We can reveal what life is like in one of the luxury resorts that is the star of White Lotus Season 3.
The ultra high-end resort of Anantara Mai Khao Villas, with private villas each featuring a generous plunge pool, is closing for four weeks in April to play host to 150 cast and crew of the hit HBO TV series.
Walton Goggins and Carrie Coon will star alongside Parker Posey, Michelle Monaghan, and Jason Isaacs. But the big guessing game is: who gets murdered?
Fans will not be able to sight actress Jennifer Coolidge, who played the popular Tanya McQuoid in the series as she was killed off in the last season.
But what’s it like at the new TV star resort?
The Thai resort is a favourite among Russian oligarchs. The mega-rich Russians with their young, svelte, imperious-looking wives dressed in flirty Fendi summer dresses and carrying Loewe beach bags are everywhere in Thailand since the Ukraine war meant many countries cancelled Russian-held credit cards.
There is a distinctly family vibe at Anantara Mao Khai during the holiday season, which opens the way for the White Lotus script writers to deliver more teen dramas, as they did in Season 1.
The resort’s Sala villas are divine – they come with private plunge pools, with separate dressing room, huge bathrooms with double sinks overlooking an outside spa bath which leads to the pool. There’s also a comfortable cabana with a day bed, two sun lounges, a table and chairs where you can sip a cup of coffee and nibble on Thai delicacies.
Or if you must, work quietly on your computer in the shade of the cabana by the pool. Inside the massive bedroom decked out in dark teak wood, is a king-sized bed with an overhead fan, a day bed by one window and a desk and chair by another.
There’s also an enormous cabinet where you will find a Nepresso coffee machine and a selection of Origin coffee capsules, a mini-fridge filled with champagne and top-level spirits – consumed at an extra cost, of course.
The dining options
Resort life in Anantara centres around the main La Sala restaurant surrounded by a lake filled with water lilies, hundreds of hungry fish and a resident monitor lizard – all irresistible to kids who squeal with delight as they feverishly feed the fish and lizard with fresh, daily baked bread from the breakfast buffet.
It is also where we had our cooking lesson from Thai chef Kum who taught us how to make chicken satay – Thai style, tom yum soup, phat Thai noodles and the ever-so-delicious mango and sticky rice pudding – all exceptionally tasteful and full of flavour.
There’s a seaside Sea, Fire & Salt diner where we indulged in a sumptuous seafood buffet with a choice of Phuket lobster, seabass, prawns, mussels, oysters, Australian lamb chops and beef medallions, leg of ham, salads and a wide selection of amazing-looking desserts.
The highlight of dining venues is at the Tree House restaurant serving Omakase cuisine – a mind-blowing experience where you are individually served a sumptuous selection of sashimi, sushi and other delicacies all freshly flown in from Japan and artfully curated by Japanese-trained Thai chef Thiraphat.
Chef Onn is a wizard with knives. Perhaps this is where the main murders take place?
You can also match your food with specially imported sake from Japan.
What to do in the evenings
When the sun sets on Mao Khai, the locals take their well-trained elephants for a walk on the beach – much to the delight of kids from various resorts that front the beach. Nothing like sitting on the elephant’s trunk as she nozzles up to the kid and makes her squeal with utter delight while mum takes an iPhone shot of her child.
The elephant then take a bow in front of the gathering children as word gets out that there’s an elephant walking on the beach.
At Anantara, you are not short of things to do – there are three, all-weather tennis courts available with rackets, tennis balls, iced water and towels provided. It is advisable you may want to buy a can of new tennis balls, if you are a serious player, intent on beating your opponent.
There is never a dull moment while walking to the tennis courts at the back of the resort – you pass a rabbit hutch, a herb garden and a duck pen where amorous ganders roam freely in search of their prey. There’s also a main pool by the seaside restaurant with shaded cabanas and sun lounges. Sunblock lotion is available.
You can also order your fresh coconut, iced coffee or G&T from the infinity poolside bar – all served with an iced towel – a welcome relief from the scorching sun. You can also go for a cycling tour to a nearby lake, book a lesson in Thai kickboxing, rent a yacht for a cruise around the peninsula, arrange for a romantic private dining for two by the beach or simply chill out at the resort’s spa and wellness centre.
Anantara supports the Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation, which protects sea turtles that lay their eggs on the beach donating US$1 a room a night.
Minor Hotels’s super-luxe Layan Residences
We pay a quick visit to sister property, Layan Residences by Anantara to have cocktails at its cool rooftop bar where all the chic and beautiful guests hang out listening to Zuma music picked by a super-cool looking female DJ. Built into the hillside at Layan, there are only 15, two-storey residences all with sea views and live-in butlers. Steak restaurant, Age, serve the finest Australian beef imported direct from farm to plate.
What White Lotus Season 3 film crew will be doing
Filming is expected to focus on the resort’s exquisite beach front and in the main restaurant La Sala.
HBO has confirmed that White Lotus is set to begin production “in and around Koh Samui, Phuket, and Bangkok”.
“It’s going to be longer, bigger, crazier. I don’t know what people will think, but I am super excited.”
Season 3 likely won’t air until 2025. You don’t have to wait for the series to hit your TV screens to find out what it’s like to stay at Anantara Mao Khai Villas in Phuket – you have read it first in Cruise & Travel magazine.
Room rates start at around $1200 a night.
Now all you have to do is sit back and pretend you are a White Lotus star sunbathing by the pool. How cool is that?