Meet the real-life manager of the luxury hotel in Sicily where 'The White Lotus' was filmed, with rooms starting at $2,000 a night

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Meet the real-life manager of the luxury hotel in Sicily where 'The White Lotus' was filmed, with rooms starting at $2,000 a night
Lorenzo Maraviglia is the general manager of the San Domenico Palace, Taormina, the Four Seasons Hotel where "The White Lotus" was filmed.Courtesy of the Four Seasons
  • Lorenzo Maraviglia is the general manager of the hotel where "The White Lotus" Season 2 was filmed.
  • The hit TV series has attracted an influx of tourism to the small Sicilian town, he said.
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In order to work at the San Domenico Palace, the Four Seasons hotel in Taormina, Italy, you are required to watch all seven episodes of "The White Lotus" season two.

That's because the renovated 14th-century convent overlooking the Ionian Sea was the central filming location of the hit-TV drama — and it's all hotel guests want to talk about.

Travelers are scrambling to visit the hotels in Maui and Sicily where the first two seasons of HBO's hit were set. When season one was broadcast, web traffic to the Four Seasons Maui resort increased 425% year-over-year, Marc Speichert, executive vice president and COO at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, told Insider.

During season two, flight and hotel searches from the US to Sicily increased more than 50%, according to the travel app Hopper.

"I think it would probably be easier to identify those who are not here because of White Lotus," Lorenzo Maraviglia, general manager of San Domenico Palace, told Insider. "From a financial point of view, we were planning to reach this level in five or six years."

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The show's depictions of murder, prostitution, and deception haven't deterred visitors in the slightest. In fact, many of the hotel's guests are intentionally planning their vacations around the characters' escapades, Maraviglia told Insider, from booking Vespa tours and luxury yachts to renting villas in Noto and drinking Aperol Spritz's.

Meet the real-life manager of the luxury hotel in Sicily where 'The White Lotus' was filmed, with rooms starting at $2,000 a night
Maraviglia said guests are planning excursions based on "The White Lotus," including Vespa tours.Fabio Lovino/HBO

"We're selling cruises like we have never done before," Maraviglia said. "It's funny because in "The White Lotus," Jennifer Coolidge gets killed on the cruise — so I don't know how inspiring that can be."

Sometimes, guests' obsession with the show can cause confusion, he said. For example, "The White Lotus" characters are often pictured walking from the ocean to their rooms, leading some guests to believe there is a beach club attached to the hotel. In reality, San Domenico Palace is a 50-minute drive from the coast, he told Insider.

The Mia and Lucia characters have also prompted frequent inquiries regarding "evening entertainment," he said, which is not something the quiet, family-oriented property is known for.

"I don't wish to disappoint anyone by saying that," he said. "You come here for the wine, for the food ... for the art, for the culture, to relax. You don't really come to have such an active life at night."

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Meet the real-life manager of the luxury hotel in Sicily where 'The White Lotus' was filmed, with rooms starting at $2,000 a night
Sabrina Impacciatore plays the hotel manager Valentina in "The White Lotus" season 2.HBO

While guests may deliberately blend the line between the series and their reality as a form of escapism, Maraviglia is acutely aware of the similarities and differences that exist between the show and his daily life.

In both seasons of "The White Lotus," the hotels' general managers are the central figures holding everyone else together, navigating unreasonable guest demands and employee drama while dealing with their own personal challenges.

Maraviglia said the absurd guest requests and wide-ranging job responsibilities "The White Lotus" hotel managers deal with in the show are generally accurate, but the ways in which they deal with them are highly dramatized.

"That newly-wed couple that complains about the suite not being the exact suite, these are things that essentially sometimes happen," Maraviglia said. "Somebody may get frustrated by a very small thing instead of perhaps enjoying a very large and beautiful suite."

During filming, when the show's cast rented out the entire hotel for three months, Maraviglia said Sabrina Impacciatore (who plays the character Valentina), would follow him around the hotel and take notes during his meetings.

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Meet the real-life manager of the luxury hotel in Sicily where 'The White Lotus' was filmed, with rooms starting at $2,000 a night
Maraviglia said Impacciatore would shadow him during filming in order to learn about his day-to-day job.Fabio Lovino/HBO

"The impact that the guest has on the life of a hotelier in terms of complaining, managing expectations, empathizing with the issues, even if you don't feel that they are real issues," he said. "With this type of daily dynamics, perhaps I was inspiring to her."

Maraviglia said one of the main challenges of the job is work-life balance — something the show's characters also struggle with — especially when you represent a very well-known brand in a small town.

"It's like being an ambassador of a nation. You don't really have a day off," he told Insider. "Even on a day off, I go to the supermarket and people know that I'm the General Manager of the four seasons, there's a certain behavior and a certain expectation that comes from you."

Do you work for a hotel, cruise, or airline? Got a story or tip to share? Email this reporter from a non-work address at htowey@insider.com

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