Approachable luxury and beautiful sunsets: A review of the InterContinental Phuket Resort in Thailand
The InterContinental Phuket Resort in Phuket, Thailand, celebrated its grand opening on Jan. 11, 2020. Tourism decreased significantly in Thailand during the coronavirus pandemic, though, so the property feels newer than its 2020 opening date might indicate.
While there are plenty of reasonably priced hotels to try in Phuket, the IHG One Rewards-linked InterContinental Phuket drew me in with its beautiful spa, excellent location on Kamala Beach and enticing award rates.
Here’s a look at my stay.
There are many ways to book a stay at the InterContinental Phuket, but if you care about getting IHG One Rewards perks and earnings, you’ll want to book directly with IHG.
Redeeming IHG points provided excellent value for the four nights of my stay:
- First night: $200 or 23,000 points.
- Second night: $215 or 27,000 points.
- Third night: $238 or 29,000 points.
- Fourth night: $238 or 27,000 points.
The average redemption rate for my dates was 0.841 cents per point (that’s compared to TPG’s valuation of IHG points at 0.5 cents each).
As I’ll discuss in the check-in section, three reservations comprised my four-night stay. However, I could have secured an even better redemption rate if I’d redeemed IHG points for all four nights on one reservation. Doing so would have given me a fourth-night reward as an IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card holder, thereby reducing my fourth-night cost to zero points (and boosting my redemption rate to 1.128 cents per point).
The InterContinental Phuket is located on Kamala Beach on the western side of Phuket.
From the mountain view or pool view rooms, the resort feels secluded.
You’re not far from off-site dining options, a night market and some tourist attractions, though. A Wyndham timeshare property is under construction next to the resort, so I could see the construction crane and occasionally hear light construction sounds while on my balcony.
Finally, those familiar with the tsunami that occurred on Dec. 26, 2004, may know that Kamala Beach was significantly damaged. As a tourist today, you’d hardly know it, as the only noticeable reminders are the Tsunami Memorial Park in Kamala and tsunami warning signs posted across the island.
I landed in Phuket at 5 p.m. and took an approximately 40-minute Grab (a ride-hailing app popular in Asia) to the resort. A bellhop and a reception agent came out to greet us once they realized we were there to check in.
Check-in went relatively quickly despite having three reservations for my four-night stay: an award night booked by me, a free night certificate from an IHG credit card also booked by me and a two-night award stay booked by TPG’s executive editor Scott Mayerowitz. We’d reserved all four nights in a Classic Room (with a street view), but the resort upgraded me to a Classic Room Mountain View for my entire stay.
Scott used IHG points from a TPG company account tied to his name to book two nights for this review. Based on IHG’s website, members can book an award stay for another guest by adding their name as a second guest. However, multiple IHG hotels in Thailand — including the InterContinental Phuket Resort — said I couldn’t stay on Scott’s reservation when listed as a second guest if he wasn’t also staying. Scott asked IHG corporate to step in, which it did. So, although the resort staff may not have known I was reviewing the resort, IHG corporate certainly did.
After checking in, the reception agent led me and my husband to our room on the third floor of the reception building. She gave us a quick room tour and wished us a good night. A bellhop brought our luggage to the room shortly after she left.
All the Classic-category rooms at this resort have similar layouts, though the views differ. Our Mountain View Room offered views of pools, the spa and a forested mountainside.
As you walk into the room, you’ll notice a closet next to the entryway. I appreciated the 10 hangers in the closet and the open shelves next to the hardy luggage counter, which also had storage space below it. Additionally, the closet holds numerous other amenities, including an extra pillow; a safe; an emergency flashlight; two fluffy robes; a laundry bag and price list; a shoeshine kit with shine, brush and shoe horn; two pairs of slippers; an umbrella; and an iron and ironing board.
Continuing into the room, you’ll see a king-size bed (or two single beds, depending on what room type you book). I found the bed and its bedding very comfortable. If you don’t like the large square pillows, you can request different pillows from the concierge.
On either side of the bed are nightstands with a USB charging port and a universal outlet. The light switches aren’t labeled, but I quickly learned which switches to push when I wanted to sleep.
On the side of the bed toward the closet is a counter with coffee and tea supplies, plus a minifridge. On top of the counter, there’s an illy espresso machine, a teapot, a shaker, coffee cups, complimentary InterContinental-branded bottled water and water glasses. A selection of illy tea and coffee are provided, too. Inside the minifridge, which sits below the counter, are various cold beverages, such as an assortment of beer, soft drinks and fresh milk for coffee. There are also a hot water kettle, an ice bucket and a variety of glasses under the counter so you have everything you need to consume your beverage of choice.
Across from the bed, there are a 41-inch TV and a counter with two drawers. The counter served as an excellent place to drop items when returning to the room, and the drawers might be useful for extended stays requiring more storage space.
