The large number of foreign tourists pouring into the Kingdom is underpinning a shift towards boutique hotel developments in Siem Reap as well as in the capital.
Kim Chhay Heang, Siem Reap’s deputy provincial governor, said Cambodia’s hotel industry has experienced a noticeable increase in boutique hotels in recent years.
“The number of boutique hotels in Siem Reap is increasing because there is more demand from tourists, as they are interested in staying at a boutique place rather than a big hotel,” he said.
“Tourists enjoy staying at boutique hotels because they need privacy, security as well as peace and quiet.”
The deputy provincial governor added, “Right now, we can see that quite a number of residential homes have been converted into boutique hotels.”
According to Heang, there are currently around 100 boutique hotels in Siem Reap.
While Heang remarked that boutique hotels are attractive from an investment standpoint because they require a lower investment injection compared to a commercial hotel, local hotel developer Oknha Chhay Siv Linh said while a typical boutique hotel is small, there can be some hidden development costs.
“Our company has two pieces of land close to each other,” Siv Linh said.
“The first piece of land east of Siem Reap creek, close to National Road 6, we built a 50-room boutique hotel called Lynnaya Urban Resort [on it], and that’s when we realized that the boutique hotel development cost $3.5 million.”
“We spent more than six months building it, and reserved some space to use as a garden and put in a pool. When we began operations, we had to spend almost three times as much to kickstart the operation compared to the typical hotel,” she continued.
She explained that a normal hotel needs about five staff for every four to five rooms, “but in a boutique hotel, we need four to five staff for one room”, because there always needs to be the gardeners, pool staff, masseuses, and general staff to respond to the guests’ needs on hand.
While a boutique hotel requires a lot of expenses, Siv Linh said guests also usually have to pay a higher rate when they check into a boutique hotel, in accordance with a high standard of service.
“The convenient part is that most of the guests are the middle-class, so they tend to stay for a long period of time,” she said.
“Lynnaya targets the French, middle-aged Europeans, and some Asian guests,” she added, saying that the price for a room ranges from $120 to over $1,000 a night.
Phin Vanna, CEO of the Rich Cam Globe Realtor Group and general manager of Malu Khmer Villa in Siem Reap, said the 1,200 square metre area where the hotel is upon was once a residential building that was converted into a boutique hotel in response to rising market demand.
“Malu Khmer Villa is a mix of various Khmer wooden architecturally designed buildings, but there are only eight rooms,” Vanna said.
“Converting the residential homes into a boutique hotel took almost one year. The whole renovation cost approximately $450,000,” he added. Since April, Malu Khmer Villa has received a string of guests, with rooms ranging from $80 to $120 a night. The boutique hotel is set to stage its official launch later this week.
Ang Kim Eang, president of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents, believes the standard of boutique hotels in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh ranks high on an international scale. In addition, the cost of accommodation is very favourable, with guests spending up to three times more on boutique accommodation in Cambodia compared to neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam.
He said, “Generally, boutique hotels seem to attract high-end guests. They enjoy comfortable, quiet places, paired with good service, tradition, and environment.”
Typically surrounded by greenery, boutique hotels create a tranquil ambience for guests.
“What’s special about boutique hotels is that although they are small and not flamboyant, they are very attractive for developers who are creative and talented at crafting unique designs.”