The downcast eyes and serene facial expression on King Jayavarman VII’s statue was perhaps the best welcome I could’ve received as I stepped into the Royal Angkor Resort in Siem Reap.
Words: R. Rajendra
Jayavarman VII was one of the greatest monarchs of the Khmer kingdom and although he wasn’t the architect of Angkor, he is widely recognised as an illustrious leader, a warrior and a compassionate ruler, particularly known for building rest houses every 15 kilometres for traders, travellers and government officials and, over 102 hospitals to care for the weak and the invalid. Jayavarman VII’s hospitality is legendary and thus, using his image to welcome guests to this resort was most apt.
Located about 10 minutes from the airport, Royal Angkor Resort’s stately façade may not look traditionally Khmer but once you step into the property, the traditional touches that blend local culture, its imperial past and colonial history become evident. Polished wood plays a main role with the design, lending a regal feel to the lobby while traditional touches such as oversized Buddhist ceremonial, metallic umbrellas replace glass chandeliers. The lobby, corridors and most public spaces are adorned with antique and re-pro sculptures from the Hindu and Buddhist pantheon, transforming them virtually into a museum.
The rooms at Royal Angkor Resort too are done up in polished wooden floors and teak wood furniture that are set off against a colour palette of beige. The surprise was in the bathroom, where a deep, clawfoot tub stood majestically. Far from being just a tub, a twist of a lever turned the tub into your own private Jacuzzi! Trust me… you will need this after hours of scaling the temples and monuments at Angkor.
Aside from rooms that come in Superior, Deluxe and the Japanese-themed Sakura Rooms, the villas and bungalows are fantastic value for money. Some can accommodate groups of up to eight guests and the hotel is more than happy to arrange for additional bedding. All come equipped with kitchenettes, dining and living areas. One villa has a karaoke lounge while another has an on-site spa room.
My Deluxe Room balcony opened up to a huge pool below with mature coconut palms and other lush vegetation. But wait! Did I see elephants behind the foliage? I swear I saw pachyderms behind the vegetation, four to be exact, with trunks outstretched. I quickly ran down to the pool to investigate and just before getting too close, the elephants started showering jets of water onto the pool edge. Children ran to the deck and were giddily dancing under the ‘ele-rain’, much to the delight of parents who I sensed were dying to get drenched by these life-sized statues too.
Another delightful venue was the gym. Now, you’d imagine me having lost my marbles in suggesting a gym being delightful but you’d concur with me when you visit the gym here. Located within the Royal Spa that offers a variety of therapies and massages priced rather affordably, the gym is located in the middle of a pond strewn with water lilies. When you start working out, a sprinkler system above the roof sends rivulets of water cascading into the pond, thus creating a rainwater effect. Real smart idea to get guests off their bums for a little work out!
The resort also has one of the biggest ballrooms in town for gatherings, with equally large public spaces for al fresco dining that can be used for receptions, cocktails and gala dinners. What’s more, an amphitheatre with Angkorian temples and monuments as a backdrop hosts regular cultural performance for guests.
Inadvertently, visiting Siem Reap means visiting Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples, but once you return from your daily jaunts, the Royal Angkor Resort is the perfect spot to unwind and recollect the country’s royal past and living heritage.
Address: RESORT Highway No. 6, Phum Kasekam, KH 1700, Siem Reap, Cambodia
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