Sight for sore eyes
Once known for its affordable beach bungalows, Koh Samui is gaining recognition as a luxury resort destination.
The island, which attracts more than 1.5 million visitors a year, is an hour's flight from Bangkok with direct domestic connections to Phuket and Pattaya, and international direct flights from Hong Kong and Singapore. A direct flight to Kuala Lumpur is expected to be launched by the end of March.
The latest luxury resort to open is the InterContinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam, which welcomed its first guest on February 1.
Formerly managed by various hotel operating companies, the resort occupies a prime location on the south-west tip of the island, at Baan Taling Ngam, offering a view of sunsets and 320-degree vistas across the Five Islands and Angthong National Park.
It was Koh Samui's first luxury resort and has reopened under the InterContinental flag after a 10-month, multimillion-dollar renovation.
Set within nine hectares of lush coconut plantation, the 79 guest residences include 17 two-bedroom villas for families or small groups. Ranging from 67 to 320 square metres, each residence boasts a private balcony, expansive bathroom with soaking tub and waterfall shower. There are also 12 standalone beachfront pool villas equipped with private sundecks and swimming pools. The resort's seven rainbow swimming pools provide semi-private access to villa guests. Other facilities include a gymnasium, two tennis courts, a golf practice area and an outdoor yoga pavilion overlooking the ocean.
With its 150-metre licensed pier, the resort is the only one on the island to offer its guests private transfers to and from the Koh Samui International Airport by speedboat.
The InterContinental is the second luxury resort to open in Koh Samui within the past three months, after the Conrad Koh Samui Resort held its grand opening in mid-November with a series of high-profile events.
The resort is located on a secluded hill on the southwest tip of the island, offering panoramic views of the Gulf of Thailand, outlying islands and the surrounding landscape of coconut plantations. It features 98 free-standing villas with private plunge pools and sundecks, and comprises 65 one-bedroom villas, 32 two-bedroom and three-bedroom Residences, and a Royal Villa. Other facilities include an on-site diving and sailing centre, 120-metre floating jetty, sea view fitness centre and outdoor yoga pavilion.