If you’re one of the people contributing to HBO’s record-high viewership by watching The White Lotus, you may be drawn in for any number of reasons. Perhaps you’re a huge Aubrey Plaza stan and love how she delivers dark humor after falling for her in Parks and Recreation. Perhaps you just like to stay in-the-know about the buzziest television shows. Or maybe while binge-watching season two, you’ve found yourself daydreaming about what it would be like to travel to Sicily and live out a White Lotus-esque lifestyle.
For a dark comedy that satirizes unbridled entitlement, privilege, and of course, wealth, The White Lotus gives viewers a glimpse into a jet-setter’s vaycay. Once upon a time, we dreamed about traveling to Italy á la The Lizzie McGuire Movie, but now that we’ve matured, we’re picturing ourselves traipsing through Europe as adults. Lucky for you, online finance and investing coach Haley Kowalewski of Femme Financial Coaching broke down just how much a White Lotus vacation would set you back. Spoiler alert: You’ll either need a massive bank loan, sugar daddy, or be reborn into a trust fund if this show is your vacation goals.
Hawaii Is Domestic Travel, So Season One Shouldn’t Be Too Unaffordable…Right?
Welcome to Hawaii, specifically the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea property. The hotel boasts 15-acres of space, 383 rooms, coastal views, 2,000 original pieces of Hawaiian-influenced art, and much more. Haley used Tanya’s character, played by Jennifer Coolidge, as her primary example for gauging how much a White Lotus stay at the Four Seasons Resort Maui would cost.
Tanya stayed at the fictional resort’s “Hibiscus Suite,” which Haley explained would be the Club Ocean-Front Prime One-Bedroom Suite. According to their website, staying in this room in May would roughly cost $9,600 a night without taxes. Interested in six nights? With taxes included, you’d likely rack up $67,000 for the stay alone.
How about if you’re a couple looking to stay in a Presidential Suite, like Alexandria Daddario’s character Rachel and her husband Shane do on their honeymoon? You’d be looking at at least $29,000 per night or over $204,000 for an entire stay with taxes included.
You can’t simply just stay in the room, no matter how incredible the accommodations may be, so when you inevitably get hungry, you’d stop at one of the restaurants on site. Haley pointed out that an average entree costs about $56, and if you’re pairing a glass of wine with your meal, the average cost would be around $20.
Particularly hungry the next morning? If you’re interested in a breakfast buffet, you’d pay about $52. You’re likely going to want cocktails by the pool or maybe you’ve got enough room for lunch, so total all of that dining and drinking together, and Haley gives her conservative estimate that you’d be looking at about $2,000 per person for a six-night stay.
No vacation is complete without activities, however! One of the most visually iconic moments in The White Lotus season one would have to be Jennifer Coolidge’s Tanya renting a private boat for a few hours. Haley estimates this would cost about $2,800. Tack on some other activities like a massage, which on average would run you anywhere from $225 to $300, and you’re living large.
Her totals for Tanya’s vacation are as follows:
Suite – $67,000
Food and Drink – $2,000
Massage x1 – $300
Boat – $2,800
Flight (estimate) – $4,000
Miscellaneous expenses – $800
Grand Total: $76,900
But I’m Itching To Fly Abroad to Italy. How Much Would a Sicilian White Lotus Vacation Set Me Back?
The Mediterranean is easily one of the most idyllic international travel destinations, so naturally The White Lotus had to take season two to Sicily, Italy. This season was filmed in Taormina, Sicily at the San Domenico Palace hotel. Another Four Seasons property, this hotel boasts scenic views of the Ionian Sea, historic architecture originating from a 14th-century convent, beautiful gardens to explore, and of course, high-end dining options.
Harper and Ethan lodge in the Junior Suite with Plunge Pool in season two, according to Haley. This room would likely run about $3,404 USD a night, but if you want breakfast included, you’re looking at $3,756 USD a night. Haley noted that Tanya and Greg would have likely stayed at the Royal Suite, but this selection is so exclusive that the prices aren’t available on the website. That said, the most expensive room with visible prices listed is the Princess Cecilia Suite (about $6,309 USD a night), so Haley estimated the Royal Suite would probably reach between $9,000 and $10,000 a night.
