POLO & Lifestyle The London Magazine

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January/February/March 2021

Nacho Figueras

COACH HOUSE WELLINGTON Exclusive Interview with Neil Hirsch



CONTENTS CONTENTS Polo Lifestyle Read our interviews with polo personalities, top polo players, news for upcoming polo tournaments and events.

Polo is a game with a rich cultural history. Originating in Persia over 2,000 years ago, it is one of the oldest team sports in recorded history.

Jewellery & Watches The finer things in life, read our interviews with gemstone experts.



The luxury polo candles

Top travel destinations and luxury 5 star hotels around the world.

COVER On the cover Nacho Figueras

Interior Design Comfortable and Chic Home Decorations, interviews with interior designers and architects.

Cover Photography NATHAN COPAN

Tiffany T1 represents courage, strength and optimism—just like the women who wear it. Tiffany.com


Franchise Enter the exciting world of polo and sparkling lifestyle and bring POLO & Lifestyle Magazine to your city/country and start becoming a part of the world of POLO & Lifestyle.

POLO & Lifestyle Magazine is a dynamic and vibrant brand, offering franchise opportunities to qualified companies and individuals from around the world. POLO & Lifestyle Magazine is launching a global development plan to bring the unique atmosphere of POLO and sparkling lifestyle to the world through franchising. POLO & Lifestyle Magazine is looking for the right partners who will grow and build up while benefiting from a genuine business opportunity.


Jennifer Lopez & Family Los Angeles, California

Editor’s Letter In this Issue we are presenting you the finer things in life. For those who love polo, fashion, watches & jewellery, interiors, property and luxury travel. Be inspired where to travel, we take you to unique travel destinations written by our travel contributors. When it comes to art and interior, read our interior design pages and get inspired by the work of international designers and artists. Get to know Vietnam in our travel special written by our contributor Elena Taintey.

Enjoy this issue and get inspired. POLO & LIFESTYLE THE LONDON MAGAZINE @polo_lifestyle_magazine

Follow Us On Instagram @polo_lifestyle_magazine



VALENTINE’S GIFT GUIDE Valentine Gift Ideas The Most Eye-Catching Gifts

Find Love with Tiffany This Valentine’s Day, give from the heart. Open Heart Pendant

Valentine’s Day Gifts

The simple, evocative shape of Elsa Peretti Open Heart designs celebrates the spirit of love. This elegant creation is one of her most celebrated tiffany.com icons.

POWER GLOW TELOMERE Serum TELOMERE Serum delays the senescence. The skin looks 10 years younger. www.carinabeauty.com

LOUIS VUITTON ROSE DES VENTS A whisper of petals opens up new horizons. A navigator’s indispensable tool, the Rose Des Vents, or compass, is the traveller’s faithful companion. www.louisvuitton.com

HERMES Jewelry Birkin Amulette Pendant Pendant in rose gold set with 1 diamond $4,250


Gambade Ring


Ring with ’’Clou de Selle’’ motif in rose gold set with 1 diamond

Licol 2 Cufflinks $445

Goliath Code Bracelet


Braided bracelet in Swift calfskin with palladium plated hardware.

POLO & Lifestyle

Enter the exciting world of polo, the charm and tradition Read our interviews with polo personalities, and everything around Lifestyle

©Alex Pacheco


Santa Clara Advances to Final with Victory Over Palm Beach Equine at IPC

©Alex Pacheco

In a crucial game for both teams, Santa Clara pulled off an emphatic victory at the International Polo Club Palm Beach, defeating Palm Beach Equine 14-11 and remaining undefeated in the Joe Barry Memorial. The efficient attacking skills of Santa Clara’s Lucas Escobar and Matias Magrini, who scored nine and two goals, respectively, helped secure the impressive victory on the Isla Carroll West field and the team’s spot in final.

Santa Clara's Lucas Escobar fights with Palm Beach Equine's Robi Bilbao for possession of the ball. Coming off a thrilling 11-10 overtime victory against Beverly Polo on Sunday, Santa Clara, led by standout player Lucas Escobar, maintained their composure on the field, taking control of the game in a dominant fourth chukker that saw five goals off the mallet of Lucas Escobar. Despite the strong start from Palm Beach Equine, Santa Clara produced nearly twice as many shots at goal while also shooting an accurate 67 percent to outplay their opponents in the second half. Holding Palm Beach Equine to just two field goals over the final four chukkers, Santa Clara’s defense held off the late charge from Palm Beach Equine to capture the victory. With rain coming down, leaving tough playing conditions, it was Lucas Escobar that capped off an exceptional performance with his eighth and ninth goals to secure the 14-11 victory for Santa Clara and book their place in the final, where they will face Beverly Polo in a rematch on the Home of the U.S. Polo Assn - Field 1 at IPC. www.internationalpoloclub.com

POLO News Season 2021 Around fifty tournaments over seven months of non-stop Polo! The Polo Club du Domaine de Chantilly 2021 season will be made up of five highlights: The official opening of the Club is scheduled the 3rd and 4th April, with the Rallye d‘Aumale followed by four weeks of tournaments. In May and June, the 10/12 goals season will start up again with the Spring Triple Crown and the Polo Rider Cup which will offer us four tournaments, an eight-week international and competitive event with along side 6/8 or 4/6 medium goals tournaments as well as 0/4 or 0/2 low goals tournaments. The summer season in July is marked by tournaments accessible to all, summer camps for children and international exchanges. The first three weeks of September are the European top-level gathering with the French Opens accompanied by two other very competitive medium and low goals tournaments. Finally, the five-week back-season ends with the French Championships and the Autumn tournaments. A total of fifty tournaments organised over a period of seven months on the nine Club fields await you with all the Ferme d‘Apremont team! www.poloclubchantilly.com/season-2021

U.S. Polo Assn. isn't just a brand, it’s an experience. When you purchase U.S. Polo Assn., you own a piece of the sport of polo. U.S. Polo Assn. is the only brand that is officially part of the United States Polo Association (USPA) - one of the oldest sport governing bodies in the United States. This is a proud distinction that links the illustrious past to a bright future that you are an important part of. Royalties generated from U.S. Polo Assn. help fund the USPA, which grows and promotes the sport in the United States and around the world. Learn about the brand, the sport, and the place in history as you discover all that U.S. Polo Assn. has to offer.


2020 1 3 0 t h A n n i v e r s a r y o f t h e U S PA commemorated. Our brand stays true to our heritage and takes inspiration from the classic polo player’s uniform: a polo shirt, denim, leather belt and boots. This style consistently remains the foundation for much of our best-selling apparel. We believe that these players, brought together here, epitomize the vibrant attitude of both the sport and the brand.


A moment with Neil Hirsch Neil Hirsch is an American businessman and owner of the BlackWatch Polo Team. POLO & Lifestyle the London Magazine had the pleasure to speak to Neil Hirsch about his newest project Coach House. Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you start your career?

I started my career on Wall Street, founding a company called Telerate, which provided securities prices for the international bond and currency markets. For more than 20 years, I grew that company, eventually selling to Dow Jones. Your new project is Coach House Wellington, how did the idea come about?

