At the turn of the century Kep was known as “Kep-sur-Mer,” a seaside getaway and weekend retreat for the colonial French elite. During the mid 1950s, considered by many as the Golden Age of Cambodia, Kep also became popular among wealthy Khmers as a vacation destination and eventually a place of residence. By the early 1960s, the growing seaside town experienced a boom in development and was favored by King Norodom Sihanouk and the architectural leaders of the time.
Tragically, for much of the 1970s, Kep became a stronghold for the Khmer Rouge forces and the city and its villas fell into a state of serious disrepair. Among the abandoned villas were the original three houses of Knai Bang Chatt, all of which were built between 1962 and 1965 by protégés of Vann Molyvann, the renowned Khmer pupil of Le Corbusier. The iconic Blue Villa belonged to the governor of Kep, the Grey Villa was owned by a relative of the King, and the Red Villa was owned by the Head of Customs. After the initial owners, Jef Moons and Boris Vervoordt, purchased the buildings in 2006, they joined with Francoise Lavielle, a French architect living in Phnom Penh, to restore the villas to their original architectural grandeur and to build an additional pavilion (the Brown Villa).
During the second half of 2012, the resort underwent another complete renovation, adding a fifth villa and expanding to 18 spacious rooms which have all been tastefully furnished with local antiques and artifacts. The concept of elegant lines, natural materials, and subtle earthy hues combine perfectly to create a sense of continuity with the surrounding gardens, swaying palm trees, and open views of the sea.