HOTEL de la Paix’s general manager Nick Downing officially announced his departure from Siem Reap at the launch of a new exhibition at the hotel’s Arts Lounge last Wednesday.
Downing’s exit as the hotel’s general manager, a job he has held since February 2007, is a result of the acquisition of de la Paix’s management rights by Indian-based Ativa Hospitality.
Downing will leave at the end of this month. His replacement is UK-born Wendy Morris, who held the same position at Australia’s most exclusive resort, Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef.
Downing’s legacy in Siem Reap extends far beyond being the general manager of one of the city’s most successful, high-profile hotels.
He linked the De La Paix with several NGOs in projects such as the Sewing Centre, and set the trend in this regard. He was also able to integrate the hotel’s facilities with the community in a quite unique manner.
The popular Arts Lounge, for example, became a leading showcase for Cambodian artists, and the regular exhibition launches became popular and important networking functions for Siem Reap locals.
The hotel’s street-front café also operates as more of an upbeat city venue rather than being shut off as just another overexpensive hotel café patronised only by tourists.
The aforementioned community-oriented aspect played a crucial role in the search for a new general manager – and Downing told 7Days the objective, as always, is to avoid running the hotel as nothing more than a “bed factory”.