Cambodia, a Kingdom of Wonder where ancient ruins lay bare with legendary stories etched on its walls and aged tree roots form the foundations of fortified temples, a kingdom where the sun announces a new day before the rooster ruffles its feathers and children cycle off at the break of dawn for another day at school.
For the traveler, Cambodia is a magical experience, especially when you arrive in Siem Reap and explore the notable Angkor Wat and the other surrounding temples. Walking on foot or cycling around the temple circuit can be extremely tiring and the sun rather unforgiving as the day unfolds. However, returning to a quiet haven after a day of exploring makes all the difference to the memorable experience.
Located two kilometres from Siem Reap’s bustling town center is Navutu Dreams. Tucked in the corner, at the end of a dusty road, Navutu’s entrance opens up to a spacious and simple lobby decorated with delicate wooden furniture and handcrafted wooden sculptures. Friendly hotel staff play great host at welcoming you back to this amazing retreat.
Behind the lobby is where the real relaxing begins. Surrounded by lush rice fields, Navutu’s 1.5 hectare land is perfectly manicured with palm trees and tropical flowers abloom. The resort has enough pools to satisfy sun-seekers, water babies and health enthusiasts. There is an 18-meter long freshwater lap pool and a salt water family pool and a private salt water lounge pool at the end of the property enclaved around palm trees.
Hidden in nooks and corners of the compound are hammocks for a quiet snooze or a good read. The resort also has an open lounge with spacious day beds and a selection of excellent reads right next to the lounge pool. White-washed villas with flat open roofs polka-dot the compound. A glimpse of Santorini or that of Greek islands, with open cabanas draped with white-curtains dancing to the rhythm of the wind.
My Grand Tour Room, one of three kinds of rooms offered at Navutu follows the same expansive concept. The large room incorporates seamless geometry in the smooth curved walls leading into the open closet and bathroom. Combining clever use of space and simplistic design, a capacious quarter-shaped bath tub is carved in the corner between the bedroom and toilet overlooking a small garden.
The smooth wood panelled floors distinguish the bedroom and living space, while cobbled stones and tiles form a pathway into the bathroom area. The minimalist décor in the room lends to the vastness of space. Unique wood carvings of native men and women used as wall pieces and table ornaments stand as a reminder of South East Asia’s rich art tapestry.
At Navutu, it’s hard to resist a spa treatment. The resort offers wellness programs that include detox, acupuncture and ancient healing methods. The massage and spa menu is made up of a selection of the Asia’s best massage and beauty treatments including the traditional Khmer Massage, the invigorating Indian Head Massage, their signature Queen Bee Facial using local organic ingredients such as wild rice for exfoliation and wild honey as a mask and a range of body scrubs and wraps.
The therapist led me upstairs along the white-stoned stairs into an open air deck where my massage therapy started. I dipped my feet into a bowl of jasmine and lime speckled water and was given a sea-salt scrub along with a cup of cold ginger tea on a sunny afternoon. I was led into the massage room, the warm ray of sunshine beaming in from the round windows with wooden covers. Along one wall an array of bottled local herbs and ingredients such as turmeric, ginger, lemongrass and star anise are stacked on a wooden shelf and on the other, a basket of organic herbs together with the traditional Thai ‘Luk Pra Kob’, a muslin sack tightly packed with herbs and essential oils used for herb rituals. I remembered little of my massage as soon as it started. Lulled to sleep by the soothing deep and long massage strokes along my back, I was carried into dreamland before waking up later to be given an amazing shoulder and head massage.
Amidst the busy exploration, I was glad to have stumbled on this tranquil retreat in the Kingdom of Wonder.