Ahead of the Game: A Review of the InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort in Vietnam
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IHG's PointBreaks program has certainly been devalued over the last couple years, but there's still value to be found. My husband JT Genter and I enjoyed two PointsBreaks stays from the winter offerings: four nights at a Hotel Indigo in Birmingham, Alabama, over the Christmas holidays, and four nights at the InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort in Vietnam. Both properties were listed as 15,000 points per night under PointBreaks, but we paid 11, 250 points per night thanks to the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card benefit that gives the fourth night free on award stays.
The InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort opened in June 2018. The resort is on Vietnam's largest island, Phu Quoc, which is currently experiencing massive growth. Here's what it was like to stay at this new InterContinental resort in Vietnam.
IHG PointBreaks offers various IHG properties each quarter for 5,000, 10,000 and 15,000 points per night. When the Winter PointBreaks list was announced in late November for stays in December through February, the newly opened InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort was one of the highlights at 15,000 points per night. This property normally costs 35,000 points per night, so it was less than half price on PointBreaks.
The property quickly disappeared from the list as the PointBreaks allotment was exhausted, but not I before a snagged a four-night stay in February. JT and I would already be in Southeast Asia for a Malaysia Airlines status run, so a short hop to Phu Quoc on JetStar Pacific fit nicely into our schedule.
JT is an IHG Spire elite and has the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card, so we booked the stay under his account so we'd get his elite benefits as well as the Premier card's automatic fourth night free on awards. This meant that although the hotel was on the 15,000-points-per-night PointBreaks list, we paid 45,000 points for the four-night stay. TPG valued these 45,000 points at $225, which equated to $56 per night -- a real steal for a brand-new InterContinental beach-front resort.
We booked a 1 King Bed Resort Classic Room but were upgraded to a 1 King Bed Classic Ocean View Room before check-in. As can be seen below, the nightly price difference between these rooms was significant.
The InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort is on Phu Quoc island, Vietnam's largest island. The island is in southwest Vietnam near the Cambodia border. Although many tourists -- including those from the US -- have to apply for a visa to visit Vietnam, all foreign tourists can visit Phu Quoc visa-free for up to 30 days.
The InterContinental was a 15-minute drive from Phu Quoc Airport (PQC). Neither Grab nor Uber operate in Phu Quoc, so I took a metered taxi for 160,000 Vietnamese dong (about $7) from the airport. Phu Quoc is experiencing a major tourism boom, and the InterContinental is part of it, having opened a matter of months before I arrived. New construction was happening on both sides of the resort, yet old fishing boats frequently passed by the resort's beach and were anchored in the waters just off the resort. Besides a nearby sailing club and what was offered at the resort, there were no restaurants or retail opportunities within walking distance.
No InterContinental staff were present at the front of the hotel when I arrived at the hotel around 7pm. I carried my backpack into the hotel and walked around trying to locate the reception desk. It was disorienting to arrive at a hotel and not see any staff at the entrance or in the lobby areas -- or find an obvious reception area.
I stopped at a marked InterContinental ambassador desk in the lobby to inquire about reception. The agent told me to sit down at the desk and she would assist me. JT's flights were a day after mine, but he had added me to his reservation so I'd be able to check in without him.
Communication with the check-in agent wasn't easy. It took me explaining multiple times that JT wouldn't be arriving until the next day for her to understand. I struggled to understand her as she introduced me to the property using a map. And when I inquired about an upgraded room, she simply stated that I'd already been upgraded. She seemed uncertain about Spire elite benefits, and only gave me a welcome drink certificate after checking with her colleague.
Another woman, who was more conversational, guided me to my room and introduced me to the room. This was welcome, as navigating the resort wasn't intuitive until you'd spent time exploring the property.
We were assigned Room 3507, an ocean-view room with one king bed, on the fifth floor of the 3000 Tower.
The room was composed of a large walk-in closet, a bathroom, a patio and the main bedroom.
The bedroom had a large king bed with seven pillows -- two king-sized pillows, three large, square pillows and two smaller square pillows. We both found the bed to be very comfortable and slept surprisingly well.
There were nightstands on both sides of the bed, as well as overhead reading lights and decorative lamps above the nightstands. There were two universal power outlets on both sides of the bed, as well as two USB outlets on the left side of the bed.