Coach House is my first residential development. For years, I owned the Player’s Club which was on the lot where Coach House will soon break ground. It was very successful, and it was really part of the equestrian history of the Village, but at some point,

I decided that it would be interesting to provide Wellington with something it didn’t already have – a turnkey ultra-luxury property like Coach House. Once the wrecking ball hit the building, there was no going back.


A new standard of worldclass living is coming to Wellington. 34 luxury condominium residences overlooking the prized Equestrian Preserve. If your Winter address is Palm Beach and you travel often, this highly-serviced lifestyle may be a perfect fit.

„Wellington is a great place“ NACHO FIGUERAS

@coachhousewellington www.coachhousewellington.com

Only a select few will have the opportunity to enjoy owning a residence at Coach House Wellington. Who would you say it would be ideal for?

Our ideal owner is someone who owns a farm but doesn’t want to live on the farm with their horses; or they don’t want to worry about the maintenance of a home year-round when they are only using it for three months. For anyone looking for a turnkey, lock and leave option, it’s a much wiser choice to consider one of our units at Coach House rather than buying a house to maintain. Another reason to buy at Coach House would be security – especially this year, that has become more important than ever. And from a health standpoint, the fact that you can go from your private garage into your apartment without sharing an elevator with anyone breeds piece of mind.

What would you say will be a unique addition only Coach House Wellington will offer?

The proximity to the horse shows is a big draw. Our views overlook the Equestrian Preserve. But the services and amenities are unlike anything else in Wellington. It will be like living in a world-class, five-star hotel. From the rooftop pool and relaxation garden deck areas to the beautiful spa and gym to the private, climate-controlled garages equipped with private elevator, we’ve spared no expense to ensure our owners have access to the very best. This is coupled with 24-hour valet and concierge services, a detail that speaks to our tailored overall approach.

What is your definition of success?

I think 2020 has redefined what success looks like for many. For me, it’s made me realize that success lies in the strength of the relationships you have with those you love. What is one motto you live by?

Carpe diem.

"We love all of the lifestyle elements and amenities Coach House will provide for our family”

Nacho Figueras Professional Polo Player and Future Resident of Coach House

Oud one of the world’s most expensive scents

Oud has been a key ingredient of traditional Middle Eastern perfumes for thousands of years. The distinctive musky scent comes from the wood of the Indian and South American Agarwood tree. Customarily, in its pure oil form, men wear it as a cologne, while women burn woodchips, and waft the perfume through their hair and clothing.

Extracting the aromatic dark resin from Agarwood trees is costly. A kilo of oud wood yields just 1ml of resin and a 12ml bottle of high-quality oud can cost up to 3,000 US dollars.

Oud wood

Some origins have a fruity aspects, Indian tend to be more earthy and Far Eastern versions are more smoky, but these are the only subtle differences and obviously for the customer, it makes a huge difference. Emiratis prefer more Indian origin ouds, whereas Saudi’s prefer more Cambodia, which is more from the Far East. Famous global perfume houses have started to integrate oud into their ranges in order to target Middle East clients.

Walk into a Middle Eastern home, or even down the aisles of many souqs in Arabia, and you will find yourself enveloped by a light smoke scented with floral rose, earthy oud, sweet frankincense, or some combination of these exotic aromas.

A SPOONFUL OF CAVIAR MAKES THE BRAND STANDOUT The Caviar Spoon: a revolutionary digital platform matching distinctive brands and creative individuals with global opportunities for brand collaboration, cross-marketing and co-branding. Brand collaborations are now an essential marketing tool and 74% of global companies say co-branding and cross-marketing campaigns are high priority for their business today*. Brand collaborations satisfy customers’ desire to be ‘on trend’, ‘innovative’ and ‘original’. For brands themselves, collaboration offers an excellent return on investment (ROI) and potentially increases market share. And for emerging brands, collaborations have the added advantage of opportunities to learn from established brands and increase their own brand profile. But until now, the challenge has always been finding the right collaborators. The Caviar Spoon is a newly launched online platform which allows influential emerging and established brands to connect for creative brand collaborations. Like the marketing tool you’ve always been missing, The Caviar Spoon intelligently brings leading brands, agencies, content creators, influencers and thought leaders together on one platform. And the result is an endless, dynamic stream of businesses opportunities for all users from global brands to rising star brands, heritage brands to luxury brands, new brands and expanding brands.

Effectively, The Caviar Spoon is rewriting the rules of brand collaboration. Acting as a creative blank canvas, the platform is already proven to work for luxury brands across a variety of industries such as Fashion & Design; Wellness & Beauty; Hospitality; Media; Marketing and Tourism & Travel.

Mary Pratt, founder of The Caviar Spoon had this to say about the new online platform.

“The more members collaborate, the more chance they have of being automatically matched with what could be a new brand. This potentially changes their entire business dynamic. By bringing together the marketing activities of two brands the value of the individual brands is magnified and the value of both increases as a direct result of their brand collaboration.’

Both brands and creative individuals can use the platform to search for potential co-brand partners and to pitch ideas or brainstorm or work together to create brand collaborations, campaigns and events more cost-effectively and all with measurable ROI. Cross-marketing is another great advantage of brand collaboration for which The Caviar Spoon also provides endless opportunities across a broad spectrum of global industries. As part of their launch campaign, The Caviar Spoon is giving a selection of carefully curated members/brands free access to the platform for the next 12-months. As select members each will be asked for their feedback on the new platform, and in return they’ll receive full-access to The Caviar Spoon platform, as well as valuable benefits like hands-on support and social media promotion and 20% discount on masterclasses and networking events for 12-months. After the 12-month post-launch test period, paid subscriptions to The Caviar Spoon will give members access to an equally wide range of resources including networking events, webinars, access to exclusive industry insights and masterclasses with global thought leaders. Four years of industry led research and development is behind The Caviar Spoon brand collaboration platform. It has also been tested by business professionals worldwide and extensively refined in line with those findings by The Caviar Spoon brand marketing team. www.thecaviarspoon.com




Fillmore Crewneck Cashmere Crewneck in cashmere Coarsehair®. Super-soft and casual, crafted in a combination of different stitches, cables and diamonds all over the body.

Alsavel Belt Dyed Calf Skin Belt in velvety soft calfskin styled with a square buckle in palladium-finish metal.

Summer Walk Moccasin


Casual moccasin in unlined suede with a water-repellent finish and light coloured latex sole. With much of the construction painstakingly carried out by hand, this light weight, extremely soft moccasin guarantees supreme comfort. Space on the heel for the owner’s name, a feature inspired by deck shoes.

The world's most beautiful wool This is the very highest quality, finest wool in the world, and it comes solely from specially selected flocks of merino sheep. Hailing from the meadows of Australia and New Zealand, it reaches Italy to be processed with the care and expertise merited by all rare, precious materials. Pure, gleaming white in colour, its crimped structure, natural stretch and supreme softness against the skin are complemented by its ability to wick away moisture and absorb excess heat. All of these properties make The Gift of Kings® merino wool a very special fibre.

