Archive for August, 2012

Gibbon Treks in NE Cambodia

Friday, August 31st, 2012
A female buff-cheeked gibbon. Pic Ben Rawson.

A female buff-cheeked gibbon. Pic Ben Rawson.

Update from Ratanakiri’s rare Gibbons.

It was back in April that Hanuman’s Andy Brouwer took a close look at the unique Gibbon-spotting trek that had been introduced in Ratanakiri. Read more about his experience here.

The trek is hosted in the natural habitat of an endangered species of gibbon only discovered in 2010 in the Ratanakiri province of Northeast Cambodia. This is a rare and unique experience for enthusiastic wild life spotters and those who are interested in biology and nature conservation. Only very small groups of between 2-6 visitors are allowed to visit the site making this an opportunity for up to only 460 people per year, in order to control the risk of the human impact as well as optimising chances of viewing the gibbons. For information, more than a third of the proceeds of the treks go directly to the community and to supporting the gibbons. The company promoting the treks are now advertising set departures from 1 November through to 18 June each year, making that 77 tours, starting every fourth day. They have decided to run only 2 day-1 night treks, with a public price of $400 per person if there are just two people, though the price will drop if more than two people take the tour. The cost does not include transport to/from Ratanakiri province. This is a unique way to experience a rare gibbon family in the wild. The memory of the gibbons’ piercing call in the jungle still resonates months later.

Tropical Minimal at Arun

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012
Arun Villas

Arun Villas

Arun Villa opens its doors in Phnom Penh.

This week’s latest boutique hotel opening in Phnom Penh – the Cambodian capital has seen a surge of boutique arrivals in the past twelve months – is Arun Villa, the brainchild of the team behind Terres Rouge (in Banlung, Ratanakiri) and Rajabori Villas (on Koh Trong Island in Kratie). Located in the popular Boeung Keng Kang 1 area of the city, four-storey Arun Villa hosts twelve spacious rooms (six deluxe and six larger suites) in typical Terres Rouge style (which they term tropical minimal), lots of locally-sourced period furniture, granite-styled bathrooms with an 8×4 swimming pool and bar-cum-snack area. Room rates go up to US$85 including French breakfast.

Arriving in Style

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Song Saa Announce Helicopter Transfers.

Song Saa Private Island is introducing a 4-times-a-week helicopter transfer service between Phnom Penh and Song Saa Private Island, departing from the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra Helipad or Phnom Penh airport from 1 November for the upcoming high season. The new service will operate on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturdays. Departing Sofitel Helipad at 1pm, arriving at Song Saa Island at 2.20pm. Departing Song Saa at 3pm and arriving Phnom Penh Sofitel Helipad at 4.30pm. The helicopter service will operate from 1st November 2012 – 30th March 2013. The provider of the air transfers are Helicopters Cambodia, the country’s premier helicopter service. The Canadian-Cambodian company was the first commercial helicopter service to operate in the country, commencing operations in 1998. The rates offered by Song Saa are for 1-way or return trips and Song Saa will offer different packages whether its helicopter-only, or they can offer guests the use of the Sofitel Club lounge and meal with a luxury option or a platinum package that includes a 1-night stay in Sofitel’s Prestige Suite. Prices available from sales@hanumantourism.com.

A Hanuman Welcome for Jill Young

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

Hanuman appoint a new General Manager.

A new General Manager Sales, Jill Young, will begin her tenure at Hanuman on 1 September. For the past nine years Jill has been a key player at Regent Holidays, one of the UK’s longest-running independent travel companies. She worked as Tours Manager for Regent, looking after a wide range of countries, including Indochina, Myanmar, China, Russia, Central Asia and the Caucasus. Jill comes with exceptional knowledge and experience of the UK travel industry having run her own department within Regent during her time there. We look forward to her bringing her energy, drive and commitment to the Hanuman team. Jill has travelled extensively Indochina, Myanmar, China, Russia, Central Asia and Africa, including some hands-on tour leading in destinations as diverse as Myanmar and Georgia. Hanuman would like to record its appreciation to our departing General Manager Sales, Jason Blackwell, who has spent the past 18 months with the company and is now returning to work in Laos.

