Art and Soul : Trisha Wilson


On a personal note, this project remains closest to Wilson’s heart. “This project was my introduction to Africa, which is now my second home, and I met my wonderful husband while working on this three-year labor of love,” explains Wilson, who now spends half her time in her second home, the Izignwe Bush Lodge, three hours north of Johannesburg. “Named Izingwe, for the Zulu word meaning ‘leopard’, this home is my own personal retreat. I spend as much time as I can here with friends, family and business associates! My design team took full advantage of the site, maximizing and framing views. I wanted the design to be that of a traditional African Safari Lodge, incorporating as much of the natural environment as possible,” she says, of her African sanctuary.

Wilson’s introduction to South Africa also spawned her beloved Wilson Foundation, which went on to support hundreds of South African families. She now supports several establishments, including an HIV/AIDS care center and the first private school in the Vaalwater area of South Africa. So when Oprah Winfrey decided to open her Leadership Academy for Girls in Johannesburg, she called upon Wilson to bring the project to fruition. Wilson has also been a strong supporter of Lisa Evans’ Texas-based Meadows Foundation. “Trisha Wilson is the consummate entrepreneur, having created Wilson Associates, one of the world’s premier design firms. However, she is not just an outstanding businesswoman, she is a compassionate human being, a caring philanthropist, and a loyal friend Throughout her career, she has willingly given both her time and resources to numerous charitable causes that touch her heart. Through her generosity and hard work, both here and abroad, she is making life better for thousands whose lives are touched by her benevolence,” Evans told us.

Since that pivotal project in South Africa, Kerzner and Wilson have been an inseparable dream team. “The two of them together were like Lennon and McCartney and to this day continue to conceptualize, design, and bring to life some of the most stunning, unique, and fun resorts around the world. Trisha is peerless and with all that she has accomplished still gives back more than what she takes. She’s family to us,” said Kerzner International Executive Vice President Jerry Inzerillo. The two worked together on an impressive 14 other resorts, including the colossal Atlantis, Paradise Island, One&Only Le Touessrok in Mauritius, and the wildly successful One&Only Royal Mirage in Dubai.

At the same time Wilson and her dedicated team kept busy designing hotels and destination resorts spanning as far and wide as Hawaii and Thailand. But it was in nearby Las Vegas that Wilson landed her most elaborate mega-project. The brainchild of Las Vegas gaming magnate and Forbes’ 3rd richest American Sheldon Adelson, the Venetian was the most ambitious project the strip had ever seen. “As I listened to Sheldon Adelson talk about his vision for recreating the Italian city of Venice in the desert, I realized we were about to make hotel history, designing and building the world’s largest hotel, casino, and convention project. And with a budget of $1.5 billion, the possibility existed to make it truly remarkable.” And that is just what Wilson and her team did, with the help of countless craftsmen who hand-painted each and every canal wall, hand-carved every molding, and appointed more than 6,000 guests suites. Just one look at the stunning entry arcade, with its hand-painted murals, is enough to amaze even a native Venetian.

Of course, Sol Kerzner took note. He needed little convincing that an ongoing collaboration with Wilson was crucial, but her show of design prowess at the Venetian was truly impressive. Kerzner and Wilson’s next two collaborative efforts are set in the Middle East. Mazagan, located in El Jadida, will see Wilson Associates impart the same Moroccan charm found at the One&Only Royal Mirage, with a modern twist. The 500-room resort will incorporate the omnipresent Portuguese and Moorish design influences to be found in El Jadida, and will feature an array of charming Moroccan, Portuguese, and Mediterranean restaurants and a 20,000 square foot spa.