It owes its existence to the dedication of a group of Australian and New Zealand breeders who pass down their passion for this "beautiful wool", which bears the distinctive scent of carnations, from generation to generation. loropiana.com

Shop Online www.polobeautygroup.com


Keeping time on the world of fine jewellery and luxury watches, from interviews to the most wanted and exclusive timepieces and jewellery

Marli New York, a New York-based fine jewelry brand renowned for the dynamic, modern architectural design aesthetic of its pieces. Customers can experience the looks in person at the newly opened Marli New York flagship store in Hudson Yards in Manhattan, or at either of the brand’s mono brand boutiques in Dubai and Kuwait. Customers can also explore and shop the new collection from home at MarliNewYork.com Cleo Full Diamond Midi Hoop Earrings 18 Karat Gold Full Diamond Medium Hoop Earrings

Avenues Stud Earrings 18 Karat Gold Diamonds Stud Earrings

Cleo Rev Mini Diamond Pendant 18 Karat Gold Mini Diamond Pendant Necklace


Rolex Datejust 31 Mikimoto now available at MAYORS.

Inspired by a delicate flower petal dancing in Ginza, Tokyo, by capturing its movement in the breeze, Les Pétales de Ginza reveals the genuine beauty of nature and showcases Mikimoto’s exquisite craftsmanship. Its creative, unique design will be sure to captivate eyes anywhere you go. Available in store and online mayors.com


goal was to reinvent the ‘T’ motif in a new bold symbol that felt very modern.” —Reed Krakoff, Chief Artistic Officer Tiffany.com

Its dial features Diamonds in 18 ct gold settings. The light reflections on the case sides and lugs highlight the elegant profile of the 31 mm Oyster case, which is fitted with a Fluted bezel. Aesthetically, the Datejust has spanned eras, while retaining the enduring codes that make it, notably in its traditional versions, one of the most recognized and recognizable of watches. www.rolex.com


nabela Chan is a London based award-winning jewelry

designer and artist, who arrived at jewelry from a prestigious background in architecture, fashion and art.

Every story begins by hand-carving the designs in wax before casting in parts, then assembling, polishing and engraving in meticulous detail. Every stone is carefully selected for its brilliance and colour; then cut, faceted, polished and set painstakingly by hand. Every jewel is hand-crafted individually by skilled artisans with the finest craftsmanship, combining her love affair with gemstones and an obsession to detail and perfection, to create magical treasures of infinite colours and sparkle that are loved, worn and collected alike.

What drew you to become a jewelry designer and inspired you to start with your own brand? Jewellery is empowering, it brings joy, inspires emotions and elevates the spirit like no other. It is about offering inspiring, beautifully-crafted jewels with longevity; works of art that are proudly worn, loved and treasured forever from one generation to the another. As a designer/maker trained artistically with no formal business training, I have built my brand organically with a defined vision, a lot of common sense and gut instincts. I founded my eponymous brand six years ago on graduation from the Royal College of Art, where I trained for my Master of Arts in Goldsmithing, Silversmithing and Jewellery; and launched my brand with Selfridges, The Conran Shop and Luisa Via Roma with five international awards from Vogue Talents, The Goldsmiths Craft and Design Council and Gemmological Association of Great Britain.

What are some of the materials you use in your jewellery collection? When I first launched my brand five years ago, laboratory-grown and created gemstones were almost deemed untouchable in the fine jewellery industry; they were often viewed as a lesser ‘pretend’ material. Yet I find them not only incredibly beautiful but also a fascinating feat of science and art fused together; gemstones grown in a science laboratory like growing crystals in a meticulously controlled environment without the untraceable provenance and ethical issues associated with mining. We were the first to truly champion and celebrate these stones with intricate, unique and handcrafted designs. As the world becomes more focused on sustainability and the future, so has every industry and we have since seen global mega-brands like DeBeers and Swarovski launching laboratory-grown diamond collections as part of the ethical luxury initiatives.


Who or what is your biggest inspiration? When I founded my eponymous brand on graduation, it was my mission to offer a different perspective in the industry – I wanted to create equally beautiful and fabulous one-of-a-kind jewels using laboratory-grown and created gemstones without the conflict, humanitarian and environmental issues and untraceable provenance associated with mining. I find a potent synergy in the juxtaposition of precious and non-precious, natural and man-made materials, it is luxury with a touch of humbleness. As a designer I choose to focus my work with lab-grown, created and recycled gemstones and metals; I also admire the work of other designers who champion recycled materials, who work solely with reputable mines and support small scale artisanal miners directly. As with all design discipline, I believe it is about learning from the past, to offer a different perspective in the present, and always with a dream for a better future.

Are there any jewelry designers from the past that you appreciate a lot? When I was 16 years old I interviewed Royal jeweller Andrew Grima for my school Art project. Andrew and his wife Jojo were kind enough to meet me and my art teacher, Sue Stanway at the Burlington Arcade, where he not only patiently answered all my questions, he showed me trays after trays of his incredible jewels and original sketches. Andrew famously said that a 60carats diamond should be locked up in a vault, but a 60carats topaz can become a wearable work of art the owner can enjoy daily. He was the first to cast pencil shavings, lichens and even a stamp in red gold; mastering techniques like his signature textured-wire gold. One of my favourite piece by Andrew is his Gin & Tonic objet d’art carved in rock crystal and gold, so fun and utterly modern today. Although I went on to study and practice architecture followed by fashion design before returning to the RCA to train in goldsmithing and jewellery, it was always this day that I became hooked on fine jewellery as a wideeyed teenager, and it all came full-circle.

He told me to enter as many competitions as I can at Art College, make things people can enjoy wearing, and don’t take it too seriously. I was able to launch my brand on graduation because of 5 competitions that gave me my first workshop at the Goldsmiths Centre, editorial space in Vogue Italia, training at the Gemological Association, a grant and a cabinet space in Selfridges Wonder Room and The Conran Shop. The 60carats topaz modernity and wearability is still what I strive for today. A couple of years ago, I met Jojo and their daughter Francesca again at Masterpiece London and finally collected my first Andrew Grima ring from the 1970s.

What’s been the biggest turning point in your career?

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt in your career?

The first major celebrity to wear my Jewelry publicly was Lady Gaga at the frank Sinatra tribute concert in New York City, she wore the Pink tourmaline Feather Earrings from our dark Forest collection, and matched her make up and eye shadow to the dazzling iridescent burgundy pink of the gemstones. As a brand with zero paid partnerships and advertising, I found out at the same time as everyone else from social media late at night in London, and literally jumped out of bed and almost gave my husband a heart attack.

To be humble, to keep learning and not to take it too seriously. It is about learning from the past, to offer a different perspective in the present, always in mind for a better future.

Ever since then we have dressed some of the biggest stars in the world and I feel the same excitement every time!

How do you see the sport of kings, Polo? Have you been to some polo matches?

Yes, I have fortunately been to a number of Polo matches in England and also Argentina, I love that it is such an incredible collaborative sport that relies on the beautiful connection between human and horses.

As Maya Angelou said, ‘’Do the best you can until you know better. And when you know better, do better.’’ Anabela said.


Interior Design

Comfortable and Chic Home Decorations

Creating an Autumn Aesthetic With ARADA STOVES

Create an inviting, comforting space this autumn with a delightful wood burning stove from Arada. After a brisk, cold walk through golden leaves, shut the door on the outside world and retreat into a cosy living space heated by the warmth of the stove’s flickering flames.





