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Five-star hotel open for business

Five-star hotel open for business

The Kingdom's first "five-star" hotel held its soft opening on March 27

when Minister of Tourism Veng Sereyvuth checked in to the Hotel Inter-Continental

for a "courtesy night" amidst much pomp and ceremony.

The minister was given a VIP tour of the towering property sited in the southwest

of the capital, which hotel officials say is now the tallest building in Cambodia

at 15 stories.

The hotel's expansive facilities and over 500 staff, most of whom were hired locally

and trained from scratch, were due to get a "trial by fire" according to

one Inter-Continental executive, as the first paying guests checked in the following

day.

More than 120 overseas invitees to the First Southeast Asian Biennial Film Festival

had booked 80 rooms and were to stay there for the duration of the film fest.

Many in Phnom Penh see the Inter-Continental as providing the first serious competition

to the Hotel Sofitel Cambodiana, which, perched along the riverfront for the last

six years, has been viewed as the top hotel in town.

Inter-Conn ececutives, however, see themselves a cut above the Cambodiana.

"As it is we have no competition in our category," said Marcello Pigozzo,

Inter-Continental's president when asked if the hotel would be going head-to-head

with Sofitel.

"It will be tough at the top when Raffles opens," he added, referring to

the expected August soft-opening of the rehabilitated Hotel Le Royal, Phnom Penh.

Pigozzo also said he viewed the hotel as a venue where both foreign visitors and

those from the local community will be brought together.

In this regard, he noted that they would be offering memberships to Phnom Penh residents

to use the swimming pool and the Clark Hatch Fitness center which is still under

construction.

In touting the Inter-Continental's luxury facilities, press kits at the opening cited

a list of "Firsts" for the hotel, which included the first hotel with two

telephone lines in all rooms, voice mail, uniforms without a bow tie, HBO, data ports

on telephones, a Grand Ballroom for 650 guests, electronic key cards, an integrated

life safety system and an indoor car park among others.

Inter-Continental is actually the property manager with a ten-year lease to run the

hotel. The building itself is owned by the Regency Company, of which business tycoonTeng

Boon Ma, reputed to be Cambodia's wealthiest businessman, is the majority shareholder.

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