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Shinta Mani Hotels More Than Just a Luxury Stay 

Sanskrit for “good heart, Shinta Mani Hotels was founded nearly 2 decades ago by Mr. Sokoun Chanpreda, a Cambodian businessman and philanthropist who returned from overseas to invest in the future of his country. 

Shinta Mani Angkor first opened its doors in June 2003, at that time it was a quaint 18-room guest house located in the heart of Siem Reap. Mr. Sokoun Chanpreda pioneered the idea of an onsite hospitality school in order to encourage underprivileged youth in Cambodia to start a new career. Launched in 2004, this unique enterprise marked the birth of the Shinta Mani Foundation.

It was 2012 when an old friend of Mr. Sokoun Chanpreda, celebrity designer Bill Bensley appeared on the scene. Inspired by his deep love for Cambodia, he created 39 upscale boutique suites for Shinta Mani Angkor and 66 lavish rooms for the newly opened wing called Shinta Mani Shack. 

A luxurious spin-off of the original hotel, 10 exquisite pool villas were added in December 2017, making it the debut flagship property in the Bensley Collection – a curated portfolio of sophisticated resorts renowned for their visionary concepts, extraordinary design and bespoke service. What started as a modest guesthouse, had become one of the most luxurious places to stay in Siem Reap: Shinta Mani Angkor – Bensley Collection Pool Villas.

Shinta Mani Angkor – Bensley Collection Pool Villas

Located in the French Quarter, this stunning property is a short walk to the city center and a 15-minute tuk-tuk ride from the world-famous temples. A hotel within a hotel, 10 opulent pool villas, hidden behind the Angkor-inspired gates, come with their own reception and a team of elite butlers. The design pays tribute to Jayavarman VII, the 12th century Cambodian ruler famed for building Angkor Thom and establishing Buddhism as the main religion in his kingdom. Ask your villa host to give you a private tour around the compound to learn more about one of the biggest names in Khmer history.

Artfully created with Bensley’s signature monochrome accents and bold murals, each 156 sqm villa comes with its own 30ft pool, lavish dining area, rooftop lounge, and a stunning outdoor bathtub set in a tropical garden. Exclusive villa benefits will make you feel like you are a member of a private hedonistic club rather than a guest at the hotel. Extend your stay in Siem Reap for a few extra days to experience it all! 

Shinta Mani Wild

Set in the heart of the Cambodian jungle, Shinta Mani Wild became the fourth property for Sokoun Chanpreda and the second in partnership with Bill Bensley. Opened in December 2018, this sleek tented camp is the culmination of everything that the architect has learnt over 35 years of his prolific career and a great example that conservation and hospitality can go hand in hand. Nestled in the heart of the Cardamom Mountains, it tells a bewitching story of the golden age of exploration. The interiors have been meticulously crafted to evoke Bill Bensley’s vision of what it might have been like to be on luxury safari with Jacky O’ who travelled throughout Cambodia with King Sihanouk in 1967.

The Shinta Mani Foundation – Open Doors, Open Hearts

The Shinta Mani Foundation runs a number of admirable programmes in the four core areas of education, healthcare, small business loans and direct assistance that are designed to support the less fortunate in the community. 

Over a course of 10 months, Shinta Mani Hospitality School trains underprivileged Cambodian youth in all aspects of hotel operations. The interns start with learning English and basic computer skills, after that they get to choose one of the departments to major in: culinary, finance, front office, housekeeping, maintenance, food and beverage or spa therapy. The foundation fully covers their tuition costs, housing, uniforms, materials and meals as well as a small stipend of rice and money. During your stay at Shinta Mani Hotels you will meet many well-rounded hospitality professionals who graduated from this institution.

While travelling through Cambodia, I had a chance to visit a small village in Banteay Srey district to get a better understanding of the foundation’s ongoing projects. The team members work directly with the village leaders to identify people’s most urgent needs like access to clean water, English classes for kids, building new houses and helping families to start a sustainable business. It was amazing to see proud adults who achieved self-sufficiency in their own village and now have a chance to secure a better future for their children without having to search for work far from home. 

When looking for a ride in Siem Reap, pay attention to tuk-tuk carriages, upholstered in Bensley-like black and white striped fabric, that are parked by the entrance of Shinta Mani Angkor. Those friendly drivers do not work directly for the hotel but they were fortunate enough to be selected for the micro loan and as such, were able to start their own businesses.

The Shinta Mani Foundation also operates a mobile clinic that offers screening for common health problems, supplies essential medicines and educates villagers on basic hygiene. The organisation regularly joins forces with other like-minded NGOs like Global Dental Relief and Save Haven to expand the range of medical services provided to the community. 

The management costs of the foundation are 100% covered by all Shinta Mani hotels and by donations from the owners and guests. So if you choose those properties for your holidays in Cambodia, you can be sure that your stay will directly benefit local people, communities, animals and ecosystems.

Elena Taintey

Elena is a Russian travel blogger and freelance writer born in Asia. Having now been based in Vietnam since 2012, she has taken the opportunity to explore the region’s most offbeat destinations - from Tibet and Bhutan to Cambodia and the secluded Maldivian islands. With a career switch that has taken her from nuclear physics to writing about luxury destinations, Elena’s niche lies within eco-friendly hotels offering unique design and a good story. She has visited 49 counties so far and still has an extensive bucket list that will keep her going for a long time! Follow her IG @tainteytales for more travel ideas.