A moment with Selina McCabe, head of interiors at Winch Design an Award-Winning Design Studio Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you start your career? I initially gained a degree in Fine Art Painting which led me to become an artist for Interior Designers producing visuals. I then became a junior designer and eventually a senior designer, working on high end residential projects for 4 years. I joined Winch Design in 2007, starting out as a mid-weight interior designer and I am now the Head of Interiors across all three studios with a focus on leading the Architecture Interiors team. I also mentor our junior team members and am responsible for our collaborations with other brand partners.

Can you tell us a bit about your new sub brand Studio Winch? Since establishing itself as an award-winning superyacht designer over 30 years ago, Winch has grown a dedicated Architecture and Interiors studio comprising of 50 talented individuals which now equates to over half the company. Amongst them are a team of highly experienced interior designers and procurement experts who possess the secrets to finding beautiful and unique products to bring every bespoke and individual Winch Design project to life. With this in mind, we launched Studio Winch over summer, which offers the complete design and procurement experience for clients wishing to have an exquisitely designed interior space of any size or requirement. The intention is to cater to clients who dream of a space that is curated by an award-winning team who have decades of experience at the highest level. Studio Winch offers the expert design and procurement of all furniture, fixings and equipment tailored to any brief. Essentially the Winch experience in a simplified way with a faster turnaround!

What do you think are the main design elements to consider when it comes to designing a superyacht? The main element to consider when designing a yacht is the size of the space. With our Architecture projects we are often given a large space to play around with however, when it comes to a yacht, or a private jet for that matter, we are designing with limited space. The design needs to be intelligent and take various features into consideration within the first stages of design. These include the adaptability of the space, storage solutions and how the space will really be used by the client. These aspects may not always be the first consideration in residential projects, so developing them early in the yacht projects allows us to get a head-start for unique ideas in our other streams of work. The flow of the design is hugely important on board a yacht, not only for the passengers but also for the flow of staff behind the scenes. Enabling them to discreetly and smoothly cater to guests on board is crucial in order to ensure the client’s sense of personal space isn’t compromised. One of the biggest challenges is ensuring that everything designed and specified for the yacht is of ‘yacht quality’. A yacht is essentially an object, it is the ultimate statement piece, the most lavish piece of jewellery you could ever own, hence there is immense pride and high expectation when it comes to the finished result. Ensuring that the standard is as high as it could possibly be takes time, skill and dedication from our teams. Everything must be sea-fast, yachts like Tis have a palatial French Renaissance inspired interior and despite her elegant long lines, she has an ice-class hull meaning she can weather any storm. Even in choppy seas, her interior will remain intact and look immaculate no matter how high the waves. The mechanism that makes any item sea-fast will always be cleverly hidden. Everything must be rodded and bolted, so for example a bed-side lamp will be screwed to the side table through a hidden bolt, and the wire will also be passed through the table and will remain out of sight.

You are not only designing yachts, you have also residential projects, what are the most important design elements there? Compared to yacht projects, land-based projects habitually provide greater opportunities for creating spatial drama. This allows the team to work much more freely and artistically within the space particularly due to the stability of residential structures when compared to a yacht. There is also the added advantage of the natural surroundings on land which differ significantly influencing each design uniquely and helping to create its identity. With this in mind, each project at Winch Design begins with the same conversation between the design team and the client, this is the same across all our studios whether it’s a yacht, private jet, residential or commercial property. Our approach consistently remains the same despite the differences in shapes and sizes. It is key for the team to develop a real understanding of how the client and their loved ones aspire to use these spaces in their everyday lives.

There is no house style at Winch and so the relationship between the designers and client is vital to underpin the whole creative process before pen meets paper. We ask our clients about their goals and aspirations, and we build our design approach from that, with no preconceived ideas. With every architecture project that Winch embarks on, the aim is to design not just buildings, but spaces that are as personal to a client as their own inner thoughts. Today, the architecture portfolio spans beaches, mountains, harbours and cities and is richly diverse and endlessly imaginative. Despite the wide spectrum of architectural styles, the team have held on to one core belief: without energy and emotion, space means nothing. Every project is about creating a unique structure in harmony with its environment, balancing beauty with function and lifestyle.

Are there any new exciting projects that you are currently working on that you would like to share with our readers? The team are continuously working on many innovative and unique projects including a recently completed boutique wellness hotel in the Seychelles, a Lake House influenced by midcentury modern Scandinavian classics and a beach club influenced, seven storey cliffside residence in Cape Town which is nearing completion. Those expected to deliver in 2021 include a 70m superyacht, a number of sailing yachts including an 88ft Sloop with Tripp Design and the new Jeanneau 60, Winch’s first Boeing 737 Dreamliner, a New York town house and an English country retreat just to name a few!



What’s been the biggest turning point in your career? In between my previous job and Winch Design, I temped at Burgess, one of the leading yacht brokerages. This introduced me to the yacht industry where I developed a keen interest in yacht interiors which was a relatively new area to me. Through Burgess, I became aware of Winch Design and soon realised this is where I wanted to continue my career. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt in your career? The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is to always think big! The founder of Winch Design, Andrew Winch, taught me that clients will say ‘I need a new chair’ so we need to really excite them with the design, so they end up using us to redesign the entire project! It is also crucial to over deliver, when undertaking a project, you must be prepared to deliver what you promised from day one, regardless of how difficult it may get.

What is one motto you live by? I mentor a lot of our junior team members and thoroughly enjoy seeing their skills develop and improve through each stage of the projects. The development of the junior team members is crucial for the future success of the business and I take great pride in guiding this, especially as each individual brings a whole new way of looking at things which allows for a truly creative team.

“Never look down on somebody unless you’re helping them up”.


Discover a world of exclusive interiors and remarkable handmade furniture pieces.

Iconic and unparalleled, the Pixel Cabinet presents a ground-breaking work of pioneering design. This piece carries the dedication and art of those who built it, a variety of traditional production techniques to craft an avant-garde furniture piece that is authentic, joyful and a perfect match for the digital age. Its playful character is captured in shape and color palette, challenging design and finest craftsmanship. www.bocadolobo.com

POLO HOME The Polo Luxury Candles www.polobeautygroup.com




The new products feature a versatility that allows their transformation according to the needs and colors whose intensity can now be modulated thanks to modern technologies. Even the materials help to define the uniqueness and preciousness of the collection, reflecting the echo of ancient mastery of craftsmen and artists reinterpreted through innovative techniques. Nature in the end appears several times in the collection, with its colors, its shapes and its suggestions.

FENDI Casa unveils a collection that takes inspiration from nature and the colors of the earth, introducing unique and elegant elements and details. Characterized by timeless products and able to stand out in different situations, thanks to an everlasting style and design.


