Ex­pe­ri­ence Cam­bo­dia’s KH­MER HER­ITAGE

World Travel Magazine - - Just In - CHRIS­TINE LEE

With ar­chi­tec­tural and de­sign el­e­ments high­light­ing Cam­bo­dia’s Kh­mer and colo­nial her­itage mixed with the con­tem­po­rary ameni­ties of a lux­ury re­sort, Phum Bai­tang and Shinta Mani Angkor pro­vide a unique op­por­tu­nity for savvy trav­ellers to find ex­actly what they’re look­ing for.

“Phum Bai­tang means ‘green vil­lage’ in Kh­mer and this is the ex­act aes­thetic that has been cre­ated here at the re­sort,” said Geral­dine Do­hogne, Con­cept & In­te­rior De­signer with Zan­nier Ho­tels, Phum Bai­tang. “You don’t just stay at Phum Bai­tang, you par­take of a vis­ceral ex­pe­ri­ence that em­bod­ies all the lo­cal cul­tural senses and trans­ports you back to a true Cam­bo­dian vil­lage at­mos­phere.”

This at­mos­phere is en­hanced by the use of lo­cally sourced ma­te­ri­als, thatched roofs, a nat­u­ral colour pal­ette, and plenty of rat­tan, bam­boo, and carved stone for most of the re­sort’s ar­chi­tec­tural de­sign. Phum Bai­tang pulls the aes­thetic to­gether with lo­cal arte­facts and an­tiques that re­flect the coun­try’s colo­nial his­tory, creat­ing not just a re­sort, Do­hogne said, but an ex­pe­ri­ence.

Ac­cord­ing to In­dra Budi­man, Gen­eral Man­ager with Shinta Mani Ho­tels, the prop­erty in Angkor was de­signed by Bill Bens­ley with in­spi­ra­tion from lo­cal tem­ples – giv­ing guests the op­por­tu­nity to em­brace the Shinta Mani phi­los­o­phy of “open doors, open hearts.”

“The colon­nade, prang (a tall tower-like spire), and en­clo­sures (the spa­ces be­tween walls, with pas­sage through the walls by way of gop­uras) are com­mon struc­tures in tem­ples which are in­cor­po­rated into the ho­tel de­sign,” Budi­man said.

The re­sorts have not only in­cor­po­rated Kh­mer tra­di­tion into the aes­thetic, they make a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the lo­cal econ­omy – em­ploy­ing Kh­mer peo­ple, pro­vid­ing health­care ser­vices, sup­port­ing Cam­bo­dian hos­pi­tal­ity train­ing schools, and pro­mot­ing en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly and sus­tain­able prac­tices among lo­cal busi­nesses and pro­duc­ers.

Shinta Mani’s farm­ing devel­op­ment cen­tre, a col­lab­o­ra­tion with the United States govern­ment’s Feed and Fu­ture Ini­tia­tive in co­or­di­na­tion with the World Veg­etable Cen­tre and USAID, aims to “re­search the best va­ri­etals of veg­eta­bles to be grown in Cam­bo­dia’s harsh cli­mate,” Budi­man said, “and then use that in­for­ma­tion to teach lo­cal vil­lagers to grow their own healthy veg­gies in their own home gar­dens.”

He added that guests at Shinta Mani’s Angkor re­sort have helped the com­mu­nity even fur­ther through a spon­sor­ship pro­gram, pro­vid­ing hun­dreds of Kh­mer vil­lagers with homes, school sup­plies, piglets, and more than 1,400 clean wa­ter wells.

Still, these prop­er­ties haven’t skimped on lux­ury. Tra­di­tional cul­tural in­flu­ences are blended with mod­ern sim­plic­ity to pro­vide an ex­otic and so­phis­ti­cated travel ex­pe­ri­ence in one of the world’s most sought-af­ter des­ti­na­tions. With beau­ti­ful vil­las, Miche­lin­star din­ing, cus­tom ameni­ties, Phum Bai­tang’s re­ju­ve­nat­ing Spa Tem­ple, and gra­cious hos­pi­tal­ity, guests can en­joy the height of el­e­gance – even while im­mersed in tra­di­tion.

“The key is to be pas­sion­ate about what you are try­ing to achieve,” Do­hogne said. “A one-of-a-kind life­style ex­pe­ri­ence that brings to­gether provoca­tive in­no­va­tive de­sign, sim­plic­ity, tra­di­tion, lux­ury and in­tu­itive ser­vice, all while pur­su­ing ex­cel­lence as the driv­ing ethos.” zan­nier­ho­tels.com/phum­bai­tang/ & shin­ta­mani.com/angkor

This Page, Phum Bai­tang - Ter­race Villa Op­po­site from top, Phum Bai­tang sur­round­ings; Shinta Mani Angkor in­te­rior

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