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Byron VIP Travel

Hotel Reviews


Siem Reap is the starting point for your adventures around the famous Angkor Wat Temples. Byron VIP Travel writers have found your ideal hotel.

 Review by Mary MacKenzie. Photos: A V Images

"Welcome Home" - Return to Shinta Mani, Siem Reap. Kingdom of Cambodia

Following a trip to neighbouring Vietnam (who liberated Cambodia with US assistance in '79) we arrived on the evening of 7th January - the date Khmer people celebrate the overthrow of the vile Pol Pot regime in 1979, a sombre reminder of such recent historical atrocities against mankind.

On arrival we were warmly welcomed "home" to Shinta Mani. In January 2015 Shinta Mani was voted #3 in the world hotel awards & where we were so fortunate to be given a tour of the Club & Resort facilities for Byron VIP Travel. The trip to Vietnam provided the ideal opportunity to make a side trip to Siem Reap. The city seems to be changing rapidly, cleaner, less of that distinct Asian smell, many more Korean tourist buses blocking traffic, tidier streets, more fancy big shops & many new hotel constructions underway, not to mention the brand new airport that opened in October 2015.

CLUB room

We spent 3 nights in a delightful ground floor pool view room comprised of king size comfy bed with dreamy pillows in the Resort. Even with an unusual weather event - yes rain in January! The locals were astounded with this rain but our enthusiasm at being "home" could not be dampened.

The committed social conscience is everywhere here at Shinta Mani: a "Made in Cambodia" local market is held 4 nights each week featuring local cultural performance of Apsara dance & music. Our evening manager told us a little more about his own background coming from a poor family, thanking us for our spending our time in Cambodia. He also told us of the 25 new trainees starting on the following Monday with Shinta Mani hospitality training who were being given new opportunities to gain employment to positively lift them out of the poverty cycle. $5 from each nightly room booking is donated back to the local community by the hotel.

In this tranquil tropical oasis setting where 400 lotus flowers are delivered daily; their fragrance & simple beauty is a signature everywhere. The Lotus flower to the Khmer people is a sacred flower chosen to use for praying since ancient times for both Buddhism and Hinduism. Lotus symbolises the purity and harmony of mind and spirit. Numerous bas reliefs in the ancient Angkor temples show the lotus flower. I tried my hand with limited success at folding these beauties and found myself in great need of much more practice while the expert staff folded theirs flawlessly - to be expected really.

Siem Reap is the gateway to the Angkor Temples UNESCO World Heritage sites. As tempted as we were to hang out on the simple hanging daybeds at the in house Club restaurant Kroya or by the Resort pool we could not resist a revisit to Bayon temples.

Swarming with visitors to see the many Buddha faces created in the image of Jayavarman VII, strolling the elevated 'Terrace of the Elephants' in Angkor Thom or gazing in awe at the massive lying Buddha of Baphuon Temple; we were not disappointed.

After a long hot humid day our revival was delivered by a heavenly spa body massage, hot stone facial & floral spa bath at Shinta Mani Spa.

It was so hard to say goodbye to Shinta Mani but we will look forward to being welcomed "home" again soon. Congratulations to Shinta Mani who have now moved from #3 up to #2 in Trip Advisor' Travellers Choice Awards 2016 Top 25 Hotel - World. An accolade thoroughly deserved, maybe we will see a move to #1 in 2017!  

On January 9, 2016 USA TODAY reported on "Destinations on the Rise" and showcased Shinta Mani Club amongst an array of world-class internationally branded hotels dotted around planet earth, after this SM posted on their Facebook page they were "soooo proud" of having the honour of representing the Kingdom of Cambodia as the "Leading Hotel". Get yourself there before it changes too much more.

Getting there: We travelled via Singapore on Scoot, Vietnam Airlines from Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap code share Angkor Airlines at own expense. Minuses: there is only the 1 - it's the 3 large towers communication towers which loom over this oasis. NB: the free minibar is only available in the Club.

Siem Reap - Shinta Mani Review

If Angkor Wat is Heaven on Earth - Shinta Mani may be your Nirvana

Shinta Mani Siem Reap

Cambodia - Near Angkor Wat

Shinta Mani

Siem Reap , Hotel near Angkor Wat

We have just spent 11 nights in wonderful Siem Reap Cambodia while on a Voluntourism visit. Trip advisor on 22 January ranked Shinta Mani #3 on its 2015 Travellers Choice Top 25 World Hotels. Given we were on the ground we felt obliged to see if it lived up to it. Graciously the hands on GM - Christian confirmed a site visit for Byron Bay VIP Travel on short notice. He even managed to give us some of his precious time between fielding the many calls for interviews by international journalists. We felt like we had secured a huge scoop! Sochea his gorgeous sales manager gave us a superb guided tour of the Shinta Mani facilities.

Monochromatic base tones, geometric repeating patterns with a blast of the SE Asian monks saffron it is super styled. Designed by Bill Bensley, with a bar on the club site named in his honour( Bensley's), Bensley likes Shinta Mani so much he still visits. He keeps a tight rein on any design changes (down to the plant) and even to the just so - distressed floor finishes in the common areas of the Club. Stunning bowls of lotus flowers, beautiful art & unexpected sculpture. Not garish against the Siem Reap streetscape - unlike many others here. Located a short walk to Central market in the Old French Quarter, the many restaurants of Pub Street and just around the corner from the Foreign Correspondents Club - Angkor.

Here it is all about service - anything the guest needs (all comforts) but there is much more - it is also about their most valued asset, the staff. Those warm smiles are genuine- Shinta Mani not only gives back to the local community but they invest in their staff (all were recently included in a bonus). We were heartened to hear staff are maintained through the low season. On the day of our visit an eagerly awaited announcement was to be made at 2:30 which was shrouded in secrecy - the buzz amongst the staff was electric. Checkout the Shinta Mani Foundation community commitment based on the philosophy Open Doors/ Open Hearts on their website.

Club or Resort a tough choice to make when booking. Club is for those looking for a little more formality and sophistication yet still ultimate relaxation. The Resort (luxury Khmer home styled rooms)is more relaxed catering for families, larger groups and guests who seek that atmosphere. Guests can utilise any of the facilities across both sites, nothing here is too much trouble and the staff throw in little surprises to keep your stay special. We spied the new cinema/library due to open the next week Bonalai that looked so inviting.

We could only lunch @ Kroya on one of the divine suspended day beds & sample the menu from the in house spa (at our own cost), as it was sadly our last day in Siem Reap . We can say that this was simply our best facial experience to date. When we return to the Kingdom of Cambodia we will come to Shinta Mani to experience nirvana.

Verdict: Do secure that booking soon - demand is high (90 - 95 % occupancy late Jan for only 39 rooms)- ooh almost forgot to mention the free minbar...

Author: Mary MacKenzie

Photos: Anthony Moulay

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