5 Outstanding Curiosities of Architect and Designer Bill Bensley
Who is Bill Bensley you may ask? The Bangkok-based architect famous for his design work on one-of-a-kind luxury hotels is just as unique as his work. He has masterminded over 200 properties in 30-plus countries, designed jewellery to save wildlife and puts conservation in high regard.
Here are just a few of the outstanding curiosities that are Bill Bensley.
He is passionate about conservation
So he bought 875,000 trees, 4.5 kilometres of wild river and three magnificent waterfalls, saving it from becoming a titanium mine. Instead, he bought the land that was for sale by government, land that had been designated for logging, and instead created the extraordinary Shinta Mani Wild. It is Cambodia’s most unique tented camp experience, located in the heart of the South Cardamom rainforest. During a stay at Shinta Mani Wild, guests select one of 15 luxury tents – there is one tent to every 66 acres of forest – and not a single tree was cut down in the building process – so guests are well and truly immersed in the greatest of great outdoors.
You arrive at the resort via a 400m zipline over the forest canopy, river and waterfalls.
Resetting every year
He takes one month off every year and heads to Mongolia, with friends and some of his Thai staff, taking them from the urban jungle of Bangkok to the wilderness where they camp Mongolian style, hike, horseback ride, catch and release non-barb fly fish, never seeing another person. During this month they are totally disconnected from the electronic world, no email, phones, internet or social media. Just a total reset of his focus and creativity. This is Bill’s true luxury
He understands that education is critical to the planet
Along with its partnership with NGO Wildlife Alliance, Shinta Mani Wild and the Shinta Mani Foundation support the local community, teaching Cambodians that conservation is more valuable than extraction through community outreach and environmental education programs – these started long before the camp was built. Shinta Mani Wild employs 120 people, 70% of whom are from the local village. Many were poachers and loggers before the tented camp was built, as this region had little infrastructure and fewer opportunities to work, before Bill.
He doesn’t just talk the talk
The entire design studios and office, along with his home is “off the grid” during working hours. So, undistracted, Bill, along with his team of up to 100 architects, designers and artists, work in “a phone-free zone.” How refreshing. He is truly a man who walks his talk, not just talks the talk.
Can an earring save an elephant?
Yes, it can, but only if it is a part of the exquisite ‘Nature’s Treasury’ collection by Australian bespoke jeweller Kate McCoy, and raising money for Wildlife Alliance environmental protection at Shinta Mani Wild. The Bamboo collection was created as a homage to the sustainable nature of bamboo, a fast-growing, robust material that can be used in furniture, building and crafts in place of the virgin forests that are illegally logged in the areas surrounding Shinta Mani Wild. Priced at US$26,375 it is designed for the big-hearted not the faint-hearted. Or take an Amaranthine Orchids earring. At USD 28,680 they protect 100% of Shinta Mani Wild forest and its wildlife (843 acres) for 66 days.