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Rory Hunter, Founder of Song Saa Hotels & Resorts, selected by the World Economic Forum as a '2015 Young Global Leader'

Song Saa Hotels & Resorts has announced that its Founder and CEO, Rory Hunter, has been selected as a Young Global Leader for 2015 - the only nominee in Cambodia.   This honour is bestowed by the World Economic Forum to recognise the most distinguished leaders under the age of 40.  Bold, brave, action-oriented and entrepreneurial, these individuals commit both their time and talent to make the world a better place.  

“The YGLs include the world’s most pioneering, next-generation leaders who have produced positive, tangible impacts in their countries, industries and societies,” says John Dutton, Director of the Young Global Leaders Community at the World Economic Forum.   Rory’s nomination is in recognition of his outstanding professional accomplishments, his commitment to society and potential to contribute to shaping the future of the world through his inspiring leadership.  The announcement comes at a pivotal time for Song Saa Hotels & Resorts as they relocate their Head Office to Hong Kong and the company looks to future hotel developments in other parts of emerging Asia.  

Of his selection Rory says, ‘It is a great honour to join the Forum of YGLs, and I am proud of the time and energy expended over the past decade to achieve what the Song Saa team has tirelessly worked towards.  For me this honour is less a personal accolade and more an incredible opportunity.  We are no longer forging ahead in isolation, but are among other likeminded thinkers, business professionals and leaders, whose inspiration, support and assistance will be invaluable in expanding our outreach and growing every aspect of what we do.   We intend to continue on our path, drawing on the wonderfully diverse YGL community which has the tools, skills and experience to amplify the results of every initiative we have launched and will launch, with the hope and goal of preserving a unique natural environment and bettering the lives of those who depend upon it.  It is humbling to see what doors will open and Melita and I are excited to embark on the next stage of Song Saa’s journey with the support of an organisation whose values are so perfectly in tune with ours.’  

One of Rory’s principal accolades is pioneering sustainable hotel development in Cambodia.  Having travelled the country’s southwest coast extensively, he decided to commit his energy and expertise to the preservation of the precious Koh Rong Archipelago.  He founded and developed the multi award-winning Song Saa Private Island Resort which opened in 2011 off the coast of Sihanoukville.  As the first island resort in Cambodia’s history, the development came with an immense responsibility.  Rory’s vision was to lead by example, ensure the highest benchmarks in conservation and community development, and adhere to Song Saa’s ethos of ‘luxury that treads lightly’.   Alongside his wife Melita Hunter, Creative Director of Song Saa, Rory established sustainable hotel development in Cambodia and is passionately committed to preserving the country’s natural and cultural heritage.  

Rory leads the private sector in ensuring Cambodia’s coastal environment is protected as tourism starts to take hold in this remote region.  His team have spearheaded conservation in the Koh Rong Archipelago which consists of 23 islands covered in rainforest and surrounded by coral reefs.  The pristine environment was facing imminent destruction if conservation measures and sustainable development practices were not initiated.  In building Song Saa Private Island, Rory and Melita ensured that every aspect of the development was underpinned by a deep commitment to sustainability.    In the process they set up Cambodia’s first marine reserve and implemented the region’s first solid waste management centre.   Projects were quickly followed by other conservation, education, healthcare and community initiatives, all of which led to the launch of the Song Saa Foundation in 2013.  

The Song Saa Foundation initiates and promotes projects that improve the wellbeing of the communities and natural environment of the Koh Rong Archipelago and beyond.  It supports the archipelago’s 2,500 local inhabitants through healthcare and educational endeavors such the Boat of Hope monthly medical outreach programme and the Song Saa Sea Turtles helping young islanders to become the conservationists of the future.   The Foundation has drawn international support to the region and is endorsed by His Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco who is helping to fund the expansion of the marine reserve to 400 square kilometres.  

Having broken new ground in the tourism industry, with Rory at the helm of negotiations that have involved every level of government in Cambodia, Song Saa Hotels and Resorts is now looking to develop.  The next few years will see Rory focus on emerging destinations and fragile environments both within Cambodia and other parts of emerging Asia such as Myanmar, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.     Future developments will be built on the same triple bottom line model of environmental protection and social responsibility alongside world-class luxury.  The community and conservation work of the Song Saa Foundation will be an integral part of each resort they develop.  At this crucial time for the company’s growth, the global head office has moved to Hong Kong, a hub from which to build awareness of the brand and Foundation.

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