A sitting area with a strangely shaped couch (perhaps meant to resemble a seashell?) is on the other side of the bed near the windows. There’s no desk in the room, so this sitting area is the closest you have to a workspace if you plan to work during your stay.
To the side of the bedroom is a long bathroom separated from the bedroom area by a sliding door and a curtain.
Along the windows, looking out at the patio — and, in our case, a mountain view — is a deep bathtub, which is very comfortable for a relaxing soak.
Unfortunately, the windows provide no tint, so other guests may be able to see you in the bathtub if you don’t lower the shade (which then eliminates your view). I also found it strange that the InterContinental didn’t provide a loofah, bath salts or even bubble bath.
A long counter with one sink is along the wall in the middle of the bathroom. I appreciated the ample counter space and didn’t miss having two sinks. Across from the sink area, there are two hooks on the wall that I found useful for hanging clothing and towels. Above the counter by the sink is an extendable, lighted magnifying mirror.
Next to the counter is a stand with a red sea fan art piece, towels and a drawer containing an unbranded 1,800-watt hair dryer. Under the counter are the room’s sole trash can and a scale.
By the stand, abutting the exterior hallway, are two stalls with frosted doors. On the left, there are a shower stall with a hand-held wand and an overhead rainfall shower. I preferred the hand-held wand as the rainfall shower had minimal water pressure. There are a bench in the shower, an extendable cord for hanging wet clothing and Harnn Mystique body wash, shampoo and conditioner as well. Additionally, the right stall is where you’ll find a toilet with a shelf above the toilet paper holder.
Finally, there’s the patio. You can access the room’s patio by sliding doors from the bathroom or bedroom. Each sliding door has a manual locking mechanism to ensure no one can open your door from the outside.
I appreciated the two comfortable chairs on our patio and the small table, which I noticed some guests using as a laptop desk. The window shades do an excellent job blocking the light if you want to sleep in.
When I searched on IHG’s website for handicapped-accessible rooms on several dates, my searches returned no results. This property doesn’t offer any rooms specifically designed with features for those with disabilities.
However, my room likely would have worked well for most guests with limited mobility. My primary concerns would be the slippery shower floor (the resort provides a shower mat) and difficulty getting into and out of bed. There’s 2 3/4-inch clearance under the bed if you need a lift, and the mattress’ top is 26 inches above the ground.
The resort offers complimentary buggy service, but it’s hard to avoid many stairs, even if you use it. I also didn’t notice many ramps or pool lifts on-site.
I recommend contacting the resort with specific questions to determine whether you’ll be able to get the full resort experience.
Food and beverage
The InterContinental Phuket has a collection of restaurants and bars for guests to enjoy. The concierge can also arrange for off-site dining, and several restaurants are within walking distance of the hotel.
I tried out most of the on-site food and beverage options. I skipped the Devas’ Lounge, which offers coffee, tea and light bites (see the menu here) and room service (see the menu here). However, I sampled every other on-site food and beverage option.
Pinto is an all-day restaurant in the main building on the ground floor.
This dining venue is where Diamond Elites can enjoy complimentary breakfast if they choose it as their welcome amenity. I particularly enjoyed the staffed noodle bar and egg station.
The breakfast buffet offers a wide selection, including Thai dishes, fruits, cold meats and vegetables. Most buffet items I tried were tasty and surprisingly fresh for being on a buffet. In particular, the waffles were still fluffy and warm, a rare find on a buffet.
You can order coffee from whoever seats you when you arrive, and staff will deliver the foods you order from live-action stations to your table. Don’t expect automatic drink refills or any other service during breakfast, though.
Pinto is also open for lunch and dinner, offering a menu instead of a buffet. However, I recommend heading beachside for lunch and dinner unless the weather is poor.
Tengoku is open for dinner every night except Tuesday and Wednesday. Interestingly, it’s in the back section of Pinto, separated from Pinto by Japanese noren curtains.
You order from an a la carte menu at this restaurant, but there’s also a three-course set menu for 850 Thai baht (about $23) per person (plus taxes and fees) that can provide good value.
I opted for the set meal, choosing katsuo tataki for my starter, tengoku ramen as my main and matcha ice cream as my dessert. The tuna in the katsuo tataki was a bit smoky for my preferences, but I loved the ramen, which was very similar to the ramen you’ll find in Japan. I also appreciated the cookie crumble added to the matcha and red bean dessert.
The restaurant offers themed cocktails, including The Last Samari with yuzu sake, Roku gin and pomelo syrup. I tried this drink for 450 Thai baht (about $12), but it arrived after my appetizer and was disappointedly weak.
Jaras by the beachfront pool is the resort’s premier fine dining restaurant.
