GROUND was broken on a major new hotel in Siem Reap on Feb 8, the first such
undertaking in Cambodia's major tourist destination by a foreign investor since
the passage of the new investment law last August.
A $7.5 million
project of Apsara Holdings of Singapore, the Apsara Villa Khmer Hotel - when
completed in mid-1996 - will comprise 100 rooms and is being constructed in the
"Khmer village style" according to architect and project manager Garth Sheldon.
The hotel will be only one story high, with accomodations built on stilts,
according to Sheldon.
Hotel Properties Ltd, a company listed on the
Singapore Stock Exchange, is the major shareholder of the venture and is owned
by Ong Beng Seng, who has won fame in his home country by being named
"Businessman of the Year".
Construction began on a site on the main road
to the Angkor Wat Temple complex, just south of the exclusion zone and north of
the fabled Grand Hotel.
The hotel will be managed by the Concorde chain
which runs numerous tourist-related properties in Southeast Asia. Hotel
Properties Ltd. also holds the rights in Asia for the Hard Rock Cafes and Planet
Sheldon says that both the Ministry of Tourism and
Minister of Culture Van Molyvann, himself an architect, were "very supportive"
of the project idea. It is expected that 350 people will be employed during peak
construction and that the hotel will employ around 200 when up and running.