With big new luxury hotels and new tour offerings, Laos and Cambodia are increasingly opening up to Asia-bound travelers.
“Cambodia and Laos are small but precious gems and could be seen on the same vacation, possibly combined with Vietnam,” says Mark Grundy, managing director of Asia for Avanti Destinations.
The Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia may be the most famous draw for cultural travelers, but your clients should also check out Phnom Penh, which evokes a bygone era with tree-lined boulevards and riverfront promenades, Grundy says. The lesser-known Laos has plenty to recommend for active travelers, including underground caves, white-water rapids and treetop ziplines, although ancient temples abound here, too.
In addition to its currently existing customizable tours in Laos and Cambodia, Avanti is launching a new product that will give travelers the chance to help rebuild a Khmer village. While the name was not yet available at press time, plans call for a seven-hour experience that allows guests to visit one such village, take a ride in (and learn how to drive) an ox cart, and meet with a host family and join them in doing whatever work is needed at the time. Another family will then take guests to purchase fresh ingredients from locals for lunch, which the host family prepares. After that, guests will have a chance to see a community school and workshop being built. The price is $99 per person, which will go directly to the community the guest visits, Avanti says.
In hotel news, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts is planning to open the Rosewood Luang Prabang in Laos in 2017. The new property will consist of eight deluxe villas, three garden villas, six private pool villas and five luxury tents, all of which will be designed using locally sourced materials and artwork. The tents will each have their own dining areas and wrap-around decks. The hotel will also have a bar, a bistro and the brand’s signature Sense, A Rosewood Spa, which will have three treatment rooms.
Rosewood is also planning to open the Rosewood Phnom Penh in Cambodia this year. The 175-room hotel will be in the city’s Central Business District, on the top 14 floors of the 39-story Vattanac Capital Tower One. For dining, guests can check out two specialty restaurants, a lobby lounge, a 120-seat bistro, and a cantilevered sky bar for views of the city. The spa will have five treatment rooms, a fitness center and a pool.
Also in Cambodia, Six Senses is planning to open a new resort on the 30-acre island of Krabey in May. It will have 40 pool villas built using sustainable materials, an observatory, the outdoor Cinema Paradiso and a full-service spa, as well as opportunities for snorkeling and kayaking. The highlight of several food and beverage options will be Indochine, a specialty dining restaurant. To get there, guests can fly in to Sihanoukville Airport, which is a 10-minute drive from the jetty used for a water transfer to the island.