More from Song Saa

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Song Saa Private Island were recently splashed in full colour in the Conde Nast Brides – Honeymoon Guide 2012-13 Magazine, under the title of The Top 100 Destinations In The World. The Wow Factor highlighted in the magazine was: Take a 30-minute speedboat trip to Five Mile Beach on nearby Koh Rong. While you take a dip in the warm turquoise waters, Song Saa staff will set up parasols, cushions and a gourmet picnic.

Song Saa are very active with promotion on Facebook and a brand new website is poised to be unveiled any day now. A Helicopter Service from Phnom Penh direct to the island resort is also earmarked to begin sometime soon, as is a departure facility based at the Sihanoukville dock.

Hanuman is currently developing two Cambodia Luxe itineraries alongside Song Saa that will partner up with Amansara or Raffles for a high-class trip to Cambodia of between 7-10 days duration.

The following are some of the recent press quotes about Song Saa Private Island.

Stylist (January 2012): “A high-end oasis of tranquillity which is putting Cambodia firmly on the luxury travel map.”

Tatler Travel Guide 2012: 101 Best Hotels in the World.

House & Garden: Hotels By Design (May 2012) “An elegant deeply comfortable hotel where guests feel an instant and over-riding sense of place and community.”

Conde Nast Traveller: Hot List 2012 (May 2012) “The 60 Best New Hotels in the World.”

Travel + Leisure It List: “The Best New Hotels 2012” (June 2012).

Vogue 100 Best Holidays (June 2012): “The staggeringly beautiful Song Saa will make your dreams come true. Discrete staff will cater to your every need while allowing you to feel that you have actually made it to heaven. Deserted white beaches, endless views, psychedelic sunsets – and all put together by a pioneering set up that does nothing but good for the indigenous community it has risen from.”

Condé Nast Traveller (April 2012): “A new resort that is leading the way in sustainable luxury” “A paradise of understated luxury and indigenous charm.”

Le Figaro (March 2012) “In the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Thailand an exceptional island resort has just opened its doors, a real destination in itself the essential accompaniment to a visit Angko.r”

A Weekend Escape to Song Saa

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012
Song Saa Private Island

Song Saa Private Island

Song Saa Private Island is not your typical weekend getaway, but it’s the perfect place to recharge the batteries for those with the budget for luxury living.

Song Saa Private Island has done for the Cambodian coastline what Angkor Wat did for little old Siem Reap and put it squarely on the global map. Travelling out to the island by speedboat offers a little touch of the James Bond and it wouldn’t be surprising for Daniel Craig or Angelina Jolie to alight here in years to come, although perhaps not together.

We were staying in a two-bedroom Jungle Villa atop the island. The lounge is immense and open plan, with a beautiful fitted kitchen artfully tucked away behind sliding doors. The moulded sofa wraps itself panoramically around the windows to offer an incredible view of the private pool beyond.

The bedrooms are identical, centred around a striking four-poster bed. Personal touches include a pre-loaded i-pod squeezed full of eclectic music and hit movies, all synced into the state-of-the-art Bose sound system. Both bedrooms include a walk-in closet to spread the clothes and the all-inclusive extras extend to imported mosquito repellent, sunscreen and cleansing gel.

On to the bathroom, this is almost the size of a room in the average boutique hotel. Twin copper sinks for him and her, a wide and deep terrazzo bathtub and not one, not two, but three showers if you like variety. A his and hers pairing opposite the bath and an outdoor, Balinese style shower for romantics or exhibitionists. The on-tap toiletries are all from Aesop of Australia.

The swimming pool is crescent shaped with an infinite lip looking out to jungle, azure waters and the island of Koh Rong beyond. Surrounded by decking that has been sculpted around the existing trees and foliage, it all adds up the Song Saa signature of ‘luxury that treads lightly’. Perfect for couples seeking privacy or families seeking to let loose without constant refrain to the children to ‘behave’.

