Where is Paradise Hotel?

The location is the star of this show.

bottlenose dolphin
 Getty.

The "reality" series Paradise Hotel originally ran on Fox-TV from 2003-2008. It cast muscle-bound men and bikini-wearing babes at a tropical resort and challenged them to pair up, form alliances, and stay on the show longer than any of the other contestants to win. Under the same basic premise, it was recast and rebooted in 2019.

As in the first Paradise Hotel, viewers wondered where the resort was located (follow that mystery below).

The new show is set at Rancho de Costa in Baja California Sur, Mexico beside a wide swath of beach where dolphins and whales frolic in the nearby Sea of Cortez. From the shots seen during the first episode, it does not appear to be a particularly new resort. The decór style and furnishings look several years old and, frankly, a bit tired.

The Original Paradise Hotel

While the suspense of the "who pairs up and who gets kicked off" format is less than riveting, the gorgeous location of Paradise Hotel was a mystery worth solving. Although the setting of the first iteration was not revealed, clues were plentiful:

CLUE #1: It's By a Bay At the opening and throughout Paradise Hotel's hour-long show, viewers were treated to aerial shots of a scenic bay. The far coast was lined with low-rise buildings whose lights sparkled against the water at night.

CLUE #2: It's in a Tropical Location Lush palm trees and other tropical vegetation were on display.

CLUE #3: It's a Short Flight from Los Angeles Since Fox, the network that aired the program, included an interactive element in the show (one audience member replaces one of the show's hotties each week), it was safe to assume the Paradise Hotel location wasn't a great distance from the Fox Los Angeles TV production studio. That eliminated the Caribbean -- and pointed to Mexico, which has an abundance of resort areas to choose from. Was it Cancun? Doubtful; the buildings across the bay were relatively low, and Cancun is quite built up. Cabo San Lucas? No again; their buildings are sparse and more set apart. Hmm... could be Acapulco, which boasts one of the most famous and beautiful bays in the world.

Red Herring: Was Paradise Hotel a Set? The question of whether the original Paradise Hotel was a real or made-for-TV location was raised by one of the show credits: "Paradise Hotel designed by Jana Jaffee." Okay...but would Fox spring to build an entire hotel from the ground up? That would cost millions of dollars. More likely, the designer worked with an existing resort to made it look more photogenic and be more accessible to cameras.

CLUE #4: The Property was Moorish Style Physically, Paradise Hotel is an airy, white-washed structure with abundant Moorish or Arabesque architectural elements. Yet their kitschiness didn't look authentic. This certainly wasn't Morocco.

CLUE #5: It Had a Distinctive Swimming Pool An invisible-edge swimming pool created the illusion that one was swimming in the bay. Yes, but lots of places boast something similar. No help there.

CLUE #6: The Paradise Hotel Bulletin Board Aha! A Paradise Hotel message board provided the answer:

"Paradise Hotel is located in Acapulco, Mexico. The hotel was initially a house by the name of Casa Arabesque, owned by the Baron DiPortanova of Italy. It was both a home and a getaway house for the rich and famous; those who knew the Baron. After the Baron had passed away, the house became a "hotel." The beach area was often used as a place where visitors got married. It was then referred to as Villa Arabesque....

This luxurious piece of paradise was also in the James Bond movie License to Kill (1989). Among many amenities and rooms, it has three pools, a terrace on the roof, a gym, a tennis court, a theater, a dance club, an outdoor lift that moves along the many levels of the hotel, and too much more to mention.

Bingo!

Romance in Acapulco

Despite its reputation for romance, Acapulco has fallen on hard times since the original Paradise Hotel was filmed there. Drug trafficking and gang violence earned it the epithet "murder capital of Mexico" and tourism has understandably declined. 

Perhaps its most legendary resort, popularized by the jetsetters of the 1950s and 1960s, Las Brisas remains open for business and is now a member of the Preferred Hotels group. Its private casitas are set on a hilltop (reachable in a pink Jeep provided by the hotel) and feature a private or semi-private swimming pool. From the terraces, there's a sweeping view of the timelessly beautiful Acapulco Bay. 

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