Let’s face it, there aren’t going to be many chances to stay in the
birthplace of an international superspy.
But you’ll be able to do just that
on 10/10/10 when the GoldenEye resort opens for business. Located at Orcabessa
Bay on Jamaica’s North Coast, GoldenEye was the home of Ian Fleming, who
created James Bond and wrote all 14 of his Bond novels there.
Fleming first fell in love with
Jamaica after being stationed there in World War II. Coincidentally, Orcabessa
means ‘golden head’, and the name of Fleming’s war operations? GoldenEye. After
the war the nascent author built his dream house – his former villa still has
his original desk to this day.
For decades, it was the author’s
retreat and hideaway and saw writers, musicians, heads of state and next-door
neighbour Noel Coward dropping in for a tot of rum.
The current property comprises a
52-acre estate of 23 units: 11 new beach cottages, six lagoon suites, the
original villa and five villas built by current owner, Island Records legend
and music producer Chris Blackwell.
“GoldenEye’s development is a plan
that was a long time in the making. It is something that has been alive in my
head for many years, and now I am thrilled to see my visions actually taking
shape. Every detail that becomes a reality is a triumph for me. But, getting to this point was sometimes challenging
because of the meltdown of the financial world. There have been a lot of people
who have found it difficult to navigate the fast running waters of the digital
revolution,” Blackwell told the Observer.
The hotel provides simple,
contemporary Jamaican-style luxury whilst preserving the iconic romance of the
property’s past. Jamaican architect Ann Hodges and interior designer Barbara
Hulancki were called in to design and decorate and ensure all the new areas
blended in with the existing property plus refit and update Blackwell’s first
five villas. Lagoon suites stretch four feet over the lagoon, have a private
dock and a garden with outdoor lounge. The two-bedroom beach cottages open
directly onto Low Cay Beach and Fleming’s Villa – which can accommodate 10
people – features the original three-bedroom home, two poolside cottages, a
private swimming pool, media room, bar, sunken garden – and the private Fleming
Beach. Of course, given Blackwell’s background in music, it’s no surprise that
there’s high-class sound systems stuffed with Island Records tunes.
The property has two restaurants,
where chef Conroy Arnold uses his gold fingers to create local and
international dishes for hungry guests. (You’ll be pleased to note that neither
restaurant is called You Only Live Spice, The Man With The Golden Bun, Live And
Let Pie or For Your Pies Only. This place is far too classy for such
shenanigans. I’ve just thought of another one: Casino Royale With Cheese.)
After all that scoffing, Jamaican
Olympian tri-athlete Iona Wynter will help you get the beach body back through
fitness exercises both in and out of the water. There’s also fun with jet skis,
loads of fishing, moon yoga, natural therapies, Jamaican dance, coral
restoration and stargazing.
“Ian Fleming was inspired by the
outdoors and the natural beauty of Jamaica and GoldenEye. He often accredited
his creative juices for writing the James Bond novels on his surroundings, and
he designed his home so that the outdoors were married with the indoors,” said
“Even though we are expanding
GoldenEye, every effort has been made to keep the feeling of the estate very
much like it was in Fleming’s days. Much of the natural landscape has been
preserved and all buildings are designed to bring the indoors and outdoors
intimately together. I believe Fleming would appreciate this, and would be
pleased with the approach we have taken and our ability to sustain what he
helped to create.”
The spy who loved trees
One of the great traditions of the
property is planting a tree in the grounds. The first person to do it was
Anthony Eden, prime minister of the United Kingdom, after a stay at GoldenEye
in the 1950s. Since then Michael Caine, Kate Moss, Quincy Jones, Johnny Depp
and Bill & Hilary Clinton have all followed suit. Guests can continue the
custom with a $1,000 donation to the Orcabessa Foundation, a charity supported
by GoldenEye which educates and encourages sustainable development in the local
There are plenty of things to do in
the vicinity, from walking through the exotic gardens and bird watching to
adventure trips including deep sea fishing, glass bottom boating, coconut
carving and horseback riding. Between all that lot – and more – a great holiday
is starting to emerge.
Chris Blackwell identifies three
elements of a great vacation as independence, discovery and authenticity.
“Independence is the ability to
experience something that is personalised and very much about the individual.
Not everyone has the same tastes and sensibilities, and two people with
different likes and dislikes should be able to visit the same place and enjoy
it equally and of their own design. Discovery means exploring new things while
on vacation when you are in different surroundings and moving at your own pace
can lead to beautiful self-discovery, and can open a person up to discovering
different sides of themselves. Authenticity means a great vacation should
incorporate foods, culture, and other experiences that are authentic to the
area being visited. You should leave with a new perspective on a different way
A stay at GoldenEye might just
inspire the writer in you, too.