Designing Paradise with Bill Bensley

Time Schedule

Mon 11:30 | Tue 15:30 | Thu 19:30 | Fri 22:00 | Sat 17:00 & 00:00 | Sun 12:30 & 21:00


In the hospitality design world, few can match the prolific works of Bill Bensley. Since 1989 he has designed more than two hundred properties in more than 30 countries around the world, from remote resorts to spectacular palaces and intimate private residences. For the first time, this series gives viewers a behind the scenes look into his method, madness and how his imaginative worlds become reality.  His signature is unmistaken lush, detailed, lively, playful, even downright seductive. He brings fun and wonder to the most luxurious hotels and resorts around the world.  This series showcases Bill’s profound contributions to hospitality design, transporting viewers and transforming places to paradise.

30 March – 05 April: Episode 2

Shop ’til you drop and poof a new hotel is born?

In the name of recycling, Bonkers Bensley scoured the world’s markets for 2+ years collecting historically correct antiquities to renovate the 1898 built hill station of

Auguste Pavie, the first Governor-General of the French Protectorate of Laos. The minuscule 24 key Rosewood in the UNESCO protected town of Luang Prabang is an eclectic combination of colonial architecture and hill tribe tents, which, room by room, unveils the fascinating history of Laos, if he can open it before the first guests arrive!

Episode 3

The Dutch Invasion of Bali

Disheartened, long time Baliophile, Bonkers Bensley is fed up with the rampant overbuilding of the Island of the Gods but offers fellow architects an environmentally suitable solution by way of his latest eco camp hidden in the dense jungles of Ubud.  Capella Ubud also teaches the little-known fact that Holland invaded Bali on numerous occasions to capture slaves but were thwarted each and every time.   Bensley’s newest hotel is a tongue in cheek acknowledgement of the Dutch blunders.   But is that way too strange?

Episode 4

A tribute to Picasso! -Cambodia

Was JAYAVARMAN the most handsome of the Khmer kings? Well he certainly thought so!  Bensley honours, in most contemporary way, Jayavarman with the new Shinta Mani Angkor Bensley Collection. He claims that the future of super high-end travel is about providing experiences and 100% private outdoor garden spaces for the guests to enjoy as they like.  Nudge nudge, wink wink?

This tiny noteworthy hotel provides both, in spades, while most importantly they have helped the Khmer community in more ways than we can possibly cover in this episode.

Episode 5

Lamarck puts on the dog? – Vietnam

On the sparsely populated tropical island off the coast of Cambodia Bensley has reconstructed and renovated the C19th Lamarck University grounds into Asia’s most unique resort; JW Marriott Phuquoc.  

So, it’s back to school in Vietnam and a stunning hotel on the southern tip of the Island Phu Quoc themed as the Lamarck University.  This is a vast project that has taken 5 years of planning. We know Bensley doesn’t like big hotels. But here he has had to box clever, so with bigger structures based on the original university’s footprint Bill creates landscape gardens with supersized monuments to trick the mind into believing the campus buildings are smaller than they actually are. But does it work?

Episode 6

Tree Hugger! Thailand

Bensley is bonkers about saving each and every one of the 854 coconut trees that occupies this pristine bay in Koh Samui, Thailand.   In the end coconuts penetrate in the most amusing ways, and in all aspects of the resort.  So here Bill’s philosophy of minimal intervention prevails in a most sexy manner.  Will the results stimulate other professionals to follow suit? Oh yes and we meet an artist and architect who lives in a cave – Literally. 

Episode 7

Pachyderm Paradise Chiang Rai

Located just off the Mekong in the Golden Triangle of opium fame, Bonkers Bensley has set up camp for the most expensive Four Seasons a home to a maximum of 30 happy campers and 26 very lucky relocated street elephants set free in the resort’s wild country.   Lauded three years in a row as the #1 hotel in the world, Bensley explains why, and enjoys his favourite camp as much, and perhaps more than any of the other guests?  

Episode 8

Wiped Clean – Vietnam

Tran Nhan was regarded as an intelligent king in the 13th century as he left the comfort of his palace and surprised all by becoming a Buddhist monk.   

Yen Tu Mountain, his last resting place, attracts millions of Buddhists

pilgrims yearly wishing for better fortune which resulted in a free for all of building and typical Vietnamese chaos.  Bensley took charge, cleared the slate and the chaos, and actually implemented a huge master plan that resulted in visual harmony and simplicity of the 13th century that works for all parties… including the Communists? 

Episode 9

Designing Paradise with Bill Bensley

Rajasthan is not the easiest place in India to build a five-star palace.  Bensley struggles, but sticks to his unique DNA methods and works with the strengths of the local craftsmen to create one of the worlds most treasured accommodations.   But will you love the results?  

Episode 10

Paint the Town Yellow? – Vietnam

Shrouded in clouds and perched in one of the highest colonial hill stations in Indochina, Bensley has designed from scratch the Hotel de la Coupole of chaotic Sapa, Vietnam.  He explores the relationship of the fashions of the indigenous hill tribes are juxtaposed with those of the haute couture in 1900’s Paris.  As a hotel theme will that bonkers idea work?  Has the daft bugger gone too far this time?

Episode 11

Let’s go Mining – Phuket

Aptly names as The Slate, one of Bentley’s first creations is a beach resort like no other. This Tin Mine themed resort offers brutal iron and concrete décor along with cutlery that looks more like a box of spanners. Does that put guests off? Quite the opposite it seems, especially as the hotel offers fine dining with a difference – here just reaching the restaurant is a real adventure with a torchlight raft ride across it’s lake!

Episode 12

Rice fields forever – Chiang Mai

Bensley designed this Asian classic hotel, Four Seasons Chiang Mai, in 1992 and since then has been employed as the visual policeman to maintain and renovate.   This episode catches Bonkers planning the latest batch of renovations and he also visits his favourite local cache of antiquities.  Can the old dame of Chiang Mai still wear her lipstick well?   You decide.

Episode 13

Growing the Conservation Footprint – Cambodia

The pressures of growing populations surrounding the bigger than Central Park land concession in the Cardamon National Park to continue poaching wild life and log illegally presents Bensley perhaps his most challenging project of his life.   How does he find the compromise between hungry locals and the staunch conservationists?

Forbes Magazine writes that the Shinta Mani Wild Bensley Collection is the most anticipated hotel opening of 2019, but can Bonkers deliver?