17 April 2020
In an era where new movies are making increasingly greater use of computer-generated imagery, it’s sometimes easy to forget that places in some of our favourite films are real places open to the public.
This got us thinking: ‘Where are the must-see places for any movie buff?’ Here’s what we came up with…
Much of James Cameron’s 2009 record-breaking blockbuster Avatar is made up of digital effects and green screen, and the beauty of the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is one thing the Oscar-winning director couldn’t resist replicating.
The park’s incredible ‘floating’ mountains served as the inspiration for one important scene in Avatar that introduces Hallelujah Mountains on fictional planet Pandora. Since the film’s phenomenal success, the area has gone on to become known as the Avatar Mountains. It’s worth mentioning that Hawaii also plays a key part in Avatar’s lush landscapes.
Located to the northwest of Hunan Province, over 1,000km from both Shanghai and Beijing. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park became China’s first national park in 1982. Roughly 30 million tourists descend here every year to see its 3,000 vertical pillars, each standing hundreds of metres tall and covered in dense green foliage.
One for the musical lovers this time. Anyone who gave into the irresistible charm of Mamma Mia will want to spend the rest of their summers on the Greek island of Skopelos.
Although the film is set on the fictional island of Kalokairi, most of the outdoor scenes for this Abba-infused extravaganza were filmed on Skopelos, and the seaside hamlet of Damouchari in the Pelion area of Greece.
Reel off your own rendition of ‘Does Your Mother Know’ on the tranquil Kastani Beach or belt out the chorus to ‘The Winner Takes It All’ outside the Church of Agios Ioannis Sto Kastri.
The family-run Skopelos Village Hotel provides the perfect stay for those searching for tranquillity and relaxation, with spacious suites inspired by the sea, an excellent wellness studio and an inviting pool overlooking the pretty town and the Aegean Sea where you can while away the days.
Sat right beside the water is the Agioli restaurant, offering unforgettable idyllic moments and surprising Skopelitian delicacies made with fresh, quality ingredients and a great passion.
If lazing the day away somehow gets old, there’s the option to get involved in cooking lessons that divulge Greek culinary secrets, as well as sessions covering drawing and pottery, while more active types can take up diving, hiking, horse riding, kayaking, cycling or sailing.
“Skopelos is about more than Mamma Mia - there’s culture, architecture, ancient history and pride. The island is still cashing in on its links with the film and there are many tours that visit the movie’s shooting locations; it’s easy to see why as there are some beautiful areas. I’d recommend the Skopelos Village Hotel to couples, families with teenagers and families with infants as you can walk freely and safely into Skopelos.”
Sally, Travel Counsellor
Opinion on Angelina Jolie’s outing as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in 2001 might not be entirely positive, but the magnificence of the Cambodian temples that feature in the movies is one thing that can’t be disputed.
This UNESCO-listed World Heritage temple complex, which includes Angkor Thom, Angkor Wat temple and Ta Prohm, is visited by several of the film’s characters during a trip to Cambodia to recover the first piece of the Triangle of Light (don’t worry, that means nothing to us either).
Even without the movie, Angkor Wat’s majestic temples are a definite must-see for anyone visiting Cambodia.
Located close to the charming French-influenced town of Siem Reap in the north-west of the country, Angkor Wat is the most famous temple complex in the world and forms parts of one of Asia's most important archaeological sites.
These magnificent temples set deep within the forest will take your breath away. During your time in this incredible place, take a tuk-tuk ride to the northern end of Angkor to see the Preah Khan Temple, the superb statue of Balaha and the historic Elephant Terrace.
“Even though I'd seen countless images of the temple, crossing Angkor Wat's moat, the size and scale is overwhelming and a testament to the architectural audacity of the ancient Khemers.”
Clare, Travel Counsellor
It’s the same hotel that Macaulay Culkin stays in during Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Culkin’s character Kevin (!) stayed in Room 411, one of the Plaza's Central Park Suites, but the massive suite that his family stayed in at the end of the movie can't actually be found at the Plaza.
The first Home Alone sequel isn’t the only movie to shoot here. The Plaza Hotel also appeared in North By Northwest, 2013’s The Great Gatsby, 2018’s The Post, Crocodile Dundee, Almost Famous, Network, Annie Hall, and Scent of a Woman.
To obtain a shooting permit at the Plaza, it wasn’t uncommon for the owner – one Donald Trump – to demand a cameo in a scene in the movie. This scene was almost always left on the cutting room floor but the to-be-US president did appear in Home Alone 2, Two Weeks Notice, and Zoolander.