One thing that is easily forgotten from the confines of an overseas office is that Song Saa Private Island is fully inclusive. This means a well-stocked fridge filled with beverages of your choice, ranging from Prosecco to Tiger Beer and everything in-between. We were welcomed with a lavish platter of imported cheeses and charcuterie, but that is just the beginning of the culinary adventure as all meals are included.

Dinner is taken at Vista Restaurant & Bar, stunningly located in shallow waters off the island. The nightly set menu combines traditional Cambodian flavours with an international twist, making for some delightful dishes. Our menu included a very Khmer prahoc khtis, as well an international ode to tomatoes with All About Tomato. It is a delightfully romantic setting and a fantastic location to enjoy a sundowner cocktail, keeping in mind that Song Saa sets its clocks one hour ahead of the mainland.

Longer stay guests can also dine at the more casual Beach Bar where pizzas and tapas are available. And if selecting a restaurant sounds like too much trouble, then in-villa dining is included from a lazy breakfast to a romantic dinner. Or you can trip by speedboat to one of the many secluded beaches that ring the neighbouring island of Koh Rong with a private picnic in hand. This is Robinson Crusoe reinvented, a luxurious escape to an empty stretch of sand.

This is just a snapshot of what is on offer at Song Saa. Activities include snorkelling and diving, sea-kayaking and wake-boarding. Or if that all sounds a little too adrenaline-oriented, there is also the Sanctuary Spa for a selection of rubs, scrubs or petal-infused tubs. Children’s activities include everything from swimming classes to snorkelling sessions. Both adults and children can try their hand at Cambodian cooking classes and recreate some of the signature dishes once back home.

Song Saa Private Island has set the standard for luxury living in Cambodia. If you like the finer things in life, then add Song Saa Private Island to your bucket list.

Contact the Hanuman sales team at sales@hanumantourism.com for more details.

Hanuman Seeks Country Manager

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Hanuman is seeking an experienced Country Manager in Indochina to run one of our regional offices on a day-to-day basis.

This is a challenging opportunity for an ambitious individual seeking to stamp their mark on an already successful and reputable company working with many of the leading travel agents and tour operators in markets all over the world. This is the opportunity to lead a successful team setup in a fast-growing Destination Management Company with grand ambitions within the region.

If you are a highly motivated individual who can think out of the box and a team player who can produce the best from your staff in a challenging marketplace, then Hanuman is interested in hearing from you.

Responsibilities as Country Manager for Hanuman include:

1. Manage all departments directly under this position including: Sales, Operations, Contracts, Purchasing, Product and Ticketing. Liaise with Admin & HR and Finance.

2. Provide leadership, inspiration and motivation to the in-country team.

3. Implement & oversee staff recruitment.

4. Initiate staff capacity building and training programmes to improve skills and productivity.

5. Ensure the Sales team perform at its optimum; set agreed key performance indicators (KPI) and ensure targets are met.

6. Conceptualize sales and marketing strategies to increase market share.

7. Develop a business plan to strengthen our client base and to increase sales, including international trade fairs.

8. Conduct market analysis to determine our competitiveness in the market place.

9. Supervise Operations systems and guide/vehicle deployment.

10. Negotiate with suppliers for optimum prices on a regular basis.

Contact: Please send your CV together with salary expectation and current location to Andy Brouwer @ andy@hanumantourism.com.

Making A Difference

Friday, August 17th, 2012
Epic Arts in Kampot

Epic Arts in Kampot

Pop into Epic Arts on your visit to Kampot in southern Cambodia.

