My Life as a Hotelier in Cambodia I, II and III

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Kung-fu Hillbilly
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My Life as a Hotelier in Cambodia I, II and III

Post by Kung-fu Hillbilly »

My Life as a Hotelier in Cambodia I, II and III

By KJE
AUGUST 6, 2018


.. I wanted to counter the declining prices of natural rubber on my rubber plantation by diversifying and investing in another business – a business that I was familiar with from my past professional experience as a tourism expert in Europe, the U. S., and Asia. Being a beach person and an avid boater I chose Sihanoukville – at that time the only resort town with acceptable beaches.

The front building was 10 years old when we took it over. It had been rented to the Australian consulate general while there was one in Sihanoukville. The furniture was a little dated and of the traditional Cambodian style. The advantage though was they were all triple or even quadruple rooms. As price points were rather attractive they were well booked. But the downside was it dragged our rating down. The majority of guests just didn’t like rooms.

We didn’t expect to make $10,000 a month but at least expected compensation in line with Cambodian pay scales, which would have been $3,000 a month for 2. Whenever there was a profit that would have enabled us to that kind of pay we needed to spend the money on repairs, purchase of new equipment etc. It did get better the last 18 months when we finally managed to pay ourselves a bit more.

Operating a business requires working capital in addition to the actual investment, of course. A hotel our size had overheads in the amount of $11,000/month on average excluding our own pay. This is exactly the amount we thought we needed. In order to be on the safe side we put in $15,000, one year even $30,000 to tide us over those financial bottlenecks. Again, this situation eased up the last 18 months when we didn’t need any additional working capital as the liquidity was sufficient to fund the operation.

As mentioned in a previous article we returned the property to the owner who turned around and leased it to Chinese people at more than twice the rent we had paid. What these people want to do with this property baffles us to this day.

Most difficult and absolutely the worst: French
Overseas Cambodian 2 out of 10 – 10 being the best
A close second: Italian 3
Third: Spanish, Finnish 4
Fourth: Austrian, Vietnamese 5
Fifth: Dutch, Belgian 6
Sixth: Russian, Japanese 7
Seventh: Scandinavian, Chinese 8
Eigth: American, British, Irish,
Cambodian, Thai 8-9
Ninth: German, Swiss,
Australian, New Zealand 9

Full. https://about-cambodia.blogspot.com/201 ... dia-i.html
https://about-cambodia.blogspot.com/201 ... ia-ii.html
https://about-cambodia.blogspot.com/201 ... a-iii.html
The idea that seeing the world is going from place to place to look at obvious things is an illusion natural to dull minds.
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Re: My Life as a Hotelier in Cambodia I, II and III

Post by hanno »

Most difficult and absolutely the worst: French
Overseas Cambodian 2 out of 10 – 10 being the best
A close second: Italian 3
Third: Spanish, Finnish 4
Fourth: Austrian, Vietnamese 5
Fifth: Dutch, Belgian 6
Sixth: Russian, Japanese 7
Seventh: Scandinavian, Chinese 8
Eigth: American, British, Irish,
Cambodian, Thai 8-9
Ninth: German, Swiss,
Australian, New Zealand 9
I hate generalizations but, after working in hotels for 35 years, there i more than a grain of truth to that ranking. The writer does not mention Israelis, he was obviously lucky enough not to have them as they would give the French a run for their money.
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Re: My Life as a Hotelier in Cambodia I, II and III

Post by techietraveller84 »

Kung-fu Hillbilly wrote: Tue Jan 21, 2020 10:47 am My Life as a Hotelier in Cambodia I, II and III

As mentioned in a previous article we returned the property to the owner who turned around and leased it to Chinese people at more than twice the rent we had paid. What these people want to do with this property baffles us to this day.
Running a small hotel/inn and cafe is one of my fantasies. But I know in reality it's a lot tougher than it seems. Your post sheds some realistic light.

Do you miss the hospitality business?
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Re: My Life as a Hotelier in Cambodia I, II and III

Post by SternAAlbifrons »

First day, first class - sitting down in hotel management school when i was a kid.
The Head walks in and gives us all the big reality check .

Forget all about the dream life. Right now! (it startled us, that shout of command))
forget the dream boutique hotel life
the country guest house life
the Mine Host magnanimous life of Bon Homme and French brandy in your fine dining stylish eatery.

You wiil get up at 5 in the morning to go to the markets to choose the best food
and go to bed at 1 am next morning after balancing the books.
(if the ledger is not squared first time 'round, you will sit there until you get it right)
You will not rest for half an hour - in your life.
You will know, from experience, every task in every job of all your employees - and look over each one's shoulder ever 5 minutes of your working life.
You might be the workers boss, but to succeed you absolutely must always be the customers slave.
If you are happy then you are probably no good at your job. Statistics say you will die 15 years before anybody else.


