Team building is a trend that is sweeping across the region, and in Cambodia businesses are boosting morale by taking a break to brainstorm by the beach. Knai Bang Chatt, in the coastal town of Kep, is one resort to embrace the movement.
BY MARISSA CARRUTHERS
Creating an exclusive and tranquil destination where visitors can relax and rejuvenate the mind was the vision of Knai Bang Chatt owner, Jef Moons, when he opened the luxury resort in 2006. Treating travellers to a unique slice of Cambodia, the Belgian decided to extend this to the corporate world, by offering the ideal environment for combining work and play.
“It’s important to get away from the dusty city and corporate life,” he says. “You need to be put in a different box so you can think differently while feeling comfortable where you are, then the ideas will come. Allow people to rejuvenate, and time and space will do the rest.”
Boasting 18 rooms spread across a series of pristinely restored villas designed by protégées of acclaimed Cambodian architect Van Molyvann between 1962 and 1965, the resort offers unparalleled views over the calm waters of the Gulf of Thailand, manicured lawns with flower beds over-flowing with tropical plants and a shimmering infinity pool.
Cambodian businesses, such as ANZ Royal, Coca Cola, UNDP and Maybank, as well as some smaller NGOs, often check-in to the destination for team building sessions, board meetings, product launches, workshops and events. And with Cambodia’s central location in Southeast Asia, Moons believes it has the potential to attract organisations from as far afield as Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing and Shanghai, as they trade in the popular Thai islands of Koh Samui and Phuket for the Kingdom’s growing offerings.
Catering for the corporates, Knai Bang Chatt offers a variety of meeting room options for up to 40 people. These include banquet, auditorium and conference styles. The rooms come equipped with an overhead projector, TV and DVD, notepads and pens, microphones and snacks. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and refreshments can also be provided, as well as buffets and tailor-made menus. With the rooms overlooking the perfectly peaceful surroundings, ideas are sure to spark inside.
After a day of working the business brain, relaxing in the dappled shade of the trees that skirts the sea or taking a refreshing dip in the pool – elements that Moons claims form the beauty of Knai Bang Chatt and surrounding Kep – are activities sure to clear the mind and help you unwind. And at the core of Moons’ business acumen lies a holistic philosophy that he applies to business, the resort and general life; something he hopes will inspire guests.
“Knai Bang Chatt is a place where industry mavericks can meet to exchange ideas and unique experiences,” he says. “For us, loving, sharing and being fully engaged, as well as respecting the beauty of being imperfect and staying unique, is important. We offer a truly personal and transformational experience in a truly wonderful setting.”
Added into the mix are the sleepy surroundings of the town, where turquoise water laps white sands and lush jungle covers rolling hills, dotted with a handful of stunning villas boasting minimalist French architecture that harks back to the Kingdom’s Golden Age heyday. Once coined the Cannes of Cambodia, the Kingdom’s Kep-sur-Mer was a paradise for the country’s elite during the 50s and 60s, with the cool sea breeze, laid-back pace of life and rustic charm appealing to French colonials and rich Cambodians alike. During the Khmer Rouge reign of 1975 to 1979, the town plunged into ruin, becoming a shell of its former glamorous self. However, in recent years Kep has made a comeback and is on its way to once again becoming a stylish destination and quiet getaway.
The town’s location also makes it attractive to the business world. Kep sits a smooth two-and-a-half to three hour drive from Phnom Penh, one hour from Riem Airport in Sihanoukville, and 20 minutes from Kampot’s ferry terminal. The terminal is expected to open in 2019 after an $18 million loan from the Asia Development Bank was granted in November, 2014. The passenger pier will connect Cambodia with Vietnam and other destinations in the Gulf of Thailand. “This, again, makes Kep and Cambodia more accessible,” Moons says, adding the ferry promises to grant immediate access to the international airport on the nearby Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc.
As resorts across the country start to cater to the corporate world, infrastructure improves and more flight routes open up, Cambodia looks set to be the new go-to retreat where businesses from across the region seek solace and inspiration in their bid to boost business.
ABOUT KNAI BANG CHATT
Guests staying at Knai Bang Chatt are granted complimentary access to meeting rooms. For those not using the lodgings, meeting packages can be offered free when purchasing lunch, dinner and coffee packages. Otherwise, meeting rooms are $200 a day and $100 for a half-day. A unique selling point is that the resort is available for private hire, with transferrable vouchers for any un-used rooms issued. www.knaibangchatt.com
ACROSS THE REGION
Corporate retreats are becoming big business across the region, with companies specialising in organising corporate and team-building trips across Southeast Asia. Singapore-based Global Adventure Consultants design and deliver customised corporate adventures on home turf, as well as in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. These range from golfing weekends in Bangkok to wilderness adventures in Indonesia and relaxing spas away from the working environment.
THAI TEAM BUILDING
Thailand is traditionally a popular destination with many businesses based in ASEAN opting to jet off to one of the many islands for team building. The islands of Phuket, Koh Samui and Koh Kut are popular options, with many of the larger hotels putting on special packages for organisations looking for the perfect place to escape the office and rejuvenate the mind.