Next to the left side of the bed was a sitting area with a large table, chair and a couch with four pillows. Strangely, there was no desk in the room. So if you needed to work, this area would need to serve as your workspace.
Across from the bed and seating area was a 46-inch flat-screen TV. There was a large Yamaha speaker in front of the TV. The speaker was simple to connect to via Bluetooth and provided impressive sound.
There was a balcony off the bedroom. There were two chairs and a coffee table on the balcony. Since it was warm during our stay, we mainly sat inside with the curtains open and enjoyed the views through the windows.
The bathroom had a large vanity with a scale and hair dryer below the counter. There was a makeup mirror next to the sink.
Water, cups and various amenities were on the counter. Four complimentary bottles of water were provided in the room and restocked daily. If you needed more water, you could push the instant-service button and ask for more.
There was a deep soak tub next to large bathroom windows, so you could enjoy ocean views from the tub if you took a bath during daylight hours. The tub was huge but wasn't the most comfortable to soak in. And the tub didn't hold water well even with the stopper closed.
On the other side of the bathroom was a toilet stall and a shower stall.
The shower stall included a waterfall shower and a handheld shower head. The waterfall shower was even, and the water temperature was consistent -- one of the better waterfall showers we've experienced in a hotel.
Harnn-branded shampoo, conditioner and body wash were provided in the shower in medium-sized pump bottles.
Near the room's entrance was shelving and cabinets containing the minibar, as well as coffee and tea supplies.
Under the counter were drawers with glasses and a kettle, as well as a cabinet containing a refrigerator with cold minibar items.
A minibar price list was left on the counter.
To the side of the minibar was a large walk-in closet with a motion-sensor light. There were plenty of shelves for luggage and space for hanging clothing. There were only a couple shelves and drawers for clothing, but the space was adequate for us. There was a safe on one of the shelves.
Two robes -- one medium and one large -- were hanging in the closet. Slippers were available on a shelf below a bench in the closet that could be used for putting on your shoes or as a suitcase shelf.
One of the most annoying parts of the room: The chairs were heavy and were loud when moved. So I woke up one morning to the guests above me moving furniture at 5am and also heard housekeeping moving furniture in surrounding rooms during the day.
Food and Beverage
There were six options for drinks and dining on site. All of the restaurants were expensive for Vietnam, presumably due to the resort's secluded location. The most luxurious option for dinner was the Lava restaurant, which opened in December 2018. Lava provided fine dining and specialized in seafood and wine with beachfront views. Lava is usually open from 5pm to 10pm, but it was closed most evenings during our stay.
A buffet breakfast was available at Sora & Umi on the second floor of the Sky Tower for 550,000 dong (about $25) per person plus taxes and fees. Sora & Umi also offered lunch and dinner from a menu. We ate dinner at the restaurant one night but found the miso ramen disappointing for a restaurant that claimed to be Japanese. Although the ramen had all the correct ingredients, the noodles were closer to spaghetti than ramen noodles.
Ombra was near the Oasis pool and offered poolside cocktails, snacks and meals. Ombra was open from 7am to 7pm, but only served food from 11am to 6pm. I had lunch at Ombra on my first day and enjoyed a delicious salmon-and-avocado sandwich with french fries and a salad (380,000 dong, about $15, before taxes and fees) in the shade by the pool.
JT and I ate lunch at Ombra our last day, and he enjoyed the club -- although he was jealous of the salmon-and-avocado sandwich that I ordered for a second time.
Next to Ombra with beach views was Sea Shack. Sea Shack was a relaxed restaurant that served Vietnamese, barbecue and international cuisine.
We ate most of our meals at Sea Shack. My favorite dish was the smashed-avocado-and-shrimp open-faced sandwich, but everything we tried was filling and delicious.
A small cafe named Mercado offered limited groceries, sandwiches, pastries, coffees and teas near the lobby from 7am to 7pm daily.
The InterContinental hosts the highest bar in Phu Quoc, the Ink 360 bar on the 19th floor of the Sky Tower. This bar was open from 5pm to midnight on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and from 5pm to 1am on Fridays and Saturdays.
The bar was octopus-themed -- which became distinctly dark, but in an appealing way after dark -- and provided excellent views over the surrounding area, including the construction and development on both sides of the resort.
So I recommend visiting the bar before sunset but staying to experience the bar in the dark, as well.
