Welcome to Soria Moria!
Soria Moria is a small cheerful hotel with a special touch, located in the centre of Siem Reap. The hotel initially was established in 2007 by a Norwegian couple with a strong interest in the sustainable development of tourism and several years of experience with living and working in Cambodia, who wanted to use tourism as a tool to create positive change for the local population .
The Business Idea
The idea behind Soria Moria was to combine a business opportunity with a strong focus on helping the local community through various means, especially by contribution to long-term economic development. Soria Moria is set up a social enterprise that applies market-based strategies to achieve a social purpose, where parts of the surplus are reinvested back into the local community. Gender equality is fundamental to the hotel's organization and females hold more than half of the managerial and supervisory positions. We actively support and encourage the interaction of guests and the neighbouring environment, and by implementing this approach, we would like to create a win-win-win situation for all parties involved, where both the tourists, the local environment and the business itself will benefit.
Cambodia has a recent history of war and political instability, and a genocide that killed over 20% of the population; including most of the educated citizens of the country. Peace finally returned to the country in 1998. Cambodia has experienced rapid development and economic growth, however, the country is still heavily affected by its recent history. The economic benefits are unevenly distributed and a large part of the population still suffers from poverty, corruption, poor health care and education systems and lack of opportunities. According to a NGO handbook by ConCERT, there are more than 3000 NGO’s in Cambodia. With little state funding, most organisations have to look elsewhere for resources and many are competing for the same pot of money. Some NGO’s fail because they haven’t done enough research, or have failed to identify a genuine need that has not yet been addressed, or are more concerned about meeting the needs of the donor rather than addressing the real issues they are trying to deal with. Others have failed because they have forgotten to establish ways to make the project self-sustainable, but are reliant on a constant flow of funding, which in turn has caused many projects to close down and consequently created a worse situation the initial circumstances. Despite millions of tourists visiting Angkor every year, Siem Reap remains one of the poorest provinces in Cambodia, and Orphanage Tourism and NGO scams has become a problem.
We are taking a different approach! Soria Moria Educational Development Program believes that essential factors in the development process is to facilitate economic growth, create secure workplaces, provide education on a higher level and to encourage the development of socially responsible leaders to bring the country forward. We believe that in the long run, this proactive approach will prevent many other problems to occur. Soria Moria Educational Development Program is operated through Soria Moria Boutique Hotel, which will ensure the project to be financially self-sustainable. Soria Moria is a social mission driven organization that applies market-based strategies to achieve a social purpose, where parts of the surplus are reinvested into the local community.
Through Soria Moria Educational Development Program the local employees were made partners and majority owners of the business, in an initiative to empower through ownership. The share ownership was determined based on seniority and responsibilities in the hotel. By being shareowners, the employees were able to take part in the decision-making process and share any profits made. It also enabled the employees to take part in supporting the surrounding community through various activities.
As the 10 year project was completed, the local team wanted to continue to provide guests with unique travel experiences in beautiful Cambodia. They therefore joined forces with local Entrepreneur, Mr Meng Hour, and established Soria Moria Hotel & Spa in a brand new property only a short walk away from the original Soria Moria. We look forward to welcome old and new guests, and hope you will like our new hotel as much as we do.
In Soria Moria we are committed to minimize our negative impacts on the environment and communities, and focus on sustainability and capacity building in people. By having this approach we hope to create a win-win-win situation where both our customers, the local community and the business itself will benefit. Below you can read about Responsible Tourism practices we have implemented in our operation.
Employing and empowering locals
We believe that building capacity in people starts with the individual. Soria Moria only employs local staff and provides good working conditions and onsite training and development for them. All management, department heads and staff are locals, and sessions are held to develop and staff them in problem solving, communication and management skills. Several staff has participated in Soria Moria's Employee Exchange program where they have been able to spend one year working in Quality Hotel Expo - a 336 bedroom business hotel in Norway.
Soria Moria Higher Education Program
We believe education is particularly important in development and empowerment of the locals, and we have therefore initiated Soria Moria Higher Education Program. We provide flexible part time or full time work in Soria Moria during the education if the student would like this opportunity. Soria Moria Higher Education Program have so far helped 9 students to complete a Bachelors Degree and 3 students to complete a Master degree.
Soria Moria Trainee Program
In collaboration with local NGO’s, Soria Moria is proud to provide trainee positions for their Young Adult Preparation Programs. The young adults are from 16,5 -21 years of age and come from disadvantaged backgrounds, and are trained in different departments according to their interest, ability, and future plans. The young adults work 3-5 hours per day, 3-5 days per week, depending on their age and their school schedule. The trainees are paid a per-hour salary based on a normal fulltime salary for their respective positions. The NGO’s support the trainees with scholarships, accommodation and guiding, while Soria Moria provide work training and follow up.
Weekly Training Nights
The weekly $1 night is set up as a training night, where we in addition to training Soria Moria’s own staff and trainees, locals who need work experience to be able to find jobs in the hospitality are sometimes taken in for training. As an example, one trainee has been able to obtain a full time job in one of the top hotels in Siem Reap.
Language and literacy classes
Most of our staff comes from disadvantaged backgrounds, and some have unfortunately never been able to attend school. For those who have not attended primary school and can not read and write the local language Khmer. According to what is needed at the moment the hotel provide Khmer literacy classes and English lessons in English. Previously we have also offered Norwegian lessons, and engaged a Japanese teacher .
Educational staff training trips
Soria Moria conducts yearly staff training trips to other provinces in Cambodia for the local staff to learn more about their own country and what it has to offer. This is a combined reward, team building and hands on learning experience about how it is to be a tourist. Most Khmers can usually not afford to travel and experience this on their own expense, so this has been a first-time experience for many staff. Trips have been made to Sihanoukville, Phnom Penh, Kampot, Kep, Battambang, Kampong Cham, Ratanakiri, and even across to Thailand.
