As it did with Hawaii before, the new season of "White Lotus" has TV watchers thinking about how they can vacation like the rich and famous in Sicily. In the U.S. alone, Google searches for "Sicily Hotel" increased by 400% since the show began airing at the tail end of October 2022. Searches for some of the side trips characters took throughout the show also rose.
If you have clients interested in their own "White Lotus"-themed Sicilian vacation, here are the hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions you need to know about.
Where to Stay
San Domenico Palace, Taormina
Standing in for the White Lotus is the Four Seasons San Domenico Palace located in Taormina, on the east coast of Sicily. Situated on a rocky promontory high above the Ionian Sea, the converted 14th-century Dominican convent offers 111 rooms and suites with five-star service and stunning views of the ocean and Mount Etna. Every bit as glamorous as it looks in the TV show, the hotel has been playing host to the rich and famous for some 100 years including the likes of J.P Morgan Jr., Oscar Wilde, Ingrid Bergman, Elizabeth Taylor – and, of course, the cast of "White Lotus."
And with prices generally starting at around $1,500 per night, your commissions are every bit as good as the views.
San Domenico Palace, Taormina by Four Seasons is open from mid-March through the end of November, though all of March 2023 and some of April are already fully booked. Travel advisors can book directly with Four Seasons.
If the Four Seasons isn't enough of a splurge, there's also the 17th century Villa Elena (or one of its three sister villas), owned by interior designer Jacques Garcia. In the TV series, Garcia's personal home, Villa Elena, stands in for Quentin's Palermo villa, but in reality it's located in Noto, in southeastern Sicily. Each of the four villas has a private pool and comes with daily breakfast, on-call concierge service, and unlimited Wi-Fi.
Minimum pricing starts at 10,000 euros/week for the two-bedroom Maison des Caroubiers, with the remaining multi-bedroom three villas starting at more than $20,000 euros for a week. Advisors can email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more. Commission is 10%.
Where to Eat
Unlike the characters in "White Lotus," who spend too much time dining at the hotel, your clients will want to get out and enjoy all the culinary delights Sicily has to offer. (Bo be fair, one of the hotel's eateries is the Michelin-starred Principe Cerami.)
But if they want to recreate a scene or two from the show – outside of the hotel – they do have a couple of choices.
The Four Seasons San Domenico Palace may have a gorgeous pool and unlimited views, but unlike in the TV show, it doesn't have a sandy beach. To get that beachside dining vibe a la the White Lotus Beach Club, you'll need to direct your clients to La Cambusa restaurant in the town of Giardini Naxos, about a 15 minute drive from Taormina and more than three hours from Palermo. It's a great spot for either lunch or dinner with a mouthwatering selection of pizza and fresh seafood.
Tanya's final dinner with Greg (and Albie's first with Portia) is at the Ristorante Baronessa, located in Taormina. Located in the city's central square, the fine-dining restaurant offers traditional Sicilian and Mediterranean fare. Though the characters in the TV show ate on the main floor – and actually, the interior shots were filmed at an entirely different restaurant – the main draw of the restaurant is its rooftop dining and views.
Clients staying in Taormina should start at least one day at the Bam Bar, where hotel manager Valentina stopped every morning for her daily coffee. Tell your clients to try the "granite," a traditional Sicilian drink made with water, sugar and, traditionally, lemon juice.
Where to Visit
There's no limit to the sightseeing your clients can do on a visit to Sicily, but if they want to retrace the steps of the characters on "White Lotus" there are a few main sites to explore. (Advisors can work with an Italian DMC or select tour companies to arrange visits to all of these destinations.)
Ancient Greek Theatre of Taormina
The ancient Greek theater in Taormina serves as a backdrop for an early episode of "White Lotus." It's also one of the most popular tourist attractions in Taormina, and the second largest theater of its kind on Sicily. Built during Greek times, but reconstructed by the Romans, the theater can be visited all year long, but comes to life in the summer when it's used for outdoor plays, concerts, operas and ballets.
Planeta Sciaranuova Winery
What's a visit to Sicily without a visit to a local winery? While there are several options to choose from, the characters in "White Lotus" opted for a visit to the Planeta Sciaranuova Winery, located on the northern slope of Mount Etna. Here clients can take a tour of the winery, taste a variety of vintages, and have lunch, all with magnificent views of Mount Etna in the background.
The over-the-top opulent villa that Daphne and Harper spend the night at is the privately owned Villa Tasca, located in Palermo (not in Noto as is stated in the show). While the villa is available for rental, a much easier way to check it out is on a private guided tour. Tours must be arranged ahead of time.
Before spending the night at the above villa, Daphne and Harper explore the small town of Noto. The most important location – at least as far as "White Lotus" backdrops is concerned – are the stairs that lead down from Noto Cathedral into a central square. It's a great spot for Instagram-worthy photos, especially if you can get a few local men to look creepy in the background – just like in the scene from "White Lotus."
Castello degli Schiavi
With one visit to Castello degli Schiavi, clients can retrace the steps of characters from "White Lotus" and "The Godfather." In the latter, the estate serves as a hideaway for Michael Corleone and where his wife meets her untimely end. In "White Lotus" it's where the Di Grasso family stops for lunch on their "The Godfather" tour. In real life, the estate is not usually open to the public and there is no restaurant there, but private visits can be arranged with select tour and destination management companies, such as Sicily Grand Tour and Travel In Sicily.
The main opera house in Palermo, the Teatro Massimo is where Tanya and her new friends go to see a production of "Madame Butterfly." It is the biggest opera house in all of Italy and one of the largest in Europe. Clients can take a guided tour or, if they have time, take in a performance.