On Sunday night in the United States, movie industry A-listers will once again stroll down the red carpet in anticipation of the most glamorous awards event of them all: the Oscars.
Most movies that make a lasting impression are remembered for an intriguing and fascinating storyline or powerful performances by its actors. In other cases, viewers may be swept away by breathtaking cinematography or scenery.
Members of the Leading Hotels of the World (LHW), a hospitality consortium representing more than 430 hotels and resorts worldwide, have often been featured in films.
To honor the long-lasting collaboration between the hospitality and film industries, LHW has launched a new project, Leading Hotels in the Movies.
“The Leading Hotels of the World commemorates its 85th anniversary [this year] along with Hollywood’s Oscars,” said Philip Ho, LHW’s vice president for the Asia Pacific.
“To celebrate this exciting milestone, we have selected 85 Leading Hotels featured in iconic films over the past decades around the globe.”
A recent survey by TCI Research claimed that last year, approximately 40 million international tourists chose their travel destination primarily because they remembered striking scenes from a film that had been shot in the country.
Based on the idea that movies and travel are closely connected to one another, as they both have the ability to transport people to another time and place, LHW has created a new section for its website, listing its different hotels that over the years have become an important backdrop in films.
Each hotel on the list is spiced up with behind-the-scenes stories and anecdotes.
“Travel and movies [both have] the power to move us,” Ho said. “At their most magical, movies create connections and memories, much like our favorite journeys.”
The website can be browsed by decade and features black-and-white classics such as Billy Wilder’s “Love in the Afternoon” (1957) starring Audrey Hepburn, as well as more recent films like the romantic comedy “Notting Hill” (1999), Daniel Craig’s first James Bond movie “Casino Royale” (2006) and Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (2011).
The 1992 film “Scent of a Woman” starring Al Pacino, which featured some scenes at The Pierre in New York, is, according to Ho, among the movies that have significantly raised tourist numbers.
“The famous tango scene from the film, which was shot in the hotel’s Cotillion ballroom, has gained notoriety and has led guests and travelers to visit the ballroom,” he said. “Since the film was shot, some of the colors of the Cotillion Room have changed but the atmosphere and the setting still remains and is highly sought-after as an event or wedding venue.”
Another hotel that has proven a magnet for visitors after appearing on screen is the Hotel Casa Fuster, prominently featured in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (2008).
“Ever since the launch of the movie, which featured Woody Allen playing at the hotel’s jazz club, the club is well-recognized worldwide,” Ho explained.
“The hotel has seen a huge interest from guests requesting to book the suite in which Allen was featured as staying in, the Fuster Suite.”
In addition, he said, both tourists and locals regularly visit Cafe Vienes, where the hotel organizes jazz concerts every Thursday night in honor of the film.
“[They] take place in the same area in which Allen used to practice in the film, and feature the piano that the hotel purchased during the time of shoot,” Ho said.
Over the course of 85 years, there have of course also been a fair share of anecdotes and quirky stories that happened on set at the hotels.
One such memorable story dates back to the early 1950s, when the movie “The Quiet Man” was shot.
“ The Quiet Man’ actually brought electricity and phone service to Ashford Castle and the village of Cong,” Ho said, referring to the hotel located in the Irish village that served as the backdrop to the movie.
“Director John Ford, who had Irish roots, enlisted the help of local Lord Killian to find the outdoor locations used in the filming, which took place over six weeks in 1951, in various spots across western Ireland,” Ho said.
“As Ashford Castle was a favorite of the lord’s, many parts of the property were used in the film. The main stone bridge leading to the hotel can be spotted at the opening of the movie, and several scenes, including the famous climactic fight sequence, were shot on the lush castle grounds, much of which remains unchanged after over 60 years.”
Although none of the interiors of Ashford Castle were used, the cast and most of the 80-plus crew stayed at the hotel while filming, with the stars of the film John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara occupying the rooms 500 and 408, respectively. Almost 200 local residents were enlisted as extras for the movie.
“At the time, there were plans in the pipeline for rural areas to get electricity, but the wires had not yet reached Cong, and locals were still using candlelight and oil-burners,” Ho said. “Given the need for power to make his film, Ford changed Cong forever by spearheading efforts to get the town quickly outfitted for both electricity and telephone wires.”
The village of Cong holds an annual Quiet Man festival and has also built a museum where visitors can have an “on set” experience. But it’s not only the villagers and the audience who still hold the movie in high esteem — it seems that the cast also regards the making of “The Quiet Man” as an unforgettable time.
“In 2011, O’Hara returned to Cong for a celebration in honor of the film’s 60th anniversary,” Ho said.
She attended special screenings of the movie and a parade that featured surviving extras wearing period costumes. More than that, O’Hara also stayed at the same hotel as six decades earlier — and she checked into room 408, bringing the “Quiet Man” experience full circle.
LHW’s new website features dozens of stories just like this one. Not only does it make for an interesting read, it can also inspire one’s next travel destination.
The bond between cinema and travel will just be as strong in the future, and many more venues of LHW have already been booked for upcoming film shoots, with a couple of movies scheduled for release later this year.
Ho named, among others, the Portuguese comedy drama “The Right Juice,” filmed at the Vila Vita Parc Resort & Spa, as a film to watch out for, as well as the Argentinean production “No Somos Animales,” written by and starring John Cusack, which took the cast and crew to the Faena Hotel in Buenos Aires.
LHW, however, has done more than provide a backdrop to films. For the first ever, it has become a partner with the filmmakers behind the Italian major motion picture “Viaggio Sola,” which can roughly be translated as “I Travel Alone,” and will premiere in Rome next month.
The film, shot around the world and including seven LHW hotels, follows the story of Irene (portrayed by renowned Italian actress Margherita Buy), who works as an LHW inspector and juggles her work life of glamour and luxury with the demands of daily routines.
Movies and hotels, or traveling at large, it seems, is a match made in heaven.
“There is a sense of excitement and anticipation that film and travel share, whether we are touching down in a destination for the first time or watching the screen flicker to life in a darkened theater, they both provide the possibility of a discovery,” Ho said.