Gretchen Kelly
Travel Writer | Globetrotter

Under Reinvention, Please Come Back in A Few Weeks


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Gretchen Kelly has traveled to over 60 countries in the past five years both as a freelance writer and in the capacity as US News Editor for International Business Traveler magazine. Working for the New York Post, Executive Travel, Women’s Health and the Travel Channel, among others, she has written about global leisure travel trends and destinations from locales as far flung as Armenia, the Transylvanian mountains of Romania and the North Pole.

Set Jetting

AND THE OSCAR FOR BEST LOCATION OF THE YEAR GOES TO THESE FOUR PICTURESQUE FILMS. - NY POST February 20, 2007 -- FOUR years ago when we first awarded prizes for our favorite film locations in these pages, the idea of trips inspired by films wasn't exactly new. But now, things have gotten out of hand- not only is the concept trendy, with every release bringing entreaties from various tourist boards enticing travelers to come see where the movie was made, there's even a term for this type of trip: set-jetting. Nothing keeps us in our seats like a movie where the location plays a central role. And while this year wasn't the best, there were some definite highlights. Here, the five Oscar-nominated films we liked most. 1) THE QUEEN To set "The Queen" in its context of royal residencies, perfect parklands and grandiose reception rooms, production designer Alan Macdonald used three houses in Scotland, but the cast and crew also found themselves a temporary royal home at Brocket Hall, a few miles from London. Set-jetters can't stay at Brockett Hall itself, but they can stay at the Brockett stables (Melbourne Lodge), combined with a dinner at the Hall's fine dining venue, the Auberge du Lac (www.aubergedulac.co.uk). For real Queen sightings, there's always the real Buckingham Palace (www.royalcollection.org.uk). 2) PAN'S LABYRINTH To bring this magical fantasy set in post-Franco Spain to life, director Guillermo del Toro headed directly for the verdant Aguas Vertientes/La Garganta region, soon to be established as a Natural Park. These pristine hills near the city of Segovia can be hiked on a journey that includes stays at local rural bed and breakfasts and a visit to the city of Segovia itself, a UNESCO-protected treasure, filled with Romanesque churches, winding medieval streets and the smell of suckling pig, the town's traditional dish. Find more info on the Segovia region at segoviaturismo.es. 3) LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE This quirky road picture lead a stellar cast on a wild ride through the Southwest, starting from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and ending with a bang in the Los Angeles-area town of Redondo Beach. What's more fun than a road trip in an old VW bus through the desert? In Cali, the exteriors on the beach for the beauty pageant were actually shot in the town of Ventura, north of L.A., mostly around the Crowne Plaza Hotel (www.cpventura.com). Book their whale watching package at $199/pp for a one-night stay half-day boat trip. 4) MARIE ANTOINETTE Sofia Coppola got lucky. She was given permission to shoot in the parks and palaces of Versailles, located just outside Paris. How? She had to work outside of regular opening hours. Although after hours visits are not allowed to just anyone, you can get exclusive solo access through Paris Prive (www.parisprive.com). They'll set up private visits to Versailles and to the ateliers of the fashion designers who worked on the film, including that of Bruno Legeron (Mr. Flowers and Feathers) who created the frippery that Kirsten Dunst sports as the doomed queen. 5) BABEL Many of the most moving scenes in "Babel" were filmed in an atmospheric setting - the Draa Valley, in Morocco's Taguenzalt region, for example. Michael Diamond of Heritage Tours, a New York-based Morocco tour specialist, suggests using Ouarzazate as a base and heading south to Zabora, continuing to M'Hamid, the last stop on the old caravan route before crossing the Sahara to Timbuktu. He also recommends staying in a restored kasbah in the oasis of Skoura, about 30 minutes from Ouarzazate, and hiking around (www.htprivatetravel.com).

Recent Work

Looking for an adventure-packed guy getaway escape?
Check out these six active volcano locales for a hot time with molten lava.

volcano

ON THE VOLCANO'S EDGE

Looking for an adventure-packed guy getaway escape? Check out these six active volcano locales for a hot time with molten lava.
By GRETCHEN KELLY
You’re winded from the climb and breathing hard, which isn’t easy because the air smells like hell itself—that trademark scent of sulfur. You reach the crest of the hill and crane your neck to see through the mist. At first you see just flashes of light through the clouds. Then you get closer. A deep rumble shakes the ground below your feet. Mother Nature’s stomach is growling. Then, POW! A jet stream of rocks and fire spew upward like the tongue of a medieval dragon. The crater of Volcán Arenal is “coughing” up rocks and sputtering lava—the famous “strombolian” eruption style named for the volcano off the coast of Italy. There’s something about a volcano vacation that gets the testosterone going. It seems to be custom built for “man-cations,” trips that guys can take together, with their families or solo. The great thing about volcanoes is their sheer diversity. You can find eruptions that are safe enough to bring the family (Hawaii) or extremely challenging for solo hikes (Stromboli) or great buddy-building options (Arenal in Costa Rica with a side trip to a hot spring spa). David Swanson is a dedicated volcano vacationer. The National Geographic Traveler contributing editor has traveled to 50 volcanoes in 20 different countries to seek out the grandeur, drama and white-knuckle excitement that you get in what he calls “Mother Nature’s kitchen.”



Consulting

SET-JETTING FOR CORPORATE GROUPS, MEETING PLANNERS AND CVBS Set-Jetting (movie-inspired experiences) are increasingly being used by corporate meeting planners, incentive groups and convention and visitor’s boards to heighten the excitement factor of their product. Imagine a James Bond speed boat tour around London, followed by a private Aston Martin drive to Ian Fleming’s favorite bar for original Bond martinis followed by a game of high-stakes cards in one of the world’s most exclusive private casinos. Or an Indiana Jones bi-plane flight to a paradisiacal rainforest and a heart-poundingly thrilling rope bridge walk (with or without snakes). Gretchen Kelly is a Set-Jetting insider. She was one of the first reporters in the US to use the term and her stories for the New York Post were among the first to explore the magical connections between film and travel. Her contacts include film designers from the new Indiana Jones film, the Pirates of the Caribbean series and other recent blockbusters. Gretchen Kelly is available as an expert consultant on Set-Jetting for corporations, incentive and meeting planners as well as CVBs and tourism boards.


GET IN TOUCH

Gretchen Kelly
gktravel@aol.com
P: (646) 399-3332