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Cambodia's Soria Moria hotel empowers its employees

Cambodia News reported on the unusual story of one of Siem Reap's hotels, The Soria Moria. Co-founders, Kristen Hansten and her husband handed over a 51 per cent share of ownership to the hotel's staff members. They move not only displays a commitment to bettering the local community in which the Soria Moria operates but also bucks the trend of exploitative labor observed in some areas of Cambodia's developing tourism industry.

Cambodia's Soria Moria hotel empowers its employees

Soria Moria hotel in Siem Reap has a unique story, founded in 2007 by Kristen Hansen and her husband; the Norwegian couple has always aimed to treat the staff well, far better than the average. Four weeks paid vacation, paid maternity and paternity leave, generous health insurance, double time payments after eight-hour shits and covering the costs of staff's college and graduate schooling are just some of the perks Soria Moria offered its staff.

Then in May 2011, as they considered moving back to Norway and selling the hotel the couple took the bold decision to make staff partners in the hotel rather than leaving the hotel in the hands of an unknown entity. "they helped us build the business, they should have this. Not somebody else" noted Hansen Hansen.

Over recent years Cambodia has become one of the up and coming holiday destinations in South East Asia as each year adventure seeking travellers flock to book holidays off the beaten path. Investors from countries like China, Korea and Japan have seized the opportunity to build hotels in Cambodia in order to meet the growing demand for accommodation.

While the sudden influx of hotels has generated much-needed jobs for locals, one unfortunate side effect has been less than desirable working conditions.

"The thing is, I don't like to talk down other hotels. But I know there are cases where employees are being exploited. Sometimes they don't even pay employees; they just bring in poor people from the countryside to basically work day and night for food and accommodation. No salary"

Explained Hansen. Located near Cambodia's famous Angkor Wat temple, the Soria Moria is one hotel that is bucking the trend of poor working conditions in Cambodia.

The Soria Moria is certainly an ideal option for those travellers who are keen on supporting sustainable tourism in Cambodia. One guest shared her review on travel website TripAdvisor was inspired by the Soria Moria's dedication to operating sustainably and giving back to the local community.

"I stayed at the Soria Moria following their win of the Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards 'Best in Community Engagement and Development'. I was blown away by the way in which they have worked to benefit the lives of local people and commitment to workers' welfare. The quality of service was excellent and the staff created one of my best holiday experiences to date".

According to Cambodia News, the Soria Moria Educational Development Program, a new company was formed on behalf of the employees who now own a 51 per cent stake in the hotel. Full-time employees earn 1 ownership point for every dollar's worth of salary they make and they earn 2 ownership points for each month they work at the hotel.

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