Not many realize this but the Intercontinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort was actually the first ever luxury accommodation to open in the breathtaking island of Koh Samui. Having been known by various names over its 20-odd years in existence, it came under the wing of IHG Group in 2012 after an extensive renovation that made this cliff side resort one of the most iconic in the island. The resort’s breathtaking setting, with the Gulf of Thailand as backdrop, is the stuff of legends and has even been included as a must-see under the best-selling book “1000 Places to See Before You Die.”
With all this in mind, I was very excited to get a glimpse of the resort and had this property at the back of my mind for a year or so. A couple of weeks back, I finally managed to visit Koh Samui. Part of Surat Thani province (my 16th province to visit in Thailand), Koh Samui’s a mere 90 minute flight via Bangkok Airways from Singapore.
Upon arriving in Koh Samui and with no bags in tow, I quickly made my way out of the open-air airport terminal where I found a representative from the hotel already carrying a placard with the Intercontinental sign on it. In no time, I was inside an SUV filled with amenities such as in-car wifi, bottles of water plus some brochures about the property. While Koh Samui Airport is located at the northeastern part of the island, the resort is located at the west coast. Given Koh Samui’s small size (it’s smaller than Singapore), it’s a mere 45 minute drive from the airport to the resort.
I arrived at the 79-room resort at approximately half past ten in the evening and was served sourplum juice as my welcome drink. I sat on one of the lounge chairs in the lobby while reception processed my arrival details. A few minutes later, a staff member showed me to my room and explained its intricacies to me. He also left me a resort map which showed where the various facilities were located (the property’s huge!).
Ocean View Room
I was billeted at an Ocean View Room during my stay. Without even touching upon the interiors, I was already blown away by the stunning views of the beach and the huge balcony from where I could imagine myself spending lazy afternoons. I spotted a day bed which could be used for sunbathing and some lounge chairs.
Rooms at Intercontinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort are painted in soothing white – the perfect shade for those who just want to come to relax. The housekeeping staff was thoughtful enough to fill my room with no less than eight bottles of complimentary mineral water and leave behind a modest fruit basket.
At 67 square meters, the layout of the room at Intercontinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort is such that the length is almost equivalent to the width. As such, the generously furnished sitting area is situated directly in front of the bed. And in front of that is the television.
There is no allocation here for a working desk though the TV stand comes with plenty of extra space. I suppose no one comes to a resort to work but if you really must, the sitting area, with its relaxing low chairs is good enough. Just be careful not to fall asleep while working!
The restroom on the other hand is elongated, with a sharp curve at the end towards the shower area. A glass panel (as well as a door) separates the bedroom from the bathroom but this can easily be made more private through some blinds.
The shower area takes the open concept to a whole new level. There is nothing that separates it from the tub! Fitted with a rain shower, I love how spacious the bath area is. Toiletries are from the Thai brand, Harnn and come in generous sizes.
Not One But Two Infinity Pools
The one thing that I love about the resort is the sheer number of pools within the premises. The main one is located just one floor below the lobby and beside the Air Bar – an impressive infinity pool that overlooks the sea and the surrounding coconut plantations.
The second one is a more family-friendly rectangular shaped infinity pool located by the beach. On top of this, there are five more pools scattered around the higher parts of the property. During my visit, I found the other pools more private and while they’re free for all guests to use, there was hardly anyone using them as most guests still preferred the infinity pools (with good reason!).
The resort’s facilities can be pretty spread out but a buggy can take guests to various points within the property at no extra cost. Most of the facilities have their own phones so it’s easy enough to call for a ride back. I headed down to the gym one afternoon which is located near the beach. After my workout, I just called for a buggy and waited outside for it to come and fetch me.
While the property has no club lounge (it would look awkward to have one in a resort!), the aptly named Inspiration Space is a well-designed library filled with books, a Mac station and a DVD collection where guests can print documents and read a book or two while having their holiday.
It is entirely possible to enjoy a couple of days at Intercontinental Samui without ever having to leave the property. There are at least two main dining concepts – the beachside grill, Flames and contemporary restaurant, Amber and a slew of lounge options such as the Air Bar and the aptly named Serene.
Catching the Sunset at Air Bar
I spent one late afternoon just staring into the sea while having pre-dinner drinks at Air Bar. The bartender recommended me to try a commanding glass of the in-house sunset cocktail. It’s a refreshing drink made from a blend of various tropical juices with a dash of gin.
It was cloudy at first and almost seemed like it was going to rain until the weather miraculously turned for the better and I could soon see the sun in the horizon. Not long after, I was mesmerized by the fiery sunset – a mix of hues with a patchwork of clouds illuminated by the sun. It was the perfect way to end the day.
Playing With Fire at Flames Grill
As I was in the resort during the weekend, I managed to try Flames which has a dinner buffet every Saturday evenings for THB 2,900++. It was one of the most elaborate buffets I have come across simply because of the unlimited steaks (in various cuts) and premium seafood such as mud lobsters, crabs and prawns on offer which fit the seaside setting to a tee.
Midway during my dinner, two performers appeared by the beach to start what was to become an incredible fire show. I literally stopped eating to witness swirling torches, fire eating and some other amazing stunts. All the other guests were similarly engrossed to the spectacle.
Breakfast at Amber
Breakfast on the other hand is served at Amber which doubles as a Thai restaurant for lunch and dinner. The morning offerings are consistent with Intercontinental properties elsewhere, with defined sections for pastries, hot items, eggs, Asian dishes and fruits. Some of the juices here are served freshly squeezed so I do recommend having those when dining here.
As with my experience in other Intercontinental hotels, it’s possible to order off-menu items as well. I chose to have Eggs Benedict which the chef whipped up for me in no time.
Without skipping a beat, the Intercontinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam left me deeply impressed and it is no wonder this marvelous plot of land was chosen as the site of Koh Samui’s first luxury property. IHG’s management has brought with it world-class service standards, award-winning chefs and a hard product that is simply one to remember. The staff members were very eager to please and I could see them genuinely interacting with guests rather than the usual nod or acknowledgement that one encounters elsewhere. Simply put -it is very easy to spend a couple of days here without ever wanting to leave and such were my sentiments during my stay. I would hope to go back!
Reservations: Compare the best prices for Intercontinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam here
You can also check out the Anantara Lawana Koh Samui Resort which is near the airport. Review here.
Intercontinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam
295 Moo 3 Taling Ngam Beach
Surat Thani 84140