A budget is probably the first thing that anyone thinks of when planning a vacation anywhere. Other aspects like venue, transportation, and duration follow after figuring out how much one can actually spend on the vacation.
If a person wants to spend some quality leisure time at a decent hotel, they have to think about the added expenses that come about with availing exclusive in-house services like spa, breakfast, bar lounge, etc. Keeping this in mind, one has to overestimate the budget that they derive, which might go beyond their spending capacity in order to make a successful relaxed holiday. But with the all-inclusive service of Jaya House River Park, this concern is put to rest.
Situated alongside the serene Siem Reap River, and surrounded by lush greenery, Jaya House River Park is a hidden gem for all hodophiles.
In the following interview, Christian de Boer, the Managing Director elaborates more on the luxurious, yet sustainable services offered by the hotel, giving their clients the comfortable experience that they truly deserve.
Please brief our audience about Jaya House River Park, its USPs, and how it is currently positioned as a leading name in the hotels and hospitality industry?
Jaya House River Park has always been #singleuseplasticfree from the very 1st day of our operation in December 2016. We were also the co-initiative taker behind www.refilltheworld.com with the sole aim of reducing the mountain of #singleuseplastic in the tourism industry.
As a small, independent boutique hotel, we have consistently tried to make our guests part of our sales force. Thanks to the more critical social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, etc.), word of mouth has become even more aggressive than it used to be.
As a direct result of this, Jaya House River Park was voted as #Cambodia’s #1 Hotel and the #19 Best hotel in the world by TripAdvisor in the 2021 listing www.tripadvisor.com/WorldsBestHotels2021.
We have been actively thinking about the total guest journey. From check-in (why does a guest have to give a credit card?) to breakfast (everyone needs a breakfast, so why isn’t it always included and of decent quality). Again, all this with the sole aim of making our guests our sales force and thus creating impactful word-of-mouth.
Tell us more about your offerings, through which you have ascertained your stronghold within the hospitality space.
We have aimed to make our hotel experience seamless. So, no issues at checkout about a mini bar consumption since it’s all free, breakfast is fully included, unlimited laundry is fully included, and a 1-hour spa treatment daily is included. All these individual (perhaps small) items make a guest experience seamless and thus help us to WOW our guests and, in turn, enlarge our now global sales team with our former guests.
As a small independent hotel, we cannot afford (or don’t want to afford) the traditional industry tradeshows, since they tend not to deliver a good value for money. Our approach of simply focusing on our guests has definitely paid off.
The nickle&diming of some of the bigger hotel groups is simply turning a hotel into a factory (think ‘resort fee’, hotels charging for pool use, minibar charges, or sometimes still a charge for WIFI). But I guess those aforementioned hotel groups have to do this to be able to afford their massive sales teams attending all those tradeshows talking to the same people year after year and time after time.
Being an experienced leader, share your opinion on why adopting modern technologies is necessary for the hospitality industry and how you have leveraged these technologies to deliver your offerings?
We have always been at the forefront of technology. In my previous role, we were the first hotel to have a booking engine directly on Facebook, eliminating ‘clicks’ and thus increasing the conversion rates. We are rather active on numerous social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram, and now even TikTok.
Thanks to a longstanding partnership with the people at FrontDeskAnywhere, we have been given the opportunity to eliminate a lot of the (perhaps) frustrating and outdated actions often required for a hotel check-in/checkout. As a direct result of this partnership, we don’t actually have a traditional ‘front desk’ and have been able to create a more homely feel to the whole experience.
Considering the COVID-19 pandemic, what challenges did you face, and how are you currently sustaining operations while ensuring the safety of your employees?
During the pandemic, which saw a 100% drop in tourism, we have partnered up with two like-minded properties in Siem Reap, namely Mulberry Boutique Hotel and Treeline Urban Resort, and created www.hotelsjoininghands.com. This initiative saw us being able to donate 54.000 #plasticfree & #styrofoam free meals in the Siem Reap region.
We have also been able to keep ten of our less-strong staff who needed financial support throughout the crisis for a variety of reasons and donated tonnes and tonnes of rice to all of our 107 staff members plus initiated a personal loan structure with those individuals that needed it with 0% interest.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the hospitality space?
It’s all rather simple: stick to what you believe, don’t follow media hype, do your own research, treat your guests the way you would want to be treated, and treat your staff with respect. Staff always comes first. We do not have to do it all in the same way as it’s “always been done,” times change and the hotel industry should also change and become more guest orientated (Yes, I know all hotels say that but not many actually do it).
How do you envision scaling your hotel’s operations and offerings in 2021 and further?
For a destination where this is possible, I also believe that in the after #Covid Era, the tourists will be more demanding, more aware, and more precise on what they want. With this in mind, we have indeed created our second open-air lobby area giving guests the option to always be able to enjoy the healthy tropical air. With this, I mean potential guests would want to avoid long aircon corridors, mass hotels, mass tourism, breakfast buffets, and simply demand more (many more) plant-based food options.
The traditional menu is outdated
Thanks to an inspiring partnership with Vegan Food Quest and countless conversations with a gentleman called Paul Eyers, we are now turning our menu around to give many more options to all of our guests. This movement is gaining more and more ground, and the developments and knowledge are moving ahead at lightning speed.
I hope that the future traveller will do more research and choose a hotel offering based on its past actions & results.
The times of empty marketing words (“Save a towel/plant a tree” springs to mind) are now behind us, and the future guests want to see real action and not merely empty pledges or beautiful marketing words.
I am also pretty sure that the future traveller will demand a #Singleuseplastic free hotel. If you think of the numbers, it’s actually staggering. Cambodia’s Tourism industry alone used 4.6 MILLION single-use plastic water bottles each and every month. Yes, it’s only one bottle guests think but add them all up.
This isn’t inclusive of, for instance, shampoo bottles or the likes. Whilst a certain hotel group made a ‘pledge’ of by 2050 (!), this is simply too late and can be done much, much sooner. I am thinking within three months if they would have been sincere. For this reason, Jaya House River Park has offered its knowledge and experiences to the United Nations Climate Change panel and has become an adviser to those hotels and related tourism companies willing to make the switch and are sincere in their beliefs.
In our strive to heighten our guest experiences and increase the amount of Khmer employed because of Jaya House, we have started our very own handmade in-room amenities line under the name www.jayaOrganics.com.
This has actually been a surprisingly great success throughout the pandemic shipments going out to all corners of the world.
Jaya Organics products are carefully formulated and lovingly handmade in small batches in Siem Reap, Cambodia. This ensures the freshness and stability of antioxidants and the natural goodness in the extracts, butter, and natural oils. The key qualities of our products are the plant formulations that focus on the powerhouse ingredients of Cambodian native botanicals and the unique natural fragrances found in Cambodian essential oils. These exotic natural ingredients promote beautifully soft, smooth, and luminous skin.
Starting from the interest and demand of hotel guests at Jaya House River Park, Dennis Reinhard, the creator of Jaya Organics, has developed the range of products with an experienced formulator who has been in the beauty industry for more than 20 years. Together, they formulated Jaya Organics products with the help of 10 Cambodian employees, creating local jobs, education, and introducing more high-quality products into the community.
Jaya Organics produces sulfate-free, paraben-free, and cruelty-free products, avoiding harsh chemical ingredients that may harm your skin and disrupt the natural skin renewing process. The products also use as little plastic as possible, resulting in 99% glass packaging and no box packaging at all. The brand encourages its customers to use the reusable pouch given when they purchase the products. Even our shipping boxes are recycled from hotel materials.