A DJ was present to play some chill lounge music. Most cocktails cost from 250,000 to 300,000 dong (about $10 to $13) and beers cost 160,000 to 180,000 dong (about $7 or $8). A limited selection of food was available, but we simply went to Sea Shack for dinner after sunset.
This InterContinental offered plenty of amenities, most of which were included in the room rate.
There were daily recreation activities, but you needed to call to book activities for the next day before 8pm. An agent then checked availability and called you back to confirm. Multiple activities I attempted to book during my stay weren't available, but I was able to try beachfront yoga, stretching and aqua gym. Aqua gym, led by energetic European instructor Klaudia, was surprisingly fun, as well as an excellent workout.
Yoga was held on the beach on Monday and Wednesday morning at 7am. On Monday, five people had registered for the class, but I was the only person to show, so I was offered a private yoga session by Klaudia. This session was relaxing and challenging, so I had high expectations for the Wednesday session. But when I arrived on Wednesday there was a different instructor and no remaining yoga mats -- and the session consisted mostly of stretching instead of yoga.
There were three main pool areas, each with ample lounge chairs and cabanas in both the shade and sun. All of the chairs and cabanas were free to use on a first come, first served basis. There were towel stations with towels, life jackets and pool toys at each pool.
Two large infinity pools were directly in front of the Sky Tower building. The upper pool, the Vista, provided nice views over the lower pool, beach and ocean. There was also plenty of shaded seating.
The lower pool, the Oasis, was better for lounging and is where the Aqua Gym class was held. The Ombra poolside bar and restaurant was adjacent to this pool.
A third pool area entitled Splash! was between the 2000 and 3000 wings. Splash! featured a children's play area.
There was also a waterslide that was open to guests of all ages.
And there were plenty of shaded areas in the main Splash! pool, as well as a zero-entry shallow area.
A kids center -- Planet Trekkers -- was also between the 2000 and 3000 wings. Planet Trekkers was open from 9am to 8pm daily for kids 4 to 12. Activities were scheduled each hour from 9am to 7:45pm. All guests could also borrow bikes for use on the resort grounds from the Planet Trekkers staff.
There were two sets of beach chairs at the beach, with an open area between these chairs.
There was a beach shack on the righthand side that provided nonmotorized water equipment to guests free of charge. There were kayaks, basket boats and snorkeling equipment offered. There was not much to see underwater with the snorkels, though, as there were no coral reefs or fish.
There was a sand volleyball court, beach tennis and a beach soccer field, as well as four hammocks on the beach.
The fitness center is on the sixth floor of the Sky Tower. The fitness center is new and well-equipped with treadmills, elliptical machines, one rowing machine, various weight machines and an exercise studio with exercise balls and mats. Apples, headphones and water bottles were provided.
On the first floor of the 3000 wing was the Hideout, a room with various board games, two gaming consoles, a couple computers, a pool table, darts, children's books and a foosball table.
The foosball table wasn't particularly well-maintained, but the game room was otherwise well-stocked and organized.
Tucked by the 5000 wing was the Harnn Heritage Spa. I received a spa coupon for 50% off a Heritage massage at check-in, so once JT arrived, we walked over to the spa to learn about the offerings. We ended up booking massages for 7pm one night. Although there was an active construction project adjacent to the spa during the day, the spa was quiet and peaceful at night.
The nine treatment rooms were in five overwater bungalows. We received our massages together in Treatment Room 9, a double-sized room designed for couples. The entire experience was luxurious, from the tea and dried fruit provided before and after the massage to the actual massage session.
Wi-Fi was available throughout the resort, even reaching out to parts of the beach. In our room, a speed test measured 58 ms ping, 5.93 Mbps download and 5.80 Mbps upload.
The resort Wi-Fi didn't use IHGConnect, though. Instead, you needed to enter your room number and last name to get access.
The InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort is a beautiful new property on Phu Quoc island in Vietnam. Despite having 459 rooms, suites and villas, the resort felt intimate. The property is small enough to walk anywhere within five to 10 minutes, and is easy to navigate once you become acquainted. This new resort is currently located between two active construction projects, which is distracting visually and with regards to noise levels at some parts of the resort. But it's also easy to escape the construction. And once the construction is complete, there'll likely be more opportunities for dining and shopping near the resort.
All photos by the author.