The Season 2 finale of HBO’s original series “The White Lotus” broke viewership records, watched by 4.1 million people upon its initial airing this past Sunday.
The searing social satire, the plot of which follows the overseas exploits of ultrarich and overprivileged hotel guests, is meant to be the show’s principal fascination—but its magnificent setting on the Italian island of Sicily is currently stealing much of the spotlight.
In fact, Google search numbers for travel to Sicily have spiked since Season 2 premiered at the end of October and have remained steadily high following December 11’s season finale episode. Since the second season’s launch, searches for Sicily by U.S. users have roughly doubled. Searches for the specific towns where the show’s action takes place have also seen a notable uptick in recent weeks.
Given that the show’s action centers on guests’ various shady dealings, leading to some less-than-undesirable outcomes (don’t worry, no spoilers here), one might ask themselves why the traveling public is looking to vacation like ‘White Lotus’ characters.
But, for now, let’s set aside that aspect and consider only the Italian island’s dramatic and undeniable beauty, shown to its very best advantage in the series by its talented cinematographers. Most of the scenes were shot in Taormina, a hilltop town situated near Mount Etna, the highly active volcano that contributed several of its own onscreen cameos.
It provides a glorious, almost other-worldly backdrop, which showcases the destination’s idyllic Mediterranean climate, dramatic land- and seascapes, and the sort of romance and Old-World charm that springs from centuries (and several civilizations) worth of accumulated art and architecture.
Who wouldn’t envision themselves going on holiday to such a paradise? But, if you’re hoping to book your own indulgent stay at the ultra-luxe ‘White Lotus’ hotel property you see onscreen, you’ve got competition.
The incredible San Domenico Palace, Taormina, A Four Seasons Hotel doubled as the ‘White Lotus Resort & Spa, Sicily’ in the series. Just as audiences can see on the small screen, the historic property, whose stone walls once housed a 14th-century convent, sits perched on a rocky promontory overlooking the glittering Ionian Sea.
Inside, it’s just as glamorous as it appears in the series, with 111 luxe rooms and suites, a clifftop infinity pool, Italian gardens, cloistered courtyards, Botanica Spa, Michelin-starred dining, terrace restaurant. piano bar and more.
“Since the first episode aired, we have noticed a big spike in web traffic from the U.S.,” Lorenzo Maraviglia, general manager of the San Domenico Palace, told Travel Weekly. “The effect on bookings is also noticeable.” He called the sudden influx of consumer cognizance and interest in both the property and the island “exciting”.
The hotel’s doors are currently closed, but the property is scheduled to reopen for the season in March 2023. While San Domenico Palace confirmed to the outlet it still has some availability for the upcoming season, the spike in demand from the U.S. stemming from its newfound ‘White Lotus’ fame means it’s bound to book up fast.
“A lot of our clients, as well as new clients, are sending us emails regarding the Four Seasons in Taormina,” said Marco Palermo, a managing account director with New York-based travel agency Authentic Italy. He predicts that the property is likely to sell out fastest for stays between May and September, typically the most popular period among Americans looking to visit Sicily.
“Knowing the amount of demand, I think that it’s going to get really challenging to find availability,” said Palermo. “Not only at the [San Domenico Palace], but throughout Sicily and Italy in general.”
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