Whenever I’m dreaming of taking an elusive trip, I plan ahead to get me motivated.
Here are 3 simple steps to planning your next vacation. Start by answering these questions:
- What destination would make all the sacrifice of hard work and saving worth it?
- How much do I need to earn or save to justify going?
- By what specific date will I achieve this goal?
Giving myself a taste of what’s to come and the life I want to live has proved to be the best way to motivate myself.
Pick a spot, set a budget, select a date.
The thought alone of sitting on a beach somewhere got me excited. Studies show that planning the vacation brings more happiness than actually taking it, and confirms what I knew from experience: vacations only count if they’re relaxing.
While planning is a tease that creates enthusiasm, it’s depressing to take a holiday and feel like the best part existed in your mind.
My wife and I were feeling burnt out from a long summer, and were itching to jetset.
My goal was simple: to do something so epic I’d be an exception to the study, that the experience itself would be more awesome than planning it.
I’m a premium member with most major chains, Hyatt, IHG, Marriott, Hilton and SPG, one of the perks of traveling 200+ days a year. It’s no surprise that just like in our housing search, we exhausted every option known to man.
‘Want to do a safari?’ I asked, pulling up a stock photo of a couple posing blissfully near a lion.
She glanced at the screen. ‘I’m not going to be smiling with a lion that close to me!’
‘What about a big city, like Buenos Aires?’
‘It’s too crowded.’
… and then with one random click, I found it: The Intercontinental Resort and Spa in Koh Samui, Thailand.
36 hours later we were on a plane. We used our air miles and upgraded to First Class on Thai Airways from Milan to Koh Samui.
We landed in paradise and checked in around midday. The hot, humid air would fog up my camera lens, but not before I captured a few shots of the property.
Having been to 40 some countries, many of them premier stops on the poker circuit, I’ve been extremely fortunate to stay in some incredible resorts, but the Intercontinental in Koh Samui is perhaps my single favorite luxury beach resort.
I know that’s a big statement and it deserves to be backed up with an explanation.
Here are five reasons why I absolutely loved it:
1. The Staff
It goes without saying that Asia is known for the best service in the world, but the staff at the Intercontinental, Koh Samui took this to another level. There are numerous examples I could cite, but it was more than an occasional attentiveness that made them so impressive, it was their default way of being.
My wife Ambra has many food allergies, which is often a hassle when traveling. An hour after we arrived, I went to the pool bar on my quest to drink at least one Pina Colada per day.
While there, I overheard the manager alerting all the staff members in a quick meeting that my wife had a gluten and dairy allergy.
Later that afternoon, while having high tea (more on that later), the chef personally prepared her a custom selection of fresh fish and sweet potatoes, two foods which she told them ahead of time they could use as a substitute for any of her meals.
2. The Perks
Being Intercontinental Club Members always has its advantages, but let’s be honest, at some of the chains like the Holiday Inn, being a Platinum member gets you 500 points and a cookie.
At the Intercontinental Koh Samui, you get the works. We upgraded our room to their pool villa, but we earned more than the difference in benefits.
Aside from free round trip airport transfer, we had a personal butler on call 24/7 (he gave us a dedicated cell phone on arrival that rings to his direct line).
The breakfast buffet (more like a feast) was included for two daily, as well as the high tea from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm and endless cocktails and tapas from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
Not only was the food world class, but one could eat like a king and drink to their heart’s content every single day without spending an extra dollar.
Not that we were ever hungry with all the food we were given, but we couldn’t resist indulging in their eclectic buffets, teppanyaki (where the chef personally catches the fish that morning), authentic Thai and gourmet Indian. With three chefs from Thailand, India, and France, the food was some of the best I’d ever eaten.
3. The Rooms
Our room was completely decked out. Aside from insane luxuries, like a pillow menu with ten choices of fluffiness, and an epic Jacuzzi bathtub, we had a private infinity pool that overlooked the ocean. I could throw a rock into the sea it was so close. Whenever I got hot (which was often), I’d take a dip in the pool or ocean, rinse off in our outdoor shower and I was good to go.
If you visit, I highly recommend upgrading to the Club Level Suites. The difference in room quality alone is worth it, but the perks make it a no brainer.
It’s worth every penny.
4. The Property
I expected to do a lot of tourist things while on the island, but truthfully the resort was so eclectic I didn’t leave as much as I intended. With seven pools, constant food and drink options, a gym overlooking the ocean, an incredible room, and a relaxing spa, I didn’t have much reason to leave.
The hotel also catered incredible activates for their guests, like a private boat tour to see pink dolphins (yes, they really are pink) and snorkeling in the beautiful reefs.
Watching purple, orange and red fight for space in the sunset sky, while having cocktails at the lounge, was the best date I could imagine.
The surrounding beauty made it nearly impossible not to relax, connect and be in the moment.
5. The Location
All of Thailand is wonderful, but Koh Samui retains all the ruggedness and authenticity that is sometimes lost in the more touristy areas. A five-minute walk out of the hotel takes you back a century ago, and you can see how the indigenous people live, with an 80-year-old Thai ladies raising their chickens.
Nearby towns, like Chaweng, made for great shopping, and the many temples and hikes were awesome day trips.
A 10-day getaway to the Intercontinental Koh Samui was exactly what we needed. I left that trip completely rejuvenated and ready to face the challenges of some intense poker action in Macau and Poker Night in America.
Whether you decide on the Intercontinental Koh Samui or some other vacation spot, I highly recommend a trip to Thailand. There’s truly no place like it.
Where are you headed? If you do make it out to Koh Samui, please let me know here. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Did you enjoy the 3 simple steps to planning your next vacation? If so I’d greatly appreciate if you shared it.
P.S. The landscape photos were shot by yours truly, but if you want an awesome lifestyle photographer who is fun to work with, incredibly talented and great value, check out Dimas Frolov.
We don’t naturally look this good, he’s just an artist 🙂