|Project Name||InterContinental Khao Yai Resort||Posted in||Hotels, Design, Interior Design||Location||
262 Moo 6
Pong-TalongPak Chong Nakhon Ratchasima 30450
|Telephone||+66 (0) 44 082 039||[email protected]||Completed||August 2022|
Set on lush 100-acre site on the edge of the Khao Yai National Park, Thailand’s most visited national park and a UNESCO World Heritage site, InterContinental Khao Yai Resort is a slice of tropical heaven where InterContinental’s discerning brand of luxury hospitality meets Khao Yai’s pristine natural setting. As inviting as this sounds, what makes the resort stand out is neither its five-star amenities nor the postcard-perfect tropical location—although these are exceptional selling points—but rather its concept.
Designed by architect and interior designer Bill Bensley, the resort pays homage to the golden age of train travel, drawing inspiration from the turn of the 20th century when Khao Yai was a gateway for railroad travel into the Northeast of Thailand and the rest of Southeast Asia. From the reception that resembles a ticket counter, to the treasure trove of train memorabilia, to the upcycled train cars that house the resort’s suites and villas, as well as a spa, a restaurant and a jazz bar, Bensley has nostalgically imbued the 64-key hotel with the glamour and romance of the train travel of yesteryear, taking guests on a journey through Thailand’s tropical landscape as much as through time.
The guests’ train-inspired experience begins on arrival when they check in. Styled as a ticket counter, the reception is decorated with railway memorabilia such as vintage trunks, old tickets and a traditional stationmaster bell that rings to welcome them. Sourced from both England and Bangkok, the railway memorabilia can be found throughout the premises. “Collecting the paraphernalia for this project was an adventure in itself”, Bensley remarks—his favourite find: a giant map from the 1920s that shows all the rail stations in Thailand which now hangs in one of the guesthouses.
The guests’ journey continues as they are escorted through verdant grounds to one of the 45 rooms in the main buildings or 19 suites housed within repurposed heritage railcars. Set around a lake, each suite is named after a different destination served by the rail network during the era of King Rama V, the father of the modern Thai Railway system—it was under his patronage that the region became a gateway for railroad travel during the late 19th and early 20th century. Bensley has drawn inspiration from the era’s carriage design as well as the various destinations the suites take their name from—think Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Saigon— to create 19 uniquely decorated accommodations.
Rich panelling, masterfully crafted to emulate original carriage windows, is complemented by scenic wallpapers and bespoke fabrics from famed Thai silk company Jim Thompson while ambient backlights evoke the sense of rolling countryside vistas. Featuring a balcony, terrace, or private plunge pool that overlooks one of the resort’s idyllic lakes, the suites’ exterior spaces reflect the sense of traversing a natural, lush haven.
A train enthusiast himself, the project gave Bensley the opportunity to translate his love affair with locomotives into an elevated hospitality experience but at the same time it allowed him to make the most of his commitment to sustainable design: all the train carriages used in the project have been upcycled. In combination with the use of locally sourced materials, the hotel is a paradigm of sustainable construction with eco-friendly practices such as the removal of bathroom miniatures to reduce plastic waste, wooden key cards, biodegradable eco-friendly cleaning products and efforts to eliminate food waste, all efforts that place InterContinental Khao Yai Resort at the vanguard of sustainable travel.
Where gastronomy is concerned, InterContinental Khao Yai Resort offers an eclectic selection of unique culinary experiences, including farm-to-table dining at Somying’s Kitchen, whose pantry is predominantly stocked with fresh produce sourced from the hotel’s own organic farm, formal afternoon tea served inside a heritage railcar, and a French dining excursion back to the golden age of first-class train travel at Poirot, a brasserie ensconced in an upcycled train carriage serving signature French classics like Soupe à l'oignon and Boeuf Bourguignon. Also housed in an upcycled train carriage, the Papillon Bar is a jazz-themed speakeasy where guests can listen to live jazz music as they sip on classic French cocktails, champagne, fine wines and whiskeys.
As expected for a luxury resort in such an exotic location, wellness and mindfulness are integral parts of the guest experience. From cross-fit sessions, Hatha Yoga and Pilates classes, to relaxing massage and beauty treatments based on locally sourced, 100% natural organic products, to one-on-one sessions with the Resident Healer, there are plenty of opportunities for both rejuvenation and relaxation at the hotel’s fitness centre and spa. The Khao Yai National Park next door, a dense evergreen jungle peppered with caves and waterfalls offers everything from ziplines and river rafting for thrill seekers, bicycling, hiking and trekking through to nature tours for active-minded guests. With additional experiences such as guided visits to traditional communities, golfing and wine tasting also available, guests have no shortage of options to choose from however long their journey aboard the InterContinental Khao Yai Resort may be.