Intercontinental Phuket

This 221-key gilded property is a concrete allegory of Thai mythology, offering a transcendent escape along Kamala Beach's Millionaire Mile with plush rooms and indulgent F&B options

Nestled in Kamala Beach, often dubbed the “Beverly Hills of Phuket”, lies Intercontinental Phuket, just 30 minutes’ drive from Phuket International Airport. The resort’s layout has a quarter of the resort gracing the pristine beachfront, while three-quarters are nestled amid the lush mountainside.

In a clever nod to Thai folklore, the mountainside segment – which houses the property’s iconic white temple, villas, lagoon pool and lobby – is affectionately known as ‘heaven,’ while the beachfront side housing sea-view accommodations, swimming pool and beachside eateries, is referred to as ‘earth’.

To bridge these two realms, a charming pedestrian tunnel was constructed beneath Kamala Beach Road. This unique tunnel, adorned with vibrant murals drawn by local schoolchildren, narrates Phuket’s rich heritage, adding a touch of wonder to the journey between these two realms. Traversing this underground pathway became a delightful part of my stay, especially when venturing from my villa or the lobby to Jaras Restaurant and other beachside amenities.

Within the lobby, visitors are immersed in another allegory. Meant to represent a mythical river separating heaven and earth, the lobby features flowing silver wave and diamond-patterned wallpaper adorning the vast ceiling, lending itself to the analogy.

Each of the six pool villages, furnished with their own private plunge jacuzzi pools, seamlessly connects to the sprawling lagoon pool. The villas come with club access and offer a slightly more affordable option compared to the opulent standalone one-, two-, and three-bedroom villas, which are secluded by enclosed walls and private pools, making them ideal for families and group gatherings, including memorable hen and stag nights.

Glittering silver-tiled walls adorn the fountained courtyard betwixt all villas, evoking the opulent grandeur of the Grand Palace in Bangkok and guiding guests on a resplendent pathway towards the white temple – dubbed the Sawaan Pavilion – which houses Hom and the Sati spa.

Within the villa, I found six pillows of different levels of firmness to choose from, along with sumptuously soft cotton bedding ready for me to sink into after a long day. The spacious, well-lit bathroom offered an indulgent tub, set against verdant garden views seen through a floor-to-ceiling window. Double sinks and ample closets provided extra convenience, along with ultra-plush terry-cloth bathrobes and upscale Harnn bath products. One of the nicest architectural features in the room is the raised, LED-lined coffered ceiling housing a wooden fan.

For literary enthusiasts, a rich in-room book selection containing titles like Lonely Planet’s Marvels of the World, invites guests to unwind with a good read.

Intercontinental Phuket offers seven dining establishments, including the latest additions, Hom and Triple 333 – the latter being positioned right on the beach and available for book-out for Intercontinental’s growing wedding clientele. Pinto hosts a delightful breakfast brunch, while the elegant Devas’ Lounge serves afternoon tea. Other options include Pine beachside lounge and Jaras Restaurant.

Positioning itself as the epicentre of the property’s dining experience and clear visual focal point is Hom – head chef Ricardo Nunes and restaurant manager Peter Lucas aspire to elevate Hom into a sought-after dining destination, promising a “10-moment” fermented culinary journey of rare-to-find native ingredients to tempt locavores. Unfortunately, I did not get to dine there as the restaurant was closed on the night of my stay.

Jaras Restaurant, named after the owner’s grandmother, stands out with its refined dining menus. What truly impresses here is the dedication of its staff to showcase the flavours of southern Thai cuisine. Many team members were locals who passionately shared the stories and uniqueness behind each dish to me, adding depth to the dining experience.

Pinto left a lasting impression with its thoughtful service. Upon mentioning my room number at the breakfast buffet, the attentive staff promptly noted my gluten-free dietary preference and assured me of a tailored dining experience. They even took initiative to offer an à la carte gluten-free pancake dish from the hybrid buffet selection.

I found the breakfast buffet at Pinto exceptional – featuring house-made compotes of lychees and papayas, an extensive Thai porridge condiment and garnish selection, and a delightful soy milk station with traditional soy milk toppings. I feel it does a good job paying homage to the breakfast staples of local Thai kopitiams.

Intercontinental Phuket boasts an expansive lobby with high ceilings and a bright atmosphere, making it a nice place to spend time co-working, winding down or waiting for friends.

A noteworthy feature during my visit was the presence of a Bangkok Hospital nurse onsite, ready to provide medical advice and assistance when I required painkillers – a thoughtful touch.

A visit to Sati Spa cannot be omitted, where the soothing sounds of a gong set the tone for a serene experience. The treatment room and massage table are exceptionally comfortable, especially in terms of room temperature and humidity levels, connecting seamlessly to a changing room equipped with a shower and jacuzzi for ultimate relaxation. I was also given soft white cotton pyjamas to wear for my massage.

The hotel’s facilities offer a diverse range of experiences, from the rooftop infinity pool atop the lobby building to the beachside Naga-shaped swimming pool flanked by beach chairs. I did not swim in the ocean during my visit, as Kamala Beach is only suitable for swimming from November to April of each year.

Families will appreciate the kids’ playroom, and IHG Club members can enjoy exclusive privileges.

The LEED-certified property’s commitment to sustainability is commendable, with assertive measures like funding beach clean-ups for a three-kilometre stretch of Kamala Beach, and a garbage collection catamaran during appropriate seasons of the year. Guests can also participate in local bike tours and engage their children in plastic collection activities, with souvenirs crafted from recycled plastic as a reward. Led by a dedicated Green team, the hotel is passionate about fostering a holistic love for sustainability that goes beyond recycling and reducing single plastic use.

For those traveling on business, the property goes above and beyond to cater to luxury MICE clientele with its meeting packages. The Events Centre offers five versatile venues, including the Banyan Ballroom, with a combined space of 268m² capable of accommodating up to 120 guests for intimate private gatherings.

Intercontinental Phuket sets the gold standard for service, offering a reassuring reminder of five-star hospitality excellence. From warm greetings by the general manager, who is also the president of the Phuket Hotels Association, to the kindness and enthusiasm of all other staff, it is a heartening testament to the enduring quality of five-star hospitality in the modern era.

The high standards of the staff and attention to detail ensure that travellers will not be disappointed, especially when it comes to efforts taken to create an atmosphere of warmth, kindness and dedication to providing context and sharing local heritage with visitors.

The fact that the entire property is a concrete allegory to a Thai legend is a plus. Although many buildings in Thailand pay homage to Thai mythology and legends, it’s not often that you get to walk or inhabit a concrete rendition of a legendary universe.

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