|Our bungalow at Battambang Resort, as seen from the restaurant|
This past weekend was a long one, thanks to Labor Day, and a very good one, thanks to the embassy’s Community Liaison Office (CLO). The CLO organized a trip to Battambang, and our family took full advantage of this lazy-person’s opportunity to see more of Cambodia without putting in any of the work to plan the trip. Battambang is Cambodia’s second largest city, but unlike the other major population centers, it retains the feel of traditional Cambodia—it doesn’t attract as many expats as Phnom Penh or as many tourists as Siem Reap. There are some temples worth seeing and a couple of tourist attractions that are unique to Battambang, and I hope to talk about these in a future post, but this post is all about the resort.
|The approach to our bungalow|
Battambang Resort just opened in January 2012, but it already has a reputation for excellence. As far as I can tell, the reputation is well deserved. The resort is owned by a married couple, who were readily available and engaged in making sure every need and want was satisfied. The staff was friendly—especially toward Alexa, as Cambodians in general love children—and did everything in their power to make our stay pleasant.
|Sleeping area--after we'd used it, so not as tidy as it was at first|
Our group booked the entire place, which consists of four bungalow (or lake view) rooms and maybe six standard (or garden view) rooms. Jeff, Alexa, and I stayed in a bungalow, assuming that we’d have more room for Alexa’s peapod in a bungalow than in a standard room. I don’t know if there would have been room for it in a standard room, but there was no problem fitting it into our bungalow. The room itself was clean and comfortable, and nicely furnished. It had the tile floors that are characteristic of Cambodian structures and a neutral color palette that felt clean and relaxing. The bathroom area was large, with a separate room for the toilet and a very cool shower—it was made of cement, was round, and had a rainfall showerhead, as well as a hand unit that could provide more water pressure when needed. The shower also had a skylight, which was practical, as the power was out throughout the city for the full day on Saturday. In fact, the large windows and patio doors, as well as the high windows in the water closet and even the frosted windows beside the sink ensured that there was plenty of light throughout the room even without any electricity. Jeff assures me that the bed was very comfortable—I found it to be too firm, but I know that I’m in the minority when it comes to sleeping preferences; most people almost certainly would say that it was just right. The room also had air conditioning and a ceiling fan.
|View toward the bathroom (yes, those are Alexa's pink shoes)|
The other major feature of the resort was the restaurant. We ate all of our meals there, rather than taking the 10- or 15-minute tuk tuk ride into town for meals. Breakfast was included in the price of the room, and we could choose from four pre-set menus: the Bakery Breakfast (pancakes, French toast, and various other breads), the American Breakfast (eggs, bacon, sausage, and various breads), the Healthy Breakfast (fruit, yoghurt, cereal, and various breads), or the Asian Breakfast (I didn’t consider this one seriously enough to remember what was included), all of which came with coffee or tea, orange or apple juice, and butter and homemade dragonfruit jam as needed. Jeff and I ordered the American Breakfast for ourselves and the Healthy Breakfast for Alexa, and we all went away very satisfied. For lunch and dinner, there were sandwiches, salads, western meals, and Asian meals. During the course of the weekend, I tried one sandwich, one cheeseburger, one wrap, two Asian meals—sweet and sour pork and chicken with cashew nuts—and one dessert. All of it was very tasty and reasonably priced. The Asian meals were a little spicier than expected, but they still tasted good. The quality of the food undoubtedly was enhanced by the fact that a lot of it, including the rice, is grown in the resort’s garden and therefore was much fresher than the fare to which we Americans are accustomed. Even the potato chips were homemade!
|Vanity area in our bungalow|
Service at the restaurant was good. The staff was responsive to requests in those rare circumstances that our needs were not anticipated. There were a couple of meals where it took a while for the food to be prepared, but that was because the kitchen simply was overwhelmed by our large group all ordering at the same time. In most cases, an entire resort’s worth of guests probably do not order meals at once, and during the times that we were able to set our own schedules a bit more, and therefore spread out our meals, service was reasonably paced. The staff also was open to taking orders in advance and to preparing food for take-out, which proved convenient for our bus ride back to Phnom Penh.
|The restaurant, as seen from the pool|
As a side note, there is a generator for the kitchen, and the seating area has lots of natural light (it’s covered but has no walls), so the restaurant remained open even with the power outage. The staff also had no problem with one family storing their babies’ bottles in the restaurant’s refrigerator during the outage or, for that matter, the rest of the time, in case of further power outages.
The resort grounds were beautiful, to put it simply. The pool was right beside the restaurant, with a lake on one side and the garden view rooms on the other. Fruit trees and flowers grew everywhere—I took a picture of a banana tree while sitting at lunch one day, and I have some gorgeous pictures of Alexa walking along the flower-bordered path to our bungalow. I did not ask for a tour of the gardens, though now I wish I had—I would love to have pictures of the rice field, the herb gardens, and the fruit trees.
|Spirit house near the front desk|
The owners also happily arranged for rides to town, tuk tuk tours of the area, and tickets to the Phare Ponleu Selpak circus. There was a small gift shop where several of us purchased Kampot pepper, lemongrass, oil burners, or wooden canisters, Buddhas, or other carvings, all at reasonable prices.
|View from our window|
And, finally, speaking of prices: Battambang Resort may cost a little more than other hotels in Battambang, but it's well worth any slight increase in cost. By western standards, the prices are incredibly reasonable. Depending on the season and room type, prices range from $45 to $75 a night for a garden or lake room. (Apparently there also are or will be family rooms/suites available at a higher cost, but these did not seem to be in use during our stay.) Breakfast and wi-fi are included in the price. I don’t recall the exact prices of other meals, but most of them were $5 or less.
|Elephant statues that Alexa loved|
Bottom line—I highly recommend Battambang Resort. Whether you’re in the area for business or pleasure, whether you intend to spend your days sightseeing or lounging around the pool, Battambang Resort is a great place to make your home base.