Now under new ownership and managed by Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, this iconic 20-floor hotel on Central Park South comprises 282 distinctive guestrooms including 102 luxurious suites with 24-hour butler service.
It also offers vast culinary offerings, world-class shops, health and wellness facilities, fitness centre, Warren-Tricomi Salon, and the opulent Grand Ballroom continues to host the world’s most memorable events.
It’s the home of Frodo and his pals in The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies. Located in the heart of New Zealand’s Waikato region and a two-hour drive from Auckland is the Hobbiton Movie Set tour.
This means you can step into the lush pastures of the Shire during a fully guided tour around the 12-acre set. You’ll encounter Hobbit Holes, the Mill and into the famous Green Dragon Inn, where you will be presented with a complimentary exclusive Hobbit Southfarthing beverage to conclude your own Middle-earth adventure.
New Zealand is rife with natural beauty and a trip here means you’ll appreciate why acclaimed director Sir Peter Jackson fell in love with the land’s unequivocal beauty and the mighty Kaimai Ranges that tower in the distance. Pre-booking your tour is essential because tours can sell-out well in advance.
Anyone with the faintest knowledge of the world’s most-loved fictional secret agent will be able to guess this resort’s link to the silver screen. Ironically though, no 007 movies have been shot at GoldenEye; not even the Pierce Brosnan-led GoldenEye from 1995!
Rather, a break to this luxury resort is essential for any James Bond buff because it’s here where author Ian Fleming penned many of the 007 novels.
It’s also worth mentioning that many of the Bond movies feature scenes shot in Jamaica to pay homage to the author including Dunn’s River Falls where James Bond meets Honey Ryder in 1962’s ‘Dr No’ and the Green Grotto Caves provided the stage for Doctor Kananga's underground base in 1973’s Live and Let Die. Both locations sit 30 minutes to an hour’s drive away from the GoldenEye resort, respectively.
Tucked inside a lush garden behind tall trees and tropical bush is GoldenEye’s Fleming Villa.
Offering peerless levels of seclusion, privacy and luxury, this flagship villa has its own private beach, private pool, self-contained gardens and a dedicated resident butler, cook and housekeeper, who will arrange anything you’d like to do during your stay.
With enough space to sleep up to 10 adults, each of the Fleming Villa’s three bedrooms boasts its own large, tropical garden bathe area with claw foot tub and a garden shower.
Guests at the Fleming Villa have access to a vast range of activities, restaurants and spa treatments across the wider GoldenEye resort, including kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, sailing, snorkelling or coming face-to-face with more than 700 species of fish in a glass-bottom boat.
The rest of the time can be spent refuelling at the treehouse-style Gazebo lounge and restaurant, which overlooks the Low Cay Beach, or at the FieldSpa on the edge of the GoldenEye Lagoon for a Swedish aroma massage or a revitalising treatment.
Sticking with Bond, The Ocean Club, a Four Seasons Resort, Bahamas, featured heavily in Casino Royale (2006). It’s Daniel Craig’s debut outing with as 007 and the third screen adaptation of Ian Fleming's 1953 novel of the same name.
This dream-like Caribbean resort featured prominently in several key scenes in Casino Royale, including that beach scene you’re probably thinking about...
The resort first appears when Bond rolls up in a Ford Mondeo. The Ocean Club’s lobby also features while the library serves as the shooting location for a short poker game when 007 wins an Aston Martin DB5. You can actually stay in Bond’s sea-view villa too.
The 35-acre Ocean Club, a Four Seasons Resort is a getaway paradise fit for the stars. You can count on exceptional service here, with four members of staff for every guest, a personalised round-the-clock butler and a restaurant menu devised by a Michelin-starred chef.
It's a spectacular secluded Caribbean hideaway with gorgeous terraced gardens and elegant colonial architecture set along 8km of natural white-sand on Cabbage Beach – often cited as one of the best beaches in the world.
Perfect your swing on an 18-hole championship golf course designed by 16-time PGA Tour title-winner and noted course architect Tom Weiskopf. Unwind in one of eight Balinese-style treatment villas, get a sweat on in the state-of-the-art fitness centre, and indulge in a sophisticated cocktail in the Martini Bar and Lounge.
To discuss your movie-inspired trip and contact your Travel Counsellor today to receive exclusive benefits such as financial protection and a 24-hour duty office ready to assist you before, during and even after your trip.