Okay, calling Sihanoukville the Las Vegas of Southeast Asia is a little premature, but recent developments suggest that this is part of the master plan for the city. A good-sized casino was built near the Golden Lions a couple of years ago and more recently, the casino part of the new Holiday Palace Resort & Casino was completed down on Independence Beach. In response to that, Sihanoukville’s ever-growing Sokha Beach Resort constructed the very impressive looking Vegas Casino, which seems to be enjoying a brisk trade.
The old Holiday Palace opposite Victory Beach was closed recently, but the rumour is that rather than refurbish it, they are going to tear it down and start over again from scratch. That’s not the biggest resort/casino in the works for Sihanoukville, though. Queenco Leisure International Ltd. purchased the old Holiday Palace, but in addition has purchased a 9 hectare beachfront property that may be Sihanoukville’s biggest and most luxurious casino and resort development yet.
I grabbed this image of the proposed development from the Queenco website. According to information provided there, the “company believes that Sihanoukville will be a highly attractive destination for leisure and gaming.” While the planned casino will be huge, other facilities designed to attract upmarket tourists and families will include a swimming pool, spa and other facilities.
Construction of this resort is slated to begin in 2013 and it will include a 2000 bed hotel. This is in contrast to the relatively modest 200 beds that will be available when Phase Two of the development of the already existing Holiday Palace Resort & Casino is completed in 2014. Currently, 60 beds are available.
As we’re discovering this year, the more Sihanoukville accommodations that can be built, the better, because beds are scarce this year and one guesthouse owner told me recently that he is booked up through to the end of January and beds are filling up through February as well.
One question remains: Why do they want to make Sihanoukville the Las Vegas of Southeast Asia? Well, neither Thailand nor Vietnam allow gaming, so that leaves Cambodia. I’m not sure how I feel about it personally, but several of our neighbours have already found employment at the new Holiday Palace casino. They are paid well (better than they were paid at foreign run guesthouses and restaurants), treated well and seem happy with their jobs.