When you think of Francis Ford Coppola, you're more likely to think of palm trees, helicopters and napalm than swimming pools and pina coladas. Still, it seems more and more celebrities are branching out into the hotel business (Clint Eastwood's ranch in Carmel, Bono and The Edge's hotel in Dublin). For the veteran director, building hotels was inspired by Apocalypse Now, the classic tortured war movie he shot in the tropical rainforests of the Philippines. He was, he says, looking for somewhere to live with 'that feel, that beauty'. Then it expanded.
Today he owns three resorts in central America and stays at them regularly with family and friends. He discovered the first in 1981 when he and his wife Eleanor were hiking through the remote mountain jungles of Western Belize. They bought it as family retreat, but 12 years later decided to convert it for use by the general public (albeit a public with reasonable disposable income). Blancaneaux Lodge (above) is today one of the countries leading eco-resorts, rising on stilts through the foliage. Villa 7 is Coppola's private villa but you can rent it (it even features a painting by his daughter/director Sofia).
Three years ago Coppola added Turtle Inn (above) on Belize's coast, which he calls a 'personal joy'. And just recently, the director added La Lancha, which overlooks lake Peten Itza in Guatemala, near the spectacular overgrown Mayan ruins at Tikal (below). Coppola may not be making movies as often as he used to but, if his hotels are anything to go by, he certainly hasn't lost his creative flair. RM Images © Blancaneaux Resorts