These are the best hotels for a SPA break THE CHEDI Andermatt, Switzerland One of the best hotels in the world. Since 2007, every itinerary by Grand Luxury has been about excellence and authenticity. The hotel is setting a new standard in design and hospitality in Switzerland. Jean-Michel Gathy from Denniston Architects designed the resort, combining alpine chic with Asian features. The reference to nature and refined detail is apparent across the entire hotel, and especially visible in the hotel’s 123 rooms and suites. The Chedi Andermatt’s culinary options include Western and Asian cuisine. www.thechediandermatt.com

Sensei Lanai Four Seasons Resort At Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort, experience a luxurious wellness enclave on the secluded Hawaiian island of Lanai. Your journey features a private wellness consultation and an itinerary personalized just for you, with a choice of spa treatments, fitness classes and enriching island activities, as well as dining by Nobu. Always included is round-trip airfare from Honolulu on Lanai Air, operated by Western Aircraft, Inc. Unmatched hospitality, reputable experts and an extraordinary setting combine to offer a completely customized experience to discover your greatest well-being.



Vietnam Special

Photo courtesy of Hotel de la Coupole, MGallery Sapa.

Ph credit: Bill Bensley

Once a backpackers’ haven, Vietnam is quickly turning into a destination for the international jet set crowd no small thanks to the worldrenowned interior designer Bill Bensley, the creative mind behind some of the most avantgarde hotels in the country. Dubbed as the Steven Spielberg of luxury travel, he is narrating a story of Vietnam revealing its beauty with incredible depth and the inherent sense of fun. The name Bill Bensley is a guarantee that your accommodation is going to have more than a touch of whimsical flair and glamour while teaching you something new. Each hotel’s personality is firmly rooted in its location and designed to tell the story of Vietnam’s fascinating past.

Hanoi “If it's no fun, don't do it!”

Vietnam with Bill Bensley


land of arresting beauty and proud people, Vietnam is one of the most compelling destinations in South East Asia. The best way to get a taste of this fantastically diverse country is to travel its length from north to south through a green patchwork of rice paddies, traditional craft villages, dramatic limestone islands and pristine beaches. This classic route encapsulates the most important historic and scenic highlights offering a holistic insight into a 4000-year old culture. A vibrant mix of traditional and contemporary, Vietnam is a complex ethnic jigsaw waiting to be solved by intrepid travellers.

Hanoi is one of Asia's most charismatic capitals, an ancient relic and a modern city at the same time. Quintessentially Vietnamese, it is a perfect starting point to explore the country. There's no better way to instantly immerse yourself in local culture than a stroll around the Old Quarter. This intriguing neighbourhood is a whirlpool of colours and sounds where life spills out on the bustling streets in a constant motion. Without a particular destination in mind, walk into this exhilarating maze and let the history unfold itself in yellowhued colonial merchants’ houses, Confucian temples and a steady hum of omnipresent street vendors. Hanoi is a city with a big heart and an even bigger appetite, and most of its culinary scene takes place on the iconic miniature plastic stools huddled right on the sidewalk. Follow almost any alley and you are sure to stumble upon a cacophony of food stalls serving up traditional fare. If you are a morning person, start the day with a bowl of fragrant pho, a dish loved by both rich and poor.

Shrouded in clouds of steam, the cook will assemble each bowl to order. Boiling broth is poured over a bed of soft rice noodles and sliced meat, and topped with a handful of chopped herbs and chives. A fascinating complexity of textures and flavours melting together in perfect harmony grasps the very essence of Vietnamese culture.

Photo courtesy of Soai Pham Van Vu.

Soon enough you will discover that although fastpaced on the surface, the true rhythm of urban life is far from hurried. It is by taking a seat and waiting as your coffee slowly filters that the city can be truly seen. You will be rewarded with undeniably Hanoian moments: local ladies practicing tai chi in their traditional street pyjamas, rickshaws leisurely gliding along the alleyways or old friends gathering for a game of checkers. The distinctive charm of the city is reflected through the rare sense of timelessness, an ideal setting to sit back and soak up the vibrant energy of Vietnam’s capital.

One of the best ways to explore a new country is to taste it.

Capella Hanoi - an Eternal Celebration of Opera Your first glimpse into the imaginative world of Bill Bensley, Capella Hanoi was dreamt up to be a discreet rendezvous spot for the opera's greatest artists, singers and composers. This art nouveau palace enjoys its privileged location on the peaceful boulevard of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, just a stone's throw from the iconic Opera House. Inspired by 120 years of Hanoi’s Opera history, the hotel is a treasure trove of artsy finds, a carefully curated display of original opera memorabilia, photographs, artwork and costumes salvaged from the glorious era. Each suite is decorated in contrasting dark and light tones with splashes of colour delivered by custom paintings of prolific artist Kate Spencer. The hotel’s design pays tribute to the greatest icons of the past - Jenny Lind, Ellen Terry, Greta Garbo and Sara Bernhardt among many others. The characters’ stories continue to unwrap themselves in Kate Spencer’s tableware collection. Enjoy your afternoon tea from a cup featuring Coco Chanel at Backstage restaurant that dwells on the exclusive offstage experience in opera houses. Your perfectly orchestrated first evening in Vietnam starts with a multi-course dinner presented in four acts and continues with 1920s artisan cocktails at Diva’s lounge. Raise a toast and reminisce about the endless anecdotes behind the mischievous world of Hanoi’s opera society. The theatrical atmosphere of the Auriga wellness

centre promises an ultimate relaxation after a long flight. Set aside a little time to rejuvenate at La Grotta, an indoor pool imagined as a haven for opera singers to rest their voices. A flawless overture to your Vietnamese adventure, all the spa treatments are inspired by natural organic products and aligned to the energy of the lunar cycle.

Bill Bensley recommends: go through all the art galleries!

Photo courtesy of Soai Pham Van Vu.

Hanoi’s soaring art scene hosts an exciting community of talents brimming with fresh ideas. Whether you are a casual viewer, a keen art enthusiast or an artist yourself, there is something for everyone. Discover the hopes, fears and dreams of the nation through the eclectic array of propaganda posters, photographs, murals, contemporary performances and paintings, meet artists at their studios or visit one of the auction houses for a chance to find something truly original.

Sapa Standing at the crossroads of tribal cultures in the most serene location of the country, Sapa is the top destination for hikers wanting to explore Vietnam’s beautiful countryside. The mountainous area is an amazing combination of natural and manmade wonders working hand in hand to create truly hypnotic patterns across the rolling hills and vast valleys. The best way to experience a wide range of different ethnic minorities in one place is to visit Bac Ha. Every Sunday this sleepy little town bursts into life as hundreds of traders from the Red and Black Dao, Flower H’mong, Tay, Phu La and Nung tribes descend on the market for their chance to eat, drink, get a haircut, find love and exchange the latest gossip. Take a chance to get an intimate look at the culture and commerce of Northern Vietnam’s highlands and shop for local products that cannot be found elsewhere. Home to Mt. Fansipan, the highest peak not only in Vietnam but also in the whole of Indochina, Sapa is frequented by professional mountain climbers. Just a few years ago it would take up to three days of hard trekking to reach the 3,143m summit but now you can savour uninterrupted vistas of the Muong Hoa Valley from the comfort of your cable car seat.

Spending time among hill tribes is an amazing way to learn another culture. Vietnam has 53 ethnic minority groups inhabiting rural mountainous areas from north to south.

The most popular trails will take you through terraced rice paddies, glimmering waterfalls and rustling stands of bamboo to the Roof of Indochina, the majestic Mt. Fansipan.

Photo courtesy of Hotel de la Coupole, MGallery Sapa.

