Shinta Mani Wild, Bensley Collection Cambodia, Interview

waterfall picnic shinta mani wild
enjoy a picnic atop a waterfall at shinta mani wild

Kouprey Adventures was one of the first visitors to Shinta Mani Wild back when the property was being constructed with care in the national park tent by tent with the utmost attention to detail by Bill Bensley. We caught up with the GM, David Steyn, of the Bensley Collection – Shinta Mani Wild.

How does Bensley Collection – Shinta Mani Wild highlight the best of Bill’s design and architecture style from his past 30 years?

I think that being part owner and best friends with the partner Sokoun, Bill was able to for the first time do WHATEVER he wanted. Carte Blanch start to finish on a truly blank canvas And let his imagination really run WILD. Being able to implement everything in his suitability white pages as a thriving example of sustainable hotel operations and positive impact. His whites pages aims inspire other developers and designers to think creatively about design, construction and operation.

Can you share more about your ranger program to protect Cambodia’s natural resources and valued wildlife? How can our guests support and learn more during their stay?

A portion of every guests stay helps fund the Wildlife Alliance efforts in the Cardamon mountains. As part of our collaboration we fund a substation on property which has 8 members based at it. This allows us to take guests out on patrol with them to experience conservation and environmental protection on the ground. A very unique experience.

Can you share more about the future plans for Shinta Mani hospitality school?

The Foundation is getting back to its feet after being dormant for the last two years. The efforts to train young Cambodians for the hospitality industry as well as the housing, water wells, education and  small business loan projects all will continue in Siem Reap. At Wild we are hoping to launch a community partnership project here to work with locals in waste management, organic and non-organic and recycling.

What is your favorite experience in Cambodia so far?

Not to sound Cliché but I think being at Angkor Wat temple complex with nobody else around was a really unforgettable experience.

How has it been living in Cambodia and learning more about the Khmer culture? Favorite aspects?

I just love the people! They are so genuinely hospitable, friendly and kind. Such a pleasure to work with and be a part of that culture

Having travelled the world and experienced luxury lodges worldwide what sets Shinta Mani Wild apart?

WILD is just outrageous. From the arrival to the excursions, food and rooms. I feel the is such a great balance here that everyone will find what they are looking for. I think that its also one the only truly ALL-inclusive properties I’ve come across which adds peace of mind for guests really not having to worry about a thing when they are here.

How has your experience in Africa safari/ tented camps been different than in Cambodia?

I think the biggest thing is that there isn’t a potentially deadly animal lurking around the corner when you walk from tent to tent, I’ve spent a large part of my days on the lookout for a buffalo or elephant in camp. There is a sense of peace here not having to worry about large animals in camp. Being in the jungle we still have to keep aware as there other things around but all-in-all a lot less stress.

With travel roaring back for 2022 and beyond what are your plans for the future of Shinta Mani Wild?

Our big goal for 2023 and onward is two prong. One is to try and get the property to Zero waste. We are already zero plastics but I would like to get us as close to zero waste as possible. The other is develop a real wellness aspect to the property. We’ve coined it Wellness at WILD, essentially using this amazing space and nature to allow guests to rejuvenate, re-energise and reconnect with the themselves and the natural world.

Thank you for your time today, our current guests love the property with some travelers basing their Cambodian trip around Shinta Mani Wild. We look forward to sending more guests to experience your wonderful property, true Khmer hospitality and to support the Wildlife Alliance and help ensure the future of the national park.

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