Shinta Mani Wild - A Bensley Collection Cambodia

Shinta Mani Wild – A Bensley Collection

Shinta Mani Wild – A Bensley Collection, Cambodia

Words: Monica Tindall
Photos: Han Sen Hau

If you want an indicator of the quality of a stay, take a close look at the welcome and check out the minibar. 

By my logic, Shinta Mani Wild was destined for exceptional status from the onset. Our arrival involved soaring through the air on a 400-metre zipline, the South Cardamon National Forest jungle canopy blurring beneath with a trickling waterfall as the ambient soundtrack. Talk about an exhilarating entrance! 

And then there was the “maxi bar.” This was a foodie’s dream, stocked with half a dozen bottles of highly quaffable wine, craft beers, ciders, a full array of soft drinks, fresh milk, tea, coffee, spirits, cocktail ingredients like fresh lime and cucumber, and a bounty of house-made snacks – fruit roll-ups, vegetable chips, carrot and seed crackers, granola bars, energy balls, even fruit sorbet – all included in the stay. The usual luxury inclusion of an espresso machine and premium tea selection paled in comparison. 

Needless to say, Shinta Mani Wild nailed it on both accounts, setting the stage for what would become a four-day, three-night stay that consistently surpassed expectations.

Shinta Mani Wild - A Bensley Collection Cambodia - Zipline to Reception
Zipline to Reception
Glamping Phnom Penh - spirits in the maxi bar
Just a Small Section of the Maxi Bar

Shinta Mani Wild – The Mission

Shinta Mani Wild, Southeast Asia’s first private wildlife and nature reserve, is the brainchild of visionary architect Bill Bensley. What began as a mission to protect a pristine river valley from environmental threats has blossomed into a sustainable haven committed to both luxury and conservation. It is a portal into a hidden world, a place where untamed beauty meets unparalleled comfort and where every stay positively impacts the natural and human community surrounding the site.

Glamping Phnom Penh - Waterfall Views from Reception and the Final Leg of the Zipline in Dry Season
Waterfall Views from Reception and the Final Leg of the Zipline in Dry Season
Glamping Phnom Penh - Peaceful Places to Immerse in Nature
Peaceful Places to Immerse in Nature
Glamping Phnom Penh - sun chairs by the creek
More Places to Relax in Nature

The Arrival

As mentioned, the arrival to Shinta Mani Wild is unforgettable. We were collected at the airport in a four-wheel drive, equipped with house-made snacks (energy balls and cookies), a cooler of soft drinks, water and beer and cold, moist towels. About 90 minutes in, paved roads turned to dirt, houses were replaced by trees, and our vehicle could go no further. We had a quick check-in at The Depot, a covered hut resembling a fancy safari checkpoint, and were given the choice of continuing in jungle-green jeeps from the ’60s or ziplining in. The choice was obvious!

Glamping Phnom Penh - Check-in at The Depot
Check-in at The Depot

After nearly half a kilometre of flying trapeze, our feet touched the ground at the Landing Zone Bar. Met with a cocktail, a map and an explanation of the 350-hectare campsite, we didn’t think we could be more excited. However, we were soon reminded that everything was included: fine wine, excursions, our own butler, gourmet chef-prepared meals and snacks and … unlimited spa treatments – our glee kicked into overdrive.

Zip-line Into Reception in the wet season at Shinta Mani Wild
Zip-line Into Reception in Wet Season (photo supplied)
Glamping Phnom Penh - Greeted with a Cocktail at The Landing Zone Bar
Greeted with a Cocktail at The Landing Zone Bar
Glamping Phnom Penh - The Landing Zone Bar
The Landing Zone Bar

The Tents at Shinta Mani Wild

And then, we met our digs for the next four days, Wild Tent No. 11. Bensley, renowned for his whimsical and theatrical designs, has woven his signature style into the very fabric of the resort, ensuring every detail, from the tented accommodations to the communal spaces, complements the surrounding wilderness.

Our Wild Tent No. 11 was so glamorous that I had to poke the wall a few times to confirm that it was made from fabric. The expansive sleeping and bathing area was adorned with plush furnishings, handcrafted wooden accents, antiques, and piles and piles of books (reason enough for an extended stay). A floor-to-ceiling transparent panel offered a close-up view of the forest and creek below. Beds were luscious, enveloping bodies like fluffy clouds as dreams were quickly met after time in the sun and jungle.

A gym-in-a-box provided yoga mats, resistance bands and light weights, leaving no room for excuses not to continue a fitness regime over the stay (or to quietly leave closed, pretending you didn’t notice). Bath products were natural and kept in refillable pumps, and drinking water came in reusable glass bottles, too. Even the snacks were packed in ceramics or leaves, doing away with single-use plastic altogether. Another bonus is laundry is included in the stay, so you can pack lightly, knowing clean clothes are only a call to the butler away.

