CBD oil massages, a Michelin-listed restaurant and villas costing £6,900 a night: Inside The White Lotus’ most spectacular hotel yet as filming of third season starts at five-star Thai resort

The first thing you notice on arrival at the grand, porticoed entrance of the Four Seasons Resort in Thailand‘s Koh Samui are the monkeys. 

They are everywhere – stone monkey statues proffering welcome garlands, cheeky terracotta monkeys giving you the thumbs up from plant pots, laconic stone apes draped over walls, monkey water-features spouting streams into private villa pools.

So don’t be surprised to find that monkeys are a recurring theme in the third series of hit TV show The White Lotus, when the Four Seasons Resort on the island of Koh Samui becomes the new fictional White Lotus Hotel.

The entire 45-acre hillside resort has been closed to guests from January 29 when cast and crew arrive for two months of filming. 

The star of the show, Jennifer Coolidge, who played the ditzy heiress Tanya McQuoid in the first two series, is not expected to make a reappearance as she was killed off in series two – although don’t put it past White Lotus creator Mike White to find a crazy plot twist to bring her back.

After featuring in the third season of The White Lotus, the Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui is likely to become one of the most famous hotels in the world

After featuring in the third season of The White Lotus, the Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui is likely to become one of the most famous hotels in the world

Guests can while away their day swimming in the calm, warm sea, or lie on a sunlounger by the 165 foot infinity pool which stretches above it

Guests can while away their day swimming in the calm, warm sea, or lie on a sunlounger by the 165 foot infinity pool which stretches above it

Each of the 60 private villas, designed by award-winning 'starchitect' and artist Bill Bensley and his partner Jirachai Rengthong, has been inspired by traditional southern Thai thatched cottages

Each of the 60 private villas, designed by award-winning ‘starchitect’ and artist Bill Bensley and his partner Jirachai Rengthong, has been inspired by traditional southern Thai thatched cottages

The menu at the Secret Garden Spa offers everything from traditional Thai massage to sound healing and a CBD oil massage

The menu at the Secret Garden Spa offers everything from traditional Thai massage to sound healing and a CBD oil massage

The star of the show, Jennifer Coolidge, who played the ditzy heiress Tanya McQuoid in the first two series, is not expected to make a reappearance as she was killed off in series two

The star of the show, Jennifer Coolidge, who played the ditzy heiress Tanya McQuoid in the first two series, is not expected to make a reappearance as she was killed off in series two

But there will be plenty of other familiar names who will be joining the new cast including Natasha Rothwell, who played put-upon beauty therapist Belinda in the first series and Brit actors Jason Isaacs who played Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter and Aimee Lou Wood from Sex Education.

Patrick Schwarzenegger, son of Arnie and Maria Shriver, is set to play a leading role alongside Thai actors Dom Hetrakul and Tayme Thapthimthong.

A gang of forty-something Hollywood actresses including Carrie Coon (The Gilded Age) Leslie Bibb (The Babysitter), Michelle Monaghan (Mission Impossible) and indie film actress Parker Posey could suggest they are a group of wealthy American women seeking some sort of high-end spiritual healing.

If the last two series are anything to go by, the other big star of the show will be the hotel itself. Just as the first series of The White Lotus was shot in the Four Seasons Resort Maui, Hawaii, and the second at the Four Seasons San Domenico Palace in Taormina, Sicily, the Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui is about to become one of the most famous hotels in the world.

It is also about to become the most expensive – with prices already starting at £1,000 a night for an entry-level villa in low season. It reaches a heady £6,900 a night for a family villa in peak season with a housekeeper included. 

This is even before the famous ‘White Lotus Effect’ kicks in after the show is aired in early 2025, when prices will rocket.

Closing the hotel to paying guests for almost two months will cost millions, but the Four Seasons group clearly believes the investment is worth it and has struck a third deal with the backers of The White Lotus which include US television company HBO.

The US luxury hotel group is onto a good thing. Four Seasons Taormina saw a growth rate of 220 per cent after series two was aired and it now charges between £1,900 and £6,400 for a single night’s stay in summer. 

The third season of hit-TV show The White Lotus will be aired in early 2025

The third season of hit-TV show The White Lotus will be aired in early 2025

Set in a tropical resort, The White Lotus follows the exploits of various guests and employees over the span of a week

Set in a tropical resort, The White Lotus follows the exploits of various guests and employees over the span of a week

Guests of the Four Seasons are collected at the airport and whisked 40 minutes away to a peninsula on the far north west corner of the island where there is nothing but quiet jungle and panoramic views over the Gulf of Thailand

Guests of the Four Seasons are collected at the airport and whisked 40 minutes away to a peninsula on the far north west corner of the island where there is nothing but quiet jungle and panoramic views over the Gulf of Thailand

Add to that viewing figures from the last The White Lotus series, which reportedly amassed ten million viewers per episode, and it appears to be a win-win situation for both parties. 

Additional filming is also scheduled at the Anantara Mai Khao Phuket villas on the north-west coast of Phuket, where pool villas cost from £574 a night

After spending an evening living like the 000.1 percent at Four Seasons Koh Samui, I can also confirm it is the most spectacular The White Lotus setting of them all.

So what can lucky guests and the cast of The White Lotus expect when they arrive? Koh Samui is Thailand’s second largest island and is rapidly becoming known as its most up-market with the most five-star hotels in the country outside Bangkok. 

