HotelsThe luxury hotel scene is coming alive once more, spelling optimism for the country's tourism sector.

Cambodia is getting its hospitality groove back

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Hyatt invested US$180m into the Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh to integrate modern buildings with a 20th century French bungalow.
Hyatt invested US$180m into the Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh to integrate modern buildings with a 20th century French bungalow. Photo Credit: GettyImages/Javier Dall

Despite a slow start to its tourism sector, the pace of recovery is picking up strength across Cambodia, with more than 740,000 international visitors in the first seven months of 2022, an increase of 560% from the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

And there has been some rumblings in the hotel development sector of late, particularly in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, where several international brands are progressing with their expansion plans in Cambodia. 

For instance, the US$180 million Hyatt Regency opened its doors after several delays in Phnom Penh in December last year, turning a 20th century French bungalow into its lobby with 247 rooms, including 43 suites, tucked away in tower blocks flanking the main building.

The growth of luxury hotel brands has been robust in recent years, thanks to a buoyant year-on-year economic growth.

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The concentration of new developments has, however, shifted to the capital from Siem Reap, as a result of rising investments spurred by the Belt and Road Initiative, and increased passenger arrivals, according to hospitality research house C9 Hotelworks.

In its 2020 report, C9 noted the fast-paced growth in the hospitality sector in the capital city, with international brands including Hyatt, Shangri-La, Hotel Nikko, Hilton, Accor’s Tribe, Ibis and Novotel, Oakwood Premier, Oakwood Hotel and Residence, Citadines Flatiron, The Khom Hotel, Fairfield by Marriott and the Okura Prestige in the pipeline.

So far, Hyatt, Tribe and Citadines Flatiron have started welcoming guests with a handful, such as Oakwood Premier and Ibis Styles, scheduled for opening by end-2022.

Rising segments, new experiences in Phnom Penh

While the pandemic did not affect occupancy rates for Oakwood Premier, it caused a delay to new developments.
While the pandemic did not affect occupancy rates for Oakwood Premier, it caused a delay to new developments. Photo Credit: Oakwood

Sylvester Fong, general manager of Oakwood Premier Phnom Penh, said the Covid-19 pandemic has delayed the serviced apartment's soft opening to 2022. The grand opening has been scheduled for 4Q 2022.

He mentioned that the serviced apartment sector’s unique features of self-contained, long stay accommodation, with strict hygiene protocols, required by highly-regulated branded services apartments, have allowed it to outperform mainstream hotels and various alternative accommodation platforms.

In Phnom Penh, the serviced apartment segment offers a lot of potential, he said, however there remains a shortage of well-positioned serviced apartments in the city.

With 207 units, ranging from hotel deluxe rooms, one and two-bedroom apartments, three-bedroom loft and a penthouse with panoramic views of the city, the property is Cambodia’s first international branded luxury serviced apartment.

Fong also hopes to introduce Oakwood Mobile Bar, the brand's hallmark experience to the city's hospitality scene. Through this mobile bar offering, a mixologist will deliver creative seasonal cocktails and classic drinks right to the doorstep of each apartment every evening.

“This bespoke ‘mobile club lounge’ service is a first of its kind in Cambodia, complemented by canapés, savouries and sweet treats, to indulge guests within their private sanctuary after a busy day,” Fong said.

Siem Reap's winning history and culture

The idea behind Angsana Siem Reap is to bring the locale's rich culture and heritage into guests' hospitality experience.
The idea behind Angsana Siem Reap is to bring the locale's rich culture and heritage into guests' hospitality experience. Photo Credit: Angsana

Elsewhere in Cambodia, Angsana Siem Reap is making preparations to open in 4Q 2023, as part of Banyan Tree Group’s larger strategy to establish a presence in key destinations in Southeast Asia. It has a hotel management agreement with Dara Hotels.

Given Cambodia’s economic growth and a rebound in the tourism sector, it made sense for the group to begin its journey in Siem Reap, said Adhi Goen, the group’s head of communications.

“Angsana seeks out destinations that are steeped in architectural heritage, history and culture, thus, a property in Siem Reap resonates with the brand purpose of offering intimate, authentic and local experiences filled with heritage,” he added.

Banyan Tree Group has been leveraging on their immediate market – Southeast Asia, Thailand and Vietnam – where they have strong presence, before it shifts focus on the long-haul market.

“The challenge remains on flight route supply, where long-haul supply has not yet recovered from pre-pandemic levels, but as travel starts to recover again we hope by the time of the hotel opening there will be more flight routes,” Goen said.

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