‘The White Lotus’ Was Filmed at a Real Resort in Hawaii—Here’s Where It Was Shot

"The White Lotus"
Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

With all that’s went down at the resort (murder, theft, a birth of a baby…etc.), it makes sense that viewers want to know where The White Lotus was filmed and whether any part of the show is based on real tourists in Hawaii.

The White Lotus—created by director and writer Mike White, who’s also worked on shows and movies like Enlightened, Magic Mike, Pitch Perfect 3 and Freaks and Geeks—premiered in July 2021. The six-episode dark comedy stars actors like Jennifer Coolidge, Connie Britton, Steve Zahn, Alexandra Daddario and Natasha Rothwell as guests and employees at the White Lotus, an exclusive Hawaiian resort that looks like an idyllic paradise on the outside but reveals itself to be a dark breeding ground for mystery and murder.

Is The White Lotus based on a true story?

The short answer is no. The White Lotus is not based on a true story. But in an interview with The New Yorker in July, White revealed that he was inspired to set the show in Hawaii because of vacations he took to the islands as a kid.

“When I was little, I would go to Hawaii with my family. My dad was a minister, so we didn’t have a lot of money. It was my first experience of being somewhere other than where I lived,” he said. “The Hawaiian culture is very specific, and there’s something very magnetic and beautiful about it. After I made Enlightened, I actually was able to buy a place there. I was hoping to be Paul Theroux and have my Hawaiian writer’s retreat or something. And it is such a paradisiacal, idyllic place.”

He continued, “But it’s also such a living microcosm of so many of the cultural reckonings that are happening right now. There are ethical aspects to just vacationing there, let alone buying a house there. The longer I spent time there, the more I realized just how complex it is. And it just felt like that might be interesting as a backdrop to this show.”

"The White Lotus"

Image: Courtesy of HBO.

Since its premiere, The White Lotus has been well-received by critics for its “sharp social satire” of the White Lotus’ predominantly white guests and their interactions with the resort’s staff. White told The New Yorker that the show’s characters are based on tourists he’s met while staying in Hawaii. He also revealed that the show’s storyline about natives being displaced by corporations like the fictional White Lotus resorts is also based on what he’s seen first-hand in the state. “I have a place in Hanalei, and there’s all these tech bros. The tech world has found Hanalei. So there’s these huge houses—not my house—that are being sold for thirty million right on the beach. Mark Zuckerberg has a place there,” he said. “And I’d be, like, Ugh, those guys. They own the world! And then I was, like, I am that guy. The people who live there [in Hanalei] and have lived there their whole lives, they’re all being displaced.”

He continued, “And it’s a small enough place that you can kind of hold it all in your head in a way that you can’t in a place like L.A. It’s a complex place, and I didn’t feel like I could tell the story of the native Hawaiians and their struggles to fight some of their battles, but I felt like I could kind of come at it from the way I experienced it. At first, it’s, like, It’s so beautiful! I’m in touch with nature and it’s so healing. Then you realize it’s on the backs of people who’ve had a complicated history with people like me.”

Where was The White Lotus filmed?

So where was The White Lotus filmed? The White Lotus is not a real hotel, but it was filmed at an actual resort. The White Lotus was filmed at the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, which is one of five Four Seasons hotels in Hawaii.

The Four Seasons Resort Maui is located in Wailea, an area in south Maui that’s also home to other luxury resorts like the Grand Wailea, the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, and the Wailea Beach Resort – Marriott, Maui. Fans of the show can also book a stay at the resort, though it will cost you. Rooms for two at the resort average more than $1,000 per night. As for amenities, the Four Seasons Resort Maui has three pools (including an adult-only pool named the “Serenity Pool”), 81 beach cabanas, kayak tours, surfing lessons and scooter snorkeling. The resort also includes a spa (with a carnialsacral treatment as seen in the TV show), as well as three restaurants, including Wolfgang Puck’s Spago.

If you do stay at the Four Seasons Resort Maui, however, don’t expect it to look like the White Lotus. In an interview with Variety, The White Lotus‘ set designer, Laura Fox, explained that the White Lotus was designed to look more tropical than the Four Seasons Resort Maui. She also revealed that each of the rooms in the show was designed to reflect each character’s personality, such as Tanya’s pink room. Because she couldn’t pain the rooms, Fox changed the looks of the room by adding details like new curtains, artwork and bed headboards. She also changed the furniture, like the red velvet chairs in Tanya’s room. Fox also changed the spa to make it more suited for TV. The spa existed, but again, we emptied everything because we wanted it to be cinema-oriented. We just wanted to tie it to everything else that we were doing,” she said.

August 2021, news broke that The White Lotus had been renewed by HBO for a second season that will be set at a different resort not in Hawaii and follow “a different group of vacationers as they jet to another White Lotus property and settle in temporarily amongst its inhabitants.” In an interview with Indiewire, White hinted that season 2 could be set in Saint-Tropez, France, instead of Hawaii. “We have had discussions, but it remains unresolved. It would have to be a different hotel, like, say, The White Lotus: Saint-Tropez or something,” he said.

The White Lotus is available to stream on HBO Max. Here’s how to watch it for free.

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