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Sisters and Navutu co-owners Maddalena and Giovanna Morandi (in black tops) try out the new yoga studio
Sisters and Navutu co-owners Maddalena and Giovanna Morandi (in black tops) try out the new yoga studio. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Navatu Dreams Resort heads into a healthy realm

Chic retreat Navutu Dreams Resort and Spa is expanding with a new 10-room extension, and is moving in more of a health retreat direction.

The newly opened area comprises six double rooms and four grand suites – the biggest built so far.

“We decided to expand and we had some available land so it just seemed natural,” says co-owner Giovanna Morandi. “We’d had a lot of enquiries from families, so we thought of doing grand suites that can also be family rooms – they are over 100 square metres, so they are quite big.”

The team also decided to add additional double rooms, which Giovanna says are popular because of the more affordable rate.

The 10 new rooms follow the same clean contemporary design of the existing 18 rooms – Mediterranean whitewashed walls and splashes of Grecian-blue, plus Laotian art on the walls. Each has a spacious bathroom and its own private garden.

Plus a third swimming pool has been installed and an outside lounge eating area.

Grand Suite with a view of the living-room
Grand Suite with a view of the living-room. Miranda Glasser

On the fitness side, there is now a daily yoga schedule at the resort’s new air-conditioned studio led by Navutu’s newly-appointed health advisor, yogi and shiatsu master François Chaillou, who also does cupping and acupuncture. Chaillou formerly worked as resident yoga instructor at Chiva Som, the luxury Thai health spa frequented by Liz Hurley and Kate Moss.

“We want to make more of a health retreat,” says sister and co-owner Maddalena Morandi. “This is our first major step towards turning ourselves into the first health and yoga retreat in Cambodia. Hatha yoga and ashtanga classes morning, lunch-time and evening. We really want to promote it like a community yoga centre in Siem Reap.”

Chaillou will teach four evening yoga classes a week, and is also available for private yoga sessions, acupuncture and shiatsu massage.

“I have been teaching iyengar and sivananda,” says Chaillou. “It’s the most meditative yoga. If you have a restless mind it’s good to do yoga that’s a bit more active, but if you are more into meditation and your mind is more settled, you choose yoga more adapted to your state of mind. Sivananda is a sequence of twelve basic postures. It can be challenging, but it’s also relaxing.”

Chaillou is also on hand to lead private meditation sessions.

“If people want an introduction to meditation I can give it because I was also a monk 25 years ago,” he says. “I am an ex-disciple of Achaan Cha, a famous teacher who has maybe 80 branch monasteries around the world. He’s from north-east Thailand – it’s a forest monk tradition. I stayed five years with him in the forest, and after that I started to do yoga.” Navutu will continue running its regular yoga workshops, increasing them to once a month, and will hold a grand opening for the new extension in the near future.

Staff are also delighted that Navatu has been awarded a place in Condé Nast Johansens, the exclusive luxury hotel guide. Giovanna Morandi explains that their other property, Navutu Stars Resort in Fiji, had already made it into the travel bible, and Johansens has recently also started covering Cambodia.

She says, “They are just starting with Asia, and we are the only one for the moment that is in Cambodia. I am surprised that we were the only property, but it is very good. We will be up on their website once we’ve done the photo shoot for the new extension.”

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