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WATG Destinations in the Movies

70 years ago the founder of WATG, Pete Wimberly started a small architectural firm in Honolulu, Hawaii and pioneered the world with his partners and name givers of the firm, Jerry Allison, Greg Tong, and Don Goo.  Nowadays, the firm is worldwide renowned for creating unique destinations not only for their design and sense of place but also for their bottom-line success.  Many of WATG’s projects have become landmarks. Now it turns out that they are becoming shining movie stars.

Just recently, I watched the movie “Blended” with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore distributed by Warner Bros Pictures in 2014. The rather shallow romantic adventurous comedy tells the story of two single parents that end up in a “blended family moon” in South Africa with their kids.

The déjà vu moment grabs my attention…

Quite bored by the first part of the story, I suddenly realize that the African journey takes place in one of the Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo (WATG) designed hotel destinations. The déjà vu moment grabs my attention; I go to our WATG website to verify the authenticity and google the filming location ending up with the saga behind the lost city and obtain the answer what inspired the creation of the place:

They toiled and built a magnificent city of grand proportions as a tribute to the King who had led them to their Utopia.

The Legend of the Lost City  – The Lost City is shrouded in mystery and legend. In an age long ago, a nomadic tribe ventured from their northern African home in search of the blessed land, which had appeared the King in a vision. They settled in a valley where the sun shone warm and bright; where fresh water quenched their thirst and the land yielded plant and animal for sustenance. Through many generations, the people prospered. They toiled and built a magnificent city of grand proportions as a tribute to the King who had led them to their Utopia. They fashioned monuments of the animals, which graced this blessed kingdom; and created things of great beauty that pleased their leader. One day the sky grew dark.  Distant rumblings caused the animals to flee into the sanctuary of the forest. There was an eerie stillness… and then the earth opened and consumed the beautiful city, its ponds and gardens. When at last the quake abated, all had been reduced to ruins.  Many centuries passed. Then, using the modern methods, skills and resources of experts from all over the world, the city was restored to honor this ancient legend.  The lost City had been found.

The WATG designed picturesque South African hotel was completed in December 1992 at a cost of R830 million (then US $280 million), and took just 28 months to build. During the busiest time of construction, almost 5000 people worked on the project. Since then, the Palace of the lost City has received various awards thanks to its uniqueness and timeless beauty of the world’s most elite and sought-after holiday destinations.

The Palace of the lost City is not the only WATG design that was used as a filming location.

The stunning and opulent seven star luxury hotel Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi with its 302 luxury rooms and 92 suites has become a famous filming location for many European TV shows such as the German luxurious cruise ship TV series called “Das Traumschiff.” Last year, Fast & Furious 7 cast and crew with stars like Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel were seen in the luxurious hotel location. The American action thriller is going to be released on April 3, 2015.

Scene from James Bond’s Casino Royale, “After the Sunset,” into The Blue were filmed in the Atlantis Paradise Island. The resort and casino on Paradise Island was designed by WATG architects and developed by tycoon Sol Kerzner in 1994.
Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai hosted the global blockbuster movie premiere for the “Happy New Year” Bollywood film including stars like Deepika Padukone and Shah Rukh Khan. The hotel destination was designed by WATG and became the number one destination in the region.

For an architect and designer it is quite an awarding feeling when a hospitality project emerges to a popular tourist attraction or obtains recognition as one of the top hotels in the world, but when your design appears in the movie theatres because the destination was chosen as a filming location – that tells its own story about the place.