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CHRISTMAS ROUNDUP

Siem Reap restaurants and hotels are enhancing the holiday cheer with Christmas dinner specials and poolside parties.  Here's a sample of what's on offer:

Angkor Palace Resort & Spa:

An Under the Stars-themed dinner and show on Christmas Eve at the hotel garden, with Christmas carols sung by children, an international buffet, music and gifts by Santa Claus. Adults, US$50. Children 6-12, $25.

Borei Angkor Resort & Spa:

Christmas Eve features a one-hour cocktail reception and poolside international buffet for $35. A band from the Philippines and traditional Apsara dancers will provide entertainment.

 
Champey restaurant:

Christmas and New Year's days feature a seafood-oriented menu, with oysters for a starter and grilled lobsters or roasted duck for the main course. The $35 pricetag includes a glass of wine, tea and coffee, with a Christmas log for dessert.

 
Amok and Cambodian BBQ:

Will feature $29 set menus with several types of meat, including crocodile meat, tea and coffee, wine, and a Christmas log for dessert.

 
FCC Angkor:

Starting Christmas Eve and spanning all of Christmas Day, patrons pay $30 for Western-style food, with choices of each course, including lobster risotto cakes for starters, roast turkey breast with prune and pistachio nut stuffing, traditional Christmas pudding with vanilla bean parfait, tea and coffee, and a glass of Champagne.

Hotel de la Paix:

On Christmas Eve, $85 plus 5 percent service charge and 10 percent tax will cover an elegant menu of several seafood and meat courses, including roast venison and foie gras, and a cocktail.  The Christmas day menu is the same price and includes Mekong lobster, beef tenderloin, caramelized Christmas pudding and a cocktail.

La Residence d'Angkor: Christmas Eve features a gala dinner with a traditional dance show. For $100, diners can choose between a Khmer set menu or a Western set menu. Wine and champagne are also included.

 
Monoreach Angkor Hotel:

The poolside garden and bar provides a $25 Christmas gala buffet dinner with international cuisine and a "free-flow of beer and soft drinks", plus a live band and prize draw.

Raffles Hotel:

A poolside Asian BBQ buffet and traditional Cambodian show on Christmas Eve for $85 (plus 10 percent tax). Christmas Day features a set menu of Western courses for $125.

 
Sofitel Royal Angkor:

Christmas Eve features a $30 (plus 10 percent tax) international buffet dinner with a Khmer cultural show and a live band.  Christmas Day features a poolside buffet brunch for $35 (plus 10 percent tax).

GEM DESIGNER

A new designer jewellery store, Garden of Desire, has opened in Siem Reap and specialises in sterling silver jewellery with gemstones such as aquamarines, emeralds and Cambodian rubies from Pailin.

Some of the individually designed pieces are particularly striking because they carry a touch of lacquer work by renowned lacquer artist Eric Stocker, who also designs and teaches at Artisans d'Angkor.

But more fascinating than the jewellery on display is the background of the proprietor, Pisith Ly.

He fled to Paris in 1982, working mainly as a designer of fashion spectacles for Alain Mikkli, Starck and a clutch of other haute couture international names.

On his return to Cambodia, he worked for the charitable organisation Amika, building schools and hospitals.

In 1994, together with a group of like-minded friends, he helped found Le Mekong newspaper. This got shut down by the government, and while his friends went on to found Le Cambodge Soir (which also got shut down by the government,) Pisith Ly returned to the gentler pastures of designing.

 
CHAMPEY

There's been a changing of the guard at Serge Billot's five-restaurant empire, now known under the umbrella brand name Angkorw Group.

The popular sales and marketing manager Chie General has returned to the Philippines to be replaced by another Filipino expat, Hazel Majuca.

Hazel has had a colorful career to date. After learning the hospitality trade in the Philippines, she worked in Myanmar from 2004 to 2005 at the Dusit Inya Hotel and also as an actress for a tourism video.

Hazel, a single mum with two boys, came to Phnom Penh in 2006 as the lead vocalist in a hotel band, and then worked as sales and marketing manager at Radio 93.5FM.

Meanwhile, Chreok Sokren has quit as manager of the group's signature restaurant, Champey, and is no longer associated with the company. His replacement, the new Champey manager, is Ms Souch Sokha. 

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