The Luxurious Four Seasons Tented Camp In The Golden Triangle Is A Magnet For Celebrities And Elephant Lovers

You’re bound to get a ton of mostly unsubstantiated news if you were to ask anyone in Thailand’s luxury hospitality industry about the whats, whens, and whys of the cult classic television series The White Lotus’ production process. With at least a year and a half before the series is televised, there’s gossip all round, with news that the show’s producer Mike White was spotted running through his paces at the Thai capital’s Lumphini Park or properties where the series is being filmed.

Surely though, the show’s location scouts wouldn’t pass over the dramatic cliffside setting of the Four Seasons Tented Camp in the Golden Triangle. The Bill Bensley-designed 15-tent property is shrouded by a sea of bamboo trees that often vanish with the cover of morning mists, along the Ruak River that runs off the mighty Mekong. It’s this unconventional Bensley project that allowed the designer to riff off, creating even wackier properties in the region in the decades since the camp’s opening.

Seemingly melded into the forest, this sole Four Seasons ‘camp’ in Southeast Asia is connected through a series of walkways that meander across foliage and a suspension bridge that adds to its Hollywood blockbuster impressions.

Each timelessly conceived tent (approximately RM13,000 per night) is built in the style of safari lodges with the added differences of polished dark chocolate-hued wooden floors that have only gotten better looking with the passing of the years; a standalone bathtub; outdoor showers; as well as standard comfy Four Seasons bedding.

Outdoors, the usual trekking activities offer a medium exertion level exploration of the outskirts of the nearby town of Chiang Saen, along with long tail boat rides on the Mekong that puts guests on the exact spot on the water that’s perpendicular to the countries of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. Although the Golden Triangle has shed its past infamy for opium production that spawned a series of made-for-TV action lacklustres, the area in which the resort sits now attracts multitudes of tourists from China who have found a second home in the built-up modern casino edifices of neighbouring Laos. Walk through local markets with stalls selling just-caught catfishes; sun-ripened mangoes; and a crispy buffet of dried bugs, worms and other insect-type critters that’d surely make for popular snacks during movie night.

If guests are game for a round of blackjack over in Laos, surely that could be arranged, but most likely though, it’s the call of the camp’s most famous residents—it’s the elephants that are the stars of the show. A decade ago, an activity with these gentle beasts would often include bareback rides, but in the spirit of animal welfare and human safety, guests now walk with them, observing the camp’s herd from a distance. Spend a morning learning about the eating (prickly bamboo flowers are a definite crowd-pleaser), bathing, spa-ing, and general rest and relaxing habits of elephants.

Bamboo flowers are not on the menu for humans, but the Four Seasons Tented Camp serves Thai classics such as Thai omelette with crab, steaming Laotian noodle soup simmered in a heart-warming basil broth, as well as the usual American-Euro spreads that includes commendable banana pancakes. For location dining, the bank around the Ruak River is lit in traditional northern Lanna style with seating for two on a raised dais, propped by ruby-coloured cushions. Here, a solo chef prepares local staples from a Kanthok menu with Four Seasons flair, featuring dishes like sai oua and kab moo (spice-rice Lanna sausage and crispy pork crackers); tom yam chicken soup; gaeng hang le (Thai pork curry); and larb moo muang (a chili-hot dish of minced pork with herbs grown at the camp’s garden).

Before dinner, pre-prandial drinks at Burma Bar have been elevated to celebratory occasions where the views of the river that stretches to Myanmar take centrestage, and can only be accompanied by several flutes of champagne or, at the very least, a stiff Tanqueray with just the right splash of tonic. Those in the mood for wine and cheese can also enjoy the camp’s selection of local wines from Hua Hin wineries, such as Monsoon Valley, and Thai-made cheese varieties that are more palatable than funky.

Between elephant sightings and oenophilic pursuits, the open-air spa’s Mekong Meditation massage soothes with a blend of ylang ylang and lavender. In mere minutes, one lulls one off to a peaceful if brief slumber that does the trick of lowering one’s cortisol levels. The mid-morning birdsong and geckos doing their jungle thing is more perfect a soundtrack than any Zen-like singing bowl-type made-for-spa-music.

More photos of the Four Seasons Tented Camp

Four Seasons

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