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Cambodia’s tranquil retreat Full Moon Island Resort on Koh Ampil

Full Moon Island Resort on Koh Ampil
Full Moon Island Resort on Koh Ampil

Embarking on a decade-awaited visit to Cambodia, our journey led us to the uncharted beauty of Koh Ampil and the Full Moon Island Resort, introduced at SEAHIS by its visionary owner, Mr. Lay Prohas.

This was my first visit to Cambodia for almost a decade and we wanted to travel to Cambodia’s coastal region, we were keen to explore.

I was introduced to the Full Moon Island Resort on Koh Ampil by its owner last year at the SEAHIS (South East Asia Hotel Investors’ Summit) in Bangkok. During the conference we chatted over lunch and we explored ways how we could help. I connected him with a few contacts. Now I count him among my friends. Mr Lay Prohas, the former Minister of Tourism of Cambodia, is a kindly soul and a gentleman. With an easy, smiling charismatic charm, he speaks well – intelligently and from the heart. A family man, he and his wife are preparing the all-villa resort to fully open in September, featuring their beautiful Khmer inspired villas. Many are over-water or in lush jungle gardens adjacent to the shoreline. Plans are well advanced in this their soft opening phase.

The resort’s use of natural materials provide luxurious sustainable accommodations. The water for instance is drawn from deep underground – pure, safe, and with a high mineral content, it could quite easily be bottled.

The resort is located on Koh Ampil, part of a small group of Cambodian islands which are privately owned by Prohas’s family. Located approximately midway between Trat in southern Thailand and Phú Quôc in Vietnam, the islands reminded me of the Maldives, with turquoise blue seas, white sand beaches and abundant palm trees and nature.

We opted to fly from Bangkok to Phnom Penh with Bangkok Airways, just a one hour flight. We were picked up at the airport by the resort team and transported all the way to the island by comfortable car followed by a 10 minute boat ride in the resort’s speedboat.

We bought a Cambodia Smart SIM card at the airport – valid for seven days with 15GB for just seven dollars US.

With the SIM installed I was able to follow our route on Google map on my phone. A journey southward of 240km on mostly good motorways/highways. The actual journey with a natural breaks and a coffee stop was just under 3 hours. It flew by – my attention and nose glued to the window as a fascinating movie kaleidoscope of country life passed across my ‘screen’.

Island life on Full Moon Island Resort, Koh Ampil

The resort is nestled amidst the blue waters of the Gulf of Thailand and Koh Ampil, where time seems to have stood still.

Nature’s beauty was on show everywhere.

At the heart of this white-sand island paradise sits the Full Moon Island Resort, a peaceful and serene oasis that beckons travellers seeking respite from the chaos of everyday life.

  • Official Name: Kingdom of Cambodia
  • Local Time: UTC +7
  • Country Calling Code: +855
  • Capital City: Phnom Pen
  • Other Major Cities: Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, Battambang, Poipet, Kampot
  • Government: Constitutional Monarchy; the Royal Cambodian Government (RCG), formed on the basis of elections, internationally recognized as free and fair, was established on 24 September 1993.
  • Population: 16.7 million (2022)
  • Area: 181,035 km² (69,900 sq. mi.)
  • Climate: The rains fall May-October and it is dry during November April. December and January are the coolest months and April is the hottest.
  • Religions: Buddhism 95% (official); Islam, Christianity, animism, atheism.
  • Languages: Khmer (official); English, French and Mandarin are popular second languages.
  • Currency: Cambodian Riel (KHR)

We arrived in time for lunch but first the hotel offered their famous gin & tonic welcome drink, perfectly served in a heavy cut crystal tumbler packed with ice and a slice. First class! A good start.

After a delicious lunch of Prawn Caesar Salad, Asian Seafood Noodles and another G&T at La Luna Restaurant, we retired to unpack and relaxed in our over-the-water villa the “Saturn” situated opposite the Resort’s Full Moon Spa and swimming pool.

The villa was huge, located right on the waters edge with its own spacious verandah, sun-beds and patio furniture. Our three night stay was not going to be enough – too short!

The resort’s Khmer wooden architecture is exceptional. The villa and all the buildings have impressive timbers, they look incredibly strong and some are of great age. Towering high, the local hardwoods reach the full height of the buildings, supporting their traditional high ceilings and roofs.

The bathroom and bathtub faced out to sea and you can open all the picture windows and doors. Relax and soak under the moon and stars with cool breezes and in complete privacy. A perfect romantic retreat.

At dusk as the sun dips below the horizon, it casts a golden hue over the tranquil waters. We were prepared and headed for La Luna’s outdoor lounge, ready to toast the stunning sunset, a splendid tradition that we recommend be performed in the resort each evening!

