Known for its impossibly picturesque beaches, lush jungle interior, and some of the best seafood in Gulf of Thailand, Phu Quoc has long been a favored retreat of travelers hoping to kick back and unwind. While just about any resort plunked down on the rakishly gorgeous coastline of Vietnam’s largest island would draw a crowd, the JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay is much more than just another beach retreat. Bill Bensley, the endlessly inventive designer behind some of Asia’s most sought-after luxury resorts, let his imagination run wild with this place and the results are truly special.
For starters, the whole concept of the resort revolves around the fictional Lamarck University, named in honor of the French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck who laid some of the fundamental groundwork for Charles Darwin’s theories. According to Bensley’s mythology, the university was an intellectual oasis popular with French colonists and luminaries until it shuttered its doors in the 1940s.
“Many people consider university to be the most memorable time in their lives,” Bensley says. “I’ve always wanted to create a resort with this theme because of the profound influence my university studies had on my work. The scale of this project, together with the spectacular setting, gave me the perfect opportunity to bring the story of Lamarck University to life.”
To help convey this idea, the whole resort revolves around the Rue de Lamarck, an atmospheric street lined with traditional shophouses inspired by the historic center of Hoi An. All of the 234 guest rooms, suites and villas exude classic French-colonial elegance. Stroll down the boulevard and into the exceptional Chanterelle-Spa by JW a fanciful oasis aesthetically inspired by Alice in Wonderland. Like Lewis Carroll’s protagonist, guests can immerse themselves in a dreamy, surrealist space as they indulge in holistic treatments inspired by wellness traditions from around the region.
Guests at this whimsical wonderland can while away the afternoon in one of three distinctive ocean-facing swimming pools, stay in shape at “Department of Physical Education”, the top-flight fitness center, or savor superb cuisine at several different themed-dining outlets. For a gourmet delights, Tempus Fugit offers authentic flavours of Vietnamese, French and Japanese all day long, while Pink Pearl ,the newly opened fine-dining restaurant is a destination-worthy venue serving sumptuous French dishes in a fabulous, fuchsia setting of the stunning beachfront mansion.
While the resort itself may be new, Bensley still wanted to ensure that the place felt authentic. To that end, he and his team traveled across Europe to collect more than 5,000 original antiques. The result is a haven with a distinct sense of place—even if it’s a place that once only existed in the brilliant mind of its creator.
Now is the perfect time to experience this island paradise for yourself.
Kem Beach, An Thoi Ward, Phu Quoc District, Kien Giang Province, Vietnam. Tel: +84 297 377 9999