Lonely Planet Writer

This luxury camp in Cambodia was designed with Jackie Onassis in mind

An eagerly-awaited luxury resort is set to open in Cambodia this November. Located among rivers and waterfalls in a wildlife reserve just south of Phnom Penh, Shinta Mani Wild is a radical new concept that combines first class design with serious conservation goals.

Shinta Mani Wild, a design and conservation-focused resort in Cambodia. Image by Shinta Mani Wild

Nestled in the heart of the Cardamom Mountains, Shinta Mani Wild will open for bookings this November. Designed by prolific hotel designer Bill Bensley, the resort has been described as a “radical new concept for a luxury camp experience”. Guests will have a choice of 15 luxurious tents perched above a river with views of the surrounding waterfalls and evergreen forest. The resort is designed to evoke Bensley’s vision of what it would been like “on a luxury safari in the jungles of Cambodia with Jackie O [Onassis] in 1967”.

Each custom built Shinta Mani Wild tent is lavishly appointed. Image by Shinta Mani Wild

The resort occupies an area of a previously unprotected wildlife corridor between Kirirom and Bokor national parks that is home to wild elephants, gibbons and numerous other species. Conservation is integral to the resort’s ethos and Bensley is committed to protecting the area from mining, poaching and logging. According to a report from NGO Alliance, Cambodia has among the highest rates of deforestation in the world and between 2001 and 2004, it lost 1.6 million hectares of its forest. Illegal poaching and logging scar the landscape but responsible tourism projects like this are attempting to keep it in check.

The resort is surrounded by most, evergreen forests. Image by Shinta Mani Wild

The resort has been created in partnership with Flora and Fauna International, the Wildlife Alliance, the Cambodian Government and the Royal Phnom Penh University, which will have a permanent research facility here. Food will be grown and foraged from the land and it will also create sustainable development opportunities for the indigenous people of the area. Guests will even have the opportunity to travel with researchers and rangers as they set camera traps to study the wildlife.

Each tent boasts views of the river below and surrounding waterfalls. Image by Shanti Mani Wild

Even though the resort is completely immersed in nature, there are in-room bars where guests can unwind with drinks and a spa, which is nestled deep within the forest and offers treatments through a range of natural and chemical-free products. An added quirk gives guests the option of arriving to Shinta Mani Wild via a 380-metre (1247-foot) zip line that stretches across rivers and waterfalls. On land, they’ll be greeted by with refreshments in the Landing Zone Bar. Those looking to make a less dramatic entrance can arrive by jeep transfer.

Each tent is lavishly appointed with bespoke furniture. Image by Shinta Mani Wild

Rates at Shinta Mani Wild will start from US$1900 (€1615) per night, and includes food and beverage, activities, spa treatments and land transfers from Phnom Penh or Sihanoukville airports. Helicopter transfers are additional. A minimum of three-night stays is required. For more information, see here.