More than 500 oversized bobbins displayed at the reception are weaving an exotic tale of a bygone era, meticulously restoring the glow of a once-forgotten mountain retreat back to its magnificent splendour.

The Hotel de la Coupole all began with a hat: “I found a 1920s haute couture hat in Paris, which was basically a Vietnamese rattan hat covered in white and red polka dots, and decided to do the entire hotel like that.” (Bill Bensley)

Hotel De La Coupole, MGallery Sapa – A Versailles in the Clouds Soon after the turn of the 20th century, a once sleepy Black H’mong settlement became a stylish summer retreat for French administration who traded blazing Hanoi’s heat for the crispy mountain air. Sensing the upcoming fall of Indochina, the French air force bombed their own base in 1952, destroying the Governor’s residence, military sanatorium, newly built glamorous hotels and almost 200 colonial-style villas. It wasn’t until December 2018 that the town’s first international luxury hotel, flawlessly managed by Accor, would open its doors for the discerning travellers. Hotel de la Coupole is an evocative throwback to the old hill station and a wonderful homage to the indigenous cultures of the Hoang Lien mountain range.

The unforgettable voyage into the halcyon days of French Indochina starts from the moment you enter the grandiose lobby. The stories of the last century gently thread through the entire building seemingly blending French haute couture with vibrant textures of local hill tribes.

The hotel makes an ideal base to explore the nearby mountains without sacrificing your lifestyle. Blending history with art, the lobby exhibits a potpourri of French antiques personally sourced by Bill Bensley at the flea markets of Europe and Asia. From flying retro hats and military apparel to vintage fashion illustrations and original storefronts of 1900s Paris, everything lends an air of nostalgia and high-fashion glamour. Variations between the exquisite guest rooms are designed to reflect different French style icons or feature a special type of fabric. Idling your mornings away in the Art Deco elegance of generously spaced rooms is just another level of hedonistic indulgence. Much like the rooms, dining is an affair in itself. Step into the shoes of 1920s French socialites at the glitzy Absinthe bar or enjoy an aperitif in the effortless luxury of the panoramic rooftop terrace with a mountain view for the backdrop. Designed to feel like it had been rediscovered after many years of sitting untouched, the bar exhibits a unique collection of vintage fashion pieces cleverly balanced by playful quotes handwritten on the walls. If you are feeling adventurous, take a leap and try Vietnam’s newest mixology creation, daring Pho cocktail. The incredible combination of alluring flavours is achieved by sifting gin and Cointreau through cinnamon, anise and cardamom, bringing the character of the traditional noodle soup into a cocktail. The eccentric Chic restaurant, boasting a stunning fashion show runway, is a perfect way to finish your day with delectable French cuisine and revisited Vietnamese gastronomy.

Bill Bensley recommends: explore the hiking trails with an indigenous guide! Trekking through the terraced rice fields offers an unforgettable mosaic of ethnic experiences. Brightlycoloured embroidered clothes of the H’mong people, silver headpieces of the Tay, or easily spotted red turbans of the Dao women are just a glimpse of local life, so beautifully different and minimal compared to our own.

Founded by the third ruler of the Tran dynasty Emperor Tran Nhan Tong at the dawn of the 14th century, Truc Lam Zen Buddhism is Vietnam’s own path to enlightenment that reflects the traditional values and beliefs of its people. The emperor, who was a national hero in the two wars against the Mongolian invaders, brought peace to the country before handing over the throne to his son in order to start a new life as a monk. He spent the rest of his life practising Buddhism and spreading his teachings across the country.

Photo courtesy of Legacy Yen Tu by MGallery.

Before moving to your next destination, elevate your stay with a world-class wellness experience. The exuberant Le Grand Bassin, a heated pool inspired by Art Nouveau aesthetics, must be seen to be believed. Designed in Bensley’s signature maximalist style, the it is framed with emerald green marble columns, enormous statues of Olympian athletes, lustrous chandeliers and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the stunning natural scenery. Take you relaxation up a notch at Nuages Spa. Embellished in sophisticated creams and blacks, it offers the best of both worlds by combining luxury French skincare treatments with local traditional therapies. Take your pick from a range of classic spa rituals or surrender to the restorative power of nature meticulously harnessed by the Red Dao ethnic group. The alchemy behind their signature herbal bath draws on ancient recipes shaped through the generations. Sometimes a good travel experience could be as simple as a bath.

Northeast Vietnam: Yen Tu and Halong Bay Being overshadowed by neighbouring Halong Bay, Yen Tu rarely gets a mention in popular travel guides but sometimes you have to shrug off the crowds and venture beyond the beaten path to find the best story. The area is famous for its beautiful landscape and cultural heritage of the Tran dynasty, a golden era of Vietnamese philosophy, literature and art.

Experience life as it was lived during the Tran dynasty. Upon arrival you will be escorted to a stunning lobby replicating a waiting room for audiences with the emperor.

According to Buddhist tradition, the ashes of Emperor Tran Nhan Tong were enshrined in various stupas built at locations associated with important events in his life, including the Hue Quang Golden Stupa on Yen Tu mountain where he attained nirvana. The simple structure with its curved lines and rustic walls inspired Bill Bensley to design Legacy Yen Tu, a beautifully crafted sanctuary laid out at the footsteps of the sacred mountain.

Photo courtesy of Elena Taintey

After a long day of exploration, regain your energy at Tho Quang restaurant where regional gourmet cuisine is garnished with the impeccable Accor service and a folk story featured on the main wall. Rediscover your inner peace at the Zen pool and the newly opened Am Tue Tinh wellness centre. Built in perfect harmony with nature, it offers traditional treatments that draw on centuries-old Vietnamese medicine and herbology. Don’t let the modest exterior trick you, the triple-height communal area will make your imagination run wild through the giant rainforest shower, beautifully illuminated Himalayan salt wall and an egg-shaped hammam infused with the essence of aromatic pomelo, hibiscus and lemongrass.

While staying at Legacy Yen Tu, take a day trip to Binh Lieu, an emerging destination famous for its cinnamon forest and ethnic villages of Dao and San Chi.

Photo courtesy of Legacy Yen Tu by MGallery.

Yen Tu by MGallery - Live the Legacy

The vivaciously bright Thien Quan lounge is inspired by the myth about Empress Bao Thanh, who protected Emperor Tran Nhan Tong from an attacking tiger. Born in the year of the Tiger herself, the fourth concubine of the emperor was his source of strength and courage.

Blending ancient techniques with contemporary luxury, Legacy Yen Tu is an inspiring journey into the past. Every material and detail has been carefully chosen to connect you with the culture of Northern Vietnam: the oversized chairs take the shape of meditation caves, while decorative pillows resemble bags of stuffed rice. Lotus flower, the eminent symbol of Buddhism, can be found along the mustard yellow corridors speckled with recycled rice husks. No detail is too small, even the hotel’s logo brings you closer to Vietnamese history by taking its cues from the ancient art of stamp carving which was almost lost during the last century.

Photo courtesy of Hai Au Aviation.

