With increasing interest among tourists and well-heeled travellers in the boutique hotel experience, more and more canny businesspeople are scrapping plans to renovate Phnom Penh’s wealth of crumbling colonial-era buildings into mansions and are instead concentrating on turning them into hotels.
One example of such a businessperson is Sok Sambath, director of Teav Boutique Hotel – but with a twist. He and his business partner have renovated an old Khmer-style mansion.
“We knew there was a niche market for high-end tourists who are looking to stay in a unique boutique hotel,” Sambath says. “Most of them want a change from the crowded hotel experience, and the majority of our guests are European, Japanese and Singaporean, among other nationalities,” he adds.
Sambath and his partner Truong Khinnin met when they attended the same architecture class at the Royal University of Fine Arts.
“We decided to work together, and we’ve been preparing Teav Boutique Hotel since late 2012. It’s taken us a year to finish this 12-room hotel,” Sambath says. “Progress has been slow because every step required that we work very carefully, paying close attention to the details.”
Sambath says that he and Khinnin have imposed their own conceptual concept on the traditional Khmer mansion. Each standard room is more than 50 square metres, and each has its own unique interior design.
The hotel launched on December 11, 2013.
“We spent almost $230,000 renovating the mansion, and almost $100,000 for the fittings,” Sambath says.
“Teav Boutique Hotel is a fusion of modern architectural design and Khmer artistic sensibilities,” he says. “The interiors are basically grey with black highlights, and contemporary Khmer artworks are also on display.”
According to Sambath, the hotel’s interior walls feature examples Khmer fine art, including sketches of activities that are part of the daily lives of Cambodian people.
“Our aim when we were building the hotel was to come up with something that showed every guest from around the world that stays here what Cambodian boutique style is about,” Sambath says. “We wanted to show them our ancestors’ sophistication when it comes to fine art design, while also providing a luxurious environment for them to relax in.”
Sambath says that the day after the hotel launch, he welcomed a Swedish couples’ online reservation, even though there were details that still had not been completed. He adds that bookings have continued to be strong, with the majority of guests hailing from Europe and Japan.
Sambath says guests frequently tell him that they find the Teav Boutique Hotel comfortable and relaxing, and almost all are fascinated by the hotel’s traditional decorative flourishes and its artworks. A common comment guests make, he adds, is that the hotel “feels like home”.
“All of the booking data and guest feedback we’ve received so far have made us very happy, but we feel happiest and the most successful when guests return home and write a good review of our hotel for TripAdvisor,” Sambath says.
“We really appreciate the help our guests give us, and we’re looking forward to greeting and providing excellent, hospitable service to all our future guests,” he says.
Teav Boutique Hotel is at No.14, Street 310, Boueng Keng Kang 1. It is a small establishment with a restaurant, bar, business centre and a swimming pool. For more information, see: www.teavboutiquehotel.com