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Swapping the Reef for the Reap

Swapping the Reef for the Reap


Siem Reap is becoming a haven for general managers escaping the confines of luxury island resorts in Australia’s tropical north.

Sokha Angkor Hotel’s general manager, Emmett McHenry was in charge of the Hayman Island Resort in the Whitsunday Islands, Queensland.

He’s now joined by another Aussie island refugee, Wendy Morris, the newly installed GM at Hotel de la Paix.

She came to Siem Reap via the ultra-exclusive Lizard Island Resort on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, where she worked for a year.
She described life on the island as “an amazing experience.”

“It was very exclusive, very remote and very beautiful in a superb location, but managing it was very challenging, largely because of its remoteness.”

She said she felt like she was “living in a fishbowl” on the island.

“There was nothing else there. I had to maintain that line of authority so it was really socially isolating. Twelve months was more than enough.”

She said her former island job also prepared her well for emergencies following a particularly intense weekend.

“Within a 48 hour period we were on emergency cyclone watch, had a crocodile scare, and an unrelated fatality. It was very stressful. I had to deal with it.”

She said she had a good feeling about Siem Reap on her first and only visit, on September 17, for her final interview before accepting the position.

“I think I’m reasonably intuitive and I had a nice feeling when I came here for my interview. For a little place, it’s quite dynamic. I feel very optimistic about my time here.”