Big guns from US in town
HILLARY Clinton wasn’t the only big gun from the US to drop in to Siem Reap over the weekend. Also in town was Richard C. Blum, husband of the US Senator from California, Dianne Feinstein.
Blum is the chairman and president of Blum Capital, an equity investment management firm. He also serves on the board of many companies, and is board chairman of property agent CB Richard Ellis, active in Cambodia.
He is also a director of Toronto-based Fairmont Raffles Holdings International Ltd, which manages Raffles.
But he was in town as founder and chairman of the American Himalayan Foundation, and revealed that in 1981 he attempted to climb Mt Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary, who conquered the hill in May 1953. Blum travelled to Siem Reap with the foundation’s president Erica Stone, and vice president Norbu Tenzing Norgay, a descendant of the famous Sherpa mountaineer, Tenzing Norgay, who aided Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953.
The Blum trio made a brief stop in Siem Reap to visit the temples, but also on Saturday engaged in a quick visit to the Angkor Hospital for Children. They were given a whirlwind tour by the volunteer medic and long tall Texan Dr Eugene Tragus, a pioneer of open heart surgery in the US, and a former “chief of almost everything” at the hospital. Doc Gene, as he is known locally, has been a resident of Siem Reap since 2002, and was surprised to learn that Blum himself first came to Siem Reap “about 45 years ago”.
Coincidentally, international property company CB Richard Ellis has erected a large sign in town, offering for sale a huge tract of big-ticket prime downtown real estate next to Raffles, and overlooking the Raffles-maintained Royal Crusade for Independence Gardens.
FOR the fourth year in a row, Le Méridien Angkor has been named at the annual 2010 World Travel Awards in New Delhi as Cambodia’s Leading Hotel. It also picked up a gong as Cambodia’s Leading Spa. The Raffles Group was given Asia’s Leading Luxury Hotel Brand. Meanwhile, the UK’s Sunday Times Travel Magazine has named Hotel de la Paix as one of the 100 Best Hotels In The World.