Hotel apologises for Angkor Wat facade

Hotel apologises for Angkor Wat facade

A picture of a restaurant on the website of the Le Palais Hotel in Koh Phangan shows its 'Bayon Restaurant' which features a touch of Khmer and European culture in the design of the hotel. Le Palais Hotel
A picture of a restaurant on the website of the Le Palais Hotel in Koh Phangan shows its 'Bayon Restaurant' which features a touch of Khmer and European culture in the design of the hotel. Le Palais Hotel

A hotel in Koh Phangan has issued an apology after Cambodian netizens were outraged by its use of Cambodian cultural icons, including the famous Angkor Wat, as building decoration, which they deemed inappropriate.

"We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused you and would like to clarify the vision from our founder's heart and intention," Le Palais Hotel wrote on its Facebook page on Sunday.

"Le Palais Hotel Koh Phangan was inspired by the greatness of Angkor Wat located in Cambodia. Cambodia is the motherland of our founder and always have a special place in his heart. Thailand is the second home where he found the peace of mind in the land of smile.

"We launched the hotel humbly only for the admiration, appreciation and passion for the magnificent art. The construction, decoration here were handmade & heart-made by Thai and Cambodian teamwork. Nonetheless the greatness will always remain to the great Angkor Wat and will never be compared."

Khmer Times reported on Friday that Cambodian social media was awash with criticisms of the Thai hotel, with netizens slamming the Koh Phangan hotel for appropriating Khmer culture and landmarks -- including the famed Angkor Wat temple complex -- for commercial purposes.

In response to the outrage, Surat Thani's Culture Office yesterday said it has launched a probe into the allegations of cultural misappropriation by the hotel, which is located on Haad Rin beach, known for its full moon parties.

Angkor Wat -- recognised by Unesco as a World Heritage Site since 1992 -- is the most renowned out of all Cambodia's temples and is featured on its national flag.

Located in Siem Reap province, the vast temple is a part of the Angkor Archaeological Park, an even larger complex of ruins which were built at various points between the ninth and fifteenth centuries.

Le Palais Hotel could not be reached for further comment, but the Bangkok Post found it has been closed in the wake of coronavirus pandemic and looked after by its neighbours. The hotel is owned by a Cambodian couple of whom the husband has obtained French nationality, and a Thai shareholder.

Vichai Khongmun, president of the Tourism Association of Koh Phangan, said the hotel, built in 2014, complies with building regulations.

"The owners might draw their inspiration from Angkor Wat. I think it will encourage tourists to visit the real place," he said.

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