5 Beautiful Hotels in Asia Embracing Biophilic Design

Biophilic design is not only visually stunning—it also helps improve our well-being. From established hotels to new openings, here are five hotels that have incorporated this sustainable design movement into their spaces.

Biophilic Hotels : Six Senses Fort Barwara

Deluxe Barwara Suite Terrace. Courtesy of Six Senses Fort Barwara

By Kissa Castañeda

Mar 18, 2022

Green Edit

HAVE YOU NOTICED THAT more and more hotel interiors today are teeming with lush vertical gardens and potted plants? Well, pin that on the global rise of biophilic design. Incorporating greenery into a space, however, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this design movement. 

Its roots began in the 1980s with the publication of Biophilia, a book by biologist Edward O. Wilson in which he argued that “our natural affinity for life, biophilia, is the very essence of our humanity and binds us to all other living species.” Designers and architects heeded the call and this philosophy began to creep into our built environment a.k.a. our natural habitat today. 

Biophilic design satisfies humans’ innate desire to commune with nature and is said to improve our mental and physical well-being. Apart from seeing much of the great outdoors indoors, it also requires designers to devise clever spatial solutions that increase natural light and ventilation, as well as adhere to sustainable building principles. If you’re on the lookout for which hotels have taken a leaf out of this book, here are five to take note of. 

Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay

Courtesy of Parkroyal

Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay calls itself a “garden in a hotel” and has the stats to back it up. After undergoing a S$45 million makeover, the building, originally designed by American architect John Portman, was reimagined by FDAT Architects into a tropical oasis. The 370-square-meter lobby features a green wall soaring 13 meters high with 2,400 varieties of trees and plants altogether creating a feeling of being wrapped in a green cocoon. 

Take it all in from pavilions resembling birds’ nests and a skybridge that’s meant to be a modern iteration of a treetop. Going the extra mile, the hotel, which opened in late 2020, only uses biodegradable packaging, has installed new water-filter systems, and transforms food waste into nutrient water for their sprawling gardens. 


The Datai Langkawi

Courtesy of The Datai Langkawi

One of the most established luxury resorts in Southeast Asia, The Datai Langkawi is the picture of timeless design conceived by visionary architect Kerry Hill. Nature is truly at the heart of the property—and it is said that Hill and his fellow designer Didier Lefort were so impressed by the virgin forest, mangroves and Datai Bay that they aimed to leave the lightest of footprints. In making the clearing, trees were felled by trained elephants, the wood was subsequently reused in the building itself, and new trees were immediately planted. The resort was sensitively designed to be attuned to its jungle surroundings and aligned with Malaysian cultural heritage—an approach that was ahead of its time in 1993. 

When the resort embarked on a renovation in 2017, they appointed Didier Lefort of DL2A to cement their dedication to sustainability and further enhance the connection with nature. They established a newly dedicated nature center, as well as created The Datai Pledge, a program comprising a series of initiatives that aims to create a sustainable future. 


Regent Phu Quoc

Biophilic Hotels : Regent Phu Quoc
Main Pool. Courtesy of Regent Phu Quoc

Located in Vietnam’s southwest coast and beside a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, sustainability came first when creating Regent Phu Quoc, which is opening in April 2022. Spanning 176 suites and 126 villas, the resort upholds Vietnamese design principles such as gian nha—a style of incorporating small pockets and courtyards within a traditional Vietnamese house—into the indoor and outdoor areas in the resort. 

The expansive property was designed by BLINK Design Group, known for projects evoking modernity and yet is rooted in sustainable sensibilities. The architecture firm’s founder and creative partner Clint Nagata tells Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia that they were inspired to infuse the island’s tropical abundance and tranquil surroundings all throughout the property. “The design maximizes access to the environment with sumptuous biophilic design elements: floor-to-ceiling glass windows to frame the enchanting ocean views and invite natural light within, while the interiors have decadent touches that are evocative of its tropical surroundings,” he says. 


JW Marriott Jeju Resort and Spa

Biophilic Hotels : JW Marriott Jeju Resort and Spa
Photo by WATG/Courtesy of JW Marriott Jeju Resort and Spa

Opening in April 2022, the JW Marriott Jeju is an embodiment of the verdant, volcanic Korean island’s indigenous Choga architecture as well as a complete embrace of biophilic design. Global hospitality design and architecture firm WATG worked on fusing these two elements together in this 210-room property nestled within a UNESCO Natural Heritage Site.

The traditional local curved roof was reversed, revealing the patterns on the underside of the structure while featuring low-impact greenery on the roof plains. Using green roofs helps lessen heat gain and ensures that guests can view the sparkling coastline in all its glory. The minimalist, angular buildings that make up the resort were fashioned from Jeju lava rock made using a “porous building technique” resulting in a striking combination of solid, imposing facades and stylish, well-placed voids. Judging from our first look, we won’t be surprised if this resort plays a starring role in a future Bond film. 


Six Senses Fort Barwara
Rajasthan, India

Biophilic Hotels : Six Senses Fort Barwara
Deluxe Barwara Suite Living Room. Courtesy of Six Senses Fort Barwara

Built in the 14th century, the original Barwara Fort was owned by a royal family in Rajasthan and forms the core of Six Senses Fort Barwara. The property contains two original temples and 48 suites all hugged by the 700-year-old walls. Apart from being a massive conservation project—a direction considered more eco-conscious than an entirely new build—a lot of effort was put into preserving the land surrounding it. 

Conservation experts including landscape designer Savita Punde and horticulturist Pradeep Kishen worked to retain the site’s traditional gardens and water features, as well as create conditions to help the local native flora and fauna thrive—which is in line with the Ayurvedic focus of the resort. They’ve also embarked on the restoration project of Barwara Lake, aiming to remove invasive species of plants and instead introduce endemic plant species to create natural harmony amongst all living creatures, visitors and permanent residents alike. 


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