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Take a vast, luxurious walk on the wild side & into history with Bill Bensley’s Worldwild China, a designer’s dream destination in the making.

Leaving the typical luxury safari experience in the dust, Bill Bensley is letting his imagination run wild on his next masterpiece––marrying wildlife conservation with his signature world-class sustainable eclectic design, known as Worldwild China, dubbed The (Luxury) Human Zoo.

Once upon a time, a client from Dinglong in China, approached Bensley with one idea in mind––to design a zoo with over 2000 hotel rooms on a piece of land bigger than Central Park. But in typical Bensley fashion, he inserted the most brilliant of plot twists. Bensley proposed a wildlife sanctuary and reserve where wild animals would run free while only 5% of the land would be available for people to observe them and learn. He’d put humans in luxurious cages instead, within the most imaginative sustainable hotels.

Expecting to draw in 10 million visitors each year and brought to you by many heavy-hitters in luxury accommodations, the hotels will echo the three continents of Asia, Africa, and Australia. The properties will feature iconic brands at seven resorts including Waldorf Astoria World Wild (101,044 sqm), Hyatt’s Dragon’s Nest (38, 893 sqm), The Colony Lodge Hilton  (211,272 sqm), and Camp Koala (10,451 sqm), a Shinta Mani Bensley Collection Hotel.

Dzong - Asia in Worldwild China

Dzong – Asia in Worldwild China

Inspirations for the design

The hotels comprise a total of 2,084 rooms set on 2000 hectares each telling distinct regional stories that will find adventurers travelling into the wild and back in time as well. With the world’s most mysterious destinations as inspiration––Bhutan, Ladakh, Nepal, and Tibet, Asian hotels tell their stories through their architecture and legends featuring monastic fortresses, Bhutanese gods, kings, and flying dragons.

While African hotels are inspired by the wonders of nature from termite colonies to cliff homes of the Dogon and Telem people, Australian hotels evoke the Australian Gold Rush and the dreams of prospectors in search of the perfect payload. The old-world hospitality of Mr Waldorf welcomes guests to the Fish River settlement, while Kamp Koala’s naturalist camp-inspired experience focuses on educating guests about fauna and flora.

“It is my dream that the mistreated animals of overpopulated zoos in China could run free there. Of the 60,000 vertebrates worldwide, we are reassigning non-predator animals from less fortunate Chinese roadside zoos to create an ecosystem where they can all thrive. I am planning a wildlife reserve without cages or predators, as that simplifies the equations significantly. Instead of fences, we will use natural barriers to separate species which might not get along: barriers such as rivers, mountains, forests, or hahas.” –– Bill Bensley

Australia - Kamp Koala in Worldwild China

Australia – Kamp Koala in Worldwild China

You don’t know about hahas, a recessed landscape design element that creates a vertical barrier while preserving an uninterrupted view of the landscape beyond? The design includes a turfed incline that slopes downward to a sharply vertical face. You’ll learn a lot more about architecture, sustainability, conservation, and the wild kingdom on your visit while taking the most luxurious mode of transportation on any continent.

Four exotic trains will run the gamut of service throughout the sanctuary including three sleeper trains and one called the Iron Horse, with six wagons that will conduct day tours within all three continents. Eight different whistle-stops will provide wide-ranging entertainment from Broadway shows to environmental protection and sustainability workshops.

But this isn’t all straight out of a fairytale. Kamp Koala was once the exploration base for Naturalist and Explorer William Bensley, who documented the wilds of Fish River. While working with the very first Fish River Settlers, he taught alternatives to hunting and the preservation of the local flora and fauna. As the work grew, the camp also did, comprising 28 tents where people worked in harmony to treat the wildlife with respect and unlearn bad habits that had been taught for centuries.

Themed Luxury Hotels

  • Dzong (Asia) operated by Hyatt: 734 rooms
  • Dragon’s Nest (Asia) operated by Hyatt: 97 rooms
  • The Colony Lodge Hilton (Africa): 850 rooms
  • Stone Town Conrad (Africa): 109 rooms
  • Waldorf Astoria World Wild (Australia): 220 rooms
  • Fish River Settlement by Waldorf Astoria (Australia): 46 rooms
  • Kamp Koala Shinta Mani Bensley Collection (Australia): 28 rooms

Luxurious Trains

  • Tasmanian Tiger (Australia)
  • Oriental Expresso (Asia)
  • African Queen (Africa)
  • Iron Horse (day tours)

These seven luxurious hotels are scheduled to open in 2022. This dream of a destination is set in Wuchuan (southern China’s Guangdong province), easily connected to Hong Kong, Macau and the rest of the world with its many international airports in the province. ◼

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© This article was first published online in May 2020 – World Travel Magazine.

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