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Man about town

Hotel management deal
THE Singapore-based Alila Hotels and Resorts group on Tuesday signed a deal to take over the management of Siem Reap’s luxury boutique resort, The Sothea, in April.

The stylish all-suite resort will be renamed Alila Sothea, and marks Alila’s first step into Cambodia.

The Sothea opened in February 2009, and is named after the wife of a prominent Khmer businessman who had the resort built to mark her 50th birthday.

Jessica Siswantoro, the head of the group’s marketing communications said: “Alila is a hotel management company – we manage, but not necessarily own, the hotels. And this is the case with Sothea as well. The hotel’s ownership remains the same.

“Alila will be taking over the management as of April 2011 and will then review all operations standards, financial management, and sales and marketing strategies.

“We are managing 12 hotels – four in Bali (two of which are our high-end flagship Alila Villas), two in Jakarta, one in Thailand, two in Laos, one in the  Maldives, two in India (Alila Bangalore will be opening in April 2011).”

Alila started off as an Indonesian hotel company based in Bali, but in January 2004 it moved headquarters to Singapore and began international expansion.

Hashers leave town
SIEM Reap’s infamous Hash House Harriers are finally leaving town – but only for the weekend.

The Angkor Hash House is having its first “away” run on the last weekend of February, and the drinking runners, or perhaps the running drinkers, will invade Battambang.

Hashers will depart Siem Reap at 7am on Saturday February 26 and will be back in Siem Reap “late(ish)” on Sunday February 27.

The Siem Reap hash spokesperson Short Stump said: “For a measly US$60 per person, we cart you there and back, find you a place to sleep, feed you and fill you up, make you run around the countryside and much, much more. Do register ASAP as places are limited!”

Meeting point is at the Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa.

For more information on the hash, visit www.hannostamm.com/hash.htm or go to the Facebook page: Angkor Hash House Harriers.

Giant puppet raffle
THE Giant Puppet Project’s annual fundraising charity draw is on again, in the final build-up to the puppet parade which enlivens the streets of Siem Reap on Saturday evening, February 19.

It’s now the last chance to get tickets in the draw, which will take place at Abacus Restaurant tomorrow night at 9pm.

Tickets cost $5 and a rather amazing array of prizes – 20 in all – are up for grabs including restaurant meals, wine selections, weekend hotel stays, a hotel gym membership, and $100 vouchers to spend at two of Siem Reap’s trendiest retailers.

Tickets are available from Miss Wong, The Warehouse Bar, Abacus and from Puppet Project staff. Or phone Bina 092 219 647.

Temple video coup
A VIDEO clip of four-and-a-half minutes on the BBC looking at ways to explore Cambodia’s many temples without having to grapple with the crowds became the most popular travel news item on the BBC travel website fast:track last week.

Nicky McGavin reports: “On Tuesday February 1, the clip was even more popular than reports on Egypt, the impending cyclone in Australia and an interview with Prince William and Kate.”

One of the stars of the clip was Andy Booth, the founder of  Siem Reap travel company AboutAsia, who gave some tips on avoiding the crowds to get the best of the temples.

He said: “Recently our researchers logged 1,981 people on top of Phnom Bakheng, jostling for the best view.”

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