Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sokha plans further development on Cambodian shores

Sokha plans further development on Cambodian shores

Sokha plans further development on Cambodian shores

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Tracey Shelton

Sokha Hotel plans to build a luxury 1,000 rooms Resort on O’Chheuteal beach.

Sokha Hotel Group announced a 15-year development plan with an investment of $1 billion

to develop the French Colonial era resort of Bokor in Kampot and build a new 1,000-room

hotel and golf course near the O'Chheuteal beach at Sihanoukville.

The two projects are aimed at luring thousands more tourists to the southwest beach

resorts of Cambodia.

During an opening construction ceremony on January 19 presided over by Prime Minister

Hun Sen, Sokha Hotel Group representative Hoeu Heng said that the tourism project

at Bokor National Park would take 15 years for development and would include an international

hotel, casino, resort, park, emergency clinic, school and drainage system. Sokha

Hotel Group, an affiliate of local petroleum giant Sokimex, opened the luxury Sokha

Beach Hotel in Sihanoukville in 2001 and the Sokha Hotel in Siem Reap in 2002.

The company has plans to begin building a 500-room hotel on Chroy Changvar peninsula,

across the river opposite from the Royal Palace on land leased to them by the government

for 70 years.

Heng said that the O'Chheuteal beach project will be developed on 54 hectares of

land around the popular white sand beach. The company's working group is studying

the feasibility at both the beach site and the Phnom Penh site.

"I could not estimate how much will our firm invest in building a hotel at O'Chheuteal

beach until the groundbreaking ceremony is started," Heng said. "But the

project of building a hotel at Chroy Changvar will start first."

According to a letter obtained by the Post, on May 18, 2007 the government granted

Sokha Hotel Group a 99- year lease to develop the French era resort, which was originally

established in 1922.

"The income from the tourism sector will help improve our economy," said

Prime Minister

Hun Sen in a speech at the opening ceremony. He said about five million local people

travel to different tourism resorts a year and Cambodia gets $1.4 billion from foreign

tourists to Cambodia a year.

Heng said the investment in the O'Chheuteal and Chroy Changvar projects is less than

that in Bokor National Park because the development areas are smaller.

Sokha Hotel officials declined to give details of the company's funding plans for

the development. Sokimex Chairman Sok Kong told the Post in September that getting

expansion capital in Cambodia was difficult because the banks wouldn't lend large

amounts, and he was interested in eventually listing his company on the coming Cambodian

stock market which is scheduled to debut in 2009 so he could raise money for building

more hotels.

Bokor Mountain was once an elegant getaway during the French colonial period but

years of neglect have left much of it in ruins. Much of the area is now a protected

national park.

Sihanoukville governor Say Hak could not be contacted for comment but he told the

Post in an interview in August last year that O'Chheuteal beach will be overhauled

and redesigned with new standards of infrastructure. At the time he declined to reveal

the name of the developer. Last year an Australian newspaper the Sunday Times conducted

a survey titled "Top Ten Asian Beaches" found that O'Chheuteal beach ranked

eight in the entire continent of Asia.

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