Hubert Burda Media

How the Park Hyatt is Adding a Personal Touch to Siem Reap’s Heritage

Most hotels get better with time. Such is the case with Park Hyatt Siem Reap since it was rebranded four years ago.

When it comes to five-star hotels in Siem Reap, the choice of luxury hotels has certainly widened exponentially over the past decade. Holding court among the best of the best is Park Hyatt Siem Reap, formerly known as Hotel de la Paix.

Already a great hotel in its past life, its new incarnation as a Park Hyatt brings the promise of the brand’s “Luxury is Personal” credo – and as it turns out it is a step towards bringing the appropriate finishing touches to an already grand hospitality experience.

The occasion is “Park Hyatt Masters of Food & Wine”, an exclusive series of culinary and beverage experiences hosted at Park Hyatt locations around the world, providing gourmands with an opportunity to sample the fare of Park Hyatt and invited chefs, sommeliers and other specialists. For the Siem Reap edition of the event, five local chefs were tasked with creating a Khmer-inspired menu, using predominantly fine Cambodian ingredients from places like Kampot, Pailin, the Tonle Sap Lake and Siem Reap itself – including a look at the history and special charms of each area.

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This culinary showcase put the spotlight on Siem Reap’s emerging fine dining scene and most talented chefs, with an impressive menu that could hold its own anywhere in Asia. The initiative was born from Park Hyatt’s belief that our journey through life and travels are punctuated by ritual feasts and special foods; that life in itself is a culinary journey. And so it is.

My first visit to the hotel was five years ago when it was still Hotel de la Paix – a most pleasant experience, as I recall. So it was interesting to see how it has been transformed, not only the property itself but also the overall experience.

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As far as location is concerned, it simply doesn’t get any better. The inner-city location means the main tourist area with its charming local night market is just a 10-minute stroll away. It takes around the same time to reach Siem Reap’s star attraction – the stunning Angkor Wat temple complex – by car.

For the physical transformation of the hotel, legendary Bensley Design was called in to do their magic, and it shows. It’s a feast for the eyes, with Instagram-worthy pictures everywhere you turn. Beautiful sculptures, paintings, antique collectibles and remnants of a Khmer heritage are scattered throughout the property, while thoughtful touches have rendered the 104 rooms (including 13 suites) in a stylish, contemporary but location-appropriate fashion.

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All the recreational facilities your heart desires have been cleverly incorporated into the compact property – a spa, fitness centre, saltwater pool and free-form pool – without making it feel cramped. A variety of food and beverage outlets provide more than enough nourishment, with the Indochine-inspired The Dining Room overlooking a courtyard and taking centre-stage as the main restaurant.

At night, the courtyard is lit up with lanterns and giant fire pits, making for a dramatic tropical nighttime ambiance. What is it with fire that still brings out our primal instincts after all this time? The mind boggles.

Service is gracious and unobtrusive, providing guests with privacy when needed – like when you’re catching some sunshine by the pool – but swift attention when called for. This intuitive kind of service is a hallmark of the Park Hyatt brand, and it’s executed in an authentic, warm and hospitable manner here in Siem Reap.

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The second visit to this hotel is even better than I remember about my previous stay. The property has matured beautifully, and changes have been for the better. It feels much more personal – just like they promised.

Bangkok Airways offers five direct daily flights between Suvarnabhumi International Airport and Siem Reap with complimentary lounge access at both airports. Passengers flying in Business Class or who have Blue Ribbon Club status enjoy access to premium services at Blue Ribbon Club Lounges.