Hospitality with a twist

Peter Olszewski

Million-dollar-plus hostel aims to revive the Flagging Siem Reap accommodation sector in style

Cambodian hotel group Innotality has launched the million-dollar-plus Twizt Lifestyle Hostel in a prime downtown location in Siem Reap, six years after it was originally slated for opening.

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Benjamin Carrichon, Innotality’s group marketing and communication director, said the delay was due to plans and property locations changing over time.

“It was originally planned to be in another location,” he said, “But finally it was decided to be here, in this prime place, and that was partly the reason why the opening was pushed back.”

A Twizt dorm. Supplied

Innotality Executive Vice-President Monirath Khim said the opening of Twizt on January 11 was another example of the company’s ground-breaking approach to the accommodation sector.

“After 23 years of being in the hospitality business, this event marks another important milestone for our company as we continue to pioneer new concepts in Siem Reap, as we have done for the privilege floor of the Lotus Blanc and Borei Angkor a few years back,” she said.

General Manager Kanha Ten, formerly a sales manager with the company’s Borei Angkor Resort, said she is committed to making Twizt the “best choice hostel foe travellers coming to Siem Reap”.

The new hostel, the largest of its kind in Siem Reap with 95 rooms and 385 beds, slots into the “poshtel” top end of the sector  aimed at flashpackers,  with “experience accommodation”  that combines the style and comfort of a boutique hotel with the price and vibe of a hostel.

The hostel has entered Siem Reap at a time when the accommodation  sector is hurting. Tourist numbers are slumping with  ticket revenues from Angkor Archaeological Park dropping  by about 14 percent in the first 11 months  of 2019, and the number of foreign tourists declining from more than 2.3 million to just under 2 million in the same span.

After a wait of six years the new hostel is now open. Supplied

But this hasn’t deterred the company. Twizt’s Food and Beverage Manager, Thierry Sauton said the hostel market differs from  the mainstream market and he also points out the increasing significance of the young Khmer tourism market.

Khmer tourism is growing, but those figures mostly don’t show up in airport arrivals and never at all in Angkor ticket revenues because Cambodians living in Cambodia of course don’t have to pay.

He adds that Twizt has a further edge in that it  targets young hip Khmers. “Until a few days ago, we had mostly local people staying here,” he said.

In fact the hostel sector in Siem Reap is one of growth. Twizt follows a slew of recent hostel openings in Siem Reap – in August 2017,  Thailand’s Lub d Group – part of the Narai Hotel Group and billed as the current market leader in this sector – opened a 140 dormitory beds and 42 private rooms hostel.

Also in August 2017,  the White Rabbit, in partnership with the international Hostelworld group, launched and, in November last year, Battambang-based Pomme opened in Siem Reap, skewed more to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender market.

One of the communal areas in the new ‘flashpacker’ hostel in Siem Reap. Supplied

But Benjamin Carrichon says Twizt differentiates itself from the competition, aimed more at the so-called GenerationY niche.

“We go about things differently,” he said.  “For example, we don’t do pub crawls and that sort of thing.”

Twizt’s  entrance and foyer sparkles in keeping with its Gen Y feel, with a  hip Euro-style design and decor that could be at home in fashionable quarters  in Milan or Barcelona, while  the upstairs accommodation  areas are more utilitarian, with rendered concrete and steel stairs.

The Twizt provides  dormitories as well as private rooms, with prices ranging from $10 to $45 a night, with a rooftop pool, bar and restaurant on the fourth floor with a makeshift beach.

Future plans include expanding the location into a cosmopolitan hub, with  cafes, bars, art galleries and restaurants.

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