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GOLDEN BANANA GUESTS UP

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Golden Banana's new bar

The newly opened 16-room Golden Banana Boutique Resort in Siem Reap reports that it's not suffering the general occupancy malaise experienced by many other hotels, and that, in fact, business has been booming since its soft launch early in December.

This perhaps can be partly due to the resort catering to the gay traveller niche market that demographically has been cashed-up and relatively affluent.

The hotel is also catering to the new "capital-of-cool" tag that's been appended to the trendier aspects of Siem Reap, with villa-style rooms that are decked out with locally crafted furniture sourced from sustainably harvested palm wood, modular terrazzo surfaces, Asian art, Cambodian silks, secluded balconies and al fresco stone bathtubs.

The new complex also incorporates a state-of-the-art German solar-powered hot-water system and a poolside cocktail bar.

"I wanted to provide a space that is distinctively Southeast Asian, modern, fun and unpretentious," said general manager Dirk De Graaff, before leaving for a holiday in Thailand.

Miss Wong bar proprietor and former New Zealand radio journalist Dean Williams is managing the hotel while De Graaff is on leave.

This is the second accommodation house in the Golden Banana empire, and it will be fully launched with a pool party shortly after De Graaff's return.

FUNKY MONKEY GOES APE

The Funky Monkey bar, which moved from a pokey hole-in-the-wall on Pokambor street to a double-storey Pub Street location in July last year, expanded even further this week, placing new seating areas outside on the street front.

Alex Mills, a business partner in the Monkey, told the Post that people flock to the bar for its event nights, which include the Thursday-night charity quiz and the Sunday Night Roast, done in a traditional English manner.

Last Thursday, the pub quiz attracted a standing-room only crowd of more than 100 people, who paid to have their wits tested in the trivia challenge.

The weekly tournament of minds started at the bar's old location in 2006, and has raised an estimated total of US$42,831 for charity.

Proceeds from the trivia night's $1 door charge and half of the prize money goes to one of five rotating charities: Anjali House, Global Tear, New Hope, Salatesa and SOID. Alex hopes that in the near future the weekly quiz night will occur both upstairs and downstairs, with upwards of 150 people.

The bar is managed by Londoners Mac, Trixie and Alex, with assistance from a silent partner.

One of the team's major obsessions is adding pop-culture posters and sculptures to the bar's impressive collection. "Music and movies are the theme of the place," says Alex. "A lot of people come in just to take photos of the interior."

PRINTER WRAPS UP MOTO ADS

Photo by:

KYLE SHERER

Dennis Rowley with his wrapped ride.

Is it a moto dressed up as a snake, or is it a naga reincarnated as a moto?

Actually it's the latest brainwave of Colorhouse Prints' innovative Dennis Rowley, and it's been both turning heads in Siem Reap and causing debate.

Rowley, after attending a course on vehicle wrapping in the UK with his wife Linda, and armed with a lavishly printed wrapping manual , is now firmly in the wrapping business. He is  unaware, apparently, that the wrapping of mobile phones and motos in clear plastic to protect the body finish and to preserve them for later resale is common amongst Cambodians.

But Rowley's adaption is to use the humble moto as a vehicle for advertising, and he has says this is just the beginning.

"Eventually we want to go into vehicle wrapping and to do cars and then even buses."

Rowley told the Post, "This transforms vehicles into powerful advertising tools that will be seen everywhere. For our bikes, we use a special vinyl, with a special lamination on top."

"We have to strip the bike down completely. All the parts that are going to be wrapped have to be stripped down. You are left with the frame of the bike and then you wrap up each part.

"It took us two days to do this one," he said, referring to his debut moto, done out in a flashy snakeskin motif.

The cost to the advertiser for a wrapped ad-moto will be $250.

CRAFT FAIR A HIT

The inaugural Handicraft Trade Fair held at the Riverside park in front of the Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor on Friday and Saturday was a hit with exhibitors and the general public.

Awen Delavel, director of Samatoa fashion store and a member of the fair's organising committee in Siem Reap, said the success of this year's event guarantees it becoming permanent.

Photo by:

PETER OLSZEWSKI

Craft fair clown.

He said, "It's particularly busy in the evenings, and we estimate that between 6,000-7,000 people attended, with a nice mix of Khmer and tourists."

He added: "Most people involved were happy. About 95 percent of exhibitors were satisfied with the contacts they made and with their sales."

This fair precedes the former Angkor Silk Fair that's been held in Siem Reap for the last three years, and it was organised as a showcase for all Cambodian handcrafts by the Phnom Penh-based Artisans Association of Cambodia.

The fair was jointly supported by the European Union and the Royal Government of Cambodia.

More than 70 stalls were operated by 60 exhibitors, with 60 percent of exhibitors from Phnom Penh, 30 percent from other provinces, and 10 percent from Siem Reap.

Awen Delavel said that next year new features will be introduced.

"We want to have more activities, such as fashion shows, workshops and demonstrations. And because this is the only event in Cambodia where so many craft professionals gather, we also want to develop a conference during the fair."

He said this will allow craft professionals to network and hold seminars on such topics as fair trading, business development and developments within the industry itself.

PREFERRED DEAL STRUCK

The deal struck earlier last year to incorporate Siem Reap's Angkor Palace Resort & Spa into the Preferred Hotel Group, part of the Summit Hotels & Resorts brand of more than 150 international hotels, was officially announced by the group in Hong Kong last week.

The hotel is the first Cambodian-owned luxury five-star resort and its design reflects traditional Khmer architecture.

It features 251 guestrooms and suites and eight villas, all furnished in Cambodian style with inlaid teak floors and traditional poster beds. Balconies overlook the gardens of the resort, which is managed by the personable Weng Aow.

It also features four restaurants and bars, and the Kainnora Spa, with nine treatment rooms and four spa villas offering a wide range of "holistic body treatments", including traditional Khmer massage.

It has a gym, two tennis courts and a large outdoor swimming pool.

A new feature is a golf driving range within the hotel grounds, with 16 sheltered driving bays.

 "Siem Reap is one of the major tourism hotspots in Asia, and we are thrilled to be partnered with a hotel that is truly representative of genuine Cambodian hospitality. We aim to bring high-end FIT and MICE business to the city and to the resort through our global channels," said Mark Simmons, area managing director for Preferred Hotel Group's  Asia-Pacific operations, in a Hong Kong-released statement.

This makes the Angkor Palace Resort & Spa a sort of sister hotel to the soon-to-be-opened Sothea Courtyard luxury boutique hotel, which is a member of the Preferred Boutique "collection",  also a division of the Preferred Hotel Group.

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