Daniel Simon, Managing Director of Rosewood Phnom Penh Unveils What Awaits at This Luxury Hotel



Mr.Daniel Simon’s Portrait Image
Image courtesy of Rosewood Phnom Penh

Swedish-born Daniel Simon is a luxury hospitality veteran. With three decades of hotel and restaurant management experience under his belt, Daniel’s resume also includes stints in 11 cities across the United States, Southeast Asia, Canada, and Australia alongside significant experience in the cruise industry — where he worked as the hotel director of Celebrity Cruises for two years. Having traversed the waters of Asia, Alaska, the Caribbean, and Europe, Simon now finds himself in Cambodia’s capital as the managing director of the Rosewood Phnom Penh where the hospitality savant oversees the ultra-luxury property’s operations, guest engagement efforts, and the hotel’s talented team. LUXUO speaks to Daniel Simon on his role as managing director that sees him hone in on his leadership skills in Phnom Penh, alongside cluing LUXUO in on all the latest offerings from the Rosewood. With thoughtful details and experiences that evoke a sense of discovery and inspiration, Simon speaks to why one should make the Rosewood Hotel Phnom Penh part of their next Southeast Asian getaway.

You have a passion for Southeast Asia. Having worked in Koh Samui, Bangkok and now in Phnom Penh, tell us about your experience in hospitality in this vibrant part of the world.

Image courtesy of Rosewood Phnom Penh

Working in hospitality in Southeast Asia is a fascinating experience due to the cultural tapestry, diverse culinary scene, and the remarkable warmth and hospitality of the people. Each destination brings its own unique charm and challenges, but overall, it’s a dynamic and rewarding environment to work in.

Unlike anywhere else, the hospitality here is deeply heartfelt, making guests feel like family with genuine warmth and sincerity. Every interaction — from warm smiles to heartfelt greetings — is infused with this sense of hospitality from the heart. Whether in bustling Bangkok, tranquil Koh Samui, or vibrant Phnom Penh, the hospitality of Southeast Asia shines through, reflecting the region’s rich heritage of welcoming travelers with open arms. This creates memorable and meaningful experiences, leaving guests with cherished memories and a desire to return.

Today, you are at the head of the Rosewood Phnom Penh; how has Phnom Penh evolved over recent years?

Image courtesy of Rosewood Phnom Penh

Being in Phnom Penh now is truly remarkable, especially witnessing the country’s incredible growth. Change is evident every day, with the city undergoing significant development and modernisation in recent years. Phnom Penh has experienced infrastructure improvements, economic growth, and a surge in tourism and expatriates. This rapid growth has spurred the expansion of the hospitality industry, resulting in the emergence of new hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues catering to a more diverse audience.

During our stay, we noticed the extreme attention to detail — both within the rooms and across all the hotel’s food and beverage outlets. What is the DNA of the Rosewood brand and how does it differentiate itself from other high-end hotels in Cambodia?

Grand Premier Room
Image courtesy of Rosewood Phnom Penh

The Rosewood Hotels and Resorts brand is renowned for its dedication to luxury, sophistication, and hospitality. What sets us apart from other high-end hotels in Cambodia is our commitment to delivering a distinctive combination of contemporary design, cultural authenticity, and meticulous attention to detail. We take pride in crafting unforgettable experiences for our guests, whether it’s through our exquisite accommodations, personalised services, diverse dining options, or immersive cultural activities.

What do your guests enjoy the most at the Rosewood Phnom Penh?

Our guests consistently praise the personalised and engaged service provided by our dedicated team, who go above and beyond to ensure guest satisfaction. They also express admiration for our comfortable rooms, which offer unparalleled views overlooking the city and the legendary Mekong River.

Culinary director Jan Van Dyk, and director of bars Bob Louison joined the Rosewood Phnom Penh a year ago to further enhance the hotel’s refined food and beverage experiences. Tell us more about the six food and beverage outlets at the Rosewood Phnom Penh?

