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T / not going for the temples – siem reap part one.

You’d think that this blog having origins in Phnom Penh would have put up a Siem Reap guide or two by now.  After all, Cait and I have run our fair share of Angkor Wat Marathons, personally brought and sent visitors, the whole shebang.  This time around, I was looking for a getaway that wasn’t the usual haunts of Kep or Kampot.  I looked northeast, partnered up with the wonderful folks at MAADS, and got to check out Templation, their new 5 star property in Siem Reap that prides itself on sustainability.

A combination of burnout related sensations happens when you live in Phnom Penh.  Don’t get me wrong, I love this city and I’ve actually called it home for the past six yearss.  But even for this mild mannered freelancer, there comes a point in time where you need to get the heck out of dodge.

Templation is one of the brand spanking new hotels in Siem Reap that not only prides itself on the modern design, impeccable service and gorgeous setting, but also sustainability.  And they’re part of the MAADS family of hotels that I love so much (check out old faves here and here). So it was the obvious place I wanted to escape to with my partner when we both realized we were more than a bit exhausted.  This morning person sometimes needs a little lie-in.

And with reliable and safe flights going three times a day from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap on Angkor Air, we found ourselves checking into Templation just three hours after locking up our apartment. The place is just fabulous and the moment you walk in, you know you’re in a MAADS property, bring warmly greeted by staff and lead to relax at their veranda bar by the pool while they get everything ready for you.

We were lead to our Pool Suite (read: PRIVATE POOL) and we never had any desire to leave the confines of our little 70 square meter escape.  When I did have to work (let’s be honest, the work is never done and I like to respond to clients immediately), I could retreat into the air-conditioned living room for some quick design edits, and then dive right into the pool again.

Oh right.  That pool.  It’s not the usual tiny bathtub that many hoteliers try to pass off as a pool.  This baby is huge.  And the whirlpool jets are cherry on top.  Also, those walls that line your private little space are high, and lined with all the green things so you know that your little foray into skinny dipping is for your companion’s eyes only.  

The other thing about the folks at MAADS is that they are experts at combining modernity with the local vibe.  Every little element I couldn’t help but think that this is how the future of Cambodia living could look like.  Concrete structures that felt warm and inviting.  The perfect amount of minimalism and sparseness in each room so you never felt boxed in by decorative elements.  The walk to your suite even feels like you’re strolling through a lush utopian planet on Star Trek.  And I mean that with the fullest adoration and fangirl sentiment.

MAADS properties also pride themselves on sustainability. But Templation takes this a step further.  They’re near completely energy self sufficient.  This means that they’re producing almost enough energy, from solar panels installed by Solearon, to power their operations.  All of those air-conditioners in their 33 suites and villas that have been designed to be energy effiicent, 21 pools private pools, spa, kitchen and other operations are covered.  And they’re the only hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia’s tourist mecca, to do this.  Oh right, they’re also committed to recycling and composting on the property too.  As a David Suzuki-bred Canadian who is trying to be a little more eco-conscious this year, I’m a huge supporter of this.  

So you could come to Siem Reap to see the temples.  But you could also just come to visit this cultural mecca of Cambodia with all the best artisans and most delicious food, and stay at Templation.  Their restaurant is delicious, with a superb breakfast that is the opposite of your typical buffet and is instead an unlimited a la carte menu that’s part of your stay (read: it’s classy).  Templation also boasts a Bodia Spa right on its premises with a free 15 minute back and shoulder massage offered to all guests (this also means Bodia products in all the rooms!).  So even if you did decide to go for that hike up Phnom Kulen, or rise at 5am to catch the temples at sunrise, you have everything waiting for you when you get back.  Seriously.  Not shabby at all.

Templation is located just minutes outside of the Angkor Wat Temple Complex.  Prices will vary according to season.

This was a sponsored post and thanks to Bernard and the folks at MAADS for reaching out for this collaboration.  We’re huge fans of the MAADS family of hotels in Cambodia and we can’t wait to see what you develop next!

PS – next week I’ll be posting a guide to all the new Siem Reap eats and shops!

All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.  Cait+Tiff are not liable for any public nudity charges as a result of the luxury of a private pool.



T / a jungle in the city


It’s been a bit of a busy month.  Weekends, nights, days, are all occupied with something and any free hours are devoted to House of Cards.  So when my partner’s birthday conveniently popped up last weekend, all I could think was surprise staycation.  We’ve got a lot of wonderful boutique hotels in Phnom Penh.  All bespoke, thematic and for all budgets.  This made it really fun to see my partner guess which we were staying at as we tuk-tuked en route.  The ones I lean on are the family of hotels owned by Marie and Alexis de Sureimain (together, they’re known as MAADS)   They’ve designed and curated such a wonderful collection of accommodations that preserve heritage buildings and architecture in Phnom Penh and further.  We love going to Kirirom Mountain Lodge when we need a respite out of the city.

But last week, I decided to stay in Phnom Penh and I booked us into MAADS’ The Plantation.   You would never guess it was in the middle of the hustle and bustle of an emerging Asian city.   And you would never believe that check-in is happening at the former Ministry of Labour.  And before it was a government building, it served as an administrative building linking the governing French and the Royal Palace, which is just a hop and a skip away.

Front-of-HouseThe Plantation’s front-of-house mansion dates back to the 1930s, and MAADS has helped to preserve it and reconstruct the parts which had been destroyed during the war in the 1970s.  And what a restoration it was.


Hints of a former French colonial mansion.  This front-of-house pool is available for non-guests to use at a nominal fee.


Original tiles are key for any heritage hotel.

The administrative buildings, built during the 1980s and 90s, that form the body of the hotel have been transformed into a sumptuous jungle from their purpose built and almost Soviet nature.  This entire section of the property is filled with lush, green, tropical foliage.  It all surrounds the pool, which is lined with tiny cabanas that allow for direct access.  You forget that it’s supposed to feel like 45°C out here.

The-Plantation---Back-Pool Tiffany Tsang Plantation-RoomThe rooms are so comfortable.  While their bones reveal their former administrative purposes, French architect Ivan Tizianel has transformed The Plantation’s rooms into minimalist havens from the heat, most of which look out onto the pool and all the greenery.

So for about 24 hours, we forgot about the week that lay ahead, and revelled in all of which was present.  In short: we didn’t want to leave, hop into a tuk tuk, and travel only 2km back to our regular lives.  

All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.  Cait+Tiff are not liable for any flights of fancy.