Location: Siem Reap | Rating: 5 star | Rooms: 39 | Pool: yes | Spa: yes
For a truly exceptional and responsible place to stay while you explore the magnificent ruins of Angkor Wat, look no further than Shinta Mani. This luxury hotel is conveniently central in the French Quarter of Siem Reap, but is set in tranquil and leafy grounds that instantly transport you away from the bustle and noise of the streets. It’s the interior though that’s the draw here – a fusion of clean contemporary style and fun flamboyant touches that are the hallmark of the legendary architect and designer Bill Bensley.
But of course a stunning building on its own doesn’t make a luxury hotel – it’s the service and here you’ll find some of the warmest, most genuine and most attentive Khmer staff anywhere. Along with a top notch spa and exquisite food, Shinta Mani has everything you need to make your stay unforgettable.
The founder of Shinta Mani, Sokoun Chanpreda, was keen to use his success as a businessman overseas to help create opportunities and a better future in his home country. As such, investing in local people has always been at the forefront of the operation, which employs 275 full time Khmer staff at all levels, compared to the 30-40% seasonal layoff rates typical for Cambodian hotels. They enjoy an excellent package of benefits including English classes, free healthcare and training and overseas visits, plus support to become ambassadors for positive social change in their own right. For example, training on the importance wearing motorbike helmets, which is generally ignored and leads to excess road deaths.
The focus on Cambodian people extends through the hotel’s engagement with the local community. One of the earliest initiatives was to train underprivileged Cambodians in aspects of world-class hotel operations on a free of charge basis, providing them the skills to secure employment and a brighter future - to date 245 students have graduated and found jobs. This success blossomed into the Shinta Mani Foundation, which now supports community development projects including skills training for young people, interest-free start up loans and support for local small businesses, community health and dental care, sanitation and sustainable farming.
Shinta Mani engages with its guests and the local community on how to be more environmentally friendly, for example running clean up and tree planting campaigns in Siem Reap. It is also committed to reducing its operational impacts in all sorts of ways, from energy saving air conditioning, to phasing out plastic food coverings and the 220,000 bottles they use annually, to creating local jobs making bamboo straws and composting 50% of the hotel’s food waste.