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Hitting the ground running

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Arriving in Cambodia in March, Pascal Deyrolle became vice president of

the nation's hotel association in July.  He's moving fast to carry out

some big plans

PETER OLSZEWSKI

Pascal Deyrolle, general manager of La Residence d’Angkor and vice president of the Cambodian Hotel Association.

WATER conservation and cheaper energy

costs in Siem Reap are  at the head of the wish list of the new vice

president of the Cambodia Hotel Association, Pascal Deyrolle.

Deyrolle is also general manager of Siem Reap's La Residence d'Angkor,

and his rise has been rapid. He only arrived in Cambodia on March 19

from France, where he managed luxury canal barges.

Four months to the day after his arrival, he was elected to the vice

presidency of the Cambodia Hotel Association, with Luu Meng, general

manager of Phnom Penh's new Almond Hotel, as president.

Deyrolle is joined on the board by fellow Siem Reap hoteliers, the

general managers of Raffles Grand D'Angkor, the Sofitel Phokeethra, and

the Victoria Angkor. He also has the ear of the outgoing association

president, Philip Set Kao of Borei Angkor Resort and Spa.

But while new to Siem Reap, Deyrolle is savvy to the looming issues of the day, particularly water conservation.

Water conservation

At the 17th technical meeting of the International Coordinating

Committee of Angkor, held at the Sokha Hotel on June 4-5, there was

agreement among the delegates to begin a push to persuade major Siem

Reap hoteliers to contribute to measures to conserve the province's

dwindling water supply. In particular, the delegates agreed, the hotels

needed to be urged to spend the capital required to install water

recycling plants.

Deyrolle has already begun meetings to address the issue.

"I'm talking to a company about dirty water recycling projects. I want

to obtain figures about return on investment to see whether it's

feasible for this hotel to have its own plant that can recycle water

for gardening." he said.

Everybody, not just the five-stars, should be represented by the association.

"I'll be using La Residence as a sample hotel to assess the figures to

determine whether such a project is also feasible for a range of other

hotels."
Deyrolle's other agenda item is energy costs, and there's a touch of

irony in this. While most businesses bitch about the high cost of

Cambodian electricity, Deyrolle hopes many hotels will soon be able to

save money by getting onto the supply grid for that very same expensive

electricity.

Many hotels aren't hooked up to the power grid and have to supply their

electricity through fuel-driven generators at high costs that are

rapidly rising.

"Yes, the electricity here in Cambodia is expensive," Deyrolle said.

"But it's still 45 percent cheaper than buying fuel to run generators.

And the price of fuel here went up by 107 percent per litre between

January and May. So automatically, your hotel energy costs are very,

very high if you use generators.

"The reality is that your hotel is going to have a 45 percent energy

cost saving if you can move onto electricity, and my wish is for all

the hotels here in Siem Reap to be able to get plugged in.

"Some hotels are still forced to work generators because they don't

have the choice. They can't afford to make the capital investment

required to build a substation for their hotel."

Deyrolle has also initiated action on this front by negotiating with

banks about what sort of loans are available and exploring whether it

is possible for smaller hotels to pool their capital.

"If we can organise the smaller hotel companies and put them in a pool

for one district, then all hotels in that district will be able to

connect to substations to get electricity."

And, by pushing the association to adopt such pragmatic, cost-saving,

bottom-line initiatives, he hopes to encourage more to join the

association.

Membership of the Cambodia Hotel Association, founded in 2005, is small

- fewer than 10 percent of hotels have joined. The association has only

30 member hotels out of an estimated 400-plus Cambodian hotels and

guesthouses.

Deyrolle said, "That's my first goal. To have everybody engaged, as

many businesses as possible. Everybody, not just the five-stars, should

be represented by the association."

Former association president Philip Set Kao endorsed Pascal Deyrolle

push to boost membership, pointing out that hotels needed to realise

the importance of having an effective lobby group.  

The rainy season

He also hoped Deyrolle would continue his campaign to diversify Siem

Reap tourism. Many Siem Reap hotels enjoy 90 percent occupancy during

the peak season from November through to early February but are

virtually empty for the rest of the year.

He pointed out that millions of Europeans travel during their peak

holiday season in July-August, but Siem Reap enjoys little of this

trade.

"This is because most of the media and the travel industry discourage

tourism to this part of the world at this time because it is the rainy

or monsoon season.

"But here in Siem Reap the rain is not really enough to stop tourists

enjoying themselves - it does rain on many days, and usually for only

one or two hours. Other than that, the weather here at this time of

year is quite welcoming with the same summer atmosphere enjoyed in

Europe.... Promotion for this area is not effective in informing

travellers that they can really enjoy Siem Reap throughout the year."

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