Hospitality designer Bill Bensley has teamed up with Cambodian luxury boutique hotel group Shinta Mani to launch his own brand of hotels in the country, with two projects already in the pipeline.
‘The Bensley Collection’ is billed as a portfolio of “super luxe hotels and resorts showcasing visionary concepts, extraordinary design and bespoke service”, with Bensley granted “complete freedom to let his famed creative spirit run free.”
The debut property, called Shinta Mani Angkor - Bensley Collection, will open in December 2017 within the French Quarter of Siem Reap, 7km from the temple complex of Angkor Wat. It will feature ten villas inspired by traditional Khmer design, with each offering 156sq m of space across two pavilions.
“I have designed these residences as I like to live myself – surrounded by lush gardens which are completely private,” said Bensley. “When I travel I look for places that have a strong understanding of the local culture, and I find that the best vacations are those where I learn something new. Staying at the Bensley Collection will be like being handed the keys to the Khmer Civilization for a few days.”
The second hotel, Shinta Mani Wild – Bensley Collection, will open in Q3 2018. Conceived as a private nature sanctuary, it will comprise of 16 customised luxury tents in the remote wilderness of the Southern Cardamom Mountains, two hours’ drive from the capital Phnom Penh.
Located along 1.5km of river, each custom-designed tent will be elevated over swift moving water and waterfalls, “providing a view and experience unlike any other resort in Asia.”
Restaurants will feature locally inspired food with ingredients foraged from the surrounding forests, while the Boulders Spa will be a full-service Khmer Spa featuring natural, chemical-free products by Khmer Tonics.
Bensley described the project as “a utopia of sustainability”; by making the lowest possible impact on the land and doubling as a research and conservation centre, protecting threatened wildlands and creating job opportunities.
Guests will have access to Bensley-designed fully equipped luxury expedition boats to explore the wild estuarine ecosystem, and will be able to accompany rangers and researchers as they check camera traps and study the forests.
Bensley is known for his fantastical design concepts, such as an Alice and Wonderland-inspired
resort in Phu Quoc, Vietnam; a "paradise found" St Regis hotel
in Langkawi, Malaysia; and a tent encampment
hidden in the jungles of Laos.