September 25, 2023
InterContinental Khao Yai: New luxurious resort celebrates Thailand’s railway historical past

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Khao Yai, Thailand

Railways have lengthy been a supply of fascination for vacationers, permitting us to expertise journeys at a slower tempo and revisit a time when packed airplanes and crowded airports weren’t the norm.

Thailand has its personal storied railway historical past relationship again to the early 1900s, when Bangkok’s urbanites would climb aboard the wheels of metal to get out of city for seashore escapes or cooler climates.

Greater than 100 years on, a brand new resort designed by the incomparable Invoice Bensley immerses company within the essence of this period.

The InterContinental Khao Yai, made up of greater than 65 suites and villas, features a collection of upcycled Thai prepare carriages which have been transformed into luxurious lodging.

A few 2.5-hour drive from Bangkok, exterior Khao Yai Nationwide Park, the resort’s design was impressed by the early days of Thai rail and the world’s historical past as a gateway to northeast Thailand throughout the reign of King Rama V (1868 to 1910).

InterContinental Khao Yai: New luxurious resort celebrates Thailand’s railway historical past

Company are enveloped previously as quickly as they stroll into reception. Situated in a stand-alone constructing resembling a traditional Thai railway station, it’s full of journey trunks, picket benches, traditional prepare elements, illustrations and historic photographs.

The eye to element is outstanding, although anticipated with any property with Bensley’s title connected to it.

Phrases like whimsical and fantastical are sometimes used to explain the Bangkok-based American’s work – and rightfully so. Bensley is unequalled in his capacity to let his creativeness run wild in all the very best methods. The result’s properties that inform a narrative, with each element a intelligent anecdote that provides to the pages.

Within the case of the InterContinental Khao Yai, Bensley says his lifelong love for prepare journey impacted the design. He’s journeyed on many main luxurious trains on numerous continents and spent a summer time taking teams of aged vacationers on coastal rail journeys throughout Canada.

When he got here throughout a Thailand rail yard full of decommissioned trains, he needed to act.

“I used to be taking a look at all these rusty, previous carriages and I believed to myself, ‘Oh, God, they’re simply sitting there rotting…actually, we ought to be doing one thing with that,’” he recollects.

“Six months later, we had been shopping for up as a lot of them as we might…You don’t have to construct all the pieces from scratch,” he provides.

Subsequent got here the onerous half. Transporting a bunch of heavy, decaying previous trains into the resort’s hilly panorama proved to be as difficult as one would count on.

“We had deliberate to drive them in on rails,” he says. However a pointy flip on the finish of a street within the resort the place they wanted to put the carriages meant calling in some further assist to complete the job.

“We employed this enormous crane that should go up about 70 meters into the air. Then we flew the carriages in and set them down onto the slope. That was one hell of a day… It was a really costly crane, however we bought all of it completed within the day,” says Bensley.

Along with luxurious suites, the resort’s upcycled carriages additionally home a spa, a children’ membership and three foods and drinks retailers – Poirot, Papillon and the Tea Carriage.

“We initially had been pondering that all the carriages could be for lodging, however then as we began to work with them, we actually fell in love with the entire thought of Homicide on the Orient Categorical. In order that’s the place Poirot is available in,” he says of the French restaurant overlooking close by Swan Lake.

Papillon, proper subsequent door, is a jazz-themed speakeasy serving robust cocktails and, on the weekends, stay music. The Tea Carriage sits in one other space of the superbly landscaped resort, the place company can strive a wide range of drinks resembling iced coffees and a beautiful afternoon tea set.

Breakfast is served in Somying’s Kitchen, a spacious all-day eating restaurant that includes cubicles paying homage to eating automobiles and brilliant blue and white interiors. Outdoors the restaurant there’s a small pool and the Terminus Bar, which additionally bears conventional Thai railway motifs.

Even for those who’re not in a position to verify into one of many upcycled carriages, the opposite rooms and suites are nothing to scoff at. Each, designed to seem like a traditional railcar, is exclusive and options dramatic paneling framing scenic wallpaper.

Each room at the InterContinental Khao Yai is unique.

There are interconnected suites with bunk beds for bigger teams, whereas others function lake-view balconies and personal plunge swimming pools.

Company are inspired to move out into the nationwide park – extra on that under – nevertheless it’s value spending a while having fun with the resort.

The InterContinental Khao Yai’s 19 hectares are full of greater than 30,000 bushes and a number of other lakes, the biggest of which is occupied by a number of black and white swans – therefore the title, “Swan Lake.” Free bikes may be signed out on the lake path, whereas there are many locations to take a seat and watch the swans waddle by.

Although extremely in style amongst Bangkok residents searching for a weekend getaway to flee town, Khao Yai isn’t a high draw for overseas vacationers, who have a tendency to move for Thailand’s seashores or to Chiang Mai, the gateway to the mountainous north.

The cachet of getting a Bensley property managed by the InterContinental will little question give the world a lift on the worldwide stage.

The landscapes exterior Khao Yai Nationwide Park are sometimes in comparison with the Italian countryside and a number of the resorts, cafes, eating places and wineries play into that vibe.

There’s just one internationally branded resort within the space in addition to the InterContinental, a Movenpick that contains a sprawling castle-like lodge and an 18-hole golf course.

Guests who actually need to pursue that Italian getaway fantasy can head for Toscana Valley – a mixed-use challenge with a duplicate of the Leaning Tower.

Khao Yai National Park is home to as many as 200 wild elephants, according to park officials.

However at its core, Khao Yai stays a high vacation spot for nature lovers. A part of the UNESCO-listed Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complicated, it’s Thailand’s oldest nationwide park and is made up of greater than 2,000 sq. kilometers of forest and grassland.

Mountaineering trails cater to numerous skills, many providing entry to lovely waterfalls. Among the many most well-known is Haew Narok, which Leonardo DiCaprio’s character jumped off within the 2000 movie “The Seaside.”

Wildlife contains elephants, bears, gibbons and tigers (although people not often spot the large cats). Park officers provide nightly wildlife recognizing journeys, which may be booked via the customer heart.

Bensley says the InterContinental’s location close to the nationwide park is what drew him to the challenge within the first place.

“I’m a wilderness man, so for me, being so near main forest is basically what makes me buzz, to have the ability to stand up into that park and see a number of the few remaining wild elephants left in Asia… that’s for certain my favourite half.”

Although most company arrive by automotive, it’s doable to take the prepare from Bangkok to Pak Chong station, which is about 40-45 minutes from the resort.

Sooner or later, Bensley says they need to organize weekend prepare journeys throughout which costumed company will play Homicide on the Orient Categorical.

Company, no matter whether or not they’re touring to Khao Yai from Bangkok by automotive or rail, might discover the erection of a size of elevated rail tracks – these are a part of the delayed Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima high-speed prepare route that may finally head via Laos and into China.

The 250-km Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasmia line is because of open in 2026, in accordance with latest media stories.

As vacationers start to dream of the approaching years when high-speed rail makes it simpler to whiz via the Thai countryside, it’s good to know there’s a resort that pays tribute to the nation’s rail historical past, too.

InterContinental Khao Yai Resort, 262, Pong Talong Sub-District, Pak Chong District, Nakhon Ratchasima 30450; +66 (0)44 082 039; charges from 8,700 baht ($265) per night time.