Reporting from Cambodia
Stepping into the Siem Reap airport, I was transported back into an age where culture transcends generations and the worth of a country is not measured in high rise buildings and fancy Lamborghinis.
Besides the pleasant surprise of being picked up in a Vintage Mercedes 1962, the kindness and the politeness struck me the most – cold towels and fresh pineapple juice awaited my partner and I in the car to ease us into our new environment after a delayed flight. Our driver was polite and ensured us a smooth journey all the way to our destination.
Heritage Suites Hotel at Siem Reap Angkor prides itself in being a sophisticated boutique retreat. Having been serving guests since 2008, and with a refurbishment earlier in the year, the hotel is back to embrace all guests with open arms. Now, the hotel boasts 26 guest rooms – 6 classic rooms, 17 bungalow suites, 2 executive suites and a grand Red Poppy room for ultimate luxury.
The rooms are all designed in an open concept layout and every corner of the hotel would be filled with nature – gardens with stone pathways, huge trees decorated with fairy lights and all sorts of potted plants. Even each room is named after flowers of the region; bringing different personalities and ambiance to each hotel stay.
It is the hotel’s intention to bring guests back to the treasures of our natural environment and to provide tranquility.
General Manager Jam Nsouli said, “Most of our guests visit for leisure purposes, so we try to accommodate their needs. To give them a sense of space, privacy and calmness, the way the rooms are designed prioritise that. You can see green even in the comfort of your room and there are no televisions (only upon request) to offer less distractions, and give more time to focus and relax.”
“We are like a hidden gem or an oasis. We want people to discover us, and to give them a personalised hospitality.”
The hotel definitely delivered whatever promises that were made, because comfort and serenity came easily to us. The amenities were well thought out, and guests may still choose to use the room according to their preferences – steam room, shower, oversized bathtub or an outdoor shower. We thoroughly enjoyed how we were able to see every corner of the room and nothing was obstructive; it made us feel very welcomed into this little cocoon we called our own for two nights.
The charm was also in the amazing blend of Khmer and art decorative themes. Fun fact: All furniture and artworks showcased in the rooms are custom-made and locally handcrafted.
“We support the Cambodian economy, and even though getting all the pieces to be made locally took longer, Heritage Suites Hotel made it a point to stick to our commitment to the locals and supporting the culture here,” chimed Nsouli.
Heritage Suites Hotel also prides themselves in their special relationship with the Sala Bai Hotel & Restaurant School – the training of underprivileged Cambodians every year to join the hospitality sector. The hotel makes its commitment to hire students from this particular school and to provide jobs that could benefit future generations to come.
Even though our stay was relatively short, the visit was fruitful and thoroughly immersive – be it in food, scenery, staff and the little gifts we receive after each night, there was something new to be embraced and learnt about Cambodia.
For the adventurers, there are even special tours to let you have a taste of local life. You might just find yourself having a picnic with locals among rice paddy fields or taking a ride on an All Terrain Vehicle. Or you can just take a quick swim in the pool or spend your day at the in-house spa.
Words are simply not enough to paint a full picture of what this hotel has done for us, and what it will do for every other guest but the experience has been invigorating and nothing short of positive.
Some people say that first impressions stay for life, and I am pretty sure this short stay with Heritage Suites will leave a sweet taste in my mouth for years to come.
Photography credits: Darren ‘Merovign’ Tan