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When camping isn't camping


[Top] Heritage Adventures allows temple visitors to camp in style. [Bottom] A Heritage Adventures camp set up near Kratie.

Who you gonna call if you want to set up an Ibiza-style champagne dance party deep in the heart of the Cambodian jungle?

Who you gonna call if you want to set up an Ibiza-style champagne dance party and luxury camp in a 12th century temple, deep in the heart of the Cambodian jungle?

The hardly-roughing-it comfortable camping experts, aka Heritage Adventures, the group travel organising arm of Siem Reap’s luxury boutique Heritage Suites Hotel. That’s who.

Heritage Adventures is intent on providing the ultimate in luxurious tent experiences, and nothing is too big a challenge.

The Ibiza-style champagne dance party, for example, was organised as a 40th birthday party bash for a trader from Singapore.

Heritage constructed a 200-square-metre dance floor at a lesser-known Siem Reap Province temple, flew in a DJ from Ibiza, and made damn sure there was enough bubbly to keep the party percolating.

Vorana Na Champassak, the general manager of Heritage Suites Hotel, declined to name the temple to keep other hotels from horning in on the site, but he emphasised that the temple was outside of the Apsara protected heritage zone.

He also confirmed that “40people went through over 250 bottles of champagne”.

Heritage Adventures arranges luxury itineraries all over Cambodia for groups from all over the world. Usually the company sets up trips for the so-called “incentive travel” market, when corporations reward employees with a group trip.

Potential customers do not need to be exclusively linked to the hotel – anyone can use their services regardless of where they’re staying.

Heritage Suites Hotel and Heritage Adventures are owned by Didier Faraud, a Frenchman who’s been living in Cambodia for 16 years and, according to Vorana, “He knows the country better than the back of his hand, better than most Cambodians.”

Vorana said that Heritage Adventures never repeats an itinerary and that each trip is tailor made to the specific group.

“We spend hours discussing the fantasies of our clients so we can turn them into reality,” he insisted.

And they can handle everything from “simple” arrangements to no-holds-barred luxury extravaganzas.

On the more rustic side, Heritage Adventures recently set up a dirt bike tour for five French expats from Singapore. Sleeping quarters were simple one-person tents, and the tourists ate around a campfire.

The camp was set up each night in advance of their arrival, and Vorana said, “After a whole day of dirt biking, we’d have a shower ready for them.”
At the other end of the spectrum are the arrangements Heritage Adventures made for an incentive group of 12 American corporate types.

They constructed wooden platforms for 54-square-metre tents which, Vorana said, were “larger than your average luxury hotel room”. The tents were fitted out with big beds, flushing toilets and hot showers, and over 1000 candles were used to light up the luxury camp each night.

“It took three weeks of preparation for a two-night stay. We had to dig a well, set up solar for the showers, bring in the sinks and toilets,” explained Vorana.

That trip cost the US corporation that was footing the bill (confidentiality is paramount in situations like this) US$1,000 per person per night.

Then there was the case of the Russian gazillionaire who spent $72,000 on a two day trip for his wife, two kids and two nannies, taking a helicopter everywhere he went.

Heritage Adventures has at its disposal a veritable fleet of transportation options from vintage cars to 4x4s, from dirt bikes to helicopters to boats on the Tonle Sap. The company also recently bought two buggies, which Vorana feels differentiates it from other luxury tour organisers. “In this market you have to be a leader,” he said. “If you don’t change, you’re going to be left behind.”

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