Bill Bensley, was born a stones throw from Disneyland in Orange California at a time when orange groves actually thrived mile after mile. Of English parentage, Bensley, a tail end baby boomer, enjoyed his childhood tending the local farms and fruit orchards, as one did in those good days. Bill’s english sister, Ann, remains best friends and often vacation together.
Bill the youngest of three siblings, made the best of the then wonderful California school system. By way of scholarships made his way through Cal Poly Pomona’s Landscape Architectural program, and in doing so won the “ASLA top student in the USA Award” and thus parlayed that into a full ride at Harvard University. He studied Urban Design (a bit of architecture and landscape architecture mixed) under the famed architect Moshe Safdie, but the most influential person he met was Lek Bunnag, the National Treasure and thought evoking architect of Thailand.
Graciously Lek invited his classmate, Bill to come to work in Asia. “I had a great degree, and a burning desire for adventure, so I left the day after graduation!” says Bill. He never looked back.
Since 1984, Bensley has been designing resorts throughout Asia and the world. From 1984 to ‘89 Bensley was the lead designer and MD for an American company and was happily based in Singapore and Hong Kong. He then, at the young age of 30, hung up his own signboard in a parking lot in Bangkok and Bensley Design Studios was born. 1989 was a great year as he also met Jirachai, his long term guiding light. The Bali Branch of Bensley Design Studios opened shortly afterwards in 1990.
Almost 25 years have passed since then, and BDS has since designed some 180 resorts and hotels. BDS has slowly grown to 150 talented architects, interior designers, landscape architects and fine artists and has never once experienced slow times. “For 25 years we have consistently been very busy doing just the projects that are both fun and challenging” said Bensley.
At last count BDS has worked in some 30+ countries spanning the globe. They have gleaned more than their share of awards; AD100, Spa Asia Magazines #1 spa designer, Conde Nast’s #1 hotel in the world for three years running… Four Seasons Tented Camp, Time Magazine; Most Creative Hotel Designer, Fast Magazine World Most Creative etc etc. Despite the notion that Bensley and team now considered firm leaders in the field of hospitality design, Bill still believes that nothing they have done is that good and that their best work is yet to appear!