The Full Moon Resort Story

Full Moon Island Resort’s inception is a tale of good fortune and vision. During an impromptu stay on a secluded island, Mr. Lay Prohas and his wife, Pen Vokhanith, were captivated by a night illuminated by the glow of the full moon. It was this moment of wonder that catalysed the creation of a unique retreat.

Resting within a trio of islands, the resort is a blend of untouched natural beauty and refined architectural elegance.

The name “Full Moon Island” was chosen

from the romantic setting. The islands are planned to be a legacy for their 4 children.

Island Life

We went to explore. First stop the pool and then a leisurely stroll along the island’s coastline, where white-powder sands meet crystal clear waters, teeming with marine life at the Blue Moon Beach Bar. A lovely space, we gravitated here throughout our short stay. As the day transitions into night, we generally headed back to our villa, showered and changed and prepared for sunset cocktails at La Luna’s outdoor lounge and later had dinner there. Glorious!

Stress Free

On our second day we awoke to the gentle sounds of water lapping against the coastline, the rustling of palm leaves and the chirping of tropical birds. After breakfast we embarked on a beach day adventure. Swimming, snorkelling, kayaking and jungle walks were all options open to us including fishing and boat excursions. After a hectic few weeks we opted to chill. A book, a swim and a lazy snooze under an umbrella.

Everything you need to chill including two large swings roped under the trees that gently rock in the sea breezes

Everything you need to chill including two large swings roped under the trees that gently rock in the sea breezes

The beach at the Blue Moon Beach Bar has everything you need to chill including two large swings roped under the trees that gently rock in the sea breezes. Fitted with a soft mattress and large oversized pillows I plopped myself down and gently rocked. My favourite Spotify tunes on my ear pods. It was selfishly resplendent. I just let the feeling of euphoria wash over me, happy and stress free as I sank into that mattress swaying in the breeze. I utterly relaxed. To my left a perfect beach – white and gorgeous, the sea a beautiful turquoise graduating to a deep blue hue. Above palm trees and orchids. To the right a beach bar and the sounds of the island. Natural sounds – waves, wind and rustling palms. The abundant bird life inspecting every branch and hardly a soul around. It was heavenly. I lay there thinking this it! Perfection! A spiritual awakening! A kind of epiphany, I was thankful for life. My thoughts turned to how lucky I was and GRATEFUL! It truly delighted all my senses and nourished my soul. It was a blessed moment. Carpe Diem!

For those seeking a deeper connection with nature, guided nature walks at the resort offer the opportunity to discover the island’s rich biodiversity, from exotic flora to rare bird species whilst soaking in the warmth of the tropical sun and panoramic ocean views.

With the stresses of daily life a distant memory, I was able to indulge in a day of pure relaxation and reflection.

The resort’s luxurious spa is slated to open in a few short weeks and it will draw inspiration from ancient Khmer healing traditions. The spa will offer a range of holistic treatments designed to nourish the body, mind, and spirit. From traditional Khmer massages to invigorating body scrubs infused with indigenous herbs and spices. Each treatment will be tailored to address the individual needs of the guest.

Also on offer, guests will beable to gather for a sunset yoga session on the beach, harmonising their breathing with the rhythm of the ocean waves, finding their inner peace and balance amidst nature.

Regrettably the final day dawns on Koh Ampil, and after breakfast we bid farewell to the Full Moon Island Resort.

We had lots of memory making moments. where we reconnected with nature, creating memories to last a lifetime.

We boarded the speedboat back to the mainland, with a newfound sense of peace and tranquility, we had found our slice of paradise, our mini Maldives right on our doorstep. In a world filled with chaos and uncertainty, the Full Moon Island Resort offers a sanctuary of serenity and tranquility. We certainly hope to return!

For those seeking an unforgettable escape from the ordinary, Koh Ampil beckons with open arms!

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Andrew J Wood was born in Yorkshire England, he is a former hotelier, Skalleague and travel writer. Andrew has 48 years of hospitality and travel experience. Educated at Batley Grammar School and a hotel graduate of Napier University, Edinburgh. Andrew started his career in London, working with various hotels. His first posting overseas was with Hilton International, in Paris, and he later arrived in Asia in 1991 on Bangkok with his appointment as Director of Marketing at the Shangri-La Hotel and has remained in Thailand ever since. Andrew has also worked with the Royal Garden Resort Group now Anantara (Vice President) and the Landmark Group of Hotels (Vice President of Sales and Marketing). Latterly he has been the General Manager at the Royal Cliff Group of Hotels in Pattaya and the Chaophya Park Hotel Bangkok & Resorts.

A past board member and Director of Skål International (SI), a former National President with SI Thailand and a two time past President of the Bangkok Club. Andrew is the former President of Skål Asia. In 2019, Andrew was awarded SKÅL’s highest award the distinction of Membre D’Honneur.

He is a regular guest lecturer at various Universities in Asia.