THE BAHAMAS – Nassau, the fake embassy of “Nambutu” // Casino Royale (2006)
Running up and down the hills of the colonial part of Nassau just to find the “Casino Royale” Madagascar embassy was kind of a paper chase. Lucky those who find it: Hidden inside the fake embassy is a rum distillery.
Why Bond was here
The reboot of the James Bond movieverse with Casino Royale kicks in with a thrilling parkour pursuit at a construction site in Madagascar. 007 (Daniel Craig) hunts African explosive filou Molakka (played by the founder of free running Sébastien Foucan), before the latter finds shelter in the embassy of fictional country Nambutu. But that doesn’t bother Bond: He storms the embassy, takes Molakka hostage and wrecks havoc on his way out. When surrounded by Nambutian soldiers and the really pissed ambassador, Bond kills Molakka and escapes. M (Judi Dench) is not amused.
As there is no Nambutu, there also is no Madagascar – at least not as a movie location. The “Casino Royale” Madagascar embassy is fake. It was once the former Buena Vista Hotel & Restaurant in the western area of Bahamian capital Nassau. And it is now, after a big renovation, a rum distillery. The “embassy” is situated in Delancy Street just some five minutes up the hill from British Colonial Hotel in Downtown. You can walk up from notorious Bay Street either on West Street or on Augusta Street.
But to look out for the ramshackle building as it appears in the movie is not a good idea. (Check out the guys from Theme Party People for an old image) Casino Royal crew filmed at the site, when the former Buena Vista already finished its business and was in a dire state. That helped the look in the movie, but didn’t helped the place itself. Renovations started soon afterwards, and the then pale yellow shackle turned into a shiny red estate.
Good to know
That estate now is the home of a buccaneer boozer named John Watling’s Rum Distillery. Though the place changed its appearance, you might still recognize the big olive trees in the driveway and the main structure of the building. The distillery opens all day except holidays – so be careful not to visit during a Junkanoo – and offers a tour including sneaks and sips into their rum production. On the ground a little blue signpost also commemorates the Casino Royale filming: “In 2006, Daniel Craig […] jumped the Buena Vista wall during the opening scene and landed here.”
Close-by and worth a look is also the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas. The museum gives a good insight into Carribean contemporary art. And second, its beautiful pale yellow building has some true Nambutu looks – maybe the “Casino Royale” Madagascar embassy was even inspired by it.
On our trip to the Bahamas, this was our first spot to visit – and it really was a tricky hunt. If you have the rotten building from the movie in your head, you’ll just won’t notice that beautifully renovated estate. But nonetheless its renovation, the place preserved the architecture of the former British colony – that’s something nowadays hard to find on the tourist flooded island.
© 2015 Huntingbond (1,3), © 2006 United Artists Corporation and Danjaq, LLC. (2)