Congratulations , you have just entered the most competitive industry in the world - hospitality.
Your life as a free person ended at the start of this class.
You can get out anytime you want - just relax for 5 minutes. The failure rate for new businesses runs at about 90%.

Welcome - that is the last time i will be pleasant to you - Take that as a model for your relationship with your workers, your slaves, all through your over-worked, over-stressed, working life.

Very very good advice.
Another tip. You must have both, deeply imbedded in your soul - The Host and The Servant
i only had one.

An interesting life tho', if you have it in you.
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Re: My Life as a Hotelier in Cambodia I, II and III

Post by Duncan »

Nearly 10 years of backpackers accom in NZ and the same with a motel in OZ. Give me backpackers any day. Met many lovely people from many countries, where as in the motel business I had guests put prawn shells inside the mattress through a small cut, plugs cut off fridge, tv, and water boiler, towels and sheets stolen.

It was a bit like the farm I had in NZ, except there I was dealing with 4 legged animals but the ones that check in to motels are two legged animals.
Cambodia,,,, Don't fall in love with her.
Like the spoilt child she is, she will not be happy till she destroys herself from within and breaks your heart.
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Re: My Life as a Hotelier in Cambodia I, II and III

Post by clutchcargo »

Duncan wrote: Fri Jan 24, 2020 7:40 am in the motel business I had guests put prawn shells inside the mattress through a small cut
Tell us more about this.. :crazy:
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Re: My Life as a Hotelier in Cambodia I, II and III

Post by Mishmash »

SternAAlbifrons wrote: Fri Jan 24, 2020 5:12 am First day, first class - sitting down in hotel management school when i was a kid.
The Head walks in and gives us all the big reality check .

Forget all about the dream life. Right now! (it startled us, that shout of command))
forget the dream boutique hotel life
the country guest house life
the Mine Host magnanimous life of Bon Homme and French brandy in your fine dining stylish eatery.

You wiil get up at 5 in the morning to go to the markets to choose the best food
and go to bed at 1 am next morning after balancing the books.
(if the ledger is not squared first time 'round, you will sit there until you get it right)
You will not rest for half an hour - in your life.
You will know, from experience, every task in every job of all your employees - and look over each one's shoulder ever 5 minutes of your working life.
You might be the workers boss, but to succeed you absolutely must always be the customers slave.
If you are happy then you are probably no good at your job. Statistics say you will die 15 years before anybody else.


Congratulations , you have just entered the most competitive industry in the world - hospitality.
Your life as a free person ended at the start of this class.
You can get out anytime you want - just relax for 5 minutes. The failure rate for new businesses runs at about 90%.

Welcome - that is the last time i will be pleasant to you - Take that as a model for your relationship with your workers, your slaves, all through your over-worked, over-stressed, working life.

Very very good advice.
Another tip. You must have both, deeply imbedded in your soul - The Host and The Servant
i only had one.

An interesting life tho', if you have it in you.
My respect has gone up x 10. This is indeed a great post of a king
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Re: My Life as a Hotelier in Cambodia I, II and III

Post by Duncan »

clutchcargo wrote: Fri Jan 24, 2020 7:44 am
Duncan wrote: Fri Jan 24, 2020 7:40 am in the motel business I had guests put prawn shells inside the mattress through a small cut
Tell us more about this.. :crazy:
You eat fresh prawns, and put the leftovers inside the [ inner-sprung ] mattress through a hole and they stink like hell for weeks with no-one knowing where the smell is coming from. Even if you do know, there is no way of getting them out. Only solution is a new mattress.
Cambodia,,,, Don't fall in love with her.
Like the spoilt child she is, she will not be happy till she destroys herself from within and breaks your heart.
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Re: My Life as a Hotelier in Cambodia I, II and III

Post by hanno »

I graduated with 300 other people from hotel management school and, as far as I know, I am the only one still working in hotels.

I have always worked in 4-, and 5-star hotels so I never had to deal with prawns in mattresses. Bit obviously, I could write a book or two......

My day today (and it is a public holiday): in the office at 5:30, no idea when I will knock off for the day.
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Re: My Life as a Hotelier in Cambodia I, II and III

Post by ExPenhMan »

Read all three hotelier posts. Good to know how Booking and Agoda operate, but suspected the search results were tainted by, among many things, how much commission the hotel paid.

It's always amazing to me how one hotel can have vastly contrasting reviews. I take all reviews with a very large grain of salt, especially the vindictive ones, which I barely scan. The reviews I rate the best are the ones with conditions that resonate with me, namely no nearby construction sites and away from bar districts and other noise sources.

The only time I backed out of a hotel booking was in Siem Reap. None of the rooms had small fridges.
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