In 1962’s “Dr. No,” Sean Connery sits brooding on a desolate beach, perhaps steeling himself for a solo attack on a hidden underground lair, when very young and healthy Ursula Andress emerges from the surf in a white bikini. Honey Rider asks: “Are you looking for shells?”
James Bond replies “No, I’m just looking.” Lo, a classic movie moment is born.
It’s quite possible that Ian Fleming based that scene on personal experience. Being an eminently sensible Englishman, Fleming spent his winters in Jamaica writing spy novels. He penned all 17 of his Bond books in Goldeneye, a modest three bedroom home on a seaside bluff in Oracabessa, on the north side of the island.
The property is now owned by Chris Blackwell, the man who brought us Bob Marley and U2, and rents for $3,800 a night in high season. So it’s possible to sleep where Fleming once slept (as well as a string of A-listers including Harrison Ford, Johnny Depp, and Sting), and stroll his private beach. The ex-WWII spy once wrote, “Would these books have ever been written if I had not been living in the gorgeous vacuum of a Jamaica holiday? I doubt it.”
Given that the world is not enough, someone who wants to travel like they’re licensed to kill still has plenty of options: film locations, guided adventures, and even weekend hotel packages. The arrival of a new James Bond film kicks off a flurry off new travel promotions, in addition to the standard car and watch pitches.
Take James Bond Island, located just off the coast of Phuket, Thailand. Thanks to the power of cinema, a tiny atoll used in a few scenes in a 1974’s “The Man With The Golden Gun” continues to pull the crowds. Rene Ekeheien, a yoga instructor who lives on nearby Koh Samui, recently stopped by: “I really like the location, but it’s so touristy you can’t really picture Sean Connery hunting down Dr. No.”
The Bond in question is in fact Roger Moore, and his nemesis is Christopher Lee (as Francisco Scaramanga), but Ekeheien’s point is well taken. James Bond Island is probably more of a pleasant diversion than a final destination.
The Plaza on the River Hotel in London, on the other hand, is offering a weekend package that would bring tears to the eyes of any 007 aficionado: vodka martinis, a custom tuxedo fitting, a chauffeured outing to an exclusive casino, and the keys to an Aston Martin. By all accounts the promotion, which runs through December, has been a hit.
Count Matt Day, a media attorney in London, as a satisfied customer: “The service was impeccable and we were treated like royalty. If Bond lives like this, then I’m applying for a job at MI6.” Mr. Day noted that the only downside of the weekend was losing too much money at the casino.
You don’t need to make any drastic career changes, however, to engage in some semi-perilous spycraft. In Ticino, Switzerland, you can recreate Pierce Brosnan’s bungee jump in the opening scene of “GoldenEye.” And we found a spy school in Tucson, Arizona that will teach you “evasive driving skills,” as well as how to tackle a hostage situation (paintball guns are involved).
And after a long day of battling nefarious geniuses intent on destroying the planet, a secret agent deserves some rest and relaxation. Just outside of London you can tee off on the same course where Bond played a round with “Goldfinger.” And in the Bahamas, you can lounge by the pool where our hero enjoyed the local scenery in “Thunderball.”
Original Post: Forbes Traveler