Insurance & National Social Security Fund
All our staff are insured on their lives with personal accident insurance, and are members of National Social Security Fund.
Soria Moria Guide to Cambodia
Soria Moria also try to encourage guests to stay longer in the country, visit destinations outside the main tourist tracks and spend more money in the country and benefit a larger area. For this purpose we have compiled our own guide about Siem Reap and Cambodia, including information about responsible tourism practices and child-safe travelers tips.
Supporting the local economy
Soria Moria is selective when choosing suppliers and partners. Wherever possible we purchase local goods and use local suppliers and transportation/guides, and wherever possible we try to select organizations that will have a direct impact on improving people’s life chances. This includes food products, furniture’s, decorations, linen, uniforms, etc.
Supporting local organizations and projects
On Soria Moria Website, in our rooms and on the walls in our common area we display information about organizations we endorse, and try our best to help them with marketing, fundraising and creating awareness. Donation boxes are available in the lobby. In our shop we also sell products for a range of Fair Trade Organizations and NGO’s.
Tourism is in general not a very environmentally friendly industry, but Soria Moria has taken action to reduce its impact on the environment wherever possible without reducing the customer’s satisfaction. Engagements have been made in the areas of electricity usage (we have converted environmentally friendly light bulbs, do not use air-condition in common areas, have installed key-card switches in the guest rooms) water usage (we display information in guestrooms that water resources are scarce, and give all guests the option to reuse towels and bed-linen), paper usage (we do our best to reduce prints and reuse printed paper as scratch paper). We recycle bottles, cans and cardboard, and our juice cartons are made into wallets. In addition to this our cooking oil is recycled and given to Angkor Children’s Hospital to be used for Bio diesel for their generator, and our food waste is given to local pig farmers.
Read a personal introduction to some of the team members of Soria Moria – some truly inspiring stories about people who, with a lot of determination and hard work, have managed to work their way out of poverty and up the career ladder.
Director of Soria Moria Hotel
Roeun Samnieng was born 10 January 1982 in Tatouk Village, Siem Reap Province. Both his parents were farmers. Due to the Khmer Rouge and civil war (Khmer Rough had a stronghold in the Tatouk area until 1995), Samnieng was not able to start primary school until he was 13 years. Samnieng’s father died in 2000, and since then Samnieng has helped his mother to support and take care of the family. He had 11 siblings, but 6 died during and in the aftermath of the war. Samnieng is married to Ratha; and together they have two children. Samnieng started his career as a steward in Earthwalkers Guesthouse in 2004. His positive work attitude and willingness and ability to learn helped him to quickly climb up the ladder and worked his way up through the different departments. His days off was spent volunteering at projects with the Norwegian Educational Development Organization (NEDO) placing water filters and assisting in art classes for the children. In 2006 he started working full time for NEDO, and in 2008 he became the Project Manager of NEDO. In 2010 he joined the Soria Moria Management Team. Since then, Samnieng has completed a Bachelor of Finance and Banking at Build Bright University (Sponsored by Soria Moria Higher Education Program). In 2014 he participated in Soria Morias' employee exchange, and spent a year working as a trainee at Quality Hotel Expo in Oslo, Norway (sponsored by FK Norway).
Assistant Managing Director
Sam Sokha was born in 1985. Her father is an x-soldier (now unemployed) and her mother is a housewife. She started her career as a housekeeping staff in Earthwalkers Guesthouse in 2002. Sokha showed genuine interest in learning and developing, and climbed up the ladder, through the various departments of the guesthouse. In 2005 Sokha completed a short course in Front Office at Paul Dubrule Hospitality School and in 2006 she was rewarded with a short course in Organizational Behavior at The International Tourism Institute in Thailand before she started her Bachelor degree in Tourism Management at Build bright University which she successfully completed in 2009. She completed a Master of Business Administration at Build Bright University in 2010 and will major in Human Resource Management (sponsored by Soria Moria Higer Education Program). In 2015 she participated in Soria Moria's employee exchange program and spent a year joining the FK Norway stayed in Norway a year trainee at Quality Expo Hotel – Oslo. Sokha is a prime example of how a little support and a lot of determination and hard work can work a person out of poverty. Her dream is to become a public speaker empowering and a role model for women in Cambodia.
Front Office Managr
Sim Sakana (Sina) was born in 1984 Siem Reap province, and has a very challenging background. Sina has only completed grade 9 in secondary school, but despite lack of higher education, Sina has worked hard and gained a lot of work experiences from some of the top hotels in Siem Reap, such as Angkor Village. She joined Soria Moria’s Front Office team at the opening in 2007. Sina spent one month on training in Bangkok, which gave her a great international experience and boosted her confidence. In 2015, she joined a short course about Team Leadership with Possibility World, and she was sponsored by Soria Moria Higher Educational program to attend the General English Program at ACE center Education. In her future, her dream is to become a good leader and empowering and helping all women in Cambodia who have the similar background to her. Moreover she wish to attend University before she turns 40 years old and she believe that she can do it.
Rooftop Bar Manager
Dalis Lous was born on 10th of August 1982 in Pouk district. Her parents are farmers and she has been living with her aunt in Siem Reap for the past 11 years. Dalis has only finished 5th grade at primary school, but is a very bright and hardworking young lady. Prior to working at Soria Moria she worked at a snooker club, cleaning tables. At Soria Moria she quickly showed capacity and responsibility and became department head for housekeeping in 2009. She was voted the colleague (joint with Sochen) of the year in 2009 by the staff in Soria Moria. On her free time she is a tailor, a new skill she has acquired, and she is now also producing everything from clothes to pillows and lamp shades for the hotel.