You may have visited Cambodia and its resort town Siem Reap, and you may have visited Angkor Wat and the many more temples that litter the town until you are on the verge of “temple fatigue”. However, you may want to renew your relationship with Siem Reap, especially through The Aviary hotel with its four-day-three-night Siem Reap package.
With an understanding of luxury, and welcoming, personable staff, The Aviary is a thoughtfully designed and modern property with a uniquely Cambodian twist. Along with eco-friendly rooms with locally commissioned artworks, like its namesake, the beauty and diversity of birdlife native to the Kingdom of Cambodia is celebrated through motifs of their feathered-winged friends, as their real-life counterparts can be spotted flying overhead as one is lounging poolside.
As the world gets ready to usher in the New Year, The Aviary is set to give its guests a new perspective when it comes to Siem Reap, a city with strong Khmer roots still rebuilding itself with an electrifying energy of many emerging nations.
Through the Siem Reap package, travellers can enjoy the best of both worlds – an eco-friendly sanctuary to return to, after a day’s journey discovering Siem Reap through the eyes of local Cambodians, in which visiting Angkor Wat may not necessarily be a must.
1. Unpack your bags to a 3-night stay at The Aviary
The 25-room modern urban design hotel holds three types of rooms and suites that you may choose from for the Siem Reap package. The Tailorbird Standard room is decorated with flocks of the namesake bird on the walls of the 35sqm premise, with subtle touches of artisanal Cambodia, such as handcrafted birdcage lights, water hyacinth rugs and a private balcony come together to create a relaxing environment for your stay.
Whereas the Kingfisher Deluxe room interior is highlighted by the feather motifs, silhouetted kingfishers, colourful silks and bird-inspired lamps – each made with materials from Siem Reap-based fashion designer Eric Raisina, and metalwork from local non-profit the Iron Workshop. The 45sqm room also includes a private balcony and an in-room seating area to match the single beds or double bed.
Situated on the top floor of The Aviary, with only three of these suites available in the premise, the Sarus Crane Suite celebrates the spectacular and effortlessly elegant Sarus Crane. Each of the 60sqm suite comes with a large bedroom with a king-sized bed, a separate living room area and a private balcony – filled with natural lighting and uniquely designed with comfort in mind.
On top of whichever room you choose for your package, it comes with a roundtrip airport transfer, refreshments upon arrival, a welcome gift waiting for you in your room, as well as full access to the pool area and Wi-Fi and Internet. Not to mention, daily breakfast for two at the Plumage Restaurant, a stylish centre point of The Aviary, where breakfast is served to the distinguished guests amidst its modern surroundings.
2. Dive into a 4-course set lunch or dinner
Besides the abovementioned Plumage Restaurant, The Aviary is also home to the rooftop Glide Bar, and the jungle-inspired The Flock café garden, the latter with floor-to-ceiling windows opening onto a jungle-inspired garden where guests can treat themselves to a selection of delicious coffees, mouth-watering snacks and light meals created using locally sourced organic produce.
Up on the third floor, the Glide Bar dining area is where a four-course Asian-inspired meal is awaits you and your partner. Amidst the jungle flora decorations and Siem Reap’s ever-changing skyline through the windows, it is not only the ideal place to discover organic Asian flavours during a sophisticated romantic dinner, but also the place to enjoy a drink or two.
Available at Glide Bar is an array of Havana Cigars from notable brands like Partagas, Cohiba, Romeo y Julieta, and Montecristo, with complexity and flavours ranging from the deeper earthy and nutty tones, to the milder fruity notes with hints of cocoa and vanilla. Order yourselves a glass of whisky, cognac, brandy, scotch, or perhaps even port to take in all that is good in life.
3. Indulge in a 3-course set dinner at the Khmer-cuisine Chanrey Tree
Great food does not stop there for The Aviary’s Siem Reap Package, as guests will also be offered a variety of authentic Cambodian home-style cooking, and flavours unique to the magical country at Chanrey Tree.
Located in the heart of Siem Reap’s riverside district, Chanrey Tree welcomes diners into a beautifully restored traditional wooden Khmer house, with a modern and spacious al fresco area out back, and a front garden overlooking the serene Siem Reap River, where diners can take in the richness of dishes like Roast Khmer Chicken, free-range Khmer chicken roasted with honey and rice brandy, young jackfruit and lemongrass; Fish Amok, steamed river fish and green ‘gnor’ leaf cooked in traditional Khmer curry; Char Khroeung, frog leg, river fish or beef stir-fried with a delicious mix of Khmer spices; and Prahok Ktish, a Cambodian delicacy of fermented fish, pork and thinly sliced river fish braised with coconut cream, baby eggplant.
Every dish featured in Chanrey Tree comes from diverse and rare Khmer recipes passed down through the generations, renowned in home kitchens and popular local market stalls across the bucolic countryside, and brought forth to introduce to an international audience, as well as to reunite young Cambodians with their food heritage. Not only that, all dishes use premium produce and ingredients from local farmers and communities.
4. Hop on a Cambodian remork-moto
“When in Rome, do as the Romans do”, as the saying goes, and the best way to get to know the foreign country you are visiting, besides by way of the tummy, is through the country’s mode of transport.
In Cambodia, it’s the remork-moto (or tuk-tuk, if you must), a motorcycle with a passenger trailer hitched at the back, seen throughout rural Cambodia transporting people and goods, especially at the edge of towns, always ready at a moment’s notice to ferry local farmers back to the countryside.
Through The Aviary’s Siem Reap Package, one gets to experience a local’s way of getting around town, as the remork-moto ferries the hotel guests to two featured destinations in the resort town: Theam’s House, a three-in-one house, atelier and art gallery showcasing modern art pieces of traditional Khmer art and culture by Cambodian artist Lim Muy Theam; and APOPO’s visitor centre, a non-governmental organisation that trains the most unlikely heroes to save thousands of lives daily by detecting landmines – rats, more affectionately known to the organisation as HeroRATS.
5. Get front row seats at Phare, The Cambodian Circus
Get to know the history of Cambodia in the most spectacular way at Phare, The Cambodian Circus by performing students and graduates of Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPSA), a vocational training centre in Battambang formed back in 1994. Established in 2013, Phare, The Cambodian Circus offers the PPSA students and graduates somewhere to hone their skills, and a place to earn a decent wage – money that will not only take them out of poverty, but give them the self-respect and freedom every human being should have.
Every night, for 365 days a year, over 330 performers take the stage, telling stories of their home country – historical, folk or modern, imbued with themes such as poverty, conflict, and relationships, through theatre, music, dance and modern circus art. Almost 75% of the profit goes directly back to the training centre.
The Siem Reap package by The Aviary is available until March 31, 2019