The restaurant self-describes its cuisine as “contemporary southern Thai food.” I found the menu intimidating, but I opted to try a selection of dishes. And boy, each dish was impressive. Here’s an overview of what I tried:
- Thod man poo appetizer (450 Thai baht; about $12): A donut with a crispy outside and a moist inside made of crab meat, minced chicken and breadcrumbs. I especially liked the house-made sweet chili jam served on top of the donut.
- Yum som o tubtim goong yang salad (425 Thai baht; about $12): This nontraditional salad was a bit spicy and consisted of grilled Andaman tiger prawn, pomegranate, pomelo, coconut milk, roast coconut, fried shallot, cashew nut and red onion served in a tiger prawn shell.
- Poo nim khai kem stir fry (395 Thai baht; about $11): You can eat the shell of soft shell crabs, so the entire fried crab on my plate was designed to be eaten whole. Surprisingly, it was incredibly flavorful and tender.
- Southern curry short rib (525 Thai baht; about $14): I loved the earthy flavor of the homemade southern curry, the tender beef short ribs and the crispy egg noodles in this dish.
- Mango sticky rice (450 Thai baht; about $12): This dessert was tasty yet not too sweet, as it had fresh mango, sweet sticky rice, coconut milk and homemade coconut ice cream.
The restaurant also offers a nine-course set menu for 3,150 Thai baht (about $86) per person. Since you must order at least 24 hours in advance, I stuck to the a la carte menu.
Pine is the perfect place for lunch by the beach or dinner while watching the sun set.
Kamala Beach is known for its beautiful sunsets, and there’s something wonderful about dining right on the beach. Best of all, compared to the other dining options at the InterContinental, Pine provides the best bang for your buck (see the menu here).
One afternoon, I made a dinner reservation to coincide with sunset later that day. When I arrived, I was led to a reserved table on the beach with a great view of the water and the horizon. There was even a live saxophonist.
For this dinner, we started with the rosemary and sea salt white pizza bread (155 Thai baht; about $4), sea bass ceviche (275 Thai baht; about $7) and two drinks: the lemonade home brew (210 Thai baht; about $6) and the Oldfashion Tribe (450 Thai baht; about $12). The white pizza bread was excellent and easily worth its modest price. Meanwhile, the ceviche was strangely presented as tacos but did come with a small, fresh salad.
For our mains, my husband tried the pad thai with chicken (370 Thai baht; about $10), and I ordered the Wagyu beef burger (425 Thai baht; about $11). We’d originally planned to split the meals, but his pad thai was too spicy for me. He seemed happy with it, though, and said it was filling. I enjoyed my burger, especially the crisp but not overcooked fries that came on the side.
We enjoyed our dinner so much that we returned for lunch on the day we checked out. For lunch, we ordered another rosemary and sea salt white pizza bread and lemonade home brew since we enjoyed both during our previous meal at Pine. We also tried the ginger home brew (210 Thai baht; about $6), classic pizza (325 Thai baht; about $9) and chicken teriyaki don (375 Thai baht; about $10) for lunch.
Both home brews were flavorful without being too strong (they are homemade at the InterContinental and contain about 3% alcohol), but I preferred the lemonade flavor. The classic pizza was large and filling but otherwise unremarkable, while the chicken teriyaki don tasted authentic and had a delicious, light sauce.
333 at the Beach
Since we didn’t get complimentary breakfast as a Diamond Elite welcome amenity on the two nights booked through the TPG account, we tried out 333 at the Beach for a late breakfast one morning (see the menu here).
I had the avocado on toast (550 Thai baht; about $15), which was fresh and surprisingly filling. My husband tried the energizing bowl (450 Thai baht; about $12), which was an attractive mix of bananas, almond milk, mixed nuts, chia seeds, shaved coconut, cacao nibs, dried fruits and Thai cacao powder. If I’d been staying at the resort longer and didn’t have breakfast included, I’d have a late breakfast at 333 at the Beach each day.
At night, the 333 at the Beach bar often hosts partygoers singing along to songs like “Suga Suga” and “Ice Ice Baby.” One night, we saw a fire show that ended in a flaming 333 sign, while another night, the bar hosted a private party until midnight.
The resort has five different pools. The pool by the beach is the most popular, as it offers views of the beach and proximity to several nearby restaurants and bars.
On the beach side of the resort, the Club InterContinental area has a sun deck and a small infinity pool overlooking the pool by the beach.
On the mountain side of the resort, there are pools on each side of the Club InterContinental lagoon villas. There isn’t a bar or restaurant near these pools, but there’s self-serve water, a phone and a menu for ordering food.
The main lagoon pool has a children’s pool attached to it, but it was very quiet during my stay. Meanwhile, the serene pool next to the event lawn is smaller but seemed like the more popular option during my visit.
