Bullet and I are celebrating Khmer New Year in Kampot! We are swimming and exploring outside Phnom Penh and loving it. I didn’t make many plans for my time here, but right next door to the bungalow we are staying in the Banteay Srey Project. It is a sanctuary for women (and apparently male dogs). Banteay Srey Project operates as a vocational training center for Cambodian women, providing them with well-paid jobs and many ongoing training opportunities.
The Project runs three social enterprises including a women’s spa, yoga studio, and a vegan café. I got a treatment at the spa and then a great fresh fruit smoothie afterwards from the cafe. The spa and cafe offer an ideal opportunity for Khmer girls coming from difficult circumstances to work and develop themselves in a peaceful, restorative environment.
At the project, trainees are given step-by-step instruction to develop skills continuously. Through providing high quality services to predominantly foreign guests and communicating in English, they develop confidence, cultivate a new sense of self-esteem and learn useful skills for future employment. They are given excellent working conditions, medical benefits, maternity care and a fair salary.
Kampot is a growing tourist destination and the Banteay Srey enterprises have proved to be incredibly popular. Banteay Srey works hard towards the realistic goal of financial sustainability – each of the Banteay Srey Social Enterprises are self-sustaining and also contribute the bulk of expenses needed to operate the overall project. They also gratefully receive outside donations which are used for major costs such as extending their training program, operating a small village school and maintaining a residence for trainees in need.
All women are invited to relax and pamper themselves in a peaceful, restorative environment: the Banteay Srey Women’s Spa. The spa offers skilled massage, traditional Khmer herbal treatments and a wide variety of other spa services.
Guests are invited to spend the day with us: indulging themselves with our spa services, connecting with other women (I ran into a young woman who was shopping the night before on the same street as me in Kampot), swimming (check out Bullet and his big stick) and sunbathing on our private river deck. An on-site yoga studio offers classes on a large river view balcony. Guests can also enjoy delectable fresh fruit juices, teas and vegan Khmer cuisine from the Deva cafe menu.
Guests can spoil themselves knowing that all spa proceeds are used for the empowerment of young Cambodian women coming from difficult circumstances. Even though I didn’t think through much of the post treatments swimming in a river / sunblock situation. I definitely wanted to support this program and tried the Ultimate Organic Facial. Natural local ingredients loaded with vitamins, minerals, natural moisturizers, fruit acids, antioxidants and enzymes. It was a hour long facial! Plus, I had Bullet with me – so he slept for the most part under my massage table. I left super relaxed and with a brand-new baby soft face. Until I jumped in the Kampot River and then covered my face with sunblock. Here was the series of treatments:
- Cleanse with yoghurt & kaffir lime.
- Steam with fresh mint.
- Exfoliate with black sesame and coconut with palm sugar coconut lip scrub.
- Massage with homemade coconut oil.
- Mask with honey & papaya.
- Tone with green tea & fresh cucumber.
- Moisturize with aloe vera.
I think the best part of the facial was all the scents. It definitely kept me curious. I’m still here for a few more days so I might try out another treatment or two!
Have you been to Kampot before? What social businesses did you enjoy?