Next, let’s factor in food and dining. Most of the dining shots were filmed in the hotel’s main dining room, which in the case of the San Domenico Palace, is a fine dining Michelin-starred restaurant called Principe Cerami. The main meat course is about $56 USD, but if you were to indulge in their tasting menu, you’d be looking at a meal price range from $125 USD to $261 USD.
You’re vacationing in Italy – you’re bound to sip an Aperol Spritz, Negroni, flute of Prosecco, or glass of Pinot Grigio, right? Plenty of drinking goes on in season two, and if the average cost of a cocktail at the San Domenico Palace will set you back almost $24 USD, you might want to pace yourself.
Well, Tanya didn’t go get a massage this season, but Haley pointed out that this hotel’s rates range from about $130 USD to $261 USD. No stay in Italy could be complete without a Vespa rental, which averages at $43 USD, and Haley also noted that additional wine-tasting excursions would range from $163 USD to $272 USD per person.
Her totals for Ethan and Harper’s vacation are as follows:
Suite – $24,000
Food and Drink – $3,000
Excursions – $500
Flight (estimate) – $4,000
Miscellaneous expenses – $1,500
Grand Total: $33,000
What Do I Do If I’ve Got the Travel Bug Now, but Don’t Have That Kind of Budget?
If you’re planning a honeymoon, $33,000 is kind of hard to be cool with spending when you’re already shelling out plenty of cash for the wedding itself. If you’re traveling for pleasure, an anniversary, or even a family vacation in this increasingly inflated economy, $33,000 is still probably unreasonable for most of us.
Let’s compare the White Lotus-esque vacation to another common vacation destination, however, because even less luxurious vacations have a high-end price tag in the end. Bloggers Ken and Em of Mouse Hacker shared that their Disney World vacation for a family of four (themselves, one child 10+, and one child between 3-9) cost them $6,320 in 2023. For them, this included the flights, transport to and from the parks, five nights at a themed hotel, five days of park access, all dining, and miscellaneous costs.
That said, Ken and Em priced out a couple other options for a family looking for nicer lodging, better theme park options, and fancier food choices, among other add-ons. For a family of four, they estimated the trip would cost $9,958. Add a family member and that goes up to $11,378. Subtract a family member and that totals $8,298.
Whether you’re hoping to travel to Disney World, Hawaii, or Sicily, there are plenty of ways that you can still enjoy a beautiful, memorable trip without totally breaking the bank.
Say you’re headed to Europe (and aren’t traveling solo), then backpacking would be your most economical option. While there isn’t an average cost for a backpacking trip, consider that hostels can range between $20 and $100 a night. Hostels have their downsides, as you’re likely sharing spaces with many strangers, but you also get to meet fellow world travelers. If you’re traveling somewhere entirely new and you plan on site-seeing to get the most out of your vacation, I’d wager you wouldn’t be spending a lot of time at your lodging location anyway.
Hostels definitely aren’t your most comfortable option, however, but there are plenty of budget hotel options that can range from $100 to $300 a night. Alternatively, you can stay in an Airbnb that provides you with a fully-furnished rental property. This may feel a little bit more like home and give you the option of cooking some of your own meals like breakfast or lunch to keep costs down!
You’ll still want to certainly enjoy the delicious, local offerings, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be dropping fat stacks at a Michelin-starred property. Local restaurant food in Europe ranges from $9 to $22 USD, and street food ranges from $5.50 USD to $8 USD. Splurge responsibly on a cocktail, aperitif, or a bit of vino!
The final expense to factor in would be attractions. Say you’re traveling the Mediterranean, and, along with taking a peek at Sicily to live out those White Lotus vaycay dreams, you also take a train to the Vatican or all the way to Barcelona, Spain. On average, entrance to the Vatican Museum would be less than $20 USD and entrance to the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona would be about $22.50 USD.
Traveling can either surprise you and be reasonably affordable, or you might bite off a bit more than you can chew and splurge yourself into debt. What’s most important to know is that any trip can be really special no matter what level of lodging you find yourself in. Some of the most memorable and certainly picturesque travel experiences happened while I was on a trip that included hostel stays! Go out there and explore this beautiful world, no matter if your budget is conservative or if you find yourself with wealth like Cameron Sullivan.
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