Bensley Collection - Shinta Mani Siem Reap : Design Focus

15 May 2019

After years designing hotels for prestigious brands from Four Seasons and Rosewood to JW Marriott, Bill Bensley has earned a deserved reputation as the king of luxury resorts. Marking the debut of his eponymous Bensley Collection brand, Bensley Collection – Shinta Mani Siem Reap which opened in December 2017 is the first to ever actually bear his name. Affectionately known as the ‘Willy Wonka of hotel design’ the images of the hotel clearly show the unique style of an amazing designer that dances to his own tune.

The Bensley Collection is the embodiment of an innovative type of indulgence-by-design that Bensley calls ‘escapism’ (also the title of his book). Says Bensley, “Often I am asked: What is the most important design aspect about building a resort? I often answer that it is about private - completely private - outdoor space. It is a glorious luxury. Think about it. Where can you go and be outside, next to your room and be completely private? Bensley Collection – Shinta Mani Siem Reap is about that and about providing the best accommodation in Cambodia.”

The 10 opulent split-level Villas introduced an offering to Siem Reap that is as committed to luxury as it is to celebrating and supporting the local culture. Under the palace trees of Siem Reap’s leafy French quarter, the villas showcase striking design, regal interiors and high walled facades that reference the area’s heritage as the heart of the Khmer Empire. Upon entering through the majestic wooden doors, dramatic monochromatic tiles guide the eye across to the tropical garden, outdoor lounge area and a dazzling blue 9 meter (30ft pool) - tiled in a recurring pattern drawn from the layout of the ancient Angkor temples.

Bensley took inspiration from the Khmer culture and their ambitious architectural feats throughout. Subtly emphasising the flow from inside to out, the Villas’ walls are adorned with a three-dimensional carving representing the rippling robes of Jayavarman – a 12th-century Khmer king revered for his powerful, pioneering spirit. Asked which individual design element he is most proud of, Bensley replies “I love the idea of King Jayavarman’s robe, 100 times bigger than real scale, spanning the courtyard walls from inside to outside. That crazy idea really worked out well.”

Encouraging the calming effect of being surrounded by greenery, the bedroom is bookended by floor-to-ceiling glass doors. At one end a tropical garden encloses an outdoor bath, while direct pool access beckons at the other. The lush green hues of the outdoor space are contrasted by sophisticated splashes of Khmer orange. Dark wood inlaid with brass flows across the floor and up the walls, framing the luxuriously comfortable centrepiece bed.

The monochromatic tile design extends to the villa’s roof terrace where the ancient canopy of palace trees is augmented by verdant hanging baskets creating another private oasis. Boasting a large day bed and bar area, the rooftop is the perfect spot for sundowners and stargazing.

As with all Shinta Mani hotels, part of the cost of every stay is donated to the Shinta Mani Foundation, something Bensley is incredibly passionate about. “In Siem Reap we have been working with the communities for 15 years and have done a world of good.” The Foundation seeks to be a leader in responsible tourism with a goal to enhance the lives of the locals by increasing their human capital and providing them with the tools to overcome the constraints of poverty. The expansion of the Shinta Mani group, in collaboration with Bensley, is set to further boost the efforts of the Shinta Mani Foundation.

Open Doors, Open Hearts

Shinta Mani Angkor, Cambodia

Shinta Mani Angkor is an upscale boutique hotel created by acclaimed architect Bill Bensley, showcasing just 39 contemporary designed rooms and public spaces in an Angkorian-inspired design. Previously known as Shinta Mani Club, it enjoys a tranquil and leafy setting within the French Quarter of Siem Reap – just a 15 minute Remork ride from the magnificent temples of Angkor Wat. https://shintamani.com/angkor/

Shinta Mani Foundation, Cambodia

An integral part of the Shinta Mani collation is the Shinta Mani Foundation, which seeks to be a leader in responsible tourism. The goal of the Shinta Mani Foundation (SMF) is to enhance the lives of the individuals in the local communities where the resorts operate – by increasing their human capital and providing them the tools to overcome the constraints of poverty. http://shintamanifoundation.or

Bensley Collection - Shinta Mani Wild, Cambodia

Bensley Collection – Shinta Mani wild opened in December 2018 and is the second member of The Bensley Collection. An exclusive private nature sanctuary like no other previously seen in Asia, located in the remote wilderness of the Kirirom and the Southern Cardamom Mountains, on an important elephant migration trail three hours south of Phnom Penh, Bensley Collection – Shinta Mani Wild is described by Bensley as a “utopia of sustainability”. Offering the most extravagant tented camps imaginable, set along a private 4km stretch of wild river punctuated with mezmerising waterfalls, Bensley Collection – Shinta Mani Wild nurtures its natural environment through partnerships with respected conservation organisations including the Wildlife Alliance. The camp is an extreme exercise in ingenuity where guests can feast on delicacies grown and foraged from the surrounding land, and encounter extraordinary wildlife, while making the lowest possible impact on the land. This is an experiential luxury adventure giving intimate access to one of Asia’s most stunning forest ecosystems.https://shintamani.com/wild/

Bensley Collection

An exclusive collection of super luxe hotels and resorts resulting from acclaimed American designer and architect Bill Bensley. Recognised for his distinctive, elegant deco inspired design, Bensley is the creative force behind many of Asia’s most celebrated and beautiful hotels, resorts and residences. The first Resort under The Bensley Collection brand, Bensley Collection – Shinta Mani Siem Reap was joined in December 2018 by Bensley Collection – Shinta Mani Wild, a private sanctuary like no other, located in the remote jungle terrain of Kirirom in the South Cardamom National Park.

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