You could of course make your own way over the Japanese Friendship Bridge to CBRE’s most recent enterprise, the 17-storey Mekong Gardens, located at the Preakleap area, Chrouy Changvar. After all, this twin tower apartment block can be found just 15 minutes’ away from the city.
You could instead, however, take advantage of a silver air-conditioned Hyundai emblazoned with the skyblue Mekong Gardens logo, which transports residents from the heat of Phnom Penh central to its dusty outskirts. This service is typical of CBRE’s attention to detail and strong client focus. Indeed Frederic Chan, Property Manager with CBRE, had creative input in the concept of the flower-covered gazebos fronting the river.
This weekday shuttle service runs to and from the apartments to Canadia Bank and Diamond Island and is just one of the gratis services laid on for its residents. It is also an indicator as to the market sector CBRE aims to attract. The schedule, coinciding with the typical expat working week, means that the block caters primarily for foreigners with serious jobs but with an equally earnest need to switch off.
Rising up from the hub of a Khmer neighbourhood, the pristine towers, surrounded by carefully tended plants demonstrate proudly just how quickly the city and Peakleap are developing.
Once through manned electric gates, the Hyundai parks up in a resident bay and luggage is placed on a carrier by welcoming concierge. We have come to expect this level of service from an international hotel and also from CBRE’s other local sites, such as the Colonial Mansions. The location maybe different but CBRE’s vision is of a quality living space, that is not prohibitively expensive.
The reception area mixes hotel and corporate, comfort and business. The overwhelming impression however is one of openness and light. In contrast to more centrally located blocks, Mekong Gardens offers optimal window space. This in turn means that the plants that are a feature of the aptly named block thrive and bring a certain lushness.
But this design is not only about artifice. Each apartment has a dedicated post box, there are numerous shared bathrooms in the common areas, together with lifts and soft seating for visitors.
The concept of a studio flat is very much convenience over comfort. Yet at Mekong Gardens, it is not simply a functional box. Behind a solid wooden door, you are greeted by a sense of space, mirroring the feel of the reception area. The rear wall is an elongated patio door that leads onto a private balcony, which is large enough to host a table and chairs.
A resident’s (be they owner or tenant) every morning could mean waking to the tranquility of a sunrise over the Mekong, followed by a private outdoor breakfast. That breakfast could be warmed in the oven, defrosted from your ample fridge-freezer in the microwave or instead shared at the soon-to-be opened restaurant.
Hiring a house-keeper and a regular laundry service to remove the mundane from a packed schedule is an option. If not, the kitchen comes equipped with a dishwasher; similarly, a washing machine can be found on the second, more utilitarian balcony at the rear of the kitchen.
Behind the kitchen sits a dining area with a light wooden table and four chairs. Processed TV dinners do not have to be the life of the studio dweller. However, if a resident did want to spend his/her evening in front of the television, they would not be disappointed. Each apartment comes with an LCD screen and cable TV, a sumptuous sofa and a myriad of mood lighting options. There is even a choice of ISP packages for wifi use (pre-or postpaid), should he or she wish to access email or is missing today’s gadgetry.
The bedroom lies behind the sofa and is encased by the double wardrobe and a beautiful river view.
A space-creating mock stained glass door opens into the bathroom, which lives upto its name as it comes equipped with a bath tub, a rare commodity in Phnom Penh.
If taking a dip appeals, then residents are entitled to free use of a large swimming pool adjacent to Khmer style covered picnic areas. Gym, sauna and steam rooms add to the peaceful spa resort ambiance. This is made all the more enjoyable when you know these facilities are included in the rent.
A studio flat is let at $580 and the two and three bedroom apartments are priced at $850 and $1,050 respectively. Prices include furniture but not bills. However, with customary flexibility, Chan is open to negotiation, for those wishing to self-furnish.
This approach seems to be working: of the 146 units, 30 units were sold or let within the first six months of opening. A second bridge into the City, a speed boat dock and a retail outlet stocking essentials are also in the pipeline and can only serve to make this out of town haven all the more attractive.
Frederic prides himself on being able to anticipate an expatriate’s accommodation needs after a hard week’s work. He is hopeful that the Mekong Gardens will provide him or her with a feeling of rejuvenation at home, the only clear omission being the constant drone of construction noise.
Frederic’s thoughts are echoed by Kerya Ros, the onsite Operations Manager, who confirms that: ‘‘they (expatriates and their families) can spend their time enjoying the fresh air, without having to drive all the way to the beach’’.