From November first Siem Reap in Cambodia will have its very own Soria Moria. It might not completely resemble the Soria Moria Castle, which Asbjørnsen and Moe describe in their classic Norwegian fairy tale. However, it will be a 3 star hotel managed by the 27-year-old Norwegian Kristin Hansen. Situated on Wat Bo Road in central Siem Reap, Soria Moria is taking over the building of the previous Hotel the Angkor Lion. “I have always wanted to manage my own hotel “says Kristin Hansen.
She has been living permanently in Cambodia since 2003. With a Bachelor of Business, Tourism and Hotel Management and a master in International Business she has been one of several owners of the guesthouse Earthwalkers in Siem Reap. From November first she will manage Soria Moria on her own.
The name Soria Moria is well known to most Norwegians who have grown up with Asbjørnsen and Moes famous fairy tale by the same name. “But in Khmer, Soria is a mighty word for saying sun”, Kristin Hansen explains. “I chose this name for the hotel because it means something both to Scandinavians and to the local people”, she says.
Just as the name is significant both to Scandinavians and Khmers, Kristin hopes that her hotel will have a positive impact on its guest as well as the local society. “It is never nice to just come into a country without giving anything back,” she says. This is why Soria Moria is cooperating with the Sangkheum Center for Children, which is an orphanage and an education centre. “The bed sheets and cushion covers are made by the Silk Lab – a project initiated by the center to help and create work for disadvantaged poor women from the countryside. All projects benefits the children at the Sangkheum Center. We are going to sell more of their goods in the hotel to support their activities,” says Kristin Hansen.
Furthermore the children from the centre are to come once a week to perform traditional APSARA dancing for the guest. “The performance is free for the guests, but I will give a speech about the centre, and ask them to give a donation. It is also possible for guest to go and visit the centre,” she says.
For those who are willing to do even more than that it is possible to sponsor a student through Soria Moria. “Gusts can sponsor a student for a year or a subject or a complete education. We put the money in an account and make sure that the bills are paid and that the student attends school. Many people think this is interesting because they can build a relation with the student in this way. In reality it works like a sponsor child,” she says. Another way Kristin Hansen is supporting the centre is by employing the young people after they leave. “They start working in the kitchen learn how to cook. Later they learn how to serve and to work in the front office. After a year it is much easier for them to find an other job than if they had come straight from the centre,” she says.
Soria Moria also sells Love Cards for the NGO Norwegian Education and Development Organisation (NEDO). The cards are pained by children in villages outside Siem Reap and the money goes back to the school. Likewise though NEDO, Soria Moria rents out bicycles for charity.
Kristin Hansen does not doubt that some guests are willing to support these social activities. “Many guest say the guest have a better experience when they feel they are doing something good to the country they are visiting, ” she says. “For the hotel it means that they might come back and stay here, so it’s a win win situation.”
The hotel is also to open a new restaurant where it is possible to enjoy Norwegian as well as Khmer food. “The idea is East meets West. We have Japanese dishes, Khmer food, some Italian and some dishes which is a mix”, says Kristin Hansen A few Scandinavian dishes are also on the menu. “We have Swedish meet balls with mashed potatoes and smoked salmon and pytt i panne from Norway.”
Although Soria Moria will open on November first, the date of the inauguration party is jet to be set. It might be around December first, but that is not entirely up to Kristin Hansen. “The monks will decide a good day for the opening party. They have to come and bless all the corners to chase the evil spirits way,“ Kristin finishes.
For more information about Soria Moria please visit www.thesoriamoria.com