The Movie: Viaggio Sola, Italy
The Location: Leading Hotels of the World, Worldwide
Hotels and movie-makers have an ongoing love affair. With more hoteliers than ever seeing the marketing benefits of opening their doors to films. Some like W hotels have even encouraged guest to make their own films. Despite the arch lights and cables in the lobby they balance the inconvenience against the inspiration which turns film fans into guests.
For its 85th anniversary leading Hotels of the World celebrated the movie associations of its member hotels. Now LHW has gone one step further working directly with Italian film-makers to help bring to the big screen a story about the secret life of a hotel inspector. And publicising seven of its luxury hotels along the way.
The film is written and directed by noted Italian filmmaker Maria Sola Tognazzi and Stars noted Italian actors Margherita Buy and Stefano Accorsi. The heroine Irene, a Rome-based quality inspector for The Leading Hotels of the World, is responsible for evaluating luxury properties all over the globe. The plot contrasts her glamorous job with her somewhat less glamorous homelife (domesticity ,ex-boyfriend troubles, fall outs with her BFF - you get the picture).
And it's all set against a backdrop of some of the most beautiful hotels in the world. The hotels, says director Tognazzi, all 'appear as themselves' and have 'starring roles' .
Here's a LOWDOWN ON THE STARS - AND A LITTLE BEHIND THE SCENES GOSSIP.
The Hôtel de Crillon, Paris, France
The glamorous Hôtel de Crillon is currently closed for a complete renovation, and is slated to re-open in 2014. So the areas featured in 'Viaggio Sola' will soon look different to how they are on the screen - just like a few other face-lifted stars we know. However the elegance is timeless. Overlooking the Place de la Concorde, Hôtel de Crillon seduces with its exceptional location and its refinement. This 18th-century grand dame is located in the heart of Paris, just a stiletto stagger from the Champs-Élysées, the Louvre Museum and the fashionable rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.
Behind the scenes... For the opening scenes of their movie, the filmmakers needed an iconic luxury hotel with an impressive facade and a grand driveway; so, no contest really. Filming took place over two days in mid-2012, shortly before the hotel closed for renovations. Featured locations included the lobby, reception, a guest room, and the driveway and entrance. Because of steady rain in Paris during the filming, the team had to re-adjust their shots and add a few details, like having the doormen open umbrellas for Irene as she arrives at the hotel. Tognazzi also found it an emotional experience to film at the Crillon, as she has fond memories of visiting the hotel with her late father, the respected Italian actor/director, Ugo Tognazzi. In fact, many of the Crillon staff remembered her father.
The PuLi Hotel & Spa, Shanghai, China
Opened in 2009, The PuLi Hotel & Spa, in the very heart of JingAn District is one of The Luxury Travel Bible's favourite hotels in China. We love its innovative design and smooth service. Walking into the secluded entrance is like walking into a secret space, opening onto a grand lobby and the longest bar in town. Upstairs, you'll find serene suites and rooms and an Anantara spa with tea-inspired therapies.
Behind the scenes... Towards the end of the film, the main character is asked by her sister where her LHW inspector job is going to take her next. 'To Shanghai,' Irene replies. Over the closing credits of the movie, we see The PuLi Hotel & Spa in Shanghai through Irene's eyes, with shots through the entrance, arrival hall and lobby, and in a Grand King Room, where we also get a glimpse of the panoramic city skyline.
Hotel Adlon Kempinski, Berlin, Germany
This landmark luxury hotel is located on the Pariser Platz next to the Brandenburg Gate. Surrounded by the American, British, Russian and French embassies and in walking distance to the Reichstag and the Kanzleramt, the Adlon is the heartbeat of the political and social life in the German capital.
Behind the scenes... The May 2012 filming at the Adlon was a bit of a logistical challenge, as the hotel was 100 percent full at the time and had a high-ranking politician staying on-site - complete with attendant security. Shooting took place in locations like the lobby and concierge desk, lobby bar, the Adlon Day Spa and a changing room, the Lounge II (redecorated to serve as a manager's office), the Presidential Suite, and a Pariser-Platz Suite. Several staff members of the Adlon participated in the shoot, including a butler, concierge, page and doorman.
Filming at Hotel Adlon Kempinski
After a long day of filming the director wanted to try one more shot involving the lobby elevators. As it was around the time when many guests were leaving for dinner, the lobby was quite busy, and the elevators could not be taken out of service. The crew decided to hold of one of the elevators one floor up, so that when the lead actress pushed the button in the lobby, this empty elevator would be sure to be the first one down so that they could get the shot. But when she pushed the call button, all the other elevators came to lobby - except the one they needed. A crew member, assuming the shoot was over had taken it to the top floor.