The private deck was just as large as the interior, with a freestanding bathtub (well-used for an indulgent soak under the starlit sky), a lounge, a dining table, and that magnificent “maxi bar.” The suite was so beautiful that it was tempting to stay in, reading, bathing, sipping on fine wine, and nibbling on snacks surrounded by the forest foliage. However, there was so much to explore. I hardly thought four days and three nights would be enough.

Footpaths - Walkways Between Tents & Common Areas
Walkways Between Tents & Common Areas
Glamping Phnom Penh - Wild Tent No. 11
Wild Tent No. 11
Glamping Phnom Penh - Shinta Mani's Tent with a Heart
Shinta Mani’s Tent with a Heart
Glamping Phnom Penh - Wild Tent No. 11 outdoor bathtub and sitting area
Wild Tent No. 11
Shinta Mani Wild - A Bensley Collection Cambodia - bedroom with forest view
Glamping at Shinta Mani Wild
Shinta Mani Wild - A Bensley Collection Cambodia - forest views from the tent
View from the Tent
Glamping Phnom Penh - outdoor living area
Living Area
Shinta Mani Wild - A Bensley Collection Cambodia - Rosé wine and a Bath
Rosé and a Bath
Shinta Mani Wild - A Bensley Collection Camobodia - aerial view of creek in wet season
Our photos are from the dry season, but this is a pic from the hotel in the wet season – so lush!

Adventure Butler

Managing our itinerary was our adventure butler, Lucky. He provided discreet yet attentive service, ensuring every whim was catered to and making us feel utterly pampered throughout the stay.

Shinta Mani Wild is a paradise for adventurous souls, and thanks to Lucky, each day unfolded with a meticulously crafted itinerary encompassing all the things we love. Whether trekking through the dense forest searching for elusive wildlife, breakfast at sunrise on the riverboat, or joining the rangers (armed with AK47s!) on an anti-poaching patrol, every moment was a thrilling exploration of the untamed Cambodian landscape. We even met in a secret location one evening where a dry river bed had been turned into a phenomenal pad for sundowners – equipped with a cocktail bar, canape service, a giant ice bucket in the natural rock filled with Champagne, a campfire and even spa therapists giving foot massages with the creek’s stream providing a natural footbath.

The resort caters to all interests, offering excursions such as food foraging, where we learned to look for precisely sized, shaped, and coloured leaves to find a bounty below the ground. It also offers opportunities for relaxation, such as unlimited spa sessions, unwinding by the resort’s natural pond, or taking a splash in The Cistern, a pool designed in the shape of an enormous black bathtub. Our adventure butler arranged it all with ease, sharing engaging stories and informative tidbits along the way.

Lucky even planned our meals, sharing menus ahead of time and arranging tables or meals-to-go depending on our day’s agenda. And we never wanted to miss a meal at Shinta Mani Wild—the food and beverage experience was exceptional!

Glamping Phnom Penh - Sunrise River Cruise Cambodia
Sunrise River Cruise
Shinta Mani Wild - A Bensley Collection Cambodia - Breakfast on the River
Breakfast on the River
Glamping Phnom Penh - Sunrise from Bensley Signature Boat
Sunrise from Bensley Signature Boat
Glamping Phnom Penh - The Boat's Upper Deck
The Boat’s Upper Deck
Glamping Phnom Penh - Fresh Coconuts
Fresh Coconuts
Glamping Phnom Penh - Foraging for Food in Cambodia
Foraging for Food
Shinta Mani Wild - A Bensley Collection Cambodia - Sundowners in a Secret Location and a magnificent ice bucket in the natural rock
Sundowners in a Secret Location
Glamping Phnom Penh - Sundowners and Reflexology in the creek
Sundowners and Reflexology
Glamping Phnom Penh - Guests Enjoy Unlimited Spa Treatments - jungle spa hut
Guests Enjoy Unlimited Spa Treatments at Shinta Mani Wild
Shinta Mani Wild - A Bensley Collection Cambodia - The Cistern - pool shaped like a giant black bathtub
The Cistern
Shinta Mani Wild - A Bensley Collection Cambodia - The Cistern - pool in the jungle
Shinta Mani Wild – A Bensley Collection Cambodia

Culinary Paradise

Just like prejudging a hotel stay through its welcome and minibar, there are several signs I look for in predicting the quality of a food experience: the coffee, the wine list and the bread. Those are three tough calls, given the location. Considering the site is in the middle of a trio of national parks, remote would be an understatement, yet expectations were exceeded on all accounts. We started our days with barista-made brews on locally-roasted Arabica coffee beans grown in Southeast Asia with nicely textured foam tops. We paired our meals with an excellent list of well-chosen wines that varied with every meal, and when we begged for bread to soak up the last drops of every delicious sauce in various recipes, it came homemade and still warm from the oven. Tick. Tick. Tick.