Executive Room
Image courtesy of Rosewood Phnom Penh

Since opening its doors in 2018, Rosewood Phnom Penh has firmly established itself as Cambodia’s premier dining and drinking destination. Boasting six exquisite F&B venues — including the acclaimed Brasserie Louis, sophisticated steak and seafood grill Cuts, and contemporary Chinese restaurant Zhan Liang — the ultra-luxury hotel has garnered a reputation for its refined and innovative cuisine, captivating designs and settings, and unwavering commitment to setting the gold standard for cuisine, mixology, and hospitality in the region. The restaurants are led by director of culinary Jan Van Dyk, who not only implements new sustainable practices in cuisine but has also innovated it by creating Cambodia’s very first indoor hydroponic farm, providing fresh and pesticide-free produce to all six dining outlets. Additionally, chef Van Dyk ensures collaboration with local partners and suppliers to support the local community.

A highlight not to be missed in our dining offerings is the iconic bar Sora, where director of bars, Bob Louison, has curated a captivating cocktail menu inspired by Japanese legends, aptly named “The Book of Yokai” — I highly recommend savoring one from Sora’s deck, offering the best sunset view in the city.

Your property hosts a contemporary art gallery. How do you select the artists on display? Clue us in on the importance of art at the Rosewood Phnom Penh?

Hotel Lobby
Image courtesy of Rosewood Phnom Penh

Rosewood Phnom Penh invites guests on an artistic journey of discovery, enriching and deepening their appreciation for the “A Sense of Place” philosophy of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts. Reflecting the concept of life as a living canvas, the hotel’s curated art collection thoughtfully connects guests to the charm, personality, and traditions of Cambodia and its capital. Inspired by Khmer tradition, merging it seamlessly with modernisation, the distinctive art collection finds its home in this ultra-luxury hotel, situated in the tallest building in the Kingdom of Cambodia — a fitting symbol for this theme.

To enhance our art offerings, we have dedicated a space of 112 square meters, welcoming the country’s most influential and up-and-coming artists to showcase some of Cambodia’s most exciting contemporary artworks. Each year, we host at least five different art exhibitions covering various themes, ranging from traditional Khmer art to street art, fashion, cinema, architecture, sculpture, photography, and more.

You have implemented a social community programme aiming at providing support to families in need alongside allocating jobs to talented individuals within these families. Can you tell us more about this initiative?

Swimming Pool
Image courtesy of Rosewood Phnom Penh

Rosewood Phnom Penh’s social community program — Rosewood Empowers — reflects the hotel’s commitment to creating positive change in both society and the environment. The initiative aims to empower underserved communities by providing equal access to opportunities, with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The Open Door Program — launched in 2021 in collaboration with École d’Hôtellerie et de Tourisme Paul Dubrule — offers hands-on learning opportunities to disadvantaged Cambodian youth pursuing careers in hospitality. Providing financial support, including a monthly allowance, service charge payments, and medical insurance, the program also offers invaluable real-world experience to participants.

Collaborating with local NGOs like PSE, Paul Dubrule, Sala Bai, and Don Bosco, Rosewood Phnom Penh offers apprenticeship opportunities to students, with over 100 transitioning to full-time associates after training at the hotel’s outlets. Cross-department training further promotes professional growth and development among colleagues.

The hotel also extends its support to rural communities in Cambodia, donating school supplies and food items through partnerships with organisations like the Coconut School and SOS Children’s Village Kampot. Future plans include expanding outreach efforts to benefit more communities.

Through these initiatives, Rosewood Phnom Penh aims to meaningfully impact the lives of individuals in Cambodia, foster inclusive workplaces, and support local communities in their journey towards a brighter future.

The Rosewood Phnom Phen has partnered with three other high-end properties across Cambodia to provide an immersive experience of the kingdom both on land and water. Can you tell us more about these partnerships?

Vattanac Capital Tower
Image courtesy of Rosewood Phnom Penh

This luxury tour spans 12 days, allowing guests to explore four stunning destinations and indulge in the most luxurious accommodations in the country — from the iconic Angkor Wat to lush jungles, pristine islands, and opulent urban settings — guests are treated to a diverse and in-depth exploration of Cambodia’s spectacular attractions.

The itinerary begins with a three-night stay at Rosewood Phnom Penh, where guests luxuriate in the comfort of a Mekong Suite. This urban oasis serves as the perfect starting point and grand finale to the luxury adventure.

