If you’re looking for a luxurious Thai beach resort where you can enjoy fine food and great service but are able to walk right into the surf from the property, the best resort on Kamala Beach is the Intercontinental Phuket.
This Phuket beach resort is one of the newest in the region, opening up at the end of 2019, then shuttering for quite a while soon after that. It started to get a few guests when Thailand cracked open its border doors again with the “Phuket Sandbox.” Now that the nation is fully open and welcoming visitors, this beachfront Intercontinental has become a very popular place to stay.
Located toward the end of the beach, with only one other hotel past it, the resort has a secluded feel and a nice view of the whole bay from the beach and some of the oceanfront rooms. It sprawls out instead of up though: even the tallest sections are just a few stories, so it has a subtle footprint when you’re looking at it from the beach.
The buildings are actually split in two by the road, so part of the complex is on a hillside, the rest of it is beachfront. They’re united by the Buddhist theme of the three worlds, however: the underworld, the human world, and heaven. A symbolic serpent snaked its way from the waterfront through a tunnel under the road and up to the lobby.
Past the lobby is heaven: a dreamlike series of white buildings in traditional style, then the green hills beyond.
One notable superlative about this resort: it’s one of only two LEED-certified Gold hotels in all of Phuket. So you can feel good that waste water is reprocessed for watering plants and while big hotels use a lot of energy, this one has super-high insulation standards and 100% LED lighting. There’s also no single-use plastic here and the straws in the bar are biodegradable.
Pools and Activities at Intercontinental Phuket
Most visitors come to this resort to spend time on the beach, so there’s a big section with lounge chairs and daybeds for guests, much of it under shady pine trees. There’s full service here from waiters and waitresses at the ready, as well as another crew at the 333 Beach Club.
There’s another set of lounge chairs on the roof above the main restaurant and next to the undulating swimming pool just a little inland from the beach. The pool is in an inviting spot in the sun and just steps from a bar and restaurant. From here you can step out to the beach and take a mile-long walk or more.
A second pool is located where the rest of the complex is, up the hill. That pool only has a view of power lines and buildings, but doesn’t require such a walk for a quick dip for those with a room up the hill.
The Intercontinental Phuket has a full gym on site with a good array of equipment. It’s right above the fun kids club, making it easy for parents to get a workout in and then check on how the little ones are doing.
There’s also a full spa on site and it’s an impressive one. It’s spacious and inviting, with relaxation rooms, steam, sauna, and whirlpools. Rooms are set up for singles’ and couples’ massages, with couples being able to book an hours-long experience in a suite with its own whirlpool tub and shower. All the ingredients used and for sale are Thai products.
Dining and Drinks on Kamala Beach
You can walk down the beach almost anywhere in Thailand and get something good to eat for a couple of dollars, but at this Intercontinental in Phuket you’ll take every meal up a notch and benefit from the Thai tendency to dress up each dish and make it look beautiful.
The signature restaurant here is Jaras, a Michelin-recommended Thai restaurant with a twist. It has a selection of all the premium Thai spirits available in the country, as well as a whole section filled with shelves of fermented items. (Eventually those items will be the basis of a small four-table restaurant with a tasting menu in that temple-looking white building pictured near the top.) It looks out at the lit-up shimmering pool at night.
On the lobby level is a Devas’ Lounge, a mouthwatering space featuring pastries made on site, chocolates, and a wide selection of teas. You can wake up here from 8:00 on or satisfy a sweet tooth craving until 10:00 p.m.
Other options for dining include the international main restaurant Pinto where you order breakfast, a Japanese restaurant tucked at the back of that on that’s open for dinner, and the poolside bar and grill where most guests end up eating lunch.
If you’re not a guest at the Intercontinental Phuket, you can still experience their cuisine and excellent location at 333 at the Beach, the waterfront club that’s open to everyone. You need to pay the equivalent of US$43 to hang out for the day, but that’s handed back as a credit you can spend on food and drinks. Besides the extensive bar with a few good wine options, there’s an outdoor grill and a pizza oven. They’re open from breakfast time to midnight, so you could choose your lounge chair and end up having two meals here.
My group visited twice, so we got to sample a wide array of items that were terrific, from pizza to grilled giant prawns to a succulent pork dish. As with the Thai ceviche bowl pictured above, the presentation was always pretty and it was easy to find someone for a drink refill.
Intercontinental Phuket Rooms and Suites
There are more than 15 room categories at this Kamala Beach resort among the 221 units and because of the low-impact design, most of them are not on the water. The view is either other buildings or a courtyard (Classic), a view of the mountains, a view of the pool, or a prime one facing the beach. Expect to pay roughly double for the latter compared to the starting category.
You won’t be wanting for comfort no matter which category you choose though because even the smallest rooms are around 450 square feet, with a freestanding bathtub in the room that can be exposed or not with some screen options. They are well-designed to maximize the space and have a sofa in a window seat area or a furnished balcony to spread out some more.
The amenities are extensive in all rooms, the main difference as you go up in price being the view and sometimes more space. All have capsule coffee makers, tea kettles, fridges, electronic safes, fast included Wi-Fi, robes, and slippers.
The top choice if you want a beach view is the King Beachside Suite with a separate living room and a balcony. The splash-out choices, however, are the multi-bedroom villa units that are free-standing in the back of the property past the lobby. These have their own pools with lounge chairs and plenty of room for families or small groups of friends.
Booking the Best Resort on Kamala Beach
This resort is located at the northern end of Kamala Beach and has access to the lobby area from the main coastal road. Rates at the Intercontinental Kamala Beach in Phuket usually start at around $300 per night when you add in all the taxes and mandatory 10% service charge. Prices go up for better views and can run into four digits for the villas. Rates are highest in the months when people from cold places are flocking here to warm up: December through March. Remember that you can earn or use IHG Rewards points here too.
See more information at the hotel website and you can also check rates at Hotels.com to compare.
Review and photos by Hotel Scoop editor Tim Leffel, who was hosted at a party and a day visit as part of the Travel Bloggers Exchange Asia conference (TBEX) held at the Laguna Phuket area a bit north. As always, all opinions are his own.