You dream of seven-star vacations, but not in the same way architect Jean-Michel Gathy does. He gets paid for his dreams. And for making those dreams a reality. As the principal at his design firm, Denniston, he’s the man that the world’s most discerning hoteliers — Mandarin Oriental, Aman, St. Regis, Cheval Blanc, and so on — turn to before breaking ground on a new hotel or resort.
Born in Belgium, Gathy settled in Kuala Lumpur more than two decades ago, drawn by the country’s rich, multi-ethnic history and its inherent friendliness. He is now based there full time — that is, when he isn’t travelling.
Imagine any luxury hotel and you are no doubt imagining his work.
He’s currently at work on a dozen projects around the globe. He’s already put his stamp on exotic locations as far afield as Venice, Abu Dhabi and Bora Bora. That distinctive stamp includes signatures like reflecting pools, spa-like bathrooms and camping tents (the kind with 20-foot ceilings that come with a butler), and seas of soft, candle-like lighting against soaring high ceilings and a symmetrical, vaguely Asian-inflected geometry.
Imagine any luxury hotel and you are no doubt imagining his work. He’s the world’s foremost architect of The Good Life. And he lives it, too. He speaks to us from under a palm tree, resting beside a 450-foot pool at his newest project, the Park Hyatt Sunny Bay, in Sanya, China.