There is one road which circumnavigates the island and it’s jammed with a mish-mash of market stalls, scooter rentals and tourist beach bars. 

But guests of the Four Seasons are collected at the airport and whisked 40 minutes away to a peninsula on the far north west corner of the island where there is nothing but quiet jungle and panoramic views over the Gulf of Thailand.

From the moment you step from your car you are treated the way Tanya McQuoid likes it. In the open-air lobby a chilled coconut and hibiscus drink awaits you, followed later that evening by a champagne reception, all served by staff in traditional Thai dress.

Guests are then silently ferried along fern-fringed paths in an electric buggy to their villa. Each of the 60 private villas, designed by award-winning ‘starchitect’ and artist Bill Bensley and his partner Jirachai Rengthong, has been inspired by traditional southern Thai thatched cottages. 

Prices at the hotel already start at £1,000 a night for an entry-level villa in low season. It reaches a heady £6,900 a night for a family villa in peak season with a housekeeper included

Prices at the hotel already start at £1,000 a night for an entry-level villa in low season. It reaches a heady £6,900 a night for a family villa in peak season with a housekeeper included

A view of the white sand beach lapped by the pale blue waters of the Gulf of Thailand and framed by coconut trees from the Four Seasons Resort on the island of Koh Samui

A view of the white sand beach lapped by the pale blue waters of the Gulf of Thailand and framed by coconut trees from the Four Seasons Resort on the island of Koh Samui

The second season of The White Lotus was filmed at the Four Seasons San Domenico Palace in Taormina, Sicily

The second season of The White Lotus was filmed at the Four Seasons San Domenico Palace in Taormina, Sicily

But with polished teak decks, private plunge pools, enormous signature Four Seasons beds, stone baths big enough for three (that could be an interesting plot twist), rosewood furniture and Thai silk furnishings, they are a long way from your average village hut.

So too is the private assistant allocated to every villa to make sure that, heaven forbid, you should ever have to organise anything yourself.

The stilted villas have been built into 43 acres of natural jungle which include 856 existing coconut trees which give the resort an air of luxurious tranquility. Just as importantly, the jungle offers natural protection and a lot of privacy. 

Anything could go on behind those villa walls and no one would be any wiser. Just the way an obnoxious tech brother or vengeful ex would want it.

Series creator Mr White has already hinted that while the theme of the first season was about greed and money and the second was about sex, the third would take a satirical look at death and spirituality.

This all makes a lot of sense as the resort hums with spirituality, from the stone monkeys with their offerings, to the menu at the Secret Garden Spa which offers everything from traditional Thai massage to sound healing and a CBD oil massage, which is no doubt guaranteed to leave you pie-eyed. 

Fiona McIntosh with award-winning chef Sumalee Khunpet from the Michelin-listed Koh Thai Kitchen at the resort

Fiona McIntosh with award-winning chef Sumalee Khunpet from the Michelin-listed Koh Thai Kitchen at the resort

A member of staff wearing traditional Thai dress greets guests in the hotel lobby and offers them a chilled coconut and hibiscus drink which is followed later in the evening by a champagne reception

A member of staff wearing traditional Thai dress greets guests in the hotel lobby and offers them a chilled coconut and hibiscus drink which is followed later in the evening by a champagne reception

Since cannabis was legalised in Thailand in June 2022, it has become an endemic part of island life so be prepared for it to play a sinister role in Mr White’s new plot.

But for me, the star attraction of the resort is the private beach. Guests can call a buggy to be chauffeured down the winding path to the perfect arc of talc-y sand, or, as I am told by our driver: ‘The Brits and Germans like to walk everywhere, even up hills when it’s hot.’

But there’s something especially glamorous about whizzing silently down a track with the sea breeze against your face to be deposited at the beach. 

And what a beach. With fine, white sand lapped by the pale blue waters of the Gulf of Thailand and framed by coconut trees, the setting already looks as if it were digitally created in a Hollywood studio. No styling needed here.

Guests can while away their day swimming in the calm, warm sea, or lie on a sunlounger by the 165 foot infinity pool which stretches above it. 

Kayaks and paddle-boards are available to everyone and guests can also book private snorkelling and diving trips to the spectacular Angthong National Marine Park to explore the underwater caves and hidden lagoons made famous in Alex Garland’s novel The Beach.

For supper we were whisked up the hill to a candle-lit treehouse to dine at the Michelin-listed Koh Thai Kitchen. Award-winning chef Sumalee Khunpet tells me most of her dishes have their roots in classic southern Thai cooking but she has added her own spin. 

She holds cooking classes for guests ‘because they always ask me for my recipes,’ she says, smiling. Her richly-fragrant Massaman curry and Dry Red Curry with prawns the size of a baby’s arm, were exquisite. 

But the surprise hit for me was a traditional Thai dish I had never tried before – wok-fried bindweed with garlic and egg.

Guests can also finish their evening in the Rum Vault – one of the biggest in Asia. The vault is fitted with an antique iron prison door – a prop that could come in handy for The White Lotus plot. 

If you are locked inside you could do a lot of damage with the 159 rare rums collected from Asia and the Caribbean.

But the highlight for me was watching the sun set on the deck of the CoCoRum beach bar, overlooking the infinity pool and sweep of beach below, just as fire pits were lit around me – burning bright against the fading evening light. 

With a Thai-fusion negroni in my hand and a saxophonist striking up a jazz solo in the distance, you can see why this magical spot has been chosen for Hollywood stardom.

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