Ceremony Opens Koh Rong for Development

The Royal Sands Resort on Koh Rong island broke ground on Saturday morning in a ceremony attended by Interior Minister Sar Kheng and Tourism Minister Thong Khon alongside Kith Meng, chairman of the Royal Group.

Seven years after receiving a development license from the government, the Royal Group used Saturday’s ceremony to lay out stage one of their $30 million plan to develop southern Koh Rong—an island located 25 km off the coast of Sihanoukville.

“There has not been a five-star hotel yet on Koh Rong island, it would be the first hotel at this standard,” Chhun Buntha, vice president of Royal Group Koh Rong Investment, said on Sunday.

“As a five-star hotel, it would serve high-profile tourists who are rich and able to afford such accommodation.”

He said the hotel was a joint venture with a Swiss company whose name he said he could not recall, and that it would take about one year to build the 100-room hotel on 5.4 hectares of land.

A Royal Group website advertising the development lists an airport, marina, golf course and residential development as undated future additions for the resort.

Given the logistics of reaching the island—it currently takes about 45 minutes to travel there by boat—Mr. Buntha stressed that transport was a priority.

“The hotel would have a helicopter and fast boats to serve the richest customers,” he said.

Chhin Seng Nguon, deputy governor of Preah Sihanouk province, said that while Koh Rong has attractive natural beauty, it still lacks high-end accommodation.

“Presently, we have beautiful beaches and other attractions on Koh Rong, but I think the accommodation there is not suitable for high-profile tourists,” he said, adding that visitors to the island are currently paying upward of $20 a night.

“So, once the hotel is built and operational, besides creating jobs for local people and those from other provinces, it would signal to potential tourists who want to visit Koh Rong island that there is high-class accommodation and service available for them,” he said.

Carrol Sahaidak-Beaver, executive director of the Cambodia Hotel Association, said that the planned hotel on Koh Rong was part of a rising trend of hotels intended for higher-end clients.

“There is no question that there has been a shift in Sihanoukville in the type of accommodation that is available,” she said.

“Obviously, the hotels at this level put a huge amount of work into training their staff, which provides more jobs and more opportunities for people.”

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