We picked the InterContinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam to celebrate a special occasion and booked a four night stay at the resort using IHG Rewards Club points! We had some excellent experiences at the InterContinental Bora Bora and other properties in Asia and came with high expectations! Read to find out if they were met!
Location: The InterContinental Ko Samui is located in the South-West corner of Ko Samui, opposite end of the airport and main town of Chaweng. It’s a 45-60 minute drive from the airport and town, making for a pretty isolated location. If you plan to see the local sights, party at the clubs and bars or see local shows, expect to spend a lot of time and money commuting! It is situated in a gorgeous location, on the cliff top with stunning views over the Western sea, the picturesque five islands and the setting sun! You are treated to those views on arrival from the open air lobby!
Service: We were enjoying our welcome drinks and cold towels in the lobby while the staff processed our check-in. A special touch was the welcome by the assistant manager, who gave us the tour of the resort and our room! I always appreciate it when the management reaches out to the guests instead of hiding behind their staff – I consider it a sign of good leadership!
My Platinum status was recognized and the staff let us know that we had been “upgraded” to a Premium room – which must have been a mix-up, because that was what we had booked, but I appreciate the effort, considering we used points for our stay.
The front desk staff and concierge were friendly and exceptionally helpful throughout our stay, addressing any request we had. Even staff that was not on duty jumped in to fix an issue or others went out of their way to make our visit special. The buggy drivers for the ride up from the beach where courteous and quick to respond to requests. The restaurant staff was helpful in preparing a special dinner.
Overall, while I’m used to very friendly service at Thai hotels of any category, the InterContinental staff was better trained and more professional than at most hotels I’ve stayed at in Thailand and certainly met the high expectations of a luxury hotel!
Room: We had booked and received a premium ocean view room, located on the top floor of the resort in the main, cliff-top building. The bedroom opens with floor-to-ceiling windows to the large balcony with stunning views over the sea. The bedroom has a comfortable king-size bed with luxurious linen, some of the nicest I’ve seen in awhile. You have a sitting area with a couch and chair facing the TV, as well as a bar with coffee/tea facilities.
The balcony fits a queen-size lounge bed and a table with two chairs for a private meal. Unfortunately, we had some rain each day of our stay and didn’t get to enjoy it much!
The bathroom is very large, even for a luxury room, with a separate toilet closet, a dual vanity a large, deep soaking tub and an open shower area. It’s separated from the bedroom with a floor-to-ceiling window, covered with shutters, in case you prefer privacy. We quite liked the views from the shower over the ocean! The towels, robes and amenities were of standard issue InterContinental, which means of very high quality!
The bedroom and bathroom were well maintained, while the balcony showed some serious signs of wear and tear and needed renovation. While that didn’t have an impact on our stay, I would expect a resort in this category to be better maintained – the stained walls, floors and lounger pillows are not acceptable at these prices!
Restaurants: The InterContinental offers plenty of choices for restaurants and amenities – which is necessary, given the isolated location!
The main restaurant, Amber, serves a breakfast buffet in the morning and a universal mix of Thai and international cuisine for lunch and dinner. The restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating and it is grouped into small, separated areas to avoid the dining hall feel many breakfast restaurants suffer from! We enjoyed the outdoor seating with amazing views, but there was also air conditioned areas, if you don’t like the heat during meals! The buffet breakfast was great with a wide selection of cold and hot foods! Some of the highlights for me were the hot food bar, making eggs to order as well as fresh waffles, pancakes and crepes. The juice bar will make fresh smoothies and juices to order from a wide variety of fruits for endless combinations! I also liked the fresh yogurt served in reusable, individual glass jars. While many upscale hotels offer a wide variety of food, the InterConti Samui also provided great quality of food – from the fresh smoothies to the excellent croissants and the just-right crepes, we didn’t have a single item during our four-day stay that we didn’t like – and that’s rare praise for me!
One of the nicest spots in the resort is the airbar – it’s perched on the edge of the cliff, reaching out over the sea, providing the perfect spot to watch the sunset with a cocktail in hand and some snacks to nibble on! You can choose from bar or lounge seating for more privacy. The cocktails are pretty good. The main food choices are Japanese. While I like specialization for restaurants, at hotel bars & restaurants, I prefer a wider choice, especially if there is only one bar!
For an oceanfront setting you can have lunch or dinner at the “Flames” grill. It’s right on the beach and specializes in bbq meats and seafood! There is a mix of indoor and outdoor seating as well as a large fire pit for groups! I had a steak one night and pizza the other, both were good but not great. The main attraction is the setting.
There is a pool bar near Flames, serving snacks and drinks throughout the day. We also tried the lobby bar that has equally stunning views as Amber and the Skybar and offers an afternoon tea.
All of the restaurants at the InterContinental take advantage of the resort’s isolation and are very expensive. While the breakfast buffet at $24 is still reasonable considering the selection and quality (there is a 25% discount for IHG Rewards Club Platinum members), a mimosa for $30 or a bbq dinner for over $80 are pretty outrageous for Thailand! If you are comparing it to the Maldives or Bora Bora, it’s a bargain, but for Thailand it is very expensive. If you would like to dodge the resort mark-up, there are a few small restaurants along the beach in walking distance that serve great local food at a fraction of the price! We had a romantic dinner for two at the “Virgin Coast” restaurant, seated right on the beach with good Thai food and a few cocktails for less than a single dish at the InterConti!
Amenities: You also have a few choices for activities. The Baan Thai Spa by Harnn is located at the top of the cliff and offers a full range of treatments, from manicure, pedicure and facials to body wraps and massages. The treatments are carried out in a beautiful setting, using high-end Harnn products, and the therapists are well qualified. The Baan Thai spa has earned a number of awards as one of the best luxury spas in Thailand – and it shows in the services provided. My better half enjoyed a luxurious spa treatment of 3 hours to celebrate the birthday! Similar to the food, the prices at the spa are high, but I would consider them good value: You get a first-class spa experience at a price you’d pay at a similar spa in Bangkok!
If you have a more active vacation in mind, you can borrow mountain bikes for free to take a tour of the island – the many gears will come in handy for the steep roads around the hotel. While it’s not the most beautiful ride, at least you get to see a little bit of your surroundings outside the resort. You can also borrow some kayaks at no charge to paddle along the coast or have a full workout at the well equipped gym overlooking the ocean!
Beyond that, the concierge will be happy to assist you with tours around the island, boat trips to the five islands or other destinations nearby or the rental of powered water sports. You can also sign up for dive classes or snorkeling trips, so you should have no problem to fill your time on the island!
Conclusion: Overall, the InterContinental Samui offers a luxury experience comparable to other high-end destination resorts! You get some of the best views on Ko Samui, nice rooms and outstanding service to make for a very special trip. All of this comes at a price that is very high compared to other Thai resorts, but a great deal compared to US, Caribbean or South Pacific destinations! We used 25,000 points/night (now increased to 35,000 p/n) and the cash price was $349 at the time of booking. Find the current prices here! If you are planning a “free” trip using IHG Rewards points, keep in mind that the prices for food and other services are very high and your options are limited! I would recommend the InterContinental for a romantic getaway. For a more complete Thai experience, I’d combine it with a few nights on Chaweng Beach to enjoy the nightlife and activities at a much lower price!