Sometimes you just need a hammock and a view. At least that's how I felt after six weeks of life as an ex-pat in Phnom Penh back in 2011.
I found respite at The Vine Retreat, a rustic eco-friendly hotel in the southeastern Cambodian province of Kep. There, simplicity is the name of the game. With little to do but relax, read, and enjoy the scenery, The Vine offers a peaceful getaway from inland Phnom Penh, without the drunken beach bum backpacker scene of nearby Sihanoukville.
Tucked away in the rice paddies near the Phnom Vor mountains, The Vine Retreat is constructed from natural, locally sourced materials and powered by an off-grid, low-carbon power system. A highlight of the property is the recently completed naturally filtered swimming pool – a great way to escape the mid-afternoon heat. Meals are taken at a communal table with a revolving menu that includes organic produce from the garden and fresh seafood from the nearby Bay of Thailand. Kampot pepper, widely said to be the best in the world and grown in a small plantation on-site, is always on the table.
The Vine's rooms are simple, but well-appointed, with canopy beds and handwoven textiles. Hot water is provided by a solar heating system, and the provided coconut-scented soap is handmade by a local women's cooperative. The guesthouse is also committed to economic development in the surrounding villages. In partnership with a local non-profit, they offer sustainable tourism excursions, including trekking, biking and tours of nearby Chamcar Bei village, and they reinvest all excursion fees into community education and training. I opted for a bicycle tour of Chamcar Bei's craft cooperatives, which create home and lifestyle items out of coconut shells and recycled plastic bags.
In all, a quiet, lovely escape at a place that is committed to building up the community around it.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Vine Retreat is an eco-conscious yoga retreat centre and guesthouse with an organic garden and pepper farm in Kep, Cambodia. Set on 30 acres of peaceful natural countryside, surrounded by lush green mountains, it's the perfect place for relaxation and rejuvenation. Chill out by our salt water swimming pool, indulge in healthy, fresh, organic food directly from our gardens (we cater to meat eaters and vegetarians) or take a bike ride to explore the local villages. We also have a fully equipped yoga studio which fits up to 25 people. We rent our whole facility for exclusive use for yoga retreat. Please contact us for more information. ... more less