organise everything from beach volleyball and fishing to trips to nearby islands and caves to keep the smalls occupied. However, the true drawcard of this boutique break is the adjacent Sailing Club, which is sure to win the approval of your little’uns. Hobie Cats, kayaks, sail boats and surfboards can all be hired and instructors are on hand to turn your kids into aquatic experts. Bikes are also available for rides around this chilled-out area. Within the hotel, ping pong, movies and free WiFi should avoid plaintive cries of ‘I’m bored!’.
For a culture hit, set aside a day to take the kids into the once-bourgeois resort town of Kep, which has an entertaining Crab Market and a few local stores. You’ll also spy dilapidated colonial villas – an arresting testament to the brutality of the former Khmer Rouge regime, which devastated the town.
Splashing: Flanking the beach, the infinity pool at Knai Bang Chatt has a kiddie-friendly shallow end. Plenty of poolside deck chairs and loungers ensure that you can sit back and relax while still keeping an eye out for any child-shaped mischief. For water-related fun further afield, hire a boat for a beachfront barbecue on Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island), just off shore, which boasts some of the area’s best beaches. Alternatively, duck up to Sihanoukville, Cambodia’s main beach resort, where the sands are squeaky soft and the nearby islands still surprisingly undeveloped.
Feasting: The hotel’s informal restaurant and bar are set in an alfresco pavilion near the seafront, with a strong accent on seafood – think steamed crab in coconut milk – and both Khmer and Western dishes. Much of the produce on offer at the nearby Sailing Club restaurant and bar, a converted wooden fisherman’s house on stilts, is caught daily on the colourful boats you’ll spot at the end of the resort’s pier. Knai Bang Chatt’s chefs are happy to whip up child-friendly culinary options, too.
No need to pack: Baby cots, which are provided for free, or watersports gear, as the Sailing Club has all bases covered.
Time-out: If you’re a Smith member, you can enjoy either a child-satisfying discovery hour on a sailing boat or a parent-pleasing 30-minute massage for each guest. If you opt for the latter, Knai Bang Chatt offers a babysitting service with a local nanny for US$5 an hour, given 24-hours’ notice, so you can enjoy your salt scrub stress-free.
To book a child-friendly Smith stay visit www.mrandmrssmith.com or call the expert Travel Team on 800 905 326. What’s more, if you sign up as a Smith member, you can enjoy exclusive offers at more than 850 hand-picked hotels around the world.