Over 100 years of History; learn more about how Le Relais de Chhlong came to existence.
The area of Chhlong was well known for its large forests, thriving water ways and access via the Mekong to Vietnam, Laos and Southern China.
The Koy family were captains of industry, hailing from Chinese-Khmer heritage, synonymous with this region. They first set about establishing the saw mill in Chhlong, capitalizing on the abundant natural resources of century old forests in this area and the growing global demand for timber.
At the time, the mill was thought to be the first of its kind in Cambodia using technology not seen before.
They then went on to build the iconic Hundred Pillar House also situated in Chhlong, built in 1884.
Desiring a private residence that reflected the fashion of the day for the social elite; the “French Colonial” style; Le Relais was conceptualized using architects known to have created some of Phnom Penh's landmark buildings built at the same time.
It opened as the Koy family's private home in 1916.
This area was thriving middle class, with largely Chinese-Khmer locals who used the waterways to bring the town's timber to foreign lands.
Traders to this day in the market can still speak Cantonese and Mandarin in addition to Khmer, with the Villages only foreign language school still being Chinese.
The old Mekong Port, still visible today was used to load the boats and carry the goods to foreign lands, likewise bringing in return many goods necessary for building and development of the region.
As the Koy family empire expanded, they moved into other regions of Cambodia and leased
Le Relais to the Customs and Excise department, in charge of controlling the waterways.
During the 2014 renovation, many official documents were found
During the Sangkum Period, bringing Cambodia Independence but also coinciding with the global musical talent rising, Cambodia produced some visionaries of song, including King Norodom himself together with famous singers such as Sin Sisamouth. The resident Customs official of Le Relais was also a talented music composer and lyricist; Phoeng Bopha who wrote about the beauty of Chhlong landscapes and his life during his time here, as did many popular artists of the day.
A flourishing period of economic growth swept across Cambodia, and soon a Paper factory was established in Chhlong, with its chimney still visible today.It’s thought that in the late 1960s, Kratié became the central hub for all government offices in the region and Customs was moved, leaving the house without a tenant.
In 1973, with civil war looming and international military action taking place in Vietnam, a B52 bomb fell on the house leaving the roof in disrepair and the building rendered derelict yet relatively unscathed considering the enormity of the explosion, due to the impressive thick walls and strong build.
During the Khmer Rouge, the house was a refuge for displaced civilians and likely a place used to treat the sick and wounded. Many medicinal vials were found in the grounds during renovation, and many mysteries surround the house as to its part in the war.
A former French expat owner first bought Le Relais in 2003 with dreams to turn it onto a hotel and started work on the renovation, but it was not to be and the house was put up for sale.
In 2008 a team of friends bought Le Relais, who are to this day the current owners.
Having admired it from afar for many years, firstly they used it as a country house for their families to escape Phnom Penh.
In 2014 plans were made to expand, adding the second building, building to exact standards as the original, and developing Le Relais into the 10 Suite Mekong Boutique it is today, adding in air conditioning, European quality bedding and linens together with Wifi & flat screen TV's.
Le Relais de Chhlong opened in February 2018 - 102 years after it was originally built.