Epic Arts do fantastic work with deaf and disabled students in Kampot, on Cambodia’s south coast. Whether its their successful outreach programme, or their educational help to the disadvantaged, as well as their incredible arts and performance workshops and vocational training, not to mention their lovely cafe in downtown Kampot. If you are in this popular riverside town, take time to pay them a visit. The cafe stands as a model for an inclusive working environment within the local community, providing employment for ten people and raising funds for the work of Epic Arts. At present the cafe generates enough revenue to be self-sufficient. Stop by the Epic Arts Cafe for delicious homemade cakes, fresh coffee and smoothies. Our favourites include the carrot cake and the sticky date cake. You can also purchase souvenirs such as Kampot pepper or postcards made by the local disabled students. The cafe is open daily from 7am till 5.30pm.

Epic Arts believes in a world where Every Person Counts (EPiC) and where people living with disabilities are valued, accepted and respected. Epic Arts aims to change people’s attitudes towards disability. They hope to nurture the abilities of those usually termed disabled by society through arts workshops and an arts cafe. Their workshops provide an environment where disabled and able-bodied people can interact, build confidence and express themselves creatively. They began life in Cambodia with dance workshops and performances in Phnom Penh; however when the team moved to the rural town of Kampot, things really took off.  A need for tea and delicious cakes soon led to the setting up of Epic Arts cafe, and a need for a fully-accessible building brought about the Arts Centre in 2009 – the first of its kind in South East Asia. Find out more about them at http://www.epicarts.org.uk/.

Past and Present

Thursday, August 16th, 2012
Amansara in Siem Reap

Amansara in Siem Reap

Explore Indochina’s Past and Present with Amanresorts.

Amansara (in Siem Reap) and Amantaka (in Luang Prabang), two of the chic 25 Amanresorts operating in 16 countries around the globe, are offering an Indochina Past and Present package at reduced rates between this November and October 2013. This six-night journey through Cambodia and Laos, with three nights accommodation at each resort includes round-trip airport transfers, daily breakfast, choice of lunch or dinner with house beverages and taxes. Amantaka is housed in a cluster of graceful French colonial buildings in beautiful Luang Prabang and your stay will also include a guide tour of the World Heritage city, sixty minute traditional Lao massage, morning Mekong River boat trip, a traditional Baci ceremony and private in-suite dinner with a specially designed menu. At Amansara, formerly the guest villa of King Norodom Sihanouk and located on the fringes of the 12th-century Angkor Wat, your three night stay will include twice daily outings to the temples of Angkor in a remork with personal guide, a jasmine blessing and a traditional Khmer breakfast at their own Khmer Village House. For reservations or more details, please contact sales@hanumantourism.com.

Whilst on the subject of Amantaka, an exhibition of rare Buddhist photographs under the banner of The Karmic Glance, will be held at the property from October 2012 to March 2013. The exhibition will host historic monks’ portraits from the unique collection of the monasteries of Luang Prabang, together with a limited edition portfolio of fine art facsimilies of 26 portraits. Amanresorts are located in the following countries – Bhutan, Cambodia, China, France, Greece, India, Indonesia, Laos, Montenegro, Morocco, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States of America.

Arts at Ock Pop Tok

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012
The welcoming staff at Ock Pop Tok in Luang Prabang

The welcoming staff at Ock Pop Tok in Luang Prabang

Keeping art and culture alive in Laos with the artisans at Ock Pop Tok.

For an experience that will help you appreciate the master skills of textile artisans in Laos, then we recommend a visit to the Living Crafts Centre of Ock Pop Tok when you are in Luang Prabang. Started in 2000, the driving philosophy of this social enterprise is to empower women through the use of traditional skills and fairtrade practices. The name Ock Pop Tok means east meets west and you can visit their centre on the banks of the Mekong River for a guided tour and to meet the silk weavers and craft artisans working on traditional looms and practicing the age old techniques brought to Laos over 1200 years ago.

Actually, you can create your own textiles, working with a local artisan in one of their daily classes at the centre. These classes give you a hands-on insight into the skill of natural dyeing and weaving. Working alongside local weavers, this is a fabulous opportunity to immerse yourself in local Lao culture. You can also learn how to weave bamboo and Hmong Batik if you so desire. And when you’ve completed your class, there is a cafe, shop and small four-room guesthouse on your doorstep. A great place to include in your Luang Prabang itinerary.