The reception building has an infinity pool on its rooftop as well. The pool doesn’t offer any beach views, instead overlooking the street and the entrance to the beach side of the resort. However, there’s a tiered sitting area next to it, which provides good views of the impressive spa building and lagoon pools.
Near the beachfront pool, there’s a large beach area with plenty of chairs and two bars serving food and drink. Vendors walk the beach but don’t usually approach guests sitting in the loungers and aren’t aggressive in their sales. You can get food and drink service from a shared Pine and 333 at the Beach menu delivered to your beach chair.
There’s a tunnel between the resort’s beach and mountain sides. It’s not your stereotypical tunnel, though. Instead of a bland design, this one is made as pleasant as possible with music and artwork. You can also take a cart from the beach side of the tunnel to the mountain side of the resort.
Unlike other InterContinental resorts I’ve been to recently, there aren’t many complimentary activities. The only option was a daily exercise class, which was already full when I tried to book it for the next morning.
If you’re set on breaking a sweat during your visit, there’s a 24-hour gym for guests on the resort’s mountain side. The gym wasn’t crowded when I visited, and it had an impressive selection of equipment, including a nonmotorized treadmill and a rowing machine.
Below the gym is the jungle-themed Planet Trekkers kids club. The club operated from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily during my stay. Children were using the facilities each time I stopped by, so I didn’t take any photos, but the club seemed popular and had a cute interior.
Near the gym and kids club is a multistory building with an astroturf tennis court on the roof. You have to book the courts with the concierge, but I took a peek when another guest rented the court to play for an hour with a staff member.
Wi-Fi is available throughout the resort, too. It functions well if you want to work or post on social media while sitting on a beach lounger. When I did a speed test in my room, I recorded 86.14 megabits per second upload, 81.86 megabits per second download and 18 milliseconds ping.
Finally, you can’t come to the InterContinental and not notice the Sati Spa housed in an iconic building that grabs your attention from pretty much the entire mountain side of the resort. I didn’t splurge for a spa treatment, but here’s a look at the spa menu, which includes a mix of Thai-style massages, body exfoliations and masks, facials and baths.
Service at the InterContinental Phuket was a mix of highs and lows. One example of great service was when I snagged a beach towel to cover my shoulders from the sun while eating lunch at 333 at the Beach. A beach attendant noticed I took a towel and brought over an umbrella without my asking. And when we called to ask for a portable drying rack for our bathing suits, it was delivered in just 12 minutes.
But we often remember the service failures much more than the wins, and unfortunately, there were multiple failures during my stay. For example, a staff member entered our room when the do-not-disturb switch was on to check the minifridge. She knocked twice and then quickly entered, as one might do if you suspect a guest has already checked out. Once she noticed me relaxing on the bed, she didn’t leave or apologize but went ahead and silently checked the minifridge.
The check-in agent advised me to use the HandiGo app for resort information, bookings and to chat with the hotel about any needs. The app offered restaurant menus, room service ordering and the ability to book wellness activities. However, the app was often confusing. For example, although it allowed me to book a wellness activity and sent me a push notification indicating my request was received, the activity was already fully booked.
Likewise, the app wouldn’t allow me to make a same-day reservation for Jaras. When I sent a live chat message, an agent confirmed the restaurant was open and asked whether I’d like to make a reservation. Additionally, when I tried to order room service breakfast through the app one morning, I got a strange message. In short, the app caused more service frustrations than it resolved.
There were also multiple large groups on-site during my stay, so some venues were closed to hotel guests without any notice. For example, when I tried to go to the rooftop infinity pool one evening to see the sun set before the pool closed at 7 p.m., I was turned away due to an unannounced private event. Another night, a private party with a DJ raged at 333 at the Beach until midnight.
On the positive side, the private party at the beach bar included a fire show and fireworks set off from the resort’s beach around 9 p.m. Restaurant staff at Pine told me about the fireworks as I finished dinner, so I knew to come back out to the beach and watch. I appreciated this small touch, as it let me enjoy the show instead of grumbling about the noise in my room.
If you’re looking for a (mostly) relaxing luxury resort with a pretty beach, the InterContinental Phuket may be the hotel for you, especially if you enjoy a resort that feels secluded yet is within walking distance of amenities like restaurants, a night market and a convenience store.
I appreciated the friendly, approachable nature of the property and the staff. I’ve often not been an InterContinental enthusiast — despite having an InterContinental Ambassador membership and holding IHG’s top-tier Diamond Elite status — because many InterContinentals feel too formal and old-school or don’t provide enough value for their cost. But similar to the InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort, I felt comfortable at this InterContinental. If rates remain low, I’d happily return to this property — and recommend it to others.
Use our link to book your stay directly with IHG.