For the past ten years, the team at Soria Moria Boutique Hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia, have been welcoming guests from all over the world. Whether it’s staying guests, local project partners or the wonderful members of staff, people have always been at the heart of Soria Moria’s business model.
Community engagement and supporting the local community
Through the Soria Moria Educational Development Program (SMEDP), local staff have had a unique opportunity to work and further their education either through English studies, gaining general education certificates or studying at university level to gain bachelor and / or master degrees.
The focus on staff development has enriched staff to become hard-working, knowledgeable, loyal employees with pride in their jobs. Always eager to provide the best possible service, this becomes evident in guests’ feedback and reviews, and the professionalism and friendliness of the local staff is what truly has made Soria Moria ‘a hotel with a heart’ – something of which also was highlighted in Lonely Planet Cambodia where Soria Moria was featured as Author’s Choice soon after its opening.
A hotel with a heart, promoting local causes to help the local community…–Lonely Planet
Through the innovative ‘Soria Moria Employee Ownership Scheme’, the local employees were rewarded for their hard work and became partners and majority owners in the business with 51% of the shares. Not only was this the first project of its kind in Cambodia, it has been a rather unique initiative as most of the local staff and management come from farming families living below the poverty line.
Gender equality has also been fundamental in the hotels organisation with females holding more than half of the managerial and supervisor positions. In addition to be financially beneficial and provide an excellent platform for training and personal development which will help secure their future position in a competitive employment market, the schemes build confidence and self-esteem, and nourish a feeling of being able to achieve.
The passion and hard work has resulted in a few awards and accolades including World Travel & Tourism Council’s Tourism For Tomorrow Awards finalist at the Global Summit in Tokyo; Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Award at ITB Asia in Singapore; and Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards at World Travel Market in London.
A people-centred method for development
Part of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, FK Norway (Fredskorpset) facilitate various exchange programmes that aim to embed positive change on individual and organisational level. Sharing many of the same values and with strong focus on responsible tourism and hospitality issues, Soria Moria Boutique Hotel and Quality Hotel Expo in Oslo, Norway, signed a three-year FK Norway supported exchange programme where the participants exchanged industry skills and knowledge, as well as working for and promoting sustainable and responsible tourism.
In other words, staff from Soria Moria had the unique opportunity to experience working a year in one of the leading conference hotels in Norway, and the staff from Expo got to experience a different culture and work on the ground in Cambodia. It was essential that such an exchange should be beneficial for both parties, and it is great to see that all participants gained a lot of experience from a different hotel and cultural context, as well as increased competence, skills and values.
Soria Moria has been an innovator in sustainable community development initiatives. With their Educational Development Program they have directly contributed to empowering the local community in term of capacity building, transfer of industry skills, higher education and ownership.–World Travel & Tourism Council
Awards and accolades aside, it’s great to see how the management, staff and trainees at Soria Moria have developed over the last ten years. It’s always pleasing to read positive feedback and reviews from guests, guidebooks and general travel press. And it’s fantastic to see how many of the community projects and partners have thrived and succeeded.
A new chapter begins
With the initial ten-year lease coming to an end, and this stage of the project successfully completed, it is with great pleasure we wish all the management and staff all the very best of luck and success as they embark on the next stage of the Soria Moria story.
Joining forces with a new local partner, they move into a new property literally just up the road, and we hope the management, staff, guests and project partners continue to make Siem Reap a better place for people to live and people to visit.
We look forward to visiting again soon!
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