Best Places in the World to Get Your (James) Bond On
Superspy 007 is known for being a world traveler. Ever since 1963’s “Dr. No” introduced moviegoers to the secret agent (and his luxe digs in Jamaica), Bond fans have been following Bond’s exploits around the world. Here are six Bond destinations in which to get shaken and stirred:
1. Bunk in with Bond at GoldenEye
GoldenEye Resort and Spa is where Bond began back in 1942 when author Ian Fleming settled here in this sleepy part of Oracabessa Bay, Jamaica. Fleming designed the villa himself, and guests can still stay in the house where he wrote all 14 of the original Bond books. The residence was bought by Island records founder Chris Blackwell in the 1970s and has been expanded to include beach and lagoon villas, lagoon cottages and beach huts where you can sleep close to the waves (one of Johnny Depp’s favorite spots in the exclusive resort). Rent the actual Fleming Villa for 10 people, and you can live in the house where it all started with a private butler, chef and access to the resort’s spa and activities.
2. Bungee jump off the Contra Dam in Switzerland
Pierce Brosnan’s Bond debuted in 1995’s “GoldenEye.” The opening scenes of Bond diving off the edge of a dam was meant to be Archangel, Russia, but was really the Contra Dam in Ticino, Switzerland. Trekking Team AG does bungee jumps from the edge of the dive through getyourguide.com: You harness up and drop 220 meters down one of the sheerest dam faces in the world. On clear days, you can see Italy from the top.
3. Play a Round of Golf with Goldfinger at Stoke Park
Stoke Park in England’s Buckinghamshire countryside is a stately house hotel that had a starring role in “Goldfinger” as the club where Auric Goldfinger and Bond play golf (and villain Odd Job lops off a garden statue’s head with his bowler hat). Stay in the hotel and play golf yourself at the famed 27-hole Championship course. The Swing Studio is an interactive golf lesson where swings can be viewed immediately on the plasma screens enhanced by the latest V1 software. Guests can hit out onto the driving range or in severe conditions or low light into a net — an enhancement even Bond didn’t have.
4. Island Hop with Bond in Thailand
Phang Nga Bay in Thailand is known for its beautiful stilt-like limestone islands covered in vegetation. Khao Phing Kan island in particular played a starring role in “The Man with the Golden Gun” as the island where Bond encounters Scaramanga, played by Christopher Lee. The island no longer allows tourists to go on it, but local tour companies take small paddleboat trips closer to the island than regular boats are allowed. Tour boats sell out fast, so book in advance and plan a whole day — the excursion to Ao Phang Nga National Park, where the island lies, takes about eight hours.
5. Step inside the Reform Club
Bond engages in a no-holds-barred fencing match in “Die Another Day,” nearly destroying the club Blades in the process. (You probably remember the scene mostly for the cameo appearance by a leather-clad Madonna.) It was actually shot at a historic gentlemen’s club, the sumptuous Reform Club, a London hotspot founded in 1836. You don’t even need to know a member to gaze on the grand interiors -- the club offers free tour appointments to visitors on weekday mornings.
6. Drink a shaken vodka martini at Duke's
One of the best hotels in London and one that happens to have a strong Bond tie-in is Duke’s, a 5-star boutique hotel with a long history of putting up noble visitors to Buckingham Palace nearby. With 90 rooms and an Old World English feel, it’s tucked away in a quiet alleyway in the exclusive Mayfair district. Bond creator Ian Fleming, a frequent visitor to Duke’s (he was a member of the gentlemen’s Carlton Club nearby), is said to have invented his shaken, not stirred vodka martini in the hotel’s exclusive bar (dress code required, of course).
Michael Alpiner is a columnist at Forbes.com, co-editor of the website, ExtremeLuxuryGetaways.com, and a contributor to New York Lifestyles Magazine. Michael is also a writing professor at Touro College in New York.