De­sign & Ar­chi­tec­ture

The Steven Spiel­berg of Ex­otic Lux­ury Travel where ad­ven­ture & whimsy meet world-class de­sign.

World Travel Magazine - - Contents -

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

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