DE­PART­MENT OF FUN

Pic­ture per­fect at ev­ery turn, this whim­si­cal re­sort lo­cated in Phu Quoc’s Emer­ald Bay, Viet­nam, is sec­ond to none

Singapore Tatler Homes - - STYLE -

If you love the sun, sand and sea but hate how crowded some pop­u­lar beach des­ti­na­tions have be­come, head to Phu Quoc in Viet­nam. Un­like the bustling cities of Ho Chi Minh or Danang, this is­land just off the coast of Cam­bo­dia is home to an im­pres­sive stretch of un­spoilt “ice cream beaches”—so named be­cause of its beau­ti­ful white sand and crys­tal clear wa­ters. Although still largely con­sid­ered an off-beat lo­ca­tion by trav­ellers, the is­land re­cently got a lux­u­ri­ous ad­di­tion when JW Mar­riott Phu Quoc Emer­ald Bay opened last year. The brain­child of ac­claimed ar­chi­tect and in­te­rior de­signer Bill Bens­ley (the man be­hind St. Regis in Bali and The Siam in Bangkok), this JW Mar­riott prop­erty is un­like any other in the world. In fact, this fan­tas­ti­cal re­sort, which takes its in­spi­ra­tion from a fic­tional school called La­marck Uni­ver­sity, has been de­scribed by Bens­ley as hav­ing “stretched the bound­aries of his imag­i­na­tion”. “I’ve al­ways wanted to cre­ate a re­sort with this theme be­cause of the pro­found in­flu­ence that my uni­ver­sity stud­ies had on my de­sign ap­proach,” says Bens­ley. Each pas­tel-coloured build­ing on this sprawl­ing cam­pus-in­spired re­sort rep­re­sents a dif­fer­ent school, and even the bar has been cheek­ily named the De­part­ment of Chem­istry Bar, while the fit­ness cen­tre is fash­ioned af­ter a school gym. Bens­ley’s eye for de­tail is re­mark­able, and there are no short­ages of In­sta­gram-wor­thy spots to be found. Case in point: the beau­ti­ful black-and-white lobby that greets guests is elab­o­rately out­fit­ted with bells, busts, books and twin gi­ant swing sets. The main street, called Rue de La­marck, which houses sev­eral shops and res­tau­rants, is rem­i­nis­cent of the an­cient town of Hoi An with its colours and ar­chi­tec­ture. And the six vil­las, each chris­tened a de­part­ment—rang­ing from As­tron­omy, In­sect Study to Mam­mal Study—is the­mat­i­cally dec­o­rated in a sin­gle colour pal­ette and packed to the brim with cu­rios sourced from Bens­ley’s per­sonal col­lec­tion.

LEFT TO RIGHT The shell-shaped swim­ming pool is one of many whim­si­cal fea­tures at JW Mar­riott Phu Quoc; the grand ho­tel lobby; the Turquoise suite; the Chanterelle spa

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