Checking in To JW Marriott, Phu Quoc

The Turquoise Suites of JW Marriott, Phu Quoc radiate azure glamour, perfect for a glorious, king-size summer escape. Contributor Katha Nauriyal checks in for its whimsical designs, and chats with Bill Bensley — the creative force who brought this vision to life…

comfortable seating on period balcony overlooking the sea in JW Marriott, Phu Quoc

Much like the rest of the resort, the Turquoise Suites of JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay look as if they’re straight out of a fairytale, and perfectly situated on the island of Phu Quoc.

Once an unchartered territory that liked keeping low-key, Phu Quoc is now touted as Vietnam’s next big thing in the making. While all-season attractions dot the region, the island truly shines under the tropical sun. “The sea just outside the Turquoise Suites transforms into the same shade of turquoise in the summer months, which coincidentally is also my favourite colour,” commented architect and designer Bill Bensley, Founder, BENSLEY.

white chairs in front of floor to ceiling white framed windows in room with turquoise accents overlooking turquoise sea

Image credit: JW Marriott, Phu Quoc

The resort features 15 turquoise suites, each unlike the other. Set foot in any of them, and you’ll witness the whole space bursting with lively splashes of blue-toned hues. Blending old-world charm with the luxuries of modern comfort, the suite showcases high ceilings, Indochine patterns, and expansive wood-finished wardrobes. Dewy white walls are complemented with vibrant tints. Sumptuous bathrooms are complete with standalone tubs and rainfall showers.

Eclectic artworks fill the place, while keeping things fun. “You’ll see some frames placed on the floor, but tilting upwards for guests to be able to view them clearly,” pointed out Bensley. ” I thought this was a quirky way to present art”.

white and turquoise living room in guest suite at JW Marriott, Phu Quoc

Image credit: JW Marriott, Phu Quoc

Oodles of natural light floods through floor-to-ceiling glass windows, boasting knockout views of the sun-kissed Khem Beach that flank the property. Two of the Turquoise Suites come with exclusive outdoor areas, each presenting a bespoke experience. With secluded gardens and private pools, they feel like an oasis of calm.

But, the pièces de résistance are the otherworldly clock towers perched smack on the edge of the beach! They span over 110 square meters, and allow you to marvel at the island’s endless skies and lush foliage. What sets these suites apart is meticulous attention to detail. Bensley and his team travelled across Europe, scouring over 5,000 original antiques and artefacts to accentuate the décor. These also include a selection of 18th-Century engravings that bring character of their own.

light blue clocktower in garden of hotel suite as a viewing deck for the sea

Image credit: JW Marriott, Phu Quoc

The design draws on the rich story of the property and as such includes some strong elements of nostalgia. The resort was once a prestigious 19th-century French academy known as ‘the Lamarck University.’ From 1880 to 1940 the University flourished, welcoming both, wealthy local students as well as families of Colonial residents. In the 1940s, the University closed its doors and fell into disrepair. Though some of the buildings were lost, the estate still stands as a testament to its storied past.

Needless to say, this exuberant, five-star establishment has been skillfully re-imagined. Classrooms are reinvented into guest rooms, offices are turned into public spaces, the Dean’s library is recreated as the reception, while his first house features as a glamorous, pink-flushed fine-dining restaurant. You’ll also spot personal belongings of some of the students, including their bowler hats and end-of-year photographs, all still in great condition despite the passage of time.

black and white floor and blue walls in bathroom with views through to the bedroom and the sea

Image credit: JW Marriott, Phu Quoc

Staying true to this theme, the two Turquoise Suites with private pools are also placed within university departments: the Department of Zoology and the Department of Architecture, each reflecting their distinctive interiors.

In the Zoology suite, you’re invited in by a statue of the Phu Quoc ridgeback dog — the university mascot — alongside sketches and portraits of majestic animals, “I like the animal artwork,” commented Bensley,” we make them in our studio in Bangkok”.

Meanwhile, the Architecture suite showcases photographs of historic building facades from the 19th century, paying homage to architectural wonders of the world.

rooftop pool in private suite at JW Marriott, Phu Quoc

Image credit: JW Marriott, Phu Quoc

The resort also oozes South East Asian influences. You’ll find walkways designed to resemble Hoi An’s famous walking streets, shops where you can create your own Vietnamese lanterns and arcade-style buildings that once provided visitors shelter from the wind, rain, and sun. Additionally, guests who book the Turquoise Suite can enjoy an array of services, including roundtrip airport transfers, dedicated butler service and en-suite check-in. Its maximalist, playful design will undoubtedly bring out the child in you.

Main image credit: JW Marriott, Phu Quoc