As Cambodia sees a significant influx of Chinese visitors, Asia-focused boutique luxury resort company Aman’s stunning Siem Reap property is in a prime position to attract China’s growing number of affluent independent travelers who have more than just luxury shopping in mind when they head abroad.
Located across from Siem Reap’s royal gardens and housed in King Norodom Sihanouk’s former guest villa, the 24-suite Amansara resort is small on guest numbers and big on experience, appealing to luxury travelers looking for an extremely personalized and unique high-end hospitality.
The tranquil property’s position in a prime area of the city is a good bet for elite Chinese travelers focused on both proximity to shopping (Siem Reap’s new DFS luxury shopping center is close by) and an ultra-exclusive sense of privacy. The secluded feel of the private pool suites has appealed to celebrities such as frequent Cambodia visitor Angelina Jolie, who has been one of its many famous guests throughout the years.
Entering one of the the monochromatic, open suites feels like stepping into a work of modern art, as the predominantly black-and-white color scheme and angular, minimalist courtyards are complemented by earth tones and sandstone reliefs referencing the carvings found at the nearby Angkor Wat and surrounding temples. The luxurious spa, two swimming pools (one lounging pool and one lap pool), boutique, and fine dining restaurant are framed by ample greenery including manicured lawns and artfully landscaped tropical trees and plants.
With its renovation that has left the original 1960’s French modernist architecture intact, the property’s aesthetic has a James Bond feel that is chic and contemporary while also giving guests a glimpse into its fascinating history. Visitors can feel this sense of the past immediately before they even step foot on the property when they’re picked up at the airport in a black vintage Mercedes by a white-gloved driver. Once used by the king for welcoming visiting dignitaries, the compound was visited by a line of illustrious guests including Jackie Kennedy before eventually being abandoned during Cambodia’s tumultuous wartime period, becoming overtaken by weeds as chaos raged around the country. Detailed site history books available in guest rooms explain that it was restored to its former glory and then some by Aman in 2002.
As Angkor Wat and the countless ancient historical sites around Siem Reap are the main draw for visitors flocking to Cambodia, the property excels at arranging high-quality private guides and drivers to accompany guests to the sites. In addition to providing knowledgeable guides (with options for several different languages) and creating a detailed personal itinerary with scholarly notes on the temples visited, small details such as cold towels, iced water, and fresh coconuts to beat the tropical heat are standard on any trip to the temples.
When it comes to food, the Amansara pays close attention to both fine dining and ensuring that guests never have a moment of hunger during their busy travel schedules. For guests who want to wake up to see Angkor Wat or other temples at sunrise, a special early-morning light breakfast including fluffy croissants and fruit is delivered to the room before setting off to get there before 5 a.m. The free fully stocked minibar complete with snacks is especially popular with Chinese guests, and the restaurant offers free cake throughout the day. Loungers by the pool also shouldn’t be surprised when the staff comes by with a scoop of fresh gelato. In addition to fine dining onsite, guests have the option to enjoy classic Cambodian fare at the resort’s own traditional Khmer house located near the temples, which includes a decadent multi-course breakfast/brunch option for post-temple (and pre-pool) eating.
It is this extreme attention to detail that characterizes the Aman brand as much as the singular decor of each of its properties, as attentive staff work to anticipate guests’ needs before they even ask. For those who want a night out on the town in Siem Reap, a complimentary sleek black tuk-tuk provides a remarkably smooth ride into town, or guests can borrow one of the hotel’s stylish bikes with wicker baskets. Upon their return, they can expect a flower-filled bath to be drawn and candles lit.
As Aman features an ardent fanbase that includes the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and royals from across the world, Chinese travelers are a major part of the brand’s future. Cambodia saw 24 percent growth in Chinese visitor numbers last year and aims to have 2 million Chinese arrivals annually by 2020. Aman, which houses the majority of its 30 resorts worldwide in Asia, has also been expanding into other popular destinations for Chinese tourists, such as Tokyo. It also operates three mainland China locations, including the new Amandayan resort that opened in Lijiang in 2015 that is likely to add many more Chinese elites to its list of Aman devotees.