Gstaad Palace, Gstaad, Switzerland
The grand Gstaad Palace is a legendary luxury hotel. Set on a hill overlooking Gstaad, the hotel has breathtaking views of the majestic Swiss Alps. The Luxury Travel Bible especially likes the luxurious three-bedroom Penthouse Suite and the traditional Swiss dishes served at the hotel's five restaurants. The famous GreenGo nightclub has seen many an indecretion amongst the its equally famous guests. Those in the know check into Room 609, which was used for the shoot.
Behind the scenes... Due to weather and scheduling issues filming at the Gstaad Place was a two-step affair. The production team, minus lead actress Buy, first arrived in March 2012 to capture the property in wintertime, filming exterior shots of the hotel and views of the snow-topped scenery. Then, with Buy in tow, the crew returned in June to film the dialogue scenes. Palace staff and extended family were enlisted to appear in the scenes, including members of the Public Relations and Food & Beverage teams (playing a young couple staying at the hotel), the parents of the Event Manager (appearing as elderly guests), and a waiter and Front Office Manager (playing their real-life roles.) Though not everyone made it into the final cut.
Palais Namaskar, Marrakech, Morocco
Nestled between the Atlas Mountains and the Djebilet Hills this luxury resort is set on more than 12 acres of green, with tranquil lakes and a mountain panorama. As the hotel only recently opened, the decor, furnishings and atmosphere remain very much the same as what viewers will see on the big screen.
Behind the scenes... Filming took place in several parts of the hotel, including the gardens , a Pool Villa (number 4); and the terrace of the Le Namaskar restaurant, overlooking the pool (for an elegant evening scene), several Namaskar waiters can also be spotted in some shots. The main cast and crew also checked into the hotel for the duration of the shoot, using this as their base to explore Marrakech. Parisian actor Bruno Wolkowich so enjoyed his stay, he promised the hotel staff he would come back for a personal visit with his family and close friends--a group that includes a veritable who's who of French cinema.
Fonteverde Tuscan Resort & Spa, San Casciano dei Bagni, Italy
The ancient spa town of San Casciano dei Bagni is the location for Fonteverde Tuscan Resort & Spa, an aristocratic residence surrounded by a private park in a beautifully secluded area of Tuscany. A favourite with Italian celebrities. Fonteverde boasts the splendor of a 17th century de' Medici portico lovingly restored and updated with an avant-garde Spa center. Guests familiar with the hotel will have no trouble recognizing it on the big screen, as all the filming locations appear just as they are in real life - no touch-up required.
Behind the scenes... Director Tognazzi is a longtime fan of the Fonteverde resort, and has stayed there many times on personal trips; she is particularly fond of the spa and its signature Dipu massage, as well as the restaurant's tiramisu. So when it came time to choosing hotels for her LHW-themed movie, this Tuscan gem was one of her earliest picks. Filming took place over five days in May 2012. The director and actors stayed at the luxury resort during the shoot, in deluxe rooms with valley views; Accorsi also brought his two young children along .
Filming took place in the Val d"Orcia Suite (Room 129) one of the scenic outdoor pools and its deck, the restaurant terrace, and in the long, antique-lined corridor that connects the main hotel with the spa complex. For the pool area scenes, actress Buy had to spend much of the time in the water. Two hotel staff members - Karim and Andrea - were also recruited to be in the film, so look out for them in their Fonteverde uniforms. Once shooting was over for the day the actors and director could often be found enjoying the thermal pools .
Borgo Egnazia, Savelletri di Fasano, Italy
This new resort in the heart of Apulia, is nestled within the centuries-old olive groves overlooking the Adriatic Sea. A main complex is surrounded by private villas, each with its own swimming pool and garden, Next door is the18-hole San Domenico Golf Course. Get a taste for how an LHW inspector might live by checking into Room 101, the stunning Suite Egnazia, which is featured in the film. And be sure to ask for a snack of tarallini, a traditional twisted Italian cracker made with fennel and black pepper: they were lead actress Buy's favorite while she was on property
Behind the scenes... Filming took place in Spring 2012, with the main crew and key cast members - including Buy and the young actresses who play her nieces - staying at the hotel. Scenes were shot all over the property, from the reception, main hall and front office to the pool, Cala Masciola beach club, Due Camini restaurant and its kitchen, golf course, and the Suite Egnazia (though, as with most films, not all locations made it into the final cut). Director Tognazzi found the hotel beautiful as-is, so no changes or additions were made to the décor and some of the hotel staff even served as extras in the scenes.
Lisa Edwards 3/5/13