Next, guests spend three nights at Shinta Mani Angkor and Bensley Collection Pool Villas, where they are treated to an exquisite experience in a luxurious Bensley Collection Pool Villa. Here, guests can relax in pure extravagance while exploring the historic temples of Angkor Wat and indulging in the finest amenities and experiences Siem Reap has to offer.

The journey continues with a three-night stay at Six Senses Krabey Island, where guests unwind in a Hideaway Pool Villa Suite. Surrounded by pristine nature, guests reconnect with local culture and wellness experiences on this private island paradise.

Finally, guests spend three nights at Shinta Mani Wild – A Bensley Collection, where they immerse themselves in ultimate luxury and adventure in the wilderness. With all-inclusive amenities and adrenaline-filled activities like a 400m zip line arrival over the forest canopy, guests experience the most breathtaking jungle and nature experience in Southeast Asia.

Overall, this partnership between Rosewood Phnom Penh and other luxury properties offers guests an unparalleled journey through Cambodia, combining opulent accommodations with unforgettable experiences in some of the country’s most breathtaking destinations.

You have set a special golfing programme for golf aficionados. What does the special golf package cover?

Executive Bedroom
Image courtesy of Rosewood Phnom Penh

Guests can escape with our exclusive golf package at Rosewood Phnom Penh. The package includes an epic round of 18 holes at the prestigious Vattanac Golf Resort, designed by Sir Nick Faldo. Home to an award-winning course, the East Course promises an unforgettable play, complete with a dedicated caddie and convenient cart. Guests will relax with round transfers between Rosewood Phnom Penh and Vattanac Golf Resort in a Jaguar F-Pace limousine. Additionally, they will receive a special Vattanac Golf Resort souvenir gift pack to commemorate their unforgettable experience. This offers guests the perfect golfing getaway in Cambodia, along with a luxurious stay and daily breakfast at Brasserie Louis, as well as roundtrip airport transfers.

As managing director, what plans do you have for the hotel in 2024 to 2025?

Image courtesy of Rosewood Phnom Penh

My vision for Rosewood Phnom Penh from 2024 to 2025 is one of continued excellence and innovation. We have welcomed new talents to elevate our dining experience, with chef Omar Konateh at Cuts, sommelier Sara Penh, and bar manager Mr. KT Lam from Darkside, ensuring we maintain our status as the premier dining destination in Southeast Asia.

Our commitment to social responsibility remains unwavering. We’re initiating fundraising events, like the prestigious Phare Ponleu Selpak charity dinner, to support our community. We’re also expanding our efforts to uplift individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds by providing them with opportunities for growth and development within our team.

Furthermore, we’re dedicated to sustainability, transitioning towards zero waste operations which we have started with the Hydroponic Garden. Our goal is to lead by example in environmental stewardship while continuing to deliver unparalleled luxury and service to our guests.

Above all, we will stay true to our core value of offering relationship hospitality. It’s the genuine connections we forge with our guests that drive us forward, ensuring that every stay at Rosewood Phnom Penh is nothing short of extraordinary.

To end this interview, tell us one secret that you have never shared about the Rosewood Phnom Penh? Perhaps a hidden location or a secret experience?

Image courtesy of Rosewood Phnom Penh

As a special insider tip, I’ll reveal a hidden gem at Rosewood Phnom Penh: Cuts houses a secret room known as the “chef’s table,” nestled right in the heart of the bustling kitchen. Imagine this: when you book this exclusive experience, there’s no menu presented to you. Instead, our talented chef and sommelier curate a bespoke dining journey tailored specifically to your preferences and the season’s freshest ingredients. Picture yourself seated in this intimate setting, watching the chef craft succulent sauces and prepare each dish right before your eyes. What’s more, the chef has their own indoor potager behind the kitchen — a sight normally reserved for staff only — giving you a rare glimpse into our culinary craftsmanship. It’s an unforgettable dining experience that’s truly one-of-a-kind at Rosewood Phnom Penh.

For more on the Rosewood Phnom Penh, head to the link here.

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