Design & Architecture
The Steven Spielberg of Exotic Luxury Travel where adventure & whimsy meet world-class design.
First Impressions Are Everything. An exotic adventure of whimsy and world-class design with Bill Bensley, The King of Exotic Luxury Travel.
How did a boy from the O.C. (Orange County, California) create a worldrenowned business in Asia and become The King of Luxury, Exotic Travel? Easy. He followed his heart.
While most of his friends were grabbing a surf board in search of tasty waves, Bill was more interested in making some of his own. Travelling to all corners of Asia from the 80s on infused and informed his sense of exoticism. Bill said that the design of hotels are akin to making movies––complete with script, scenery, props and cast. He walked us through the drama of arrival at the highly acclaimed, much anticipated Shinta Mani Wild.
“Shinta Mani Wild is the doorstep to 800,000 square kilometres of the wilderness of Cambodia’s oldest parks–– Kirirom Bokor and Cardamon. I have written the script for the guest arrival to start with a bang, in that the guest will wind their way through a narrow jungle path on the back of an ATV, climb a tree, strap into a zip line and whiz across
400 metres of forest, and a magnificent waterfall...twice!”
Sounds like a scene straight out of Raiders of the Lost Ark! You had me at zip line. Move over Spielberg. Why not zip through waterfalls twice?
When asked about the adventure of acquiring the land for Shinta Mani Wild, Bill shared that the whole deal was a bit of a fluke. His partner’s father mentioned off-handedly that the concession within the national parks was due to go to auction about ten years ago. They won the auction, thinking themselves lucky at the time.
In a moment of reflection, he shared, “I often think we bit off more than we can chew as the task at hand, controlling rampant logging and illegal wildlife trade, is exhausting.”
The lure of celebrity helped to define the experience that will be Shinta Mani Wild. Bill has said that he hoped guests would have the feeling of what it would have been like to be on a luxury safari in the jungles of Cambodia with Jackie O. When asked to share what that idea means to him, Bill explained that Jackie O visited during a time of peace, adding it was perhaps the zenith of recent Cambodian history.
“It was a time when few people visited Cambodia, but those that did were treated like royalty. This is how we will treat our guests.”
“First impressions are everything” Bill Bensley
This Page, Listen to sounds of river and rainforest at Capella Ubud’s ultra luxury tents Opposite, JW Marriott Phu Quoc’s Vietnamese soul mixes with the passion of French naturalist Lamarck, holding hands with history
This Page, from top, the dramatic Four Seasons Chiang Mai pool; Bill Bensley treats work like a full-time hobby Opposite, shoehorning JW Marriott Phu Quoc into a 150+ year-old university named Lamarck