Hotels can sometimes make or break a holiday. Luckily SE Asia has properties for every style and budget. From backpacker haunts to ultra-LUX palaces, SE Asia’s hotel scene is one of the world’s most dynamic and affordable. The hotel scene here has changed a ton during our two decades living and working in the region, and we think, for the better. On this episode we’ll chat with Cambodia-based hotelier Alexis de Suremain about the industry, how it’s evolved and some of the unique properties he runs.
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Scott & Trevor Banter
- Early lodgings we used in Cambodia
- When we first got exposed to and experienced high-end properties
- Where we stay now when we travel on our own for pleasure
- Where we see the personal sweet-spot
- How we think the hotel scene has changed in the last 20 years
Guest Intro: Our guest is Alexis de Suremain, a French national who grew-up in a number of Eastern European and Middle Eastern countries. He’s worked in Russia, Moldova and various SE Asian nations. With his wife, they operate MAADS, which takes care of the creative and communication side of all their initiatives. We’re chatting with him today in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Many thanks for making to time to chat with us Alexis.
To hear Alexis answer the following questions Download and listen to Episode 95 on SoundCloud or iTunes Now!
- What led you to move to SE Asia and when?
- What was your life before developing hotels?
- What got you into the hotel industry?
- What was the hotel scene in SE Asia like when you move here or first started working in the industry?
- What was the first hotel you opened and what’s it like?
- What the hotel scene in SE Asia like at that time?
- How did the hotel scene evolve between 2005 – 2015?
- Why did you zero-in on converting colonial properties?
- What are the hotel trends now in Asia?
- Things to consider when choosing a hotel in SE Asia?
- What are your thoughts on the growing popularity of tented camps?
- Tell us about your Jungaloo concept?
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About our guest: Alexis de Suremain
Born in Paris in 1966 from French diplomat parents, Suremain grew-up in a number of Eastern European and Middle East countries. In 1996, he got his French baccalaureate in science in Tel Aviv. He briefly studied business, graphic design and product conception. In July 1989, this allowed him his first venture: creating and distributing the Revolutionary Condom, his way to commemorate the 200 years of the French Revolution.
In 1991 with two friends, he founded Prospekt International, a company based in Nizhni Novgorod (Russia), doing anything from perfume imports to student exchanges and public relations. He worked close to his then mentor, Boris Nemtsov, the provincial governor who later became Putin’s most adverse opponent, assassinated near the Kremlin in 2015. In 1996, Suremain joined Pharmaciens Sans Frontières, and NGO giving him the amazing opportunity to live in and thoroughly explore Central Asia, a fascinating region he had been repeatedly travelling to.
In 1999 this organisation sent him as Head of Mission to Moldova and in 2001 to Cambodia. In 2004 he spent a year in Myanmar as the Head of Médecins du Monde while his wife remained in Cambodia launching elsewhere, their first business in the country, a sort of concept store with its own designed clothing, restaurant and bar in a colonial garden villa.
In 2006, Pavilion, the first hotel, opened with his wife just 10 rooms. Since then, other hotels opened in Phnom Penh (Kabiki, Blue Lime, Plantation, TeaHouse, Floatation, Penh House and Jugle Addition), in Siem Reap (Templation) and in Kirirom (Hill Station). Those were followed in Phnom Penh by restaurants (The 240 and Chinese House), a beach club (DIB Club), hotel shops (Cambomania) and a few other smaller projects. In 2018, Maads (standing for Marie and Alexis de Suremain and hinting their peculiar business approach…) was created to take care of the creative and communication side of all the initiatives. That year, the company developed an innovative bio-climatic glamping concept: the Jungloo.