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I realize I’m way behind the times here, but I just finished watching both seasons of The White Lotus. Ford and I don’t really watch fiction. We primarily watch non-fiction crime shows — at this point I feel like I know as much about murder as I do about frequent flyer programs.
When we just want to unwind and don’t want to think, we also watch 90 Day Fiancé and Love After Lockup (and we’ve started watching MILF Manor, which is… awful, but in an entreating way). TLC stands for The Learning Channel, right? 😉
Anyway, The White Lotus has an intriguing hotel connection, which I wanted to discuss a bit more in this post. Yes, everyone knows that both seasons of The White Lotus are set at Four Seasons properties, but let’s go a bit beyond the surface.
The White Lotus was so enjoyable to watch
For those not familiar with The White Lotus, there are two seasons so far. The White Lotus is the name of a fictitious luxury hotel chain, and the show is a social satire of sorts, following ridiculously demanding (and largely miserable) guests while they’re on vacation, while also looking at some of the struggles of staff.
The White Lotus is fun to watch on so many levels:
- As a hotel geek, I just love that this all takes place in two great luxury hotels, and it’s always fun to watch the interaction between guests and staff, even if it is satire
- The travel scenery in both seasons of The White Lotus is gorgeous, in both Hawaii and Sicily
- The plot of the show has so many twists and turns, and you never really know which direction things are headed
- The show is hilarious and easy to watch, with some likable characters, and also some villains
- For better or worse, the show also leaves a lot to the imagination — I don’t want to give anything away, but you almost have more questions than answers after finishing each season
Perhaps what has impressed me most about the show is just how brilliantly the whole thing is thought out. I’d love to look into the mind of the producer, Mike White, because he most have some interesting thoughts. For example, I just finished the second season, and I’ve learned so much about the show since finishing watching it.
What makes this show a work of art is how nothing in the plot is a coincidence. There are clues in the first episode of what’s going to happen in the last episode. Heck, the credits at the beginning of the show have a lot more meaning than first meets the eye.
It’s almost like when you had a literature class in high school, and the teacher would make you analyze different passages, to try to figure out the true meaning. That’s kind of the analysis I’m going through with every aspect of The White Lotus.
Which season of The White Lotus was better?
So, which seasons is better? If you’re just starting to watch, I’d definitely start with the first season, since there’s some connection between characters of the two seasons. There are things I liked about both seasons. When I watched the first season, I thought there was no way the second season could be better. Well, it was better.
For The White Lotus season one, I loved that there was more interaction between staff and guests, so it was really sort of a hotel-centric drama, which was fun. The theme of the season was more about privilege than anything else. I think many people enjoyed watching it, but it’s probably unrelatable to most, and a full-on social satire.
Meanwhile The White Lotus season two is much deeper, and also much more relatable. It focuses on relationships in a way that just about anyone should be able to relate to. There are so many twists and turns, and there’s a lot of depth to the plot (and there’s even more depth if you Google after the fact and realize all the hints that have been dropped along the way).
Am I the only one who is now playing The White Lotus theme songs on repeat?
In what hotels was The White Lotus filmed?
As everyone who has seen the show probably knows by now, the first two seasons of The White Lotus were both filmed at Four Seasons properties:
- The White Lotus season one was filmed at the Four Seasons Maui in Hawaii; this was filmed in late 2020 during the early stages of the pandemic, when the hotel was otherwise closed to guests
- The White Lotus season two was filmed at the Four Seasons Taormina in Sicily; this was filmed in the spring of 2022, before the hotel opened for the season (since it’s a summer seasonal resort)
Having stayed at the Four Seasons Maui, I found the integration to be interesting. While the resort overall is obviously the Four Seasons, the decor featured in the rooms is very different than Four Seasons’ standard style. So specific parts of the hotel (in particular, rooms) were redecorated temporarily for the TV show. Meanwhile most of the public spaces remained unchanged.
I haven’t stayed at the Four Seasons Taormina, though I didn’t get the sense that the decor was changed that much. It must be really special to now stay at this hotel, and be able to experience where so much of the series was filmed.
Rumor has it that season three will be filmed in Asia, most likely in Japan. Since the season will allegedly have more of a spirituality theme, it seems like the Four Seasons Kyoto would be the most likely hotel to film at, assuming the trend of using Four Seasons properties continues.
Season three hasn’t been filmed yet, though, so it’s anyone’s guess how that plays out…
How does Four Seasons fit into The White Lotus?
I find the general collaboration between the show and Four Seasons to be fascinating. While it was probably a significant risk, I think it’s safe to say that this is fantastic publicity for Four Seasons. People are captivated by these resorts, and there are endless stories online about the hotels behind The White Lotus.
I also wonder how the conversations went between the production team and Four Seasons? “Hey, we want to film a TV show where miserable people are vacationing, someone might die, and hotel staff are misbehaving… would your hotel like to be featured?”
Did Four Seasons say yes because the producers were offering enough money, or did Four Seasons buy into the vision for the show, and realize it would be such good publicity? It certainly seems like quite a risk, but it definitely paid off.
I couldn’t help but think back to Crazy Rich Asians, which ended up being one of 2018’s most popular movies. Singapore Airlines isn’t featured in the movie because it allegedly turned down the opportunity, not wanting to be associated with the film. I imagine the airline ended up regretting that, as a generic airplane cabin was used instead.
I just finished watching both seasons of The White Lotus, which I loved more than I can describe in words, even though I don’t usually watch these kinds of shows. This is an entertaining show in general, and even better if you’re a hotel geek.
Both seasons have been filmed at Four Seasons properties, and I find the partnership to be an interesting one. While the Four Seasons name is never mentioned, this is amazing publicity for Four Seasons, as endless people consider traveling to the resorts behind The White Lotus (hopefully with better service, less drama, and a higher survival rate).
I can’t help but wonder about the overall arrangement between Four Seasons and The White Lotus, so if anyone has details or even speculation, I’d love to hear it.