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Thursday November 15th 2018

Spy Kids | 2001

Spy Kids filming location: Omni Downtown Hotel, Austin
Spy Kids location: the ‘Hotel Belen’, where Gregorio and Ingrid first meet: Omni Downtown Hotel, Austin | Photograph: Wikimedia / LoneStarMike

Robert Rodriguez’ inventive romp was filmed almost entirely in the Texas state capital, Austin, apart from a glimpse of Chile and a little of the director’s home town, San Antonio.

You probably won’t get the chance to visit the breathtaking location for the wedding of agents Gregario Cortez (Antonio Banderas) and Ingrid (Carla Gugino) in ‘South America’, unless you’re extremely well-connected in Austin. It’s Villa del Sol, the private home of Beau Theriot, owner of the nearby Oasis restaurant, 300 feet above Lake Travis, (formed when the Colorado River was blocked by Mansfield Dam in the late Thirties), some 12 miles west of the capital.

Spy Kids filming location: Trois Estate, Austin
Spy Kids location: the picturesque home of the Cortez family: Trois Estate, Austin | Photograph: Trois Estate

Sadly, you’ve missed the opportunity to stay at the seductively picturesque, stone-walled home of the Cortez family. Amazingly, the location is real; it’s the Trois Estate, 3612 Pearce Road, Austin, west of town near Emma Long Metropolitan Park. The stone castle dates back to, erm, 1989, but recently closed down and has been put up for sale (don't confuse this with a different property called the Trois Estate in Fredericksburg).

In Austin itself, hangars at the old Robert Mueller Municipal Airport, Austin, were turned into soundstages. I hardly need to tell you that, yes, it’s gone and the site is being redeveloped as an urban village.

Still there, thankfully, is the Omni Austin, 700 San Jacinto Boulevard at 8th Street, which becomes the ‘Hotel Belen’ with its chrome and glass elevators where Gregorio and Ingrid first meet.

‘Machete’s Spy Store’ (don’t you think this guy deserves his own spin-off movie?) is 219 West 4th Street at Lavaca Street (which was a bar called 219 West, now confusingly relocated to 612 West 6th Street while still keeping the old name).

The aerial view of ‘San Diablo’ is of Santiago de Chile, the Chilean capital, but as the camera zooms in, the empty grass square mysteriously becomes the busy Travis Park, 301 East Travis, San Antonio, a couple of blocks northwest of the Alamo, which is where the kids fight with their robot doubles.

Travis Park was once part of the farmlands of the Alamo (properly, the Mission San Antonio de Valero), and it’s named for Colonel William Barrett Travis, commander of the Texan troops at the Alamo.