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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Siem Reap Scene: 30 Apr 2009

Siem Reap Scene: 30 Apr 2009

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

Lavish resort planned

Ten hectares of land near the new Siem Reap Lake Resort Golf Club on the outskirts of town have been marked for a large resort that will be unlike anything the town has seen, a real estate source told the Post.

 The development is still in the early planning stages but is envisaged to contain 10 bungalows, designed for timeshare leasing, lush garden space and artificially constructed waterways.

French developer Corinne Bourgoin bought the land for the resort two years ago and decided this month to go ahead with the design process.

Sources told the Post that Bourgoin has plans to expand the resort if the bungalows sell.

Photo by:
Peter Olszewski

Eric Coronacion, general manager  of HanumanAlaya.

Good deal for expats

As the tourist dollar dries up in Siem Reap with the onset of the wet season, many local businesses are wooing expat patronage, and hotel manager Eric Coronacion is leading the charge.

Coronacion, residence manager of the HanumanAlaya boutique hotel, is hosting an open-bar barbecue on the first and third Wednesday of every month, starting May 6.

He said "open-bar barbecue" translates as "all you can eat and drink", which indeed is the magic phrase for local expats. The Wednesday night pigouts will also feature live music from the local band, Cambojam.

The HanumanAlaya Hotel is part of the empire of Phnom Penh-based Hanuman Tourism. A hidden treasure at the hotel is the superb antiques store, arguably the best in Siem Reap. This is promoted to high-end guests at Siem Reap's leading five-star hotels, and in good months the antique store's revenue exceeds that of the host hotel.

New school program

Schools for Children of Cambodia (SCC) has "amicably" withdrawn support from Khnar Primary School in Siem Reap after the school's teachers and community members ruled that students will pay teachers for lessons on a weekly basis.

SCC's general manager, Andrea Messner, said this is "inconsistent" with the NGO's values.

This follows the phasing out of teacher sponsorship in February in the final stage of SCC's School Adoption Program, now replaced by a Primary School Development Program.

Four of the schools the NGO supports are encouraged to be more sustainable, with some  support provided.

But support now does not include payment of teacher salary supplements, which, according to Messner, "is a big policy change and subsequent discussions with each school and community have resulted in mutually agreed decisions about how best to adapt".

Three of the four Siem Reap schools - Phoum Stung Primary School,  Svay Dungkum Primary School and Wat Mon Thyean School - have mostly accepted the new policy changes.

But at the arrangement with Svay Dungkum school is under review for three months.

Teachers at this school need to supplement their low salaries, so are testing a school donation box for community members to optionally and voluntarily contribute for teachers.

The anonymity of a donation box takes away the need for students to pay their teacher each day, which could adversely affect poor students' access to education, officials said.

SCC is providing technical support to monitor the new solution for a period of three months, after which a mutual decision will be made on how to proceed.

Drag queen opening

Management and staff of the Golden Banana Hotel group are planning a pool party to celebrate the opening of their second boutique hotel in Siem Reap on May 9.

General Manager Dirk De Graaff said the new 16-room gay friendly Golden Banana Resort will officially be launched with a traditional Buddhist ceremony, followed by a party for local residents, expatriates, travel industry representatives and media.

The Golden Banana Group is known for its out-there parties and this launch promises to be no exception - it will include traditional dancing,

Bangkok-based DJ Friso and a drag-queen revue.

De Graaff said he is proud to be opening another hotel and is confident that the new accommodation house will be as successful as the first.

"We have a steady stream of bookings currently, and I am pleased to be able to employ 17 additional staff members."

Nobel laureate's freebie

Siem Reap's Angkor Palace Resort & Spa has been named as "hotel partner" for the third ASEAN series, Bridges - Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace, organised by the International Peace Foundation, a Vienna-based NGO.

Up to 50 major Bridges meetings  will take place in Cambodia from November 2009 to April 2010, jointly chaired by King Norodom Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Confirmed participants include Nobel laureates for economics, peace, physics, chemistry and medicine.

As well, other eminent speakers and artists, including world-renowned pianist and conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy and professor Lord Anthony Giddens from the London School of Economics, will attend the event.

Angkor Palace's ‘partnership' in effect means that the hotel will stump for free accommodation and breakfast for the estimated 10 Nobel laureates and speakers.

They visit Siem Reap sometime between November 2009 to April 2010.

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