Stylish digs The suites at the Heritage are perfect for couples: they’re open plan – even the bath (toilets are separate) – and they have a very cool décor concept. The chef is South African and produced some really good vegetarian food for us, including delicious smoothies. The hotel’s general manager, Jam Nsouli, also pointed us in the direction of a few more places in town. It’s good that there are more options popping up; I can be flexible on food, but my children are strict vegetarians and it can be a real pain finding something good on your travels. Heritage Suites is very quiet and relaxed, with just 26 rooms. It has a good local expat community connection (Jam is an expat herself), and a jazz session every Thursday night, which makes for a great social gathering. I asked Jam what she loves most about living in Cambodia and she said the simplicity of life, and the traditional Cambodian diet, which is very healthy with lots of organic fruit and vegetables (though the fast food outlets are creeping in, unfortunately); also, the people – their general outlook is that bad things will happen in life, but you have to move past it. I thought that was a refreshing approach, and one that could be taken on board by many others who expect everything to be perfect and who “freak out” if anything goes wrong. Giving back Both the Heritage and Jaya are committed to helping local communities through the non-profit Sala Baï centre, which takes disadvantaged young people from rural Cambodia and trains them in the service industry, including a vocational portion of the course carried out in the hotels in town. Sala Baï has been running for over a decade (we featured them in Expat Living about six years ago) and has achieved fantastic results in that time. The two hotels are also involved in attempting to solve the region’s plastic problem; neither offers plastic bottles in

the rooms, and Jaya along with a few other companies including the Phare Circus (see next page) give you your own cool metal water bottle that can be filled up for free at participating companies. It’s a brilliant idea, and I hope that this message helps clear the countryside and protect the ecosystem. In many countries where the widespread use of plastic is relatively new, there’s a struggle to work out the best way to tackle the issue of recycling and littering; I’m sure we’ve all seen tourist destinations and gorgeous countryside clogged with plastic and other litter. A lot more is being done to promote “Made in Cambodia” products, too, and the new King’s Road market in Siem Reap offers exclusively local items, as opposed

to the regional imports that can be found everywhere else. Christian de Boer, the managing director of Jaya House, is a huge advocate of self-sufficiency for Cambodians; there’s been so much in their past that has hindered development, but he can see a change. Jaya House is beautifully done; it’s modern yet comfortable, with elegant artwork and sculptures, funky hanging sofas, and a roof-top bar that overlooks the river. The food is excellent, and the hotel has two pools – one in the garden and one in the courtyard that our room looked on to. The staff were excellent and the beds so very comfy that I didn’t want to leave. I think they’ve found the perfect mix of style, while keeping the Cambodian

Jaya House



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