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Showcase night for the new Shinta Mani

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The Shinta Mani team (L to R): Owner Mr Sokoun, executive director of the Shinta Mani Foundation Chitra Vincent, general manager Beatrice Baranger, director of sales and marketing Marpha Domingo. Photograph supplied

The Shinta Mani team (L to R): Owner Mr Sokoun, executive director of the Shinta Mani Foundation Chitra Vincent, general manager Beatrice Baranger, director of sales and marketing Marpha Domingo. Photograph supplied

The revamped Shinta Mani hotel was awash with orange and acrobats on November 13 for its showcase evening.

Having opened in July, the hotel organised the night to officially celebrate and show off the hotel and give details of the Shinta Mani Foundation which trains underprivileged Cambodians in hotel work, as well as supporting small business start-ups and providing healthcare.

The morning saw the graduation ceremony of ten students from the Development Centre, with a welcome address by the executive director of the Shinta Mani Foundation, Chitra Vincent.

General manager Beatrice Baranger explained it was the first pool of students, and they expected to have 40 students for next year’s intake.

Mr Sokoun, owner and founder of Shinta Mani, emphasised that after on-the-job training, students were given help finding jobs.

“They have a saying that you don’t want to give the poor a fish - you want to teach them how to fish. But we want to go one step further than that. We want to find a pond where there’s fish they can actually go to fish. Our goal is not just the training – it’s to get them employment.

''Anyone who gets in the program is almost guaranteed a job.”

In the evening the hotel came alive with its orange-themed extravaganza featuring stunning acrobatic displays from Battambang-based circus Phare Ponleu Selpak, and music from DJ Edwardowski.

Orange was chosen to reflect the colour scheme of the Bill Bensley-designed hotel, slate and orange, which in itself is inspired by the ancient stones of Angkor Wat and saffron monk robes.

As guests entered Kroya, the hotel restaurant, they were treated to the sight of large, softly-lit orange umbrellas artfully stuck in a tree outside at different angles. This, Baranger said, was a tongue-in-cheek nod to the end of the rainy season.

“We officially opened during the low season so we didn’t really launch the hotel. We wanted to have a first event so we thought we could launch in the high season, the end of the rainy season. That’s why we have all these umbrellas.”

Baranger said that the hotel was expanding into the building over the road, with renovations starting next April and plans to open in August 2013.

“Bill Bensley is designing, so it will be the same hotel, Shinta Mani, but Shinta Mani more for family groups. This is maybe more for individuals and travelers. There are 39 rooms here and there will be 64 over there.”

After speeches by Baranger, Chitra Vincent and Mr Sokoun, circus artists performed contortionist acts inside Kroya and then outside swinging deftly from ropes and poles.

The party then moved upstairs, where guests were invited to pose for pictures with live models, an ancient Khmer king and queen dressed – naturally – in ochre-coloured silk.

Finally guests ended up on the rooftop to watch a spellbinding circus performance that combined acrobatics with comedy, followed by music from DJ Edwardowski while old, black and white images of Siem Reap street life and Angkor Wat from the 1930s were projected on a screen.

The party continued into the wee small hours with over 150 people attending.

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