When a young Andrew Tay visited Cambodia some two decades ago on a study trip as his brother was stationed in Cambodia at that time.
He loved what he saw and his family decided to set up a hotel apartment in Phnom Penh, as there were limited accommodation for tourists then. An ardent fan of Japanese culture, he even decided to name it as Himawari, which means sunflower in Japanese language.
“I used to study Japanese culture. The sunflower always faces the sun and the Japanese people are always happy to see the sunflower, so we wanted the hotel to be a happy and a lively place when guests come to stay,” Tay, the executive director of the Himawari Hotel and Apartment told The Post.
Located along the Tonle Sap river, today the hotel with 115 rooms has transformed into a luxury five star property and easily competes with its neighbouring competitors, mainly because of its unique location and business model.
“Twenty years ago good quality accommodation was scarce, so we decided to go into hotel business. We cater for the expatriate market since then and it remains our main focus. We are situated in a good location, near the Sisowath [Quay], close to the museum and tourist areas and easy access to the city,” he added.
The hotel enjoys a healthy 70 per cent to 80 per cent occupancy rate throughout the year and it has become attractive for long-stay guests, mostly who are on business trip to Cambodia. And, at least 90 per cent of its guests are foreigners.
“The main segment has always been our service apartment. Our rooms are designed for long stay and for family stay, and the rooms come with kitchen facilities. Guests stay for months or years. Our clients range from international corporate (sector), governments and NGO [non-governmental organisations], because our location is close to government offices and institutions.
“We also see a new demographic group of guests coming here, the Chinese who are mostly businessmen.
“On average tourists make up about 10 to 20 per cent and during high season it could reach 30 per cent, and the balance are government, corporate and NGOs, mostly foreigners,” said Andrew.
Shepard Ku, general manager of Himawari Hotel Apartments, said that the hotel has its own unique selling points (USPs) which provide an added advantage to compete with existing and new hotels in the capital.
“Our USP is our beautiful location in the city, great river view, ample car park and our own freshly brewed craft beer which has its own following and also the safety in our hotel,” he added.
To give a fresh look to its room and to attract more guests, the management carried out extensive renovations in the last few months, which is expected to boost the property’s image.
“We have given a new facelift to the rooms and have renovate extensively.
“I look very positively at growth prospects with the newly renovated room, this will help our sales for 2019, said Ku.”