Perched on the side of a cliff above Taling Ngam Bay, the InterContinental on Koh Samui is quite the setting. Set across 22 acres (~90,000 sqm) of land, the resort has a whopping seven swimming pools. The word Baan means home in Thai, and so the resort calls itself the home on the beautiful cliff.
This cliffside resort was originally opened as a Mandarin Oriental in 1993. By 1997 it was a Le Meridien, and the property was subsequently acquired by the investment bank Lehman Brothers in 2007, which subsequently collapsed in spectacular fashion. The property has ultimately ended up in the hands of the owner of the InterContinental Bangkok, who put the property through a ten month renovation.
With 49 rooms and suites and 42 villas, the property encompasses a vast area (click on the property map below to expand it).
Arriving at the property, most guests change from their car to a golf buggy at the entrance sign. The resort’s carpark is here (valet parking is complimentary for guests brave enough to drive). This is because the final piece of the road up to the lobby is a one lane steep incline with a hairpin turn halfway up. Some outside drivers are allowed to take their passengers up this in their cars, but not all (presumably based on their relationship with the hotel staff).
The lobby has breathtaking views. You definitely feel you have arrived somewhere special as you step in.
We were promptly seated looking out to admire the view. Check-in was conducted from those seats. As is common with resorts in tropical destinations, the lobby is open air. We were brought welcome drinks and cold towels.
Pictures just don’t do the views here justice. Here is the view down at the resort’s beachfront pool.
The colour in the water near the shore is a bunch of rocks and other sea junk which basically makes the beach hopeless for swimming and that is very important information for prospective guests to know.
The resort has a private wharf. You can even book a private dinner at its end for sundown.
The lobby bar has plenty of seating and is seemingly always deserted.
Down a level is more seating, which transforms into the resort’s ‘air bar’ by night.
The resort doesn’t have a physical club lounge but offers Club InterContinental as a buy up option (only for guests in its beachfront and two bedrooms villas, as well as top suites) for an additional fee of THB 4,250 ++ (~ AU$190) per night for 2 adults, with a minimum of 3 nights. The key benefits seem to be complimentary roundtrip airport transfer, butler service, restaurant breakfast, afternoon tea and certain free drinks.
We say this as being able to sit in this completely deserted balcony off the lobby is probably not of actual benefit to guests.
Out the back is the resort’s library. We would say it looks often overlooked and always deserted.
Out one wing of the resort’s main building, the views get a little less impressive.
The base room category at this property is marketed as King Bed Ocean View:
Elegant 63 sqm room in resorts main building overlooking shimmering gulf of thailand waters with complimentary WiFi spacious balcony with daybed and own dining area for open air relaxation along with well appointed bathroom with dbl vanity sep tub shower and lavatory 3rd person charge apply.
It all comes down to what you expect from an ocean view. If you are down the far end of the resort’s main building, it is going to be more like this (compare the view from the lobby).
The main resort building houses standard rooms which are spacious at 63 sqm (~680 sqft). The main building also has a total of two Panoramic Ocean View Suites, which at 147 sqm (~1580 sqft) are ideal for a relaxing weekend break for two.
As part of the renovation, the resort put in a swing-bridge to connect the main building on the cliff with stairs that take you down to the beach area.
Golf buggies are used to shuttle guests between parts of the resort complex. To get a buggy from the beach up to the main resort it seems you just had to wait until one brings someone down and hope there is space to ride up. Not ideal for a property of this calibre.
At night these buggies are out of charge so they instead use a van to do the steep trek up the hill from the beach.
There is a semi-public road that runs past the beach complex.
It’s worth noting that some of the pool villas here are not all that private. The below photos are of pool villas and are taken from the beach pool.
The resort provides a number of watersports free of charge (presumably because ocean swimming isn’t a thing here). Also pictured is the gym, which has excellent views over the water. The gym is small and seemed to be busy during our stay.
The resort has a speedboat which you can charter. The pricing is on its website. At THB 8,500 ++ (~AU$400 all in) an hour, it isn’t cheap.
But then again, you wouldn’t expect it any other way at this resort. With dinner buffet at the resort’s beachfront restaurant, Flames, running from THB 2,300 ++ (~AU$110 all in) per head, doing anything on property will set you back as much as doing it in Australia. For those planning a trip, the resort’s dining menus can also be found on its website.
There are a few beachfront restaurants located to the right of the resort along the beach. However, although much cheaper and still featuring the amazing view, these aren’t great from a food perspective. However, unless you are braving the Samui Taxi Mafia or driving yourself, you are pretty much stuck at the resort.
Breakfast is served each morning (6:30am to 11am) in the resort’s restaurant, Amber, which is found a level down from the resort’s lobby in the main building.
It was too hot to sit outside in the direct sun, so we sat inside each day for a late breakfast. This is perhaps a reflection of how peaceful and quiet we found our villa, but we found this to be the complete opposite of a peaceful experience.
The physical buffet is in a room off to the side which is extremely warm.
There is a salad selection and breads.
Cereals and pastries.
In addition to the selections of juice sitting out, the staff in the corner were making fresh juices to order. There were also bottles of still and sparkling water.
The sushi and salmon thankfully is in a refrigerator. The smoked salmon was depleted and never refilled one morning.
Each day the selection of pancakes, waffles and crepes which looked like they had been sitting out for a while. Pro tip: the staff are quite happy to make some fresh for you if you don’t mind waiting.
The hot buffet is extensive, with both Western and Asian breakfast items. Omelets are made to order.
In our next installments of this three-part series, we will look at the resort’s key feature (seven swimming pools) and the two bedroom villa we stayed in.