This is an installment in my March 2012 Asia Trip Series which includes: A Birthday Present To Myself: Business Class on the World’s Longest Flight for $2.50, Help Me Plan My Asia Trip Starting With Singapore, Flight Review: Singapore Airlines All Business Class Flight From Newark To Singapore, Hotel Review: Intercontinental Singapore, Video Trip Report: Singapore, Hotel Review: Le Meridien Bangkok Avantec Suite, Video Trip Report: Bangkok, Hotel Review: Le Meridien Angkor, Video Trip Report: Siem Reap, Hotel Review: Intercontinental Phnom Penh, Video Trip Report: Phnom Penh and the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields, Hotel Review: W Hong Kong.
Originally I was going to spend just two nights in Siem Reap and visit the ruins of Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples in a whirlwind tour, but after hearing TPG readers’ suggestions for my five days in Cambodia, I decided to follow their suggestions (which I’m so glad I did!).
I initially had booked two nights at 220-room Le Meridien Angkor using SPG Cash & Points since this property is a steal as a Category 2 hotel, so it only took 1,600 points + $30 a night for a room redemption (rates were $140 a night). That translates into 6.8 cents per point, a pretty good conversion if you ask me and this is exactly why I love Starwood points. Especially since my second two nights were in a suite, which would have cost about $250 a night. More on that in a moment. Best of all, the stay earned me credit toward elite status, and breakfast was free for me as a Platinum SPG member and I was able to choose an amenity of 500 SPG points or a local gift (a little silver elephant in this case).
The Room Then The Suite
Thanks to my SPG Platinum status and the fact that this is an out-of-the-way property, I thought I’d have a pretty good shot at a room upgrade, but when I arrived, I found out that, at least for the first two nights, I’d just have a one category upgrade from the room I booked: a Deluxe King. Still, it’s a category above their basic standard rooms, so I was fine with it.
The Deluxe King was just over 400 square feet, so very sizeable, and though the decor is called “Khmer fusion,” it basically looked modern with a few colorful pillows to me. The bed was simply outfitted in white sheets with a patterned runner and pillows and a pillow-top mattress, and there was a small bench with pillows and a little table with my welcome fruit plate amenity, plus a work desk and a television and DVD player. The adjacent bathroom was pretty nice with a separate tub and shower, a single vanity and peekaboo shutters that looked into the bedroom (which I always think is a little weird).
As I mentioned, I made a second reservation for the third and fourth nights of my stay using Cash & Points, and I noticed the night before the second reservation was to start that it had been upgraded to a suite, so I asked about it, and the staff said I could switch for the last two nights of my stay to a Corner Suite, which was nearly twice as large–it basically seemed like two rooms combined into one, with the first being a sitting area-living room, and the second being the bedroom-bathroom combo I’d had before. It was nice to be able to spread out a little bit and hang out in the living room where there was a sofa, two armchairs and a coffee table plus another TV, and sliding doors leading into the king bedroom.
The location was one of the best things about the hotel–it was about 9 miles from the airport ($7 cab ride), and midway between the town of Siem Reap itself and the temples, so it was just far enough outside the hectic town to be peaceful, but not way out in the boondocks. Angkor Wat was just about 10 minutes away, and the more secluded Angkor Thom complex (which I actually enjoyed more) was around 20 minutes from the hotel, so getting everywhere was very easy.
Breakfast was included with my room because of my elite status, and I’d highly recommend getting a room rate that includes it here because the spread was fantastic with delicious fresh fruit and Asian dishes like the noodle-seafood soup I got–great way to start the day.
After our daily tours of the nearby temples, it was nice to come back to the hotel and relax at the pool area, which was sort of like nouveau-Angkor-Art Deco-fusion style (I know that might now make much sense). As you see in the pictures, not many people were there, probably because it was so hot and muggy, but once you were in the pool it was really refreshing.
The spa here was also great to have on hand. It has just 6 treatment rooms, so it didn’t feel at all crowded, and they have the usual array of both eastern and western treatments on the menu, so it was nice to be able to get a foot massage after spending all day wandering the ruins with a guide!
There was also a little shop selling local crafts and souvenirs, which, though not cheap like I could have bartered for out in Siem Reap, was very convenient for picking up some last-minute souvenirs.
I’d also say the staff was super-friendly and helpful, though English communication seemed a bit challenging at times. However, everything worked out, and the concierge helped set us up with a driver and daily plans on several occasions, so all our needs were met.
Before this review gets to be too glowing, I did want to point out a couple downsides to the stay. First, the resort is recarpeting the hallways, so many of them were a complete mess, and the complex is really rambling, so it can seem maze-like at times with tons of twists and turns just to get to your room or anywhere else you need to go.
The WiFi was free for me, but there was a different network in the room and in the lobby, and you had to re-logon every time your phone or device disconnected from the network you were on. Plus, you needed a different login for each device, so by the end of the trip, I had about a million pieces of paper with WiFi info on them. The connection was stable and decently fast though, so I don’t want to complain too much especially for a third world country!
Overall, Siem Reap is becoming more and more of a tourist hot spot every day, so I recommend going now before it gets completely overrun (I wish I’d come a few years ago myself!). This hotel is a great option for earning and using points–especially the Cash & Points option that wrung so much value out of my SPG points. News also came this week that the historic Hotel de la Paix d’Angkor (where I had dinner one night) will close this summer and reopen in early 2013 as a Park Hyatt, so that will be another great option for Hyatt Gold Passport members. Stay tuned for more recommendations and video footage from my 4 days in Siem Reap!