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Published: December 19th 2018
Welcome home” is the greeting that meets you by Kol, your newest family member, as you walk out of the small Siem Reap International airport and locate your name on a sign. A dynamic, good looking Cambodian with a heart of gold is how you will always remember Kol. He is just the start of something fantastic in Siem Reap.
You jump into the air-conditioned van with Kol who hands you a small platter of ice cold fruit on toothpicks and even colder waters in metal drink bottles, and so the journey begins. Along the way, Kol tells you all you need to know about Siem Reap and Jaya House RiverPark Hotel where you are headed.
“What would you like to drink when we arrive at the hotel?” Kol asks. “Wine, beer, maybe a cocktail?”. My travel friends yell “Pina Coladas” enthusiastically when they hear the word cocktail. Kol then makes a phone call to the hotel and upon arriving to a chorus of “Welcome Home” from an entourage of smiling well-dressed Cambodians, we are handed Pina Coladas.
We take a seat in the reception, in chairs you could sit in all
day and we talk. We talk about the hotel, we talk about Siem Reap and we talk about family – our families back home and Kol’s family. We learn in that moment about Kol’s beautiful wife and baby boy and we know that this hotel is special.
Two cocktails later, we are given keys to our rooms and escorted up to where we are going to spend the next week. This hotel is something else. It is explained to us that the metal drink bottles we have been given are our gift for the week and these can be refilled at our request both here at Jaya House and around town the rest of the week free of charge; just one small initiative from the man at the helm of these operations, Christian De Boer.
Walking around the hotel, there are smiling workers everywhere. Everyone truly seems happy to see you. After getting changed, we make our way down to one of two swimming pools in this beautiful boutique hotel.
While sitting at the pool eating beautiful meals and sipping cocktails, we are given free massages on our sunbed’s
and offered fresh fruit and ice cold water. We are waited on hand and foot. This is bliss and we never want to leave.
Nothing is too much trouble here at Jaya House. You have free tuk-tuk’s at your disposal and are given a mobile phone to use so that you can phone for a tuk-tuk wherever you are and whenever you are ready to come ‘home’. That night, after dinner, we come back to the room to find dessert waiting with our bed turned down. This becomes a nightly theme of different desserts waiting for us upon our retirement to bed. Our minibar is replenished each day and everything inside is included in your room price including ice cold beers.
The following morning, we rise early excited and ready for breakfast. This would have to be one of the best breakfast’s I have ever had in my life. Different homemade products including smoked salmon, pastries and beautiful warm breads. You are able to order dishes from the menu and day one is Eggs Benedict. Wow. This is washed down with a Mimosa – champagne and freshly squeezed orange juice.
staple breakfast for the rest of the week becomes the homemade smoked salmon on homemade bread with capers, lettuce and mayonnaise, washed down with Champagne, because…. Well why not, I am on holidays! I also never fail for a small serve of the homemade granola with yoghurt and fruit. It is so good. All of this was washed down with the best espresso coffees made by Krem.
One morning, they are out of capers; imagine my shock horror at my smoked salmon and champagne with NO capers! I ask Chris, one of the Managers if he has any out the back. He gets back to me a short time later, saying they are all out, but someone has gone out hunting. True to his word, I am given a small bowl of capers not more than ten minutes later. I feel a small inch of guilt that someone left the hotel to find me capers; but it yet again, another example of this hotel going above and beyond to ensure your stay is perfect.
While staying at Jaya House, it happened to be our wedding anniversary and this is where their service and kindness
really shone. The hotel arranged for us to go out in the morning to a local Buddhist temple for a blessing and countryside trip in vintage Jeeps (yes Christian owns two old vintage war jeeps leftover from the Vietnam war). We are accompanied by staff from the hotel and receive our blessing before visiting a local war museum. Afterwards, when we arrive back to the hotel we are greeted with a bunch of beautiful lotus flowers and in the afternoon, we are sent to the hotel spa for a couples massage. As if that wasn’t enough spoiling, upon arriving back in to our room, our bed had been decorated in flowers and a small cake was waiting with “Happy Anniversary” written on it. Such kindness I have not seen in any hotel ever before!
One night when we arrived back from a charity fundraiser we had done that day, I was feeling quite unwell. The manager Christian, upon hearing this, sent ginger tea to the room for me. I honestly wish we could have lived there forever. This is what a great hotel is all about; People that go that extra mile.
time one night speaking to Christian. He really cares about Cambodia and his staff. All his staff are full time and not seasonal. They all get a portion of the combined tips and they are all trained and given the best opportunities they possibly can be given. They do regular cleanup’s of the river in front of the hotel, hoping to encourage other businesses in town to care about the environment and join in; and are involved in different community events. A portion of the profits from your stay, get poured into different charities around town.
When leaving for dinner each night, the staff spray our bare skin with a lemongrass spray to keep the mosquito’s away and upon returning we arrive to lots of “welcome home’s” with cold towels and fresh juices and waters.
Each night between 5pm and 7pm there is happy hour at the skybar on the rooftop. A beautiful location overlooking a sunset drenched river, with strong cocktails, cold beers and chilled tunes playing in the background.
This hotel is the place to be in Siem Reap if you want a splurge at a very very reasonable
price. The staff are beautiful souls, Christian runs a tight outfit and he truly cares for each and every staff member as well as his guests. This place is a beautiful gem in one of our favourite cities in the world and we will one day ‘return home’.
It is not goodbye Jaya House, but see you later!
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