June 15, 2020
On the southeast side of Phu Quoc, Vietnam, just off the coast of Cambodia and after just an hour’s flight from Ho Chi Minh City, lies the JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort, a suite of extraordinary rooms and villas nestled on the powdery beach of Khem, lulled by the crystal clear waters of Emerald Bay.
The JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort is one of the most emblematic hotels not only of Phu Quoc, but of Vietnam, boast the guides – and we understand why after discovering this haven of luxe Art Deco, thought up as a sumptuous seaside playground by the famous resort architect Bill Bensley.
Bill Bensley, the “king of exotic luxury resorts”
Few names carry more cachet than Bill Bensley when it comes to the design of hotel complexes in Asia. Dubbed the “king of exotic luxury resorts” by TIME Magazine, Bensley has an impressive portfolio of unconventional and theatrical hotel properties worldwide with impeccable attention to detail.
While many hotels have themes, The Emerald Bay has created its own myth
While many hotel complexes are based on themes, The JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort has created its own legend developed around the concept of a mythical academy of learning, the Lamarck University, honoring French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck who laid the groundwork for Darwin’s theory of evolution. As the imaginary story goes, the university was the intellectual and educational pinnacle of Phu Quoc in the early 1900’s and was attended by the island’s French colonists before finally closing in the 1940’s.
The buildings reflect the style of the early 20th century and embrace the traditions of French colonial architecture
Playing on the concept of academia, the hotel is divided into departments, complete with a department of zoology, astronomy, etc. and the 244 sumptuous rooms, suites and villas facing the ocean are spread over different wings. All areas are connected by Lamarck Street, the main street of the complex, built on the model of the shopping streets of Hoi An where traditional Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese style shops lay, animated by street shows and art exhibitions.
The buildings reflect the style of the early 20th century and embrace the traditions of French colonial architecture. Every detail, down to the decorative elements and staff uniforms, have been carefully considered and crafted by Bensley, such as the Phu Quoc Ridgeback, a breed of native dog (the hotel mascot) represented in many places on the property. Leather bound books from the beginning of the century as football trophy displays, monogrammed antique suitcases, carpentry tools, engravings and sketches illustrating the evolution of humanity and other wonders can be also found there.
All decorative items from the hotel are real artifacts collected from all over the world, and even the furniture was designed by Bill Bensley and made exclusively for the resort. Even the background music played in the hotel was also thought-out and organized by Bensley himself!
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Bensley’s touch of imagination extends to the exquisite meeting rooms and banquet halls. The grand ballroom, named “Lamarck Auditorium,” presents a series of world atlases; “The Artist,” a meeting room inspired by Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings, incorporates a bold lighting fixture constructed from large paint brushes, and the”Sculptor and Carpenter” has a uniquely-designed meeting room with student chairs hanging on the walls.
“The Scenes of Elliott,” another relaxation area, is designed like a green room of an ancient theater. For the Convention Center Bill Bensley was inspired by a “Chamber of Disappointed Designers,” which presents all the inventions that have failed throughout history.
Rooms with a retro charm
With a minimum surface area of 54 square meters, the rooms available in the complex offer generous space for customers. Each of them are designed according to a different theme and has a private balcony. The warm reds, turquoise, blues and greens interior colors with European and Asian style furniture in dark wood, tailor made, exudes an elegant fairy tale atmosphere.
Canopy beds, high ceilings, giant Vietnamese lantern-shaped ceiling lights, floor-to-ceiling windows, patterned floors, marble bathrooms with spacious walk-in showers, bathtubs, and aromatherapy toiletries further enhance the feeling of comfort and luxury known in the 19th century.
The presidential suite and the villa (the Chairman quarters), can accommodate up to 21 people in seven rooms, and also house a 50-meter infinity pool, the longest presidential suite pool in all of Asia.
Top-class gastronomy staged in an Art Deco context
The JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort hosts five contemporary restaurants and bars designed for the most discerning tastes.
The Tempus Fugit the laid-back beachfront gastronomy restaurant, focuses on the traditional flavors of Vietnam and international specialties for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
At the Department of Chemistry, the cocktail bar inspired by a chemical laboratory, where the service counters are decorated with ‘Bechet’ and scientific instruments, you can relax on one of the sofa beds or lounge chairs while sipping cocktails concocted by chemists in lab coats.
The hotel’s pastry shop and delicatessen can be found at French & Co, reminiscent of a classic French café with a relaxing atmosphere and European decoration, with a cast iron oven and decorative scales.
The Red Rum, the beach grill, offers a cool atmosphere in an open-air pavilion decorated by a complex suspended chandelier made from hundreds of shells.
Finally, the Pink Pearl, housed in a splendid 2-storey mansion by the sea, is the place to go for a glamorous evening recalling Shanghai in the twenties. Floating lanterns, vertiginous ceilings, sparkling crystal and delicate porcelain, classic opera at night, everything is there to transport you to an unforgettable sensory experience.
Le Chanterelle SPA – A trip to Wonderland
The Alice in Wonderland-inspired Spa would almost make you forget you’re inside a hotel. The space has 9 private treatment rooms, including a splendid VIP suite, areas for men and women with saunas and hammams, and a magnificent foot massage salon, where guests are invited to relax with friends around a cup of tea.
In this zen bubble, visitors can wander between mushroom-shaped furniture and walls of hand-painted flora and fauna while biological illustrations framed with mushrooms adorn the interior ceilings, adding to the fantastic and surreal quality of the space. Hidden hallways, asymmetrical arches and mirrors create layering effects, echoing Alice falling into the rabbit hole. For a unique experience, we recommend the Sports Therapy massage of the 1920s, a true deep muscle relaxation technique developed in the 1920s and performed by two highly qualified therapists.
In link with the theme of the university, the JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort offers free activities and workshops
In addition to sunbathing on the pristine white sand of the beach or relaxing by the 3 swimming pools offered by the hotel, including the famous mosaic shell-shaped swimming pool, you can participate in free workshops led by hotel experts throughout your stay.
Depending on your mood, you can sign up for a calligraphy class, test your balance on paddle board yoga or become a craftsman in a lantern-making workshop.
We recommend a guided tour of Pink Pearl to see the extraordinary creations of Bill Bensley in the private rooms and the wine cellar.
Finally, for those looking for activities outside the complex, the hotel offers visits to nearby islands for snorkelling and various water sports. Cars with drivers are also available for travel.
Bai Khem, Phu Quoc District
An Thoi Town, Vietnam