Season one of HBO’s Emmy-winning anthology series, The White Lotus from Mike White featured a star-studded cast and was filmed in a tropical paradise that fans are eager to visit themselves.
The Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, which was the primary film location for season one, is an open-air resort that boasts stunning views of the ocean, plunge pools, and a look into Hawaii culture. The second installment of the series brought us an epic storyline and yet another truly dazzling destination. San Domenico Palace, Taormina, a Four Seasons Hotel glittered on screen and offers a uniquely historic hotel that overlooks the Ionian Sea and active volcano, Mount Etna. As a die-hard fan of the show, or merely a travel enthusiast, either location deserves a place on your bucket list.
The destinations featured in the show truly shine throughout the storylines because of the careful attention to detail and respect for authenticity. “The show is really a love letter to both locations,” says David Bernard, executive producer of The White Lotus, adding that “the location really dictated everything and drove a big part of the creative.” For both seasons, finding hotels was a difficult task as they had to meet specific criteria in terms of aesthetics and film logistics; however, once the Four Seasons locations were settled on, the stories were specifically tailored to paint an authentic picture of Maui and Tamorina.
Following several groups as they vacation at these luxury resorts, the characters on The White Lotus fall into all sorts of mishaps and mystery as the drama unfolds, yet the backdrop of each season creates a beautiful contrast of beauty against the chaos. Bejeweled with fine foods, spa treatments, stunning views, and amenities galore, the resorts are luxurious but are ultimately more complex, with incredible histories, and are representative of the local culture. According to Lorenzo Maraviglia, the general manager of San Domenico Palace, a Four Seasons Hotel, “I refer to our hotel as a museum resort. Our guests usually visit here to dive into the past and be enchanted by the present. I hear many people say “wow” when they enter the hotel and that reminds me every day why it’s such a privilege to work here.”
Another aspect of both hotels that comes through on screen is the way the locations embrace the surrounding nature and make it a large part of the experience. “What I loved about Maui was how open and airy it is. That’s a typical part of Hawaiian hotels, but the open pool area, the sunsets, and the restaurants right on the beach really stood out,” adds Bernad. At the Maui resort, the scent of the decorative plumeria is fragrant and inviting for guests while the beach is only steps away and is surrounded by a lush green landscape.
Whether you’re on a family vacation like the Mossbachers or enjoying a romantic getaway, the resort in Maui offers a little something for everyone. The Lokelani Presidential Suite, for example, is well-suited for large groups, families, and those looking for an immersive experience that brings the outdoors in. Each guest room has an individual bathroom, and there’s a private dining area inside and out, which makes gathering easy. The suite offers floor-to-ceiling windows and 180-degree views of the ocean are visible from the private garden area, where guests can bask in the sunlight or lounge by the intimate fire pit after sundown.
For even more views, choose from the many oceanfront prime suites that offer personal balconies and other outdoor living areas that allow you to enjoy the magic of the island just outside your door. Waking up to gorgeous blue waters, picturesque sunrises, and dining by the pool looked amazing on screen but is even better in real life.
In Sicily, San Domenico Palace is “among the oldest hotels in town and arguably has the best location, boasting amazing views of Taormina Bay and Mount Etna from our lush gardens,” says Maraviglia. Of course, when the Four Seasons began managing the hotel, all of the comforts and amenities were added to make every vacation unforgettable, especially as the only resort in Sicily to have 18 suites with a plunge pool. The palace had a long history prior to being a part of The White Lotus, though it’s no stranger to hosting renowned guests.
“It is hard to summarize the history of San Domenico Palace in a few words, it’s so long and rich,” explains Maraviglia. “It was a monastery dating back to the 14th century. And then in 1896, it became a hotel. At the time, Taormina had become a popular stop for the Grand Tour. Intellectuals, artists, and aristocrats were our main guests until the 50s when it became popular with Hollywood stars including Sofia Loren, Audrey Hepburn, Greta Garbo, and many others.”
With a long-standing reputation among locals and world travelers, it’s no surprise the hotel can wholeheartedly grab your attention on and off the screen. “It’s definitely a very unique building and structure. It doesn’t feel like a typical hotel. The experience of living in such an ancient city and being able to wake up and you’re living in history was such a cool experience for me,” says Bernad about staying at the resort in Sicily while filming.
The general manager noted that interest in the hotel spiked after season two aired, especially from English-speaking countries, and will likely continue thanks to the added exposure and upcoming changes. “Our guests can’t wait to see where The White Lotus was filmed and be immersed in a tailor-made Sicilian experience,” says Maraviglia. Future renovations and improvements to the already unique hotel will always draw in returning guests and attract new ones from around the world. According to Maraviglia, “currently we are building a large spa which will open towards summer this year. It will be a great addition, particularly for the cooler months,” making this a year-round destination.
1.5 million people tuned in for the series premiere of season two of The White Lotus after the roaring success of the first installment. It’s now official, season three has been secured, and chances are the location will be nothing short of stunning.
By Marlene Ridgway
This article originally appeared in Homes & Estates magazine.