When HBO’s dark comedy “The White Lotus” premiered in the summer of 2021, it took viewers to sunny Maui, Hawaii. It was a perfectly timed pandemic escape full of intrigue, satire, sex and bloodshed.
The second season featured a mostly new cast – save for Jennifer Coolidge and her character’s quietly sinister husband, played by Jon Gries – and a new location, Taormina, on the rugged southern island of Sicily. from Italy.
Both seasons focused on so-called “screen tourism” – the growing tendency for travelers to flock to the places they see in TV shows and movies.
American Google searches on visiting Italy soared nearly 20% between October — after the second season premiered — and December 2022, according to online research firm Semrush.
Americans’ travel bookings to Italy also nearly doubled during that time, according to Jim Corridore, chief information officer at market research firm Similarweb.
Since the beautifully shot sets are as much a character as the cast, viewers are now clamoring to know where the third season will be filmed.
A not-so-subtle clue
Many viewers picked up a not-so-subtle clue in the final show, when Daphne (played by actress Meghann Fahy), toasting dinner, said, “Next year, Maldives.”
But we are not so sure.
The Maldives was named abandoned towards the end of ‘The White Lotus’ season 2, leading fans to speculate that it would be the next filming location.
Levente Bodo | time | Getty Images
HBO has not announced where the next season will take place.
However, in October 2022, the show’s creator, Mike White, hinted that it could be Asia, when he told the entertainment news website Deadline: “I think it would be fun to maybe go to a whole different continent. You know, we did Europe – and maybe Asia, something crazy like that, that would be fun .”
A second theory
There’s so much excitement generated by the show – and its borderline fanatical fanbase – that any statement made by White is quickly dismissed.
That’s what happened when he make a short video message for writer Evan Katz Ross while supposedly on a beach in Thailand last month.
Ross posted the video to his Twitter account, which has around 1.5 million views. Cue the theories that ‘The White Lotus’ is heading to the Southeast Asian nation known as ‘The Land of Smiles’.
But the smart money is on Japan – in particular, the old historic capital of Kyoto.
In the first season, Four Seasons Resort Maui in Wailea hosted the show. In the second season, it was the San Domenico Palace Taormina Four Seasons Hotel.
Like Maui and Taormina, Kyoto also has a Four Seasons hotel. The Zen-like five-star hotel is built around an ancient pond where a famous warlord lived in the 12th century.
Japan has three Four Seasons hotels – two in Tokyo and one in Kyoto (pictured).
Source: Four Seasons Kyoto
The location hints that spirituality will also be a focus in season three.
“The first season was all about the money, and then the second season is about the sex,” White told Deadline. “I think the third season will be a satirical and fun look at death and Eastern religion and spirituality.”
He even blurted out that “Jennifer [Coolidge] is my friend and everyone loved her in the first season, and I was like, “I can’t go to Italy without Jennifer.” And that may still be the case. Like, maybe you can’t go to Japan without Jennifer either.”
Indeed, in Japanese culture, the lotus flower is revered for its ability to emerge beautiful and pristine from dirty water, symbolizing enlightenment.
“Enlightened” is the name of another HBO series, created by Mike White, which ran for two seasons and starred Laura Dern.
We asked Four Seasons Kyoto if there were plans to film there, but the reps declined to comment.
If Kyoto is the venue, the hotel and city can expect a substantial boost to their global profile once the show airs.
The impact of “screen tourism”
For the premiere and finale of two seasons of “The White Lotus,” Four Seasons hotels in Maui and Taormina experienced some of their highest search traffic ever, said Marc Speichert, chief commercial officer of Four Seasons. Seasons Hotels and Resorts.
“In Maui, for example, in the first season, we saw a 425% increase in website visits year-over-year and a 386% increase in uptime checks,” he said. -he declares.
San Domenico Palace Taormina, set against the iconic steep slopes of steaming Mount Etna, is closed for the season until mid-March but then sold out until May – so hopes to jump into the halls as Mia and Lucia will have to wait.
Two characters spent the night at Villa Tasca in the second season of “The White Lotus”. To do the same, be prepared to pay around $6,000 per night.
Camille Balossini | Mondadori Wallet | Getty Images
But other filming locations in Sicily have also become popular, such as Villa Tasca in the Sicilian capital of Palermo.
The 16th century estate, which has four bedrooms and 8 hectares of gardens, is listed on Airbnb for around $6,000 per night.
Beyond “The White Lotus,” the broader trend of traveling to visit iconic TV and movie locations continues to grow.
Netflix shows like ‘Bridgerton’ and ‘Emily in Paris’ have reportedly boosted interest in trips to Bath, England (pictured) and France, respectively.
Bento Photography | time | Getty Images
Jon Gieselman, Chairman of Expedia Brands, said: “We are seeing an increase in travel to cultural capitals and TV shows playing a role in tourism.”
It is also a global phenomenon. In a survey, two-thirds of global travelers have considered — and nearly 40% have booked — trips to destinations after seeing them in movies or on TV, according to an Expedia report published in November 2022.
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