HOTELS & SPAS

The Lure of The White Lotus Hotel in Italy

Published on: November 8, 2022 | Last Updated on November 8, 2022
credit: HBO Max/Warner Media

I’ve booked a fantasy stay at The White Lotus Hotel in Italy for the next four Sunday nights from 9-10 PM. Will you join me? 

That’s how many episodes are left in the six-episode Season 2 of the HBO Max hit series, The White Lotus.

Maybe it’s the sea of blue and white beach umbrellas that called out to me…or the lure of the cliff-top infinity pool. Or could it be the appeal of a leisurely breakfast with a cappuccino on a sunny terrace amid spectacular views of the summit of Mount Etna. 

Actors Will Sharpe and Aubrey Plaza at The White Lotus Hotel (credit: HBO Max/Warner Brothers)

Actors Will Sharpe and Aubrey Plaza at The White Lotus Hotel (credit: HBO Max/Warner Media)


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Yes, I lusted for the plush, pillow-topped beds in spacious suites with see-thru glass terraces offering unobstructed views of the Ionian Sea. Granted, no matter how hard I’ve tried, I can’t replicate the posh bedding and decor at home of some of my favorite hotels, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts among them. 

Guest room at the San Domenico Palace, Taormina

Guest room at the San Domenico Palace, Taormina (credit: Four Seasons)

A suite at The White Lotus Hotel in Italy

A suite at San Domenico Palace, Taormina, A Four Seasons Hotel (credit: Four Seasons)

So, if you haven’t seen the first two episodes of The White Lotus, I highly recommend that you catch up and join me and the other 1.5 million viewers who tuned in for the October 30, 2022 premiere.

Season 1 of the series was shot in a beautiful locale, Four Seasons Maui, Hawaii, and I did enjoy it. But I’m an admitted Italophile. And this second season raises the bar in coupling a sensational travelogue with social satire.

The new setting in Sicily, at San Domenico Palace, Taormina, A Four Seasons Hotel, looks breathtaking. After all, few destinations can compare to Italy in terms of its rich history, natural beauty, tradition of exceptional foods and wines, and the captivating diversity of 20 different regions in a country smaller than the state of California. 

San Domenico Palace, Taormina, A Four Seasons Hotel

San Domenico Palace, Taormina, Sicily, A Four Seasons Hotel (credit: Four Seasons)

Italy is a perennial bucket list destination for every type of traveler so it’s not surprising that viewership of Season 2 of The White Lotus premiere was up 63 percent over Season 1. (The first season was nominated for a whopping 20 Primetime Emmy Awards, snagging 10 of them.)

The White Lotus Hotel in Italy is real, only it goes by another name

Nineteen rooms at the hotel have private plunge pools (credit: Four Seasons)

Nineteen rooms at the hotel have private plunge pools (credit: Four Seasons)

San Domenico Palace, Taormina, A Four Seasons Hotel, is located on the eastern shore of Sicily. The structure includes a 14th-century Dominican convent and a hotel wing (called the San Domenico Hotel) added in 1896. 

The aesthetics of the hotel are simply stunning. Both guest rooms and public spaces reflect the building’s original facade and architecture. Of course, the property got a major facelift when it changed management and began flying the Four Seasons flag in July, 2021.

“It’s been a meticulous evolution that honors the site’s past while elevating every aspect to a new level of personalized service, extraordinary experiences, and the opportunity for memories to last a lifetime,” said General Manager Lorenzo Maraviglia, in the press release announcing the hotel opening. “This is Italy at its best.” 

With only 111 guest rooms and suites, the luxury boutique property is small enough to feel intimate and provide pampered service. Oscar Wilde, Elizabeth Taylor, DH Lawrence, and now the cast of The White Lotus are among the notables and celebrities who have stayed here.

The former convent refectory has been reinvented as a gallery displaying some of the hotel’s precious artifacts. 

In addition to spectacular settings and service, Four Seasons properties also promise bespoke experiences. At Four Seasons Taormina, some of the special experiences that can be arranged through the hotel concierge include: meeting a local shepherd in the town of Linguaglossa to taste freshly made ricotta, paired with warm just-out-of-the-oven bread; embarking on a star-gazing safari at a remote area of Mount Etna; and taking a day-trip to the Aeolian Islands in the north of Sicily.

The ancient Greek Theatre of Taormina (credit: Vittoria DeMeo)

The ancient Greek Theatre of Taormina (credit: Vittoria DeMeo)

The White Lotus Series: Not-to-be-missed social satire

Guests arriving at The White Lotus Hotel (credit: HBO Max/Warner Media)

Guests arriving at The White Lotus Hotel (credit: HBO Max/Warner Media)

The talented Mike White—creator, writer and director of the series—introduces viewers to a cast of quirky, over-the-top guests and staff working at the hotel. You can be a voyeur for seven weeks during the characters’ one-week stay at The White Lotus Hotel in Italy.

 

Some of my favorites characters in The White Lotus:

Valentina, played by Sabrina Impacciatore (credit: HBO Max/Warner Brothers)

Valentina, played by Sabrina Impacciatore (credit: HBO Max/Warner Media)

Imagine being welcomed to the Sicilian Resort by Valentina (played by Sabrina Impacciatore), the hotel manager who seems to have eyes behind her head while she seethes contempt for some of the entitled guests.

Harper (played by outrageously funny comedian Aubrey Plaza), part Puerto Rican, is married to a young, financially successful Asian tech guy. The couple travels with another wealthy, very Waspy couple (the men were once college roommates) and discovers their values aren’t always in sync. 

Dominic Di Grasso (Michael Imperioli of The Sopranos) is a rich Hollywood producer who arrives at the hotel for a heritage trip to Sicily with his aging, foot-in-his-mouth father and young adult Stanford-educated son. Dominic’s wife has left him for sexual indiscretions that seem to be an addiction played out on the trip.

Jennifer Coolidge at Tanya McQuoid-Hunt

Jennifer Coolidge at Tanya McQuoid-Hunt (credit: HBO/Warner Media)

Tanya McQuoid-Hunt (Jennifer Coolidge), one of two returning cast members from the first season, plays an unpredictable, spoiled, emotionally unstable heiress searching for fulfillment she’ll never find. She never fails to elicit laughter, many times without uttering a word. 

Lucia (played by Simona Tabasco), another of my favorites, is a beautiful young local who frequents the hotel to solicit sex from the wealthy male guests. The talented actress was part of the ensemble cast of the binge-worthy Italian crime series, The Bastards of Pizzofalcone.

Binge-worthy? Definitely

Guests at The White Lotus Hotel in Italy ask Valentina to take their picture (HBO Max/Warner Brothers)

Guests at The White Lotus Hotel in Italy ask Valentina to take their picture (HBO Max/Warner Media)

Beatrice Granno and Simona Tabasco play sex workers at The White Lotus Hotel (HBO Max/Warner Media)

Beatrice Granno and Simona Tabasco play sex workers at The White Lotus Hotel (HBO Max/Warner Media)

With superb cinematography, the pace of The White Lotus is fast, jumping from one compelling storyline to another. But each of the talented actors competes with another star: the sheer beauty of Sicily.  

Of course, these characters are wildly exaggerated archetypes, albeit with some truth behind them.

You’ll be thoroughly entertained by The White Lotus and if you are a luxury traveler, you may even discover some ugly self-truths embedded in the comedic script.


Watch The White Lotus Season 2 Trailer on YouTube


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(credit: Vittoria DeMeo)

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  • Reply
    Sheryl Kraft
    November 8, 2022 at 9:31 pm

    Love the new setting and characters – I’m hooked!

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