South African Chef Bernard Hartzenberg leads the kitchen. He embraces the Shinta Mani Hotel Group’s policies of farm-to-table cuisine and sustainable plant-forward menus with minimal waste. As such, most ingredients are sourced within 25km of the property. With increased local foraging and gardens on-site, they hope to reduce the sourcing even further to no more than 9km away. They even make their own charcoal! Once used for water and flesh, coconut remains are given a final lease of life by turning them into barbecue fuel.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner menus operate on a three-to-four-day rotational basis, meaning the majority of guests whose average stay is three nights will not see the same recipe twice. Truth be told, though, I’d happily repeat every meal at Shinta Mani Wild. Food that good merits revisiting.

Our mornings were filled with fresh vegetable and fruit juices, barista-brewed coffee, kombucha shots, eggs to our liking, smoothie bowls, and an assortment of local recipes. We appreciated the small selection of everything done well. From dairy alternatives such as oat milk to decadent bacon-layered eggs Benedict, there was plenty to keep most palates happy.

The rotating three-course lunch menu was light, fresh and plant-forward, with a choice of two starters, two mains and two desserts. Some of our faves were the crispy noodle salad with farm herbs and peanut sambal, and cauliflower steak with labneh and homemade dukkah spice. You can easily eat gluten-free, vegetarian, or vegan food here. There are loads of wholesome and delicious choices. We left every meal feeling satiated and energised.

While the dinner dress code at the Headquarters (restaurant) was casual, the food was anything but. We were impressed each of the three nights we dined, and we were surprised by the quality and variety of recipes, especially given that most ingredients are sourced from the surrounding jungle. The first evening, we saw the kitchen team’s skill in Shinta Mani Wild’s degustation menu. The second night was Food by Fire, featuring recipes cooked over their house-made charcoal, and our final dinner was themed Khmer Nights, focusing on Cambodian cuisine. The local flavours were our favourites, and we were so in love with the chef’s Kampot pepper and lime sauce that we begged him to bottle it to take home.

Shinta Mani Wild - A Bensley Collection Cambodia - Headquarters restaurant in the jungle
Headquarters – Shinta Mani Wild’s Restaurant
Glamping Phnom Penh - Barista-brewed Coffee and books
Barista-brewed Coffee
Glamping Phnom Penh - Marie Wine bottle and glass
Great Wine Selection – All Inclusive
Glamping Phnom Penh - breakfast in the lush garden
Breakfast Embraced by Nature
Shinta Mani Wild - A Bensley Collection Cambodia - breakfast outdoors
Breakfast at Shinta Mani Wild
Shinta Mani Wild - A Bensley Collection Cambodia - Cambodian cuisine
Lunch Menu
Glamping Phnom Penh - vegetarian tacos
Delicious Lunches
Shinta Mani Wild - A Bensley Collection Cambodia - prawn in Kampot Pepper Lime Sauce
We Love the Kampot Pepper Lime Sauce
Glamping Phnom Penh - Cambodian dessert
Local Dessert

Conservation at Shinta Mani Wild

Beyond the exciting guest experience, Shinta Mani Wild’s commitment to conservation is inspiring. Aside from eliminating plastic waste and construction built around nature rather than clearing it, they also partner with the Wildlife Alliance, actively contributing to protecting endangered animals and their habitats. Guests can even go on a thrilling anti-poaching mission, releasing wildlife from snares and monitoring the forest for offenders. This area is home to many coveted species, such as pangolins and elephants, whose numbers have dramatically increased due to illegal trade. Shinta Mani Wild offers an alternative means for income and education, breaking the unsustainable practice and lifting the livelihoods of communities.

Glamping Phnom Penh - Wildlife Alliance
Wildlife Alliance

Room Rates

Room rates for Shinta Mani Wild start from $1,900++ per couple per night with a minimum 3-night stay (subject to service charges and government taxes). The price includes everything after you check in – all spa treatments, activities, food, beverages, premium wine and spirits, and all excursions.

Shinta Mani Wild Review

Shinta Mani Wild is a place for the adventurous luxury traveller seeking a journey beyond the expected. It’s a sanctuary for the soul, where the untamed wilderness meets unparalleled comfort and responsible luxury. It allows guests to connect with nature while leaving a positive footprint on this breathtaking corner of the world.

Shinta Mani Wild – A Bensley Collection
South Cardamon Forest, Cambodia
+855 12 223 782
[email protected]
*gluten-free & vegan options available

Find more luxury gourmet travel recommendations for Cambodia here and stay updated on the latest gourmet and travel happenings via our social media here and here.


  1. Looks like a great adventure.

  2. Alison christ

    Wow. This place looks amazing. I need to go!

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