Francis Ford Coppola Talks Travel
MOB SCENE | Francis Ford Coppola at his Inglenook winery in Napa Valley, Calif. Chad Keig
THE STORY OF what got Francis Ford Coppola into the hotel business is one of a simple plan that became complicated.
It started with the making of his Vietnam War epic, “Apocalypse Now,” released 35 years ago next week. Though shooting in the jungles of the Philippines pushed Mr. Coppola to his limits psychologically and financially, he nonetheless grew attached to the setting. “When you work or stay in a location for a long time, as I did, you fall in love with it,” said Mr. Coppola, now 75. “David Lean, when he made ‘Lawrence of Arabia,’ couldn’t bear to leave the desert. Well, I felt the same way about the jungle.”
He later considered buying a nearby island, but at the urging of his wife, Eleanor, found something closer to the U.S.—a remote, rundown lodge in Belize. “I just wanted to have a place to go off in the jungle and write,” he said.
That’s not what happened. As the Coppolas improved the property, they needed caretakers. Guests were inevitable. “If you say yes enough times,” he said, “you end up owning a hotel.” In 1993, his Blancaneaux Lodge opened to the public. Over the next 21 years came the Turtle Inn in Belize; La Lancha on Lake Petén Itzá in Guatemala; Jardín Escondido in Buenos Aires; and, in 2012, Palazzo Margherita in his ancestral village of Bernalda, in southern Italy.