Phum Baitang Resort, Cambodia
Sprawling over eight acres in Siem Reap, lies this sustainable compound of forty five traditionally crafted wooden houses. Phum Baitang means ‘Green Village’ and is a mix of the stylish simplicity of rural Cambodia blended with exquisite modern eco interiors to create a luxurious green hideaway amongst the rice fields. Built around an existing farmhouse this beautiful eco escape blends perfectly into the Cambodian countryside.
Phum Baitang Zannier is a member of the Design Hotels™ Family, and the first in Siem Reap. The large houses are designed to reflect traditional village houses. Enter inside and the minimal eco chic interiors compliment the richly weaved wooden houses. Light airy suites look out on to the foliaged gardens and lush surrounding rice fields. Emphasis is on enhancing and complimenting the natural environment whilst giving an understated aesthetic. Owner Arnaud Zannier was inspired by Da Vinci’s philosophy that ‘simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’. This is a theme that carries throughout with the design enhancing both his personal values and the environment.
The traditional stilted houses are airy and open plan to allow the breeze flow through from the distant Tonle Sap across the fields. There are twenty terraced houses and twenty five with private pools. Authentic touches blend with modern style to create sanctuaries of comfort and warmth with a natural earth toned palette. Pieces of the furniture, such as the headboards are handcrafted, are combined with finds from local markets that add personal details to the interiors. Large king size beds with sweeping views into the gardens dominate the décor that includes modern conveniences, such as flat screen TV’s and Nespresso machines. Huge rock hewn baths are the perfect way to soak off a dusty trip to the mystical temples of Angkor and unwind. The style encapsulates both ancient and modern Cambodia.
Phum Baitang is a hidden enclave where you can enjoy the best of Cambodian hospitality, including its richly fragrant cuisine. The Bay Phsar Restaurant overlooking the pool serves typical Khmer dishes with the freshest ingredients sourced from the organic farms in the area. The chef displays produce for guests to discover and customise their dishes like at the local markets. Experience the rich coconut curries and aromatic fish dishes in a classical rustic colonial setting of rattan winged chairs and open air tropical dining. Rice is the natural accompaniment to any dish in South East Asia and here is sourced straight from the paddy fields surrounding the property. The farm to table philosophy here ensures fresh and authentic tasting food.
This is the perfect hideaway to explore the majestic Angkor Temple Complex and the rich history of the Khmer Kingdom. Full of myths and legends follow the labyrinth of temples created by Kings to honour gods and ancestors. A traditional tuk tuk is the best way to explore this vast UNESCO World Heritage Site. The hotel tuk tuks and guides can take you or for something truly spectacular take to the skies for a helicopter ride and birds eye view of the temples. For more slow travel though a bicycle is the perfect way to meander through the vast city complex and follow the wide boulevards to the main temples. Sunrise is the best time to experience Angkor, and although many people have the same idea for Angkor Wat, other temples like Angkor Thom (of Tomb Raider fame) you can find yourself totally alone in this mythical setting.
Other areas to discover around Phum Baitang include the Tonle Sap Lake. This is the ‘Great Lake’ and the biggest freshwater lake in South East Asia. Intrinsic to the economy of Angkor in the past and Siem Reap today, it is a living entity that supports Cambodia. Designated a UNESCO Biosphere in 1997 it has an incredibly rich biodiversity of fish, birds, reptiles and mammals. Its unique ecosystem supports around three million people and provides 75% of Cambodia’s freshwater fish. Visit the floating fishing villages on stilts that hover above the lake with the inhabitants travelling the waterways and forests by boat. A unique traditional way of life that is preserved in these pretty and lush settings.
Back at Phum Baitang the perfect way to rebalance is in the Temple Spa, a name reflecting its stunning architecture reminiscent of ancient Angkor architecture. Decorated in serene soft hues, plants and antiques to create a sanctuary of relaxation. It is a stunning spa located in the shaded garden where you can experience age old rituals to rebalance body, spirit and mind. Local ingredients such as lemongrass and jasmine are skilfully blended into oils and treatments to soothe and refresh tired limbs during deeply therapeutic massages. There is a selection of scrubs and beauty therapies in this holistic space. For those travelling with little ones there is a wonderful kids club in a fully staffed wooden house so a little time off to relax and take in this beautiful property is catered for.
The Cigar & Cocktail Bar is a raffishly refined colonial space of rattan, leather and warm carpets filled with a hint of bygone era charm. Unwind with a glass of wine from the carefully curated cellar or a choice cigar sitting on the terrace. With the sound of cicadas and the breeze for companions, this is truly an oasis away from the world and even busy Siem Reap. Private dining is can be arranged in the paddy fields or the calm of your villa garden. This is an intimate way to enjoy the peaceful star spangled stars that are mirrored below on some of Angkor’s most sacred temples. It is the perfect end to a day exploring the mystical adventures of these ancient ruins.
With its strong commitment to the environment and artisanal touches, Phum Baitang elevates the concept of a green village to a rustically elegant haven of eco chic. Zannier has created a Garden of Eden in amongst the rice fields of rural Cambodia. This is the first member of the world renowned Design Hotels™ in the country and with it’s colonial aesthetic, it is a sustainably stylish Siem Reap must stay.
Photographs Courtesy of Design Hotels & Words by Electra Gillies