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Pushing the Boundaries of Hotel Design with Bill Bensley

Discover the world of hotel design innovation with Bill Bensley in this Trends Interview episode. Explore his commitment to eco-conscious design, sustainability, and pushing boundaries in the hospitality industry. Learn how his projects harmonize with nature and support philanthropic endeavors. Tune in to gain insights from a design visionary and environmental steward.

In the ever-evolving realm of luxury hotel design, one name consistently stands out: Bill Bensley. A living legend in the world of hospitality aesthetics, Bensley’s innovative vision and unwavering commitment to purpose-driven projects have left an indelible mark on the global hotel landscape. In our Trends interview with the man behind BENSLEY, the enigmatic designer shares his insights on innovation, eco-conscious design, and his quest to defy convention.

From Cambodia to Thailand and beyond, Bensley’s creative footprint spans continents and ecosystems. Our host, David Barrett, ventured to Bill’s art studio in Bangkok to delve into his captivating portfolio of retreats. But Bill Bensley’s work isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s a harmonious blend of artistry and sustainability.

Designing with Purpose: Less Impact, More Storytelling

Sustainability is more than just a buzzword and greenwashing for Bill Bensley; it’s a way of life and design. Take the Capella Ubud as an example—a testament to Bensley’s commitment to preserving the natural world. As a landscape architect at heart, his mission is clear: respect what Mother Nature has gifted us. Bill’s refusal to design a 120-room Accor hotel that would have ravaged the forest is a testament to his philosophy. Instead, he crafted a 24-tent camp that is in harmony with the land, leaving the forest’s essence untouched.

Tented hotels, as Bill eloquently explains, embody environmental wisdom. They adhere to his two guiding principles: Minimal Intervention—building in harmony with the landscape—and High Yield Low Impact. The Capella Ubud leaves minimal traces on the land while boasting the highest nightly room rates in Bali. It’s a perfect blend of sustainable architecture and luxurious indulgence.

The BENSLEY Collection: Where Design Meets Philanthropy

To truly grasp the essence of the BENSLEY Collection, one must understand the tale of The Shinta Mani Foundation—a noble endeavour spearheaded by Bill’s partner, Sokoun Chanpreda. This foundation, born out of a desire to uplift Cambodia from the ashes of the Khmer Rouge, ignited Bill’s passion to create a school for training young Cambodians in the art of five-star hospitality. Here, students receive free education, bolstering not only their futures but their families’ as well.

And then there’s the Shinta Mani Wild resort—a culmination of Bill’s 35 years of hotel-design wisdom. A utopia of sustainability, it stands as a guardian of the land, safeguarding it from poaching and deforestation. It’s not just a luxury escape; it’s a research and conservation hub.

Bill’s commitment extends beyond the property itself. Through a strategic partnership with Wildlife Alliance, guest stays at the camp fund daily patrols, ensuring the forest’s protection for generations to come.

Beyond the Suites: The Artistic Soul of Bill Bensley

In this extended episode, we also delve into Bill’s artistic soul. We pose him the quintessential question: What matters most from a design standpoint—the bedroom, bathroom or garden? His answer, as you’d expect, is a masterstroke in design philosophy.

But there’s more to Bensley than hotels; Bill’s eclectic art collection and the expansion of the Bill Bensley Art Studios mark his foray into the world of creativity beyond hospitality. Join us as we journey into the mind of a design visionary, an environmental steward, and an artist with a penchant for pushing boundaries.

Tune in to Episode 5 of Trends Interview as we venture into the captivating world of Bill Bensley, where every creation is a canvas, every hotel is a story, and every venture is an exploration of purpose and innovation, while staying Out-Of-The-Box.

Managing Director - DBC Asia | + Articles

David Barrett is a MICE Consultant, Marketing Strategist and digital video advocate. Founder of DBC Group, Member of Institute of Place Management (MIMP) his motto is “Everybody has a story to tell. Let me tell yours.”

David is a long-term resident of Bangkok having lived and worked in the Thai capital for more than 32 years. He is recognised in the Thai tourism and hospitality industry for his passion for promoting Thailand, his love of Thai food, and his creative approach to marketing.

64 years young, David is a Brit in Bangkok. Born in St Helier, UK, he returned to the UK and set up home in Cornwall during the COVID pandemic. With business back as usual, David has returned to Thailand. He’s a man on a mission to interview leaders and trend-setters in business, sustainability, the arts and entertainment. You can watch his weekly conversations on Trends YouTube channel.