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Things to do in Cambodia

Sala Lodges: luxury Cambodian stilt houses with an eco-twist

What’s special about Sala Lodges is that guests get to stay in a Cambodian stilt house but with all the comforts of a five-star hotel…

Arne Lugeon
Managing Director of Sala Lodges

Sala Lodges in Siem Reap, Cambodia

What’s special about Sala Lodges is that guests get to stay in a real Cambodian stilt house but with all the services and comforts of a five-star hotel and a green, sustainable ethos. Located just a short drive from Siem Reap and its famous temple complexes, you can also enjoy our spa and salt-water pool.

Simone, my wife, got the inspiration for Sala Lodges when we were travelling around the Cambodian countryside and saw some beautiful homes. We thought: “Maybe we could make a village using traditional wooden stilt houses and convert them into high-quality rooms.” The concept was also inspired by a place called Ballenberg, a village back in Switzerland where each house comes from a different valley in the Alps.

Eventually, we sourced homes from three different provinces: Siem Reap, Preah Vihear and Kampong Thom. Built between 1956 and 1985, each house has its own unique history, architecture and design. The families selling wanted to upgrade to modern, concrete buildings but were very happy that we were preserving their heritage homes, which had been passed down through the generations.

Next, we dismantled the stilt houses and transported them to a greenfield site near Siem Reap to rebuild. We were careful to preserve each building’s original architecture while adding modern luxuries. We even invited the original owners to come and stay when we opened in 2013. There’s also a booklet in each room so guests can learn about the history of the stilt house they’re staying in.

It was very important to us that we make Sala Lodges a sustainable property. So, we’ve used original materials and green construction methods. I can confidently say that nothing has come from outside of Cambodia, except for me and my wife! Every single plant in our garden is native and we’ve had a no-plastic policy in place for years. We’re also working on getting an eco-friendly certification from Travelife.

We like to give back to the community too, so we take part in local projects around Siem Reap and I teach leadership in hospitality at the Paul Dubrule School of Hospitality and Tourism. In Cambodia, aside from guiding or agriculture, most people work in the hospitality field. We recruit all of our staff locally, often from the vocational training schools that we support, in particular Salai Bai, which provides education to the poorest around Siem Reap and Tonlé Sap Lake.

Our guests say they really enjoy the privacy and peaceful feel of Sala Lodges, as well as the proximity to Siem Reap for sightseeing. People like to relax in our exotic gardens and try gourmet Cambodian cuisine in the restaurant, which serves traditional dishes like hot pot soup Chnanh Kdao and a five-course Khmer Discovery Menu.

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Alfred & Arne Lugeon

Arne Lugeon hails from Switzerland but now lives in Siem Reap with his wife Simone. Together, they opened Sala Lodges in 2013 with the aim of preserving Khmer architecture and providing a luxury hotel experience. Over the years, Arne has been a ski instructor, served as a senior officer in the Swiss Army, completed a Master’s degree in business and economics and worked in numerous international leadership roles. Arne describes himself as an excellent skier, a good tennis player and an average golfer.
Arne Lugeon

Alfred & our Cambodia holiday experts

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