Bangkok is a city brimming with talented and fascinating people. In 27 Questions, we interview notable Bangkok personalities, learning about their whims and aversions, important life moments and their hopes and dreams, all revealed in about the same amount of time it takes to sit through a round of speed dating.
You may know him from the bedroom.
High ceilings, monochrome tiles, and a bright apricot boudoir pillow for vibrant accent. A seductive scented swirl of forty-two fresh jasmine buds, and a soundtrack that lulls somewhere between contemporary rooftop hideout and jazzy speakeasy beach soiree. It’s true; if you have snoozed and swooned in some of Asia’s most extravagant hotels (and the occasional palace) before, you may know Bill Bensley.
Recognised as the region’s most extraordinary hotel architect and landscape designer, Bill “the odder, the better” Bensley boasts a repertoire that is unquestionably impressive. The man behind (and we’re just going to name a sprinkling here) The Siam, the Capella Ubud, the Intercontinental Danang, Four Seasons Tented Camp Chiang Rai, Dorado Beach Ritz Carlton, JW Marriott Phu Quoc, and the Rosewood Luang Prabang boasts an avalanche of some of the world’s most beautiful and beloved properties.
Millennials dig his work for utter Instagramability, whilst those with a fine eye for design will appreciate the smaller details, the bigger and bolder statements, and the incredible sense of story and underlying message of natural conservationism. Bill’s design philosophy is very much one of respect for mother nature, as well as a spelling of the ‘wow’ factor in full caps lock. On creation, he notes, “designing a hotel is akin to producing a Hollywood movie… they both need a strong, compelling storyline. The best movies and the best hotels can be experienced many times, and both are fated by opening night.”
Yet Bill’s credits extend from architecture and design into much more than that. The Harvard graduate is the author of multiple coffee-table-worthy books, the passionate philanthropist behind the Shinta Mani Foundation, and the proud owner of a pawsome party of jack russell terriers. From fears to favourites, here we gather a glimpse into the brilliant mind of Bill, wind in his hair aboard a 1972 Volkswagen convertible et al.
Name: Bill Bensley
Occupation: Hospitality designer, architect, interior designer, landscape architect, artist, lover of dogs and all things wild, conservationist
More is never enough. Dance first, think later.
Tom Yum Pla at home, made by Tuk.
Frank Lloyd Wright.
Last month in Bali I drove my 1972 Volkswagen convertible that I have owned for 30 years.
Morning for sure; when my brain works better.
Punching a great friend in the face.
The lack of public parks and dog-friendly places.
Once every thirty-two years.
Game of Thrones.
I am on a hotel site working through the problems of construction.
The day I met Jirachai.
This is an important answer in that it also embodies the psyche of all Thai people. It is the understanding of Mai Pen Rai, or “never mind”; the ability of the Bangkokian to let go of a heated situation like water off a duck’s back is legendary, and something the whole world should learn. To be seen as losing one’s cool is a great embarrassment.
The Thai national anthem.
I go running with my five jack russells every day out by the airport by myself but with fab canine company.
I am certainly not telling you!
Architect Lek Bunnag, and the power of form.
I’d rather never be alone.
My dogs and I were running in Mongolia and chasing the wild marmots having a wild time.
Ten. I wear running shoes most often. Size 13.5 EEEE shoes are really hard to find… so I tend to wear out shoes as they fall apart and I throw them out. I can’t hoard shoes.
My wedding day to Jirachai.