Where is Paradise Hotel?

The location is the star of this show.

acapulco waterfront
David Butow/Getty Images.

The reality series Paradise Hotel that ran on Fox-TV from 2003-2008 had viewers wondering where, when, and how they might check in. While the suspense of the "who pairs up and who gets kicked off" format is less than riveting, the gorgeous location of Paradise Hotel is a mystery worth solving.

Although the setting 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 originally aired the program, includes 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? I didn't think so; 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: Is Paradise Hotel a Set?

The question of whether Paradise Hotel is a real or made-for-TV location was raised by one of the show credits: "Paradise Hotel designed by Jana Jaffee." Okay...but I didn't see Fox springing 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 is Moorish Style

Physically, Paradise Hotel is an airy, white-washed structure with abundant Moorish or Arabesque architectural elements. Yet their kitschiness told me they weren't authentic. This certainly wasn't Morocco.

CLUE #5: It Has a Distinctive Swimming Pool

An invisible-edge swimming pool creates the illusion that one is swimming in the bay. Yes, but lots of places boast something similar. No help there.

CLUE #6: The Paradise Hotel Bulletin Board

Aha! Just when I was ready to give up, I came across this post on the Paradise Hotel message board:

"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.


Real Romance in Acapulco

If you're planning a visit to Acapulco, there are many romantic spots to consider in addition to Paradise Hotel. One of the best-known is Las Brisas, which has welcomed couples for generations. Its private casitas are set on a hilltop (you reach them in a pink Jeep provided by the hotel) and they feature a private or semi-private swimming pool.

From the terrace, there's a sweeping view of Acapulco Bay. And as you look down on Paradise Hotel, you have the satisfaction of knowing you're really in love -- not just pretending in order to get 15 minutes of fame on TV.