Rosewood Luang Prabang Celebrates The Rich History And Traditions Of Laos In Its Timeless Design Aesthetic

March 27, 2018

Bill Bensley-designed resort resurrects the graciousness and mystique of a bygone era

Rosewood Luang Prabang is designed to capture the romantic history, culture and spirit of bygone Indochina within a lush Laotian jungle setting.  Located near the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang, yet isolated within an environment of rainforest, meandering streams and natural waterfalls, the intimate 23-room ultra-luxury resort is devised for every guest to become fully immersed and at one with the natural surroundings whilst experiencing the charm and heritage of Luang Prabang hospitality.   

World-renowned designer Bill Bensley and his eponymous studio, BENSLEY, conceived Rosewood Luang Prabang as the reincarnation of a home of an expatriate host of a century ago, with every room, suite, villa or luxury tent reflecting a unique personality and the romanticism of a golden age of travel and adventure. The resort's array of accommodation choices includes four Riverside Rooms, four Riverside Suites, three Riverside Villas, six Waterfall villas and six luxury Hilltop Tents.

“The affluent explorers who made their way to Luang Prabang a century ago would have been fȇted and offered every comfort by the European hosts who lived there and we want to echo that experience,” says Elias Pertoft, the resort’s managing director.  “Our design approach at Rosewood Luang Prabang supports the same genuine hospitality and personal experiences of discovery within a truly magical setting.”

Each individual villa and suite features décor and objets that reflect a past era. A  guest of the day might have been surrounded by vibrant illustrations and newspaper clippings of the day;  an intrepid traveler could have possessed the latest Kodak cameras, the leading-edge technology at the turn of the 20th century; the sports enthusiasts among the visitors may have appreciated a croquet set from the year 1900, since female French Olympic athletes competed in the sport at the Games that year. 

“We took great care to source original artefacts, paintings and illustrations for each individual room, by combing through Parisian flea markets, antique stores and vintage-ware collections,” says Bill Bensley, the chief designer of Rosewood Luang Prabang.  “It was important for us to capture how the travelers of the time were hosted and made to feel at home.”

Touches of traditional tribal themes also dot the property, with luxury tent and spa villas reflecting the heritage and craft of various Laotian ethnic groups.  This includes elegantly translated designs from the Lisu, Mhong, Akha, Lahu, Palaung and Mien people; the indigo and denim-colored tent villas are hand-painted with the vibrant patterns that are distinct to each of these hill tribes. The result is a seamless and effortless harmony between turn-of-the-century architecture and modern interpretations of traditional tribal motifs.   

The transition between indoor and outdoor living is an important consideration for all accommodations.    Luxury tented villas have been built on stilts, a deliberate move to preserve the forest floor’s unique flora and fauna and open the rooms to treetop breezes.  All rooms are bordered by a stream or riverbank and each has a unique configuration and design, to cater for individual preferences. 

A lush garden was conceived to complement the natural greenery. This organic garden, which supplies fruits, vegetables and herbs for the restaurant and bar, is an extension of Luang Prabang’s hilly landscape and forager-tribe culture.  In addition to the garden of edible produce, there is a  botanical garden conceived by Bill Bensley for guests to discover the species and blooms that fascinated travelers from long ago. 

Rosewood’s A Sense of Place® philosophy and importance of being at one with nature also extends to the dining experience at Luang Prabang.  For example, the Elephant Bridge Bar hovers above a river so that guests enjoying drinks on its verandah are able to feel the power of the flowing water beneath them.  Here they can imagine what it must have been like when herds of wild elephants roamed the forest and crossed the same stream ages ago – Luang Prabang was the 14th century capital of the Kingdom of Lan Xang, the “land of a million elephants,” and elephants remain deeply culturally significant in the country to this day.   

About Rosewood Luang Prabang

Rosewood Luang Prabang is located within 10 minutes’ drive from the historic city of Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is designed to celebrate the French-Laotian heritage, history and culture of the destination.  Nestled within a virtually untouched forested environment, centered around a natural waterfall and river, the resort includes 23 unique rooms, suites and villas, including the first luxury tent accommodations for Rosewood Hotels & Resorts®.  The resort features a bistro and a bar serving French and Laotian cuisine; a swimming pool; and Sense, A Rosewood Spa that offers traditional Lao healing therapies.  Rosewood Luang Prabang is the site of the first hospitality school in Laos, a philanthropic project providing students with professional hospitality training, which is another first for Rosewood.

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About Rosewood Hotels & Resorts:

Rosewood® Hotels & Resorts manages 23 one-of-a-kind luxury properties in 14 countries, with 16 new hotels under development.  Each Rosewood hotel embraces the brand’s A Sense of Place® philosophy to reflect the individual location’s history, culture and sensibilities.  The Rosewood collection includes some of the world’s most legendary hotels and resorts, including The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel in New York, Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas and Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel in Paris, as well as new classics such as Rosewood Beijing.  Rosewood Hotels & Resorts targets to double its number of hotels in operation by 2020.       

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