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Golden Banana team muscles in on the big smoke

First bananas, now rambutans – the man behind Golden Banana Hotel and Resort is bringing his golden touch to Phnom Penh with a new hotel, Rambutan Resort, set to open in spring 2013.

The 19-room boutique hotel in BKK1 area will be, “an oasis in the city catering for the independent traveler or businessman who wants luxury combined with a feeling of being home away from home,” says owner Dirk de Graaff.

It will be along the lines of an “à la carte service with a personal approach,” and in the same vein as the two highly-successful Golden Banana properties – that is, Rambutan will be gay friendly but open to everyone, de Graaff says.

The resort will have five standard and 14 deluxe rooms, the latter including a private outdoor balcony and bathtub, à la Golden Banana Resort. And if intending guests are feeling flush, the rooftop houses an 80 square metre penthouse with its own outdoor Jacuzzi.

The idea of the expansion into Phnom Penh, according to Golden Banana general manager Tommy Bekaert, came from the fact that 60 percent of guests staying at Golden Banana also visit Phnom Penh. Many guests, he says, will ask him to organise trips to Phnom Penh.

The style, he says, will be totally different from the Golden Banana properties with their retro, Chinese feel.

Instead Rambutan Resort is inspired by Cambodian architect Vann Molyvann – consisting, de Graff says, of a “1960s Molyvann-style villa and a new wing in the modern classic style.”

“It will be more urban, post-modern,” says Bekaert.

“Molyvann’s main speciality was to construct buildings in such a way that they are naturally cool, so it will be that kind of 60s, 70s style.

“But the idea, the whole mood and feeling, will be based on the properties that we have here. So, gay-friendly – but we are not exclusively a ‘gay place’ – and a nice atmosphere.”

Bekaert firmly believes that the success of the Golden Banana Hotel and Resort is down to staff, who are discreet, friendly and always smiling. Some of them – those who have expressed an interest – will be transferred to Phnom Penh to work at Rambutan.

And like Golden Banana, Rambutan Resort will have a salt-water pool set in a tropical garden, a restaurant serving international and Khmer food, a bar and a spa.

“We will be located near BKK1 and Tuol Sleng museum, the other side of the Independence Monument,” Bekaert says. “It’s a new area but it’s becoming quite cosy with all kinds of shops and small restaurants and so on. It’s more of a residential area, a bit like where we are here.”

De Graaff aims to open Rambutan Resort in March 2013. 

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