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Shinta Mani Club Siem Reap: Cambodia’s “Do Good” Hotel

A group of people in medical scrubs walks by. A guest mentions to another that they are from the dental clinic organised by the hotel. The hotel has brought in dentists and assistants from around the world to provide dental care, at no cost, to the Siem Reap community. 750 Cambodians will smile a little wider and chew a bit better because of a clinic provided by this boutique luxury resort.

This is a hotel business created to help people. This goes beyond donating to the local soccer team, this hotel truly seeks to improve the lives of the Siem Reap community. The hotel is the Shinta Mani Club in Siem Reap Cambodia and they’ve been able to do it whilst providing one of the top luxury travel experiences in all of Asia.

Shinta Mani means “good heart” or “to do good things” and their slogan is Open Doors, Open Hearts.  It’s not just the name and slogan, it is in everything that this hotel does and is an example of how do-gooders can do good business. The concept is simple. Create a five star hotel, take exceptionally good care of the guests, the staff and the community. A percentage of each guest’s daily room rate is contributed to the Shinta Mani Foundation to support their activities.  This little hotel in Cambodia has set the bar for the meaning of Responsible Tourism.

The hotel spends no money on advertising. Their guests do the advertising for them through word of mouth raves, trip advisor reviews (#1 in hotel in Cambodia), and their own repeat stays. The buzz has spread and now the professional travel community has also lent a hand by adding Shinta Mani to essentially every top hotel list. It is number 3 on the CNN Traveler’s Choice Global List, for Conde Nast it’s the 9th best hotel in the world and number 1 in Asia, and Travel and Leisure added it to its Global Vision Awards for their contributions to their community. The list of raves goes on and on.

The hotel is located in Siem Reap which has now found its way on to every must go travel report and is now a bucket list destination for in-the-know travellers from around the world. The attractions in Siem Reap are the 1000 year old temples in the city that was once the centre of the Khmer empire. The temples are magnificent to behold and include Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Prohm – made famous by sometime Cambodian resident Angelina Jolie and the Tomb Raider movies – and must surely be part of a visit to Siem Reap.

There’s a lot of other things to do in town as well, from exploring the markets, visiting the Tonle Lake, and for a night on the town, Pub Street is a great place for some casual entertainment and $3 cocktails. Shinta Mani is within walking distance to the Old market, the cafes and bars of the vibrant tourist trail and only footsteps from the tranquility of the nearby riverfront. Nearby attractions include the Kings Palace and Royal Gardens.

Shinta Mani is an upscale boutique property of 39 contemporary designed rooms.  There is a peaceful Zen like atmosphere at the hotel. The entrance walkway is suspended above a Koi fish pool and there is Khmer inspired art on display throughout the property. The centrepiece is the courtyard and the rich black infinity edge lap pool surrounded by palm trees and bougainvillea. This serene setting sees guests on chaise longues around the pool or engaged in conversation near the bar. There are curious sculptures throughout the property, as well as wonderful pieces of art on the walls at every turn.  The artwork rotates often to showcase new local artists and their latest creations.

There is a comfortable elegance at Shinta Mani which was created by its masterful design. The monochrome colour palate is black, white, and grey with pops of bright orange in homage to the regal robes donned by Cambodian monks. The design is clean and minimalist with dramatic features inspired by the Angkor temples.  It is beautiful to behold but not unapproachable. The master behind the design is Bill Bensley who is recognised as one of the top architects and interior designers in the world. He’s created numerous masterpieces and created a design magnum opus in the Shinta Mani for its reopening in 2012.

The rooms are fabulous with minimalist chic interiors of black and white with mirrors and provocative wall art of Cambodian figures. The king sized bed faces the view of the blue skies and the palm trees surrounding the lap pool and courtyard.   The Terrazzo bathroom is very large with a huge walk in shower and rainfall shower head. The balcony overlooks the lush courtyard and pool.

The service is as exceptional as the design and each night the staff leave a special treat for bedtime.  There are only 39 units so there is a level of intimacy. It feels more like a country club than a hotel and that’s just fine with their guests.

Dining at Shinta Mani is an adventure into authentic Cambodian cuisine.  Kroya opens onto a light and dark grey tiled outdoor terrace where five traditional Khmer beds swing by sturdy ropes hung from two stories above. It is a definite experience for couples to dine in such comfort, gently swinging.

Kroya means “food” in the Khmer Royal language and the menu often varies based on what is available in the market as well as the whims of the chef. There’s no cause for alarm as Kroya has been rated as one of the top restaurants in Asia and never fails to deliver. Executive Chef Chanrith shares that each day he has no idea what will be on the menu. He goes to the local market and sees what is fresh and that then decides what he’ll offer guests that evening. This is authentic Cambodia cuisine prepared by locals. There is no fusion here, it’s real and local.

With the luxurious accommodations, fine dining, and service at Shinta Mani, it is impressive how the hotel can do so many things well while focusing on its contribution to its community. Shinta Mani truly embraces the importance of not only giving back to the community, but in tackling the big problems.

Cambodia is a wonderful and beautiful destination with kind and warm people. But is also the poorest country in Asia and many of the rural towns are without basic services. Shina Mani has made a major impact in the lives of the people with initiatives to provide health and dental care, small business micro financing and hospitality training for less fortunate youths. It even hosts a night market where locals sell their crafts to guests of the hotel and other tourists.

Shinta Mani Siem Reap is owned by Mr. Sokoun Chanpreda, a Cambodia born businessman who returned from overseas to invest in a better future for his country, and his vision and hard work has paid off.

What began as one man’s innovative idea, to establish an inn delivering authentic Khmer hospitality in order to support a free training school for Siem Reap’s underprivileged, is now receiving accolades from around the world. Mr. Chanpreda and Shinta Mani have been recognized by Travel + Leisure 2014 Global Vision Awards who selected Shinta Mani Club & Resort as the Runner Up in the Community category.

And there is a different type of enlightened traveller that comes to Shinta Mani. A less hedonist traveller who feels good about contributing and knows that their stay at Shinta Mani will impact lives. And then they passionately share their experiences with friends back home.  So much so that the hotel has been recognized by Conde Nast Traveler, The Readers’ Choice Awards 2014 ranked Shinta Mani Club among the Top 25 Hotels in Asia.

The Shinta Mani is an experience like no other. And what makes it extra special is that its concept originated from the sole purpose of making a difference in the lives of Cambodians. What a story…what a hotel.

Shinta Mani Club

Address: Oum Khun St/Shinta Mani St, Krong Siem Reap 00000, Cambodia
Phone: +855 63 964 123