Hotel rooms

Swap dinners for hotel rooms in Siem Reap

When the going gets tough, the tough get innovative, especially in the devastated hotel sector of Siem Reap and especially at the Anantara Angkor Resort & Spa.

While most hotels offer free or discounted meals as an incentive to increase room bookings, Anantara has bucked this trend and, as part of its Angkor Vacay promotional package, is offering free suite accommodation in exchange for dinner in one of the hotel restaurants. or cafes, provided the deal only goes into effect when a $99 catering tab is reached.

“So for every $99 spent on dining, you get a free night in a suite, including breakfast,” says Savorn Ty, Anantara’s director of revenue and business development.

Or, as the hotel’s general manager, Pitak ‘Chin’ Norathepkitti, puts it: “This is an unusual deal in an unusual situation, where we need to maximize all revenue stream channels.

“It’s also new for Siem Reap. We experimented with some success with campaigns in key cities like Phnom Penh, Bangkok and Singapore, before moving to Siem Reap.

Chin has undergone an economic baptism of fire since his formal appointment as CEO just over six months ago in late November 2020 when the outlook was already bleak, only to become even bleaker under his leadership, hit by the double whammy of the Covid push and the chaos due to road reconstruction.

Anantara CEO Pitak ‘Chin’ Norathepkitti. Provided

Prior to signing with Anantara, Chin worked as General Manager and General Manager at two Accor-owned properties in Laos, Sofitel Luang Prabang and 3 Nagas Luang Prabang.

Chin, of Thai origin, holds a Master of Arts in Tourism from Monash University in Australia, and he pursues his academic interests, working part-time as a program director at Dusit Thani College in Bangkok and in as a part-time lecturer at Souphanuvong University in Luang. Prabang.

He began his career in the hotel industry by obtaining an international diploma in hotel management at the Accor Academia, then made a long stint as sales manager at the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok, before joining the Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit where he became sales manager.

He then served as managing partner of Caffe What If in Bangkok, before moving to Laos in January 2019.

Now his expertise is pushed to the limit, adapting to downturns, redefining profit and declaring that any decline in gross operating loss is now considered profit improvement, which he says is driven by “ the maximization of turnover through commercial approaches and a good control of “line” costs and expenses. »

Chin notes that he’s not the only one having to learn to adapt – he wants his staff to approach their work with a different mindset.

“We encourage the team to be more versatile and have a broad knowledge of skills,” he says. “The team must constantly adapt to cope with the ever-changing situation.”

While Anantara’s dinner offer is a surprise bet, an even bigger surprise for Siem Reap hotel watchers is the opening of Amansara, the former guest villa of the king.

Amansara is generally a closed store, with an austere bunker-like wall facade, with access provided by a large sliding iron door. Unlike other hotels, the exterior of the property is devoid of any signage, which is part of the low-key vibe and guarded privacy offered to its well-heeled guests, including of course the legendary rich and famous. .

Siem Reap locals hardly ever see it, as the hotel rarely hosts public functions and its restaurant and amenities are mostly never open to the public. But now the need to make money allows for temporary social-leveling access, with the hallowed hotel actually touting local business and “for a limited time” selling short-term accommodation packages “exclusively” to Khmers and expatriates.

But for some Temple Town hotels that aren’t being forced to close permanently, surviving simply means closing up shop and waiting out the pandemic. Not to mention the road works.

Last October, dramatic rumors swept the area that the trendy Jaya House river park was due to close permanently, not because of the pandemic, but rather because of Siem Reap’s reclamation and road widening program. , which meant that the road in front of the hotel had to be widened and widened, removing the driveway from the hotel and apparently forcing the closure

Corn Khmer time reported that “smart money says Jaya House will rise again”, which Jaya’s managing director Christian de Boer confirms, although he is unable to say exactly when the resurrection is expected to take place.

Anantara Khmer dish. Provided

“We are currently in hibernation and although we will continue to operate with skeleton staff in order to maintain the property at the highest possible levels, current levels of tourist arrivals are not sustainable for us to be truly open and operational” , he said. .

“We hope to reopen as soon as the road works are complete and Siem Reap will be even more beautiful than it was before in our case – a one way street, bike lanes and a footpath and lots of trees providing light. ‘shadow.

“I commend the Khmer government for the deployment of the vaccine and the overall management of the pandemic, but all of this combined – curfew, alcohol ban, road works, etc. – does not make it viable for us.”

When the hotel reopens, there are a host of awards it has won ready to adorn a wall.

“We’ve won some great awards, including TripAdvisor’s top 25 hotels in the world – number one in Cambodia, number eight in Asia and number 19 in the world,” he says. “Plus the many Conde Naste articles that have appeared in recent months.”

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