As you are drifting through the iconic scenery into the golden hour, leave the world behind and surrender to the endless summer vibe with a perfectly chilled glass of champagne. Let the tropical wind navigate you through a dreamy world of huge stone statues. Sculptured into fantastic shapes and suspended in time and space, the limestone pinnacles can magically be changed by the angles of light, directions of view, especially when silhouetted against the sun. This is the moment you don’t want to miss, the beautiful memories of sunset over the Gulf of Tonkin, tie-dyed into a gradient of pink and burnt orange, will be imprinted in your mind for a lifetime.

Halong Bay - The Lost World Just an hour's drive from Halong Bay, Legacy Yen Tu makes a perfect base to explore the northeastern pocket of Vietnam. Imagine thousands of ragged islands that jut majestically from the ocean, creating a fairy tale landscape of hidden lagoons, caves, grottoes and secluded beaches. Recently crowned one of the new Seven Natural Wonders of the world, Halong Bay is home to the country’s most dramatic scenery. For a really close look at the rock formations, spend a day navigating this picturesque panorama on a private yacht, explore the bay on your terms by visiting quieter, far less touristy areas. To get a deeper insight into the way of local life make stops at floating villages and pearl farms. For more action try your hand at rowing a bamboo boat or dive straight into the thrills and enjoy water sports off the back of the yacht.

The magic of Yen Tu lies in the journey, the natural surroundings still preserve many historic relics hidden under a canopy of ancient pine trees. Walk in the footsteps of the emperor on a winding stone path through the centuries of Vietnamese history. The challenging pilgrimage to the top of Yen Tu mountain is said to bestow good fortune for the following year. Take your time to contemplate the breathtaking views and offer a few incense sticks to Dong Pagoda perched atop the lofty peak. Photo courtesy of Legacy Yen Tu by MGallery

Add another dimension to your Halong Bay experience by booking a seaplane trip with Hai Au Aviation, the best way to truly appreciate the uninterrupted beauty of the mystical archipelago.

Bill Bensley recommends: hike to the top of Yen Tu mountain with a local historian!

A sudden mountain range along an otherwise flat coastline, the Hai Van Pass forms a natural barrier across Vietnam’s tiny waist linking the popular central destinations of Hoi An, Da Nang and Hue. As you travel through the highest road in the country, make a stop to take photos and appreciate the gorgeous scenery of jungle-clad mountains sloping into the misty ocean.

Photo courtesy of Soai Pham Van

Central Vietnam Da Nang, Hue and Hoi An

The coastal city of Da Nang, with its spectacular mountain views and white sandy beaches, is perfectly positioned for cultural expeditions to the nearby ancient town of Hoi An and imperial Hue City. Explore the most intriguing section of Vietnamese history on a day trip to refined Hue quietly nestled along the Perfume River. A former seat of power for the Nguyen emperors, the city is an open-air museum filled with royal nostalgia and a delicate scent of frangipani blossoms. Reflect on the life of Hue’s high society while visiting the Imperial Citadel, solemn royal mausoleums, ancient pagodas and traditional tea houses. Before heading back to your hotel in Da Nang, join a quaint ritual of Hue Royal Tea Ceremony transformed into the beautiful art by generations of tea masters. Sip by sip, discover the healing properties of 16 powerful herbs blended in a bitter sweet concoction and served with traditional bean cakes, lotus seeds and peanut candy. A trip to central Vietnam would not be complete without visiting the country’s quaintest town, Hoi An. Once an important stop on the Silk Road, it flourished as an international port from the 15th to 19th century, attracting traders from Japan, China, India and Europe. Their influence is still evident in the vivid palette of wellpreserved merchant’s houses now converted into sophisticated restaurants, bars and tailor shops. The Old Town can easily be managed on foot with the Japanese Bridge being a great place to start the tour.

Delve deeper into Hue’s history by visiting the elaborate tombs of Nguyen emperors, who ruled Vietnam from 1802 to 1945. There are 7 known mausoleums scattered around the city, with Minh Mang, Tu Duc, and Khai Dinh being the Big Three.

Constructed in the 1590s, it was originally built to link the Japanese and Chinese quarters of this once thriving merchant settlement. As you cross this iconic landmark, continue to the eye-catching Cantonese Assembly Hall ornamented with outstanding wood carvings and traditional Chinese symbols like dragons, lions and lemon flowers. The pompous building was founded in 1885 as a spiritual gathering place of Chinese expatriates who immigrated to the area for better opportunities. Even on a regular day Hoi An exudes plenty of charm but on the eve of the full moon it is more beguiling than ever. The historical centre transforms into a stage for the Bai Choi performance, a folk game with a complex set of rules which combines music, poetry, acting, painting and literature. As the sun goes down, all the buildings turn off the electricity to allow ambient light coming from the lanterns to softly illuminate the ancient town. Celebrate this special night by making a wish before releasing a paper lantern into the Thu Bon River. There is something captivating in watching thousands of candles, each symbolizing someone’s dream, slowly gliding away into the unknown.

Photo courtesy of InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort.

Incorporating humble village details into the most luxurious of settings, the hotel’s splendid lobby creates a sense of arrival and sets the tone for a memorable stay.

InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort Where Myth Meets Luxury Embraced by the untamed wilderness of primeval forest, InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort was the first project in Bensley’s Vietnam portfolio. Instead of starting work right away, the designer embarked on a year-long adventure throughout the country searching for inspiration in both unassuming villages and grand imperial palaces. Six years in the making, the ambitious project is modern interpretation of Vietnamese cultural values and traditions distilled throughout the property a hundred ways and magnified by Bensley’s wacky imagination. The design borrows its aesthetics from indigenous Vietnamese shapes, materials and motifs repeated in spindled wooden pillars, geometric silhouettes of paper lanterns, lotus-like bathtubs and custom ceramic blocks from Bat Trang village. Of course, the creativity does not end there! Cascading down the rocky jungle, the property is spread across four realms Heaven, Sky, Earth and Sea - linked by Nam Tram, a gondolastyled funicular.

There is also a bar designed by an aristocratic monkey, a banana yellow cinema and dining tables shaped as inverted Vietnamese conical hats. The hotel’s exquisite Penthouse & Villa Collection will sweep you away with commanding views of the sparkling private bay, lavish decor and an unsurpassed service delivered by the elite team of butlers. From navigating a coracle to casting nets and making paper lanterns, the resort offers a series of engaging workshops that will keep you busy from sunrise to sunset. For a more laid-back experience, take advantage of the resort's 700-meter private beach and locally inspired HARNN Heritage Spa. Set slightly away from the main facilities, the complex spans a string of private treatment rooms and a state-of-the-art Bastien Ginzales manicure and pedicure studio. The “Journey of Marble Mountains”, a 3-hour bespoke package guided by an oriental philosophy of the five elements, offers a unique insight into the wisdom of traditional Dong Y medicine. Take your afternoon tea to new heights at Citron. Perched on the Heaven level, the restaurant makes a striking first impression with its yellow and green colour scheme, animal graffiti adapted from Vietnam’s earliest known cave paintings, wooden latticework and imperial Nguyen thrones recast as dining chairs. If you are lucky to be at the resort on Sunday, claim one of the coveted suspended tables, hanging over a cliff 100 metres above sea level, and treat your senses to an extravagant seafood brunch elevated by unlimited Billecart-Salmon champagne and dazzling views. In the evening enjoy a candlelit dinner on the private terrace of your villa or hop into the Nam Tram and head to the Earth level dominated by La Maison 1888 by Pierre Cagnaire, the first restaurant in Vietnam supervised by a three Michelin star chef. French haute cuisine accompanied by the finest wines and elaborately choreographed service creates an unforgettable dining experience that will go down in history.

