Travel

Cam­bo­dia is fast be­com­ing one of South East Asia's golf­ing par­adise.

Golf Digest (Malaysia) - - Contents 01/18 - BY DAVID BOW­DEN

Phnom Penh's Gar­den City Golf Club of­fers great golf.

As the re­gion opens up for tourism, more and more golf cour­ses are be­com­ing ac­ces­si­ble to Malaysian golfers. While still a fledg­ling golf na­tion, Cam­bo­dia has a wealth of tourism and hos­pi­tal­ity fa­cil­i­ties to en­sure it is a vi­brant and lively des­ti­na­tion for golfers seek­ing a venue to play golf while hav­ing a fas­ci­nat­ing few days in an­other cul­ture that is so close to Malaysia.

While there are a hand­ful of golf cour­ses in the Cam­bo­dian cap­i­tal of Phnom Penh, the one con­sid­ered the most pres­ti­gious is Gar­den City Golf Club lo­cated on its out­skirts in a river­ine lo­ca­tion be­side the Tonle Sap River.

De­vel­oped by LYP Group Co. Ltd., it is a course that is tough enough for the pro­fes­sion­als but kind enough to golfers of more mod­est tal­ents. The chal­lenge for the golf ar­chi­tect was to de­velop a dead-flat river­ine site close to the Tonle Sap River (a trib­u­tary of the Mekong River) into a 7,300 yard-long, 18-hole, par 72 course off the cham­pi­onship tees.

It opened April 2013 and in the same year was a top ten fi­nal­ist for the Asia Pa­cific ‘Best New Golf Course’. Once things were in place the next step was to part­ner with IMG to main­tain true pro­fes­sion­al­ism and to move the course up a notch in its mar­ket­ing, sales and pro­mo­tion.

Wa­ter haz­ards, bunkers and un­du­lat­ing greens are fea­tures of the course which is the cen­tre­piece of a 1,000ha de­vel­op­ment that will even­tu­ally house a zoo, ex­hi­bi­tion and con­fer­ence fa­cil­i­ties, hous­ing es­tates, en­ter­tain­ment and re­tail.

Plat­inum pas­palum grass on the fair­ways has re­sulted in a bil­liard-ta­ble sur­face while the greens are even smoother in be­ing sur­faced with tifea­gle grass. Be­ing a re­sort-styled course, golfers can choose one of five tee place­ments from black (7,258 yards) to red (5,349 yards).

Hole num­ber six of 439 yards is the signature hole. This par four has a mas­sive bunker mid-fair­way and can be played con­ser­va­tively down the right hand-side or to the left while avoid­ing the bunkers and dams on both sides.

Golfers also like the par five, se­cond hole of 564 yards off the cham­pi­onship tee with its dog­leg left and lake, mid-fair­way down the right-hand side.

Club­house fa­cil­i­ties are im­pres­sive with a restau­rant (serv­ing Asian and West­ern dishes from 6.30am un­til 10.30pm), classy locker rooms, three on-course re­fresh­ment kiosks and, spa and mas­sage fa­cil­i­ties.

Caddy and cart ser­vices, a golf acad­emy, chip­ping greens and a 36-bay driv­ing range are also avail­able. The pro-shop has just been ex­panded to in­clude Nike and Un­der Ar­mour prod­ucts to com­ple­ment ex­ist­ing brands such as Puma, Nike, Honma, Titleist and Co­bra.

HER­ITAGE HOME

While there is a 254-room deluxe ho­tel at­tached to the course, dis­tance from the city (15km) and its ru­ral set­ting may mean Malaysian visi­tors opt to stay closer to the night­time ac­tion in a city-based ho­tel and there is none finer than Raf­fles Ho­tel Le Royal.

Af­ter the trop­i­cal heat of a round of golf at Gar­den City there is noth­ing as cool as the rooms in the city’s most pres­ti­gious five-star ho­tel. These rooms have pro­vided com­fort and lux­ury to dis­cern­ing travellers for decades and while new prop­er­ties keep open­ing, those in the know, keep check­ing into this won­der­ful her­itage ho­tel.

Her­itage el­e­ments have been re­tained but mod­ern con­ve­niences are now in­cor­po­rated. So nat­u­rally there is air con­di­tion­ing plus a fan, safe, mini bar, in­ter­net and cable tele­vi­sion.

A spa­cious and land­scape gar­den is lo­cated in the cen­tre of the ho­tel and two swim­ming pools pro­vide rest­ful re­treats from the heat. Ad­join­ing these is the fit­ness cen­tre with all open­ing from 6am to 10pm daily

(the sun rises early in Cam­bo­dia).

Raf­fles Spa pro­vides a bal­ance between ex­er­tion and re­lax­ation in achiev­ing a feel­ing of in­ner tran­quil­ity and re­ju­ve­na­tion. Tra­di­tional Kh­mer, other Asian and mod­ern treat­ments are of­fered. Le Royal Signature Kh­mer Mas­sage of 90 min­utes is in­spired by Asian ther­a­pies fea­tur­ing Kh­mer ther­a­peu­tic mas­sage style known as chad ta shai.

Concierge staff at Raf­fles can ar­range a round of golf and trans­fers to and from the course.

KH­MER CUI­SINE AND ANGKOR ALES

Cam­bo­dia beer must be the cheap­est in the re­gion with happy prices be­ing ab­surdly priced as low as$US.50/glass and $US2/jug. There are many bars and restau­rants along Preah Sisowath Quay and the river­front with the For­eign Cor­re­spon­dents Club (FCC) be­ing a leg­endary Asian bar to visit.

While happy hours at Raf­fles Le Royal ex­tend from 4pm to 9pm, the prices aren’t as gen­er­ous as those on the street but then again, there are few places in Asia that have as much panache as the Ele­phant Bar. This cool and chic bar is the place for her­itage hounds to re­lax in deep leather chairs and sip a cool beer or cock­tail be­neath a high-arched ceil­ing while tak­ing in the music played in the cor­ner by a pi­anist.

Leg­endary cock­tails poured in­clude Res­i­dents Gin and Tonic (Sig­smiths Raf­fles 1915 gin, East Im­pe­rial Burma tonic and bit­ters), Sin­ga­pore Sling (it’s Raf­fles, af­ter all) and, Raf­fles Pimms for Two.

While there are sim­i­lar­i­ties with other Asian cuisines the food of Cam­bo­dia is dif­fer­ent and the Kh­mer peo­ple are proud of its unique­ness.

France also had a strong in­flu­ence in In­dochina and the best venue to com­bine Royal Kh­mer and mod­ern French cuisines is in the Restau­rant Le Royal in Raf­fles. The ad­join­ing Café Monivong is the all-day din­ing restau­rant with an ex­cel­lent se­lec­tion of Kh­mer, Asian and West­ern dishes.

by david bow­den While there are sim­i­lar­i­ties with other Asian cuisines the food of Cam­bo­dia is dif­fer­ent and the Kh­mer peo­ple are proud of its unique­ness.

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