by ANTARA BOSE
Crepuscular rays after a brief mid-September drizzle bathed the sleepy streets of Siem Reap in a warm, golden glow. The grass looked greener, the air felt fresher, and the sweet smell of the damp earth toyed with our senses. Riding the tuk-tuk with the wind in our hair, our excitement to reach our destination peaked. It’s not like we weren’t enjoying this strangely liberating ride, but our staycation was beckoning. The Angkor Miracle Resort and Spa, one of Siem Reap’s premium resorts located at the heart of Siem Reap was going to be home for the next three days. We had seen it in photos, read the reviews, and exchanged some pleasant emails with the hotel representative – now we were going to experience it firsthand.
The First Impression
A mighty Naga stone sculpture marked the driveway to the property, and as we pulled up near the entrance, a beaming face came to help us with the luggage. I’m no stranger to hospitality, but the Cambodian earnest willingness to be of service was something I would begin to grow very fond of over the next few days.
The stairway, flanked by two stone-carved lions, led to the main entrance where the doors slid open, and we were welcomed with the grandeur of high-ceilings, tasteful wooden architecture and the sublime pitter-patter of falling water. We traced the source of the sound, and set opposite the entrance was a replica of the well-known Bayon Temple. Constructed with bluestone, its skilful artist had captured even the intricate details of the carved faces set in the temples.
The magnificence of the property reveals itself in a single glimpse. Four massive teakwood pillars form a perfect square in the middle of the lobby. The furniture is sourced locally and made with the same wood. At every corner, through every aisle, and even by the poolside are statues made out of stone that pay homage to the culture and heritage of Cambodia.
While we comfortably sat back and sipped a refreshing ice tea, we were greeted by the owner’s representative, Ms. Seak Im, and the General Manager himself, Mr. Bun Meng. They gave us a complete rundown of the property, its facilities, as well as some local tips that would help us around town.
Probably one of the main things that set apart a privately owned property from one that belongs to a chain of hotels is the level of personalization that comes with it. Our hosts were compassionate, genuinely interested in our preferences, and were excited to not just have us explore the resort, but Siem Reap as a destination.
The Club Suite
Designed as a home away from home, a familiar sense of breathing space, opulence, and warmth engulfed us as we opened the door to our suite. The wooden floors, the rich blend of Khmer architecture and contemporary design, and balconies that opened to a magnificent view of the pool, all contributed to the pure vacation vibe wrapped in a blanket of utmost comfort. Stepping out nibbling a rambutan from the generously stacked welcome fruit basket, I took a few moments to admire the serenity of the lush greens, the soft chirping of birds and a brilliant blue-green pool that reflected the various shades of the trees that surrounded the hotel below a now clear sky.
Along with the element of utmost comfort arises the sudden desire for a little snack. The Pronto café next to the lobby is the perfect stop for a quick bite. Freshly baked bread, scrumptious cakes, and other hot and cold beverages are all served here – perfect for a high-tea session. Along with the café is Kong Kea – a multi-cuisine restaurant where we were later hosted with an elaborate four-course meal.
Talking about personalized services and dining, there is no missing the most important meal of the day at Angkor Miracle. If you’re too lazy to make your way to the morning breakfast buffet, you can trust the staff to send you a grand breakfast in bed (according to your preference, of course). The buffet is worth getting out of bed for though. Unlike a standard buffet that follows the weekly schedule, the kitchen of Angkor Miracle is more dynamic. At the time when we were staying with Angkor Miracle, a significant number of guests were Asian. Along with traditional Khmer delicacies, the buffet, therefore, also included a number of Asian cuisines with a separate counter for Indian food – enough to satiate the taste buds of even the most discerning guests.
Cooking Class – an authentic Khmer culinary experience
Satiating not just our taste buds but also our curiosity, Angkor Miracle held an exclusive cooking class to understand how the delicacies we had devoured actually went from pan to plate. A session food-lovers would love to experience, Angkor Miracle hosts this class for all cooking enthusiasts. Conducted by the executive chef Khiev Dararith, we went through the entire cycle starting right from pounding the ingredients with a mortar and pestle to marinating and steaming the fish, and finally serving it on a traditional banana leaf; we had successfully mastered the green papaya salad with grilled prawn and the famous Siem Reap delicacy, Amok Fish.
With all the amenities that you’d expect in a five-star resort, Angkor Miracle has a fully-equipped gym, a meeting and conference hall, a luxurious spa, a salon for all your beauty needs, a saltwater pool good enough for laps (or simply soaking in tranquility), and a boutique where you can find authentic Cambodian merchandise and even some exotic décor from around the world. Always willing to go the extra mile, the property also offers babysitting services for its guests. For those with an evening flight, the stopover lounge right next to the café provides for an excellent place to sit back and relax after checking out. For the ease, comfort and safety of its guests, Angkor Miracle also has tuk-tuk drivers registered with the property who can be easily summoned whenever a trip is planned.
Angkor miracle strikes the perfect balance of cosiness while still imbibing a sense of freedom – to move, to breathe, and to liberate oneself. Coupled with the hospitality of its all-Cambodian staff, it is everything you need in a resort when you’re exploring the historic town of Siem Reap.