Architecture & Design

Jean-Michel Gathy

A visionary architectural designer, Jean-Michel Gathy heads the Denniston practice in dreaming up some of the world’s most iconic luxury hotels and resorts


Jean-Michel Gathy is the most sought-after designer by many of the world’s ultra-luxury hotel groups—from Aman, Four Seasons and Cheval Blanc to St Regis and One&Only—and is highly regarded for constantly re-inventing the hotel experience and the broader hospitality sector.

The Malaysia-based Belgian architect is known for pioneering trends like private plunge pools, dramatic and extravagant swimming pools, and spa-like bathrooms with a lounge area, and has introduced innovative ideas like luxury tent accommodations.

The founder and principal designer of Denniston also led an industry trend by being one of the first to handle all three aspects of hotel design—architecture, interiors and landscape—to ensure that there is a synergy in design and flow.

Gathy began his practice in the 1980s in Hong Kong after working briefly for an architectural firm and deciding to go out on his own. Part of the high-society circle, he quickly grew a clientele of high-profile brands from the get-go like Cartier, Rolex and Ralph Lauren. These glitzy names approached him to design their boutiques, a move that eventually led to his niche: ultra-luxury hotels. He moved to Malaysia in 1992, where he lives with his second wife Anita and their son, when he is not globe-trotting for work.

In 2006, Gathy was inducted in the Platinum Circle of Hospitality Design in recognition of his contribution to the world of hotel design.

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Did you know?

While still a child, Gathy was already developing a profound interest for faraway places. He had a fascination for maps, saving his milk money to buy them, and spending hours studying the mountains, cities and rivers of other countries every week. 

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