The setting is as remarkable as its gastronomy, the mansion comes with its own design story of a fictional upper-class family. The intricate interiors of the private dining rooms lift the veil on the secret lives of the main characters, three offsprings of a sophisticated French mother and Eurasian father. Their contrasting personalities are represented by the sensible Accountant's Room, adventurous Traveller's Room and frivolous Le Boudoir de Madame.

Bill Bensley recommends: spot red-shanked douc langurs with the in-house naturalist!

Photo courtesy of InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort.

Join a guided trek through the mountain slopes of verdant Son Tra Nature Reserve. The millennia-old forest plays host to ancient banyan trees, rare pangolins, over 100 species of birds and several types of monkeys, including the most endangered primate on earth, red-shanked douc langur.

“And why monkeys? Because monkeys will always make people laugh. And that's one of my goals in life is to make people happy.” (Bill Bensley)

Phu Quoc After an eventful trip packed with adventure, sink into tranquillity on the picture postcard island of Phu Quoc, boasting powder soft beaches, mangrove forests and spectacular mountain scenery. Steeped with exciting activities and unspoilt beauty, it offers a perfect setting for the iconic beach holiday. For a fun liberating way to navigate the landscape, jump on a scooter and explore lesser-known corners of the island. Head to Rach Vem village to find the underwater galaxy of starfish bathing in the shallow sea. Discovered by tourists just a few years ago, the starfish beach does not even have an official name yet and is still only accessible via a dirt road. On your way back grab an opportunity to visit one of the family-run organic pepper plantations scattered across the island. You will be greeted by towering black pepper trees and the captivating smiles of local farmers. Traditionally grown and hand-harvested, Phu Quoc pepper has a delicate aroma and floral heat. Try a few fresh berries straight off the vine or, if you looking for a way to make your travel memories last a bit longer, purchase some dried peppercorns to bring home. As dusk falls, take a deep breath and dive into the heart of the local community at the colourful Dinh Cau Night Market. What appears to be a sleeping street during the day, turns into a thrilling exhibition of handicrafts, textiles, coffee, spices and freshly-on-ice seafood. Embrace the sensory overload of exotic smells and flavours, previously unexplored by your palate, and tuck into some seriously delicious fresh seafood followed by ‘stir-fried ice-cream’. This unique treat is not pulled from frozen buckets by the scoop, instead its liquid base is poured onto a cold pan and then chopped, mixed, spread and rolled right in front of you. After this decadent feast, take an evening stroll along the beach framed by swaying palms and adorned with the twinkling lights of night fishing boats.

Photo courtesy of JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay.

Photo courtesy of JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay.

The 4-bedroom Villa was built in 1919 as elegant quarters for The mascots of the hotel, native Phu Quoc Ridgeback dogs, appear throughout the resort as ornaments, the Dean of Lamarck University. We believe you, Bill! sculptures, paintings, and a stunning floor mosaic.

JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa Back to School Going beyond the traditional tropical resort, the JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay comes with its own elaborate backstory tastefully portrayed throughout the property. As soon as you pass its gates, grandly flanked by a giant Phu Quoc ridgeback dog on each side, you are entering the surreal world of Bill Bensley ruled by the power of his creative genius. The sprawling complex stands on the grounds of Lamarck University built in the early twentieth century and named after the French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, whose theories helped lay the foundation for Darwin’s theory of evolution. The university had quickly become an educational hub and was thriving with the children of wealthy locals and colonial residents before finally closing in the 1940s. It had since been abandoned until the Bensley team was commissioned to restore the ambience of the building back to its glory days. After five years of meticulous work, the former campus of Lamarck University has become one of the most flamboyant resorts in Southeast Asia.

When you look at the faded photographs of The Ridgebacks, the university’s sport team, and the proudly displayed collection of their trophies, it is hard to believe that none of this has actually happened. Lamarck University had only existed in Bensley’s imagination, but given the attention to detail the story is very convincing: over 5000 upcycled original antiques brought from Europe artfully blur the line between truth and fiction. Surrounded by a pretty pastel palette of quaint European-style buildings, the elegantly muted lobby sets the stage for your last few days in Vietnam. The story of the mystical academy of learning is reinforced with the authenticity of monogrammed antique suitcases, leather bound books, engravings and sketches illustrating the evolution of humanity. Playing on the concept of academia, the resort is divided into various departments and run by the Dean. Guest rooms, suites and villas are spread throughout different wings, each named after one of the academic departments, giving guests the experience of being in their own dedicated section of the resort.

Photo courtesy of JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay.

Showcasing Bill Bensley’s signature opulence, the Pink Pearl is photogenic at every turn, with bright splashes of pink, ornate tiles, and luxe upholstery.

Upon enrolling in the university, Bensley’s twist on a traditional check-in, guests are presented with a student book of curriculum activities. Although the idea of going to school for your holiday may seem like a stretch, signing up for a class of ikebana, mixology or beer yoga might make you rethink the traditional concept of education.

Revise the periodic table at the Department of Chemistry, a cocktail bar modelled after an experimental laboratory. The in-house scientists are always ready to fuel up your evening with extraordinary elixirs served in test tubes and beakers. Who said science was boring?

Pink Pearl, the hotel’s signature restaurant, celebrates a glamorous, and totally fictional, wife of the first university’s dean. The palatial mansion of Madam Pearl embodies a spirit of warm hospitality and reflects the lady’s many interests from speaking Latin to bird watching with everything in between.

The colours, the elegance, the shimmer and glimmer, the luxury, the intricacies make you look around in wonder. Down a spiral staircase is the very exclusive wine-tasting room for those intimate after-dinner conversations. Dubbed the Department of Mycology, Chanterelle Spa with its checkered floors, mushroom shaped furnishings, offset arches and quotes from Lewis Caroll create the subtle illusion of falling down a rabbit hole, a very fancy one. Revel in relaxation of the intuitive personalised service designed to address four core benefit states: calm, indulge, invigorate and renew. All the treatments are tailored to your chosen state of mind and followed by recommendations on a take-home regimen. Working their magic, the resort’s skilful therapists will make sure that you will leave this fantastical place of higher education fully invigorated for the next exciting steps of your life.

Bill Bensley recommends: master the technique of handline fishing with multiple jigs! Get into a boat and hop between the small offshore islands, fishing as you sail through the island's emerald waters.

*** Offering a completely new perspective on life, Vietnam feels like a trip you've never taken before. Simply connect the dots between all five Bensley-designed hotels, carefully sprinkled across the country, and take your senses on an unforgettable journey through the cultural wonder that is Vietnam.

Contributors Story: Elena Taintey, a freelance Russian blogger based in Vietnam since 2012, IG @tainteytales. Photos: Soai Pham Van Vu, a freelance travel photographer from Hue, IG @soaipham.

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