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Green Luxury in Rural Cambodia

 
Put a thoroughbred French aesthete in Cambodia and be rest assured he will produce something that will give elegance a new worth. Indeed, if Phum Baitang has made simple fashionable, credit goes to the Zannier family that lives with the credo of “sophistication lies in simplicity.”

Set amidst paddy fields near Siam Reap, in rural Cambodia, the sprawling 20-acre property has 45 spacious, stilted wooden villas, each with thatched roofs, form a village-like cluster. The look and feel of the resort is inspired by traditional design and complemented by local modes of transportation, such as tuk-tuks. Adding immense character to the stay experience is an existing ancient farmhouse on the property that has been tenderly converted into a lounge, built with local materials and furnished with Spartan earthy interiors that spell class and comfort.

Arnaud Zannier, the owner of Phum Baitang property in Siam Reap, Cambodia is upbeat about discerning tourism trends that are being much talked about in Cambodia. This is his second property in the country and he says there was no better ways to build other than retain the local elements, especially the “Khmer” part.

As an elegant hideaway, Phum Baitang is ensconced in eight acres of lush gardens. Rattan wing chairs, locally grown stone and bamboo and a lot of creams, whites and natural beiges adorn the property, providing the perfect accompaniment to the plush oriental carpets, reminiscent of Cambodia’s golden days. The hotel’s Bay Phsar restaurant has a local market atmosphere where guests can pick their own fresh ingredients and spices, in the knowledge that the rice they are eating it with comes from the nearby paddy fields.

A tranquil spa temple, yoga pavilion, and an outdoor pool with bar beckon you to unwind at this ultimate luxury retreat after exploring the wonders of an ancient culture. Dive into a dreamy colonial world with the spacious, open-plan villas at Phum Baitang and let the fresh aromatic smell of the earth put you in an intoxicated daze. According to Arnaud Zannier, Phum Baitang, is a study in purity of form and authenticity – something that is like a personal philosophy which he himself lives.

Without hesitating for a moment, he says that their USP clearly is defined by someone who is looking for simplicity, emotion, authenticity and experience while discovering a new brand. His first property, which he opened five years ago in Megève, Le Chalet, a mountain retreat also was a niche boutique hotel with 12 rooms and suites, a restaurant and a spa that open during the winter season for those wanting to ski on the alps.

The father-son duo, who have a shared interest in the hotel business, travelled the length and breadth of Cambodia to understand its history, lineage, culture, people, festivals and authentic cuisine. Choosing then to blend local stone, rattan and other materials to do the interiors, working with local artisans and craftsmen was not an
altogether unusual thing to do.

Although they have plans to expand they are in no tearing hurry. They want to savour the experience of building their properties in much the same way as the guests who want to relish every moment spent at Phum Baitang.

FACT FILE

Best time to visit is November to March which is the dry season

Siam Reap is the nearest airportabout 15 kms away

The property is in the rural part of Cambodia and is unspoilt, quiet and green

Stay in any of the 42 private villas with a garden area, private plunge pool and lounge pavilion

It is a 25 minute tuktuk ride to Angkor Wat, 10 minutes to Siem Reap town, 40 minutes to Tonle Sap and 10 minutes’ drive from airport

Enjoy the concept of a ‘green village’ with refreshing architecture, décor, linen and food

The staff and service are highly personalised and are likely to call you by name

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