Movie Set Hotel: The Godfather II
In most circles, The Godfather Part II is considered the shining jewel in the Godfather trilogy. The film's director, Francis Ford Coppola, no stranger to exotic locations (like using the Phillippines as a stand-in for Vietnam for Apocalypse Now), had the foresight to use the Dominican Republic as a suitable replacement for Cuba during the filming of the movie, which released in 1974, well before the onslaught of all-inclusives and hotel strips.
So why Cuba? Wikipedia says:
Michael (Corleone) and (Hyman) Roth traveled to Cuba under Fulgencio Batista in order to forge a partnership with the Cuban government, allowing them to be free to conduct their operations in Cuba without interference from the authorities, in return for generous payments to Batista.
These nefarious underworld schemes take place at The Occidental El Embajador Hotel situated in Santo Domingo, the capital city of the Dominican Republic, and an ideal location to stand in for the grandeur and splendor of Cuba in the 1950s.
While the hotel bills itself as "the most emblematic hotel in Santo Domingo," reviews on Expedia show opinions split firmly down the middle, from raves to complaints of mildew and a new one, even for us jaded hotel chatterers: A "terrible amount of birds that were loud outside of the hotel on the car park side throughout the night and morning."
Movie lovers will appreciate the irony of the situation. In the film, Roth attempts to control the mob's gambling circuit in pre-revolutionary Cuba, but the whole gang has to flee once Fidel Castro and his rebels overtake the government. Fast-forward to today: While you can't (legally) go to Cuba, you can (legally) gamble your heart away in The El Embajador Hotel. The hotel boasts a casino, open daily from 4pm to 6am. It's 7,500 square feet of slots and tables, so you can place your bets and give the waiter an offer he can't refuse: A banana daiquiri.