…a hotel with a soul and a story
Maison Polanka was born in 1992 as a place of peace and refinement, when Jean Pierre moved from his native France to Cambodia to found the Chantiers Écoles, a public vocational training school for underprivileged young Cambodians. Along the way of this adventure, he met and fell in love with Nathalie, a French-Cambodian woman who had returned to her homeland to rediscover her roots. Before it was transformed into a luxurious boutique retreat, Maison Polanka was the couple’s much-loved home where their two children were raised.
Nathalie grew up in Phnom Penh before being forced to leave Cambodia under the bombings with her Cambodian-French family. In France, she completed her studies in Political Sciences at Paris “Sciences Po” followed by a doctorate in Khmer civilization studies. Her ambition was at that time to enter diplomacy in order to come back to Cambodia. Circumstances decided her instead to join the Paris bases Compagnie Francaise de l’Orient et de la Chine. She travelled extensively through China ad South East Asia, in search of unique objects for high-end line of handicrafts.
After the Paris Peace agreements were signed in 1991, Nathalie quit her established life in Paris and returned to Cambodia.
She implemented an inventory of Khmer crafts after twenty years of war. She was at the very start of the Artisans d’Angkor crafts collection before
launching her own vision of Khmer excellence in crafts “Khmer Attitude”,
followed by a pop up conceptual store upholding fair trade values, Galerie
Throughout the years, Nathalie has been involved in local NGOs and supports
cultural and designer projects around Siem Reap.
Jean Pierre decided to have a complete change of life when he turned 40 and became a laïc monk, and engage in a project with the mission of helping young and poor uneducated people in a vocational school in Cambodia.
Created in 1992 with the Ministry of Education, between 1992 and 2004, the Chantiers Écoles trained thousands of young underprivileged Cambodians in an array of building and handicraft techniques, from sandstone and woodcarving to silk weaving.
The crafts part of the Chantiers Écoles became a company in 2000 the Artisans d’Angkor, a major showcase of Khmer workmanship.
He later was involved in Tibetan crafts: in India at the Norbulingka crafts institute in Dharamsala and in China where he co-founded a development project for Tibetan nomads, Norlha. Back in Cambodia, he is today the chairman of the Cambodian NGO, Bayon education and development school, vice chairman of the Parliamentary Asean Institute and board member of 1001 Fontaines NGO.
In May 2012 Maison Polanka opened, as a result of 20 years of dreams and passion of Cambodia, expressing fully Nathalie’s idea of a Khmer attitude. Maison Polanka that was a family home is today a chic sanctuary with a strong feeling of home. The lush gardens, hidden in the center of Siem Reap, host 3 traditional houses filled with Art and Khmer artifacts yet providing refined comfort for exclusive guests.
Let us help you to tailor your stay in Siem Reap!