Going green and going clean is the new scene for chic hotels, and in Siem Reap the unusual and unusually named hotel, Templation Angkor Resort, strives to be a leader in in eco-consciousness
Templation – the name is a word play on Temple and Contemplation – opened in February 2016, and is managed by Phnom Penh-based Maads, which describes itself as a collection of handcrafted hospitality businesses in Cambodia, with 20 brands.
Following recent land acquisitions, Templation now sits on a rambling 3.7 acre estate and such prodigious acreage makes it unique for a town-based hotel in Siem Reap.
Templation also bills itself as uniquely located, with an unbeatable position as the Siem Reap hotel nearest Angkor Wat itself. And now the hotel has established a further claim to uniqueness in that it’s the first luxe hotel in town to encourage guests to camp out on the property. Well, sort of. The hotel now gives a nod to converts to the new glamping (glamorous camping) trend, with its eight on-site ‘jungloos’ – jungle igloos. The permanent tent-like structures are to be found in a small compound near the main hotel building.
‘The jungloo is the ‘glamping’ alternative offered by MAADS,’ says Somonea Cheng, Templation Angkor Resort operations manager. ‘A jungloo is a sleek, elegantly tented bungalow in which temperature is regulated by two layers of roofing, the air circulating between them for a cooling effect.
‘There are eight jungloos in a separate area, each one with its own plunge pool. The jungloos at Templation are designed to give a feeling of luxury camping amongst trees and shrubs,’ she continues. ‘They are a glamping variation on the same essential themes that inspired the resort’s architects and landscapers: harmony with the natural world (even the villas’ roofs are planted to ensure eco-friendly insulation), air-conditioned use limited to the sleeping areas and solar-sourced energy covering a large part of the resort’s power consumption.’
Templation is Maad’s first hotel foray into Siem Reap and the brief from the outset was to go green. ‘Maads had previously developed several hotels in Phnom Penh and when a respected Siem Reap investor offered to partner with us in the conception, development and management, we were honoured and happy to join in,’ Somonea explains. ‘What made the project particularly attractive was the proximity of the land to the Angkorean temples (we are only a few minutes’ ride from Angkor Wat proper) and the possibility of launching a really ‘green hotel’: a low-density building, the commitment to preserve as many native trees as possible and an interest in architectural design and technological innovation making it a really eco-friendly operation.’
The hotel boasts 41 suites and villas, most of them with their own private pool, celebrating a water theme.
‘Water is a key element of the hotel’s spirit, beginning with the large pond and cascade behind the lobby area; a transitional space leading to the serenity of the main swimming pool, which has been designed to give the feeling of a natural, pristine lake,’ Somonea says. ‘We also have a vast restaurant and lounge area generously opening to the green surrounding, playing with natural light and air flow; an important architectural principle which so inspired the ‘New Khmer’ style in the 1960s.’
Templation has a special library which focuses on Cambodian civilisation, and is home to a fascinating initiative, Angkor Database. This was founded in 2016 by Maads media facilitator Bernard Cohen, who is also the project coordinator with Sakphearoth Kea as assistant researcher.
‘This project is both a physical library at Templation Angkor Resort and an online resource which is quite unique as it gathers academic, artistic and societal approaches of Angkor and the ancient Khmer civilisation,’ says Bernard Cohen. ‘The project is funded by Templation as a not-for-profit corporate social responsibility initiative aimed at enhancing the experience of Siem Reap visitors and helping Khmer younger generations to learn more and develop their own research about their cultural and historical heritage.
‘We have also started to output our own documents, such as a lexicon of Angkorian terms, information cards on specific temples and a trilingual, integral written account of the first European visit to Angkor by Francisco da Maddalena in the 16th century.’
The library and database is one of several initiatives being undertaken to benefit the community as well as the hotel. ‘Templation, in close association with MAADS, is developing hospitality products in several destinations, including Koh Rong Samloem, as well as a long-term rental residence in Siem Reap,’ says Somonea. ‘We are also building several projects in social responsibility and community involvement, such as a high-level hotel school, a training centre in carpentry and wood construction and an organic farm.”
The hotel is even able to tap into its own craft beer, thanks to Maads-managed Siem Reap Brewpub, which creates local beers with distinctive character. Siem Reap Brewpub provides brews to close to 40 restaurants and hotels in the area, including Templation of course,” says Somonea.
‘The association of the two operations happened quite naturally: same airy, open spaces, majestic trees and streamlined architecture. We are testing and developing new F&B concepts at Brewpub and we launched two weekly evenings with live music.
We are aiming at beer lovers, definitely, and more generally, Siem Reap residents or visitors who appreciate a “tropical brasserie” atmosphere, with casual yet refined dining.’