The Kingdom's first "five-star" hotel held its soft opening on March 27
when Minister of Tourism Veng Sereyvuth checked in to the Hotel Inter-Continental
for a "courtesy night" amidst much pomp and ceremony.
The minister was given a VIP tour of the towering property sited in the southwest
of the capital, which hotel officials say is now the tallest building in Cambodia
at 15 stories.
The hotel's expansive facilities and over 500 staff, most of whom were hired locally
and trained from scratch, were due to get a "trial by fire" according to
one Inter-Continental executive, as the first paying guests checked in the following
More than 120 overseas invitees to the First Southeast Asian Biennial Film Festival
had booked 80 rooms and were to stay there for the duration of the film fest.
Many in Phnom Penh see the Inter-Continental as providing the first serious competition
to the Hotel Sofitel Cambodiana, which, perched along the riverfront for the last
six years, has been viewed as the top hotel in town.
Inter-Conn ececutives, however, see themselves a cut above the Cambodiana.
"As it is we have no competition in our category," said Marcello Pigozzo,
Inter-Continental's president when asked if the hotel would be going head-to-head
"It will be tough at the top when Raffles opens," he added, referring to
the expected August soft-opening of the rehabilitated Hotel Le Royal, Phnom Penh.
Pigozzo also said he viewed the hotel as a venue where both foreign visitors and
those from the local community will be brought together.
In this regard, he noted that they would be offering memberships to Phnom Penh residents
to use the swimming pool and the Clark Hatch Fitness center which is still under
In touting the Inter-Continental's luxury facilities, press kits at the opening cited
a list of "Firsts" for the hotel, which included the first hotel with two
telephone lines in all rooms, voice mail, uniforms without a bow tie, HBO, data ports
on telephones, a Grand Ballroom for 650 guests, electronic key cards, an integrated
life safety system and an indoor car park among others.
Inter-Continental is actually the property manager with a ten-year lease to run the
hotel. The building itself is owned by the Regency Company, of which business tycoonTeng
Boon Ma, reputed to be Cambodia's wealthiest businessman, is the majority shareholder.