GoldenEye – Jamaica
Ian Fleming’s island retreat, where he wrote a Bond novel each winter, retains its seductive appeal to this day. Still a playground for writers, artists and musicians, it offers just the kind of exclusive privacy that attracted him to it in the 1940s. And it really is private. In over fifty acres of grounds with its own lagoon and beaches, it’s not even signed from the road.
Surrounded by lush rainforest, and trees planted by previous guests, looking down over turquoise waters, the retreat has an upmarket bohemian vibe. It’s a glorious mix of Caribbean style and charm, with a team of smiling staff to look after your every need, in one of Jamaica’s best locations.
At A Glance
Why We Love It:For its wonderful laid back seclusion and unrivalled backstory.
Style:Hip, Caribbean luxe.
Location:On the north coast of the island, ten miles from Oracabessa.
Rooms:A charming collection of villages, cottages, beach huts and Fleming’s original villa.
Swimming:Two freshwater pools, a splash pool, the lagoon and beach.
Children:Perfect for children – young and old.
Accessibility:A few of the Beach Huts are accessible for guests with limited mobility.
Open From:All year round.
Price:Weekly price from £3,260 per room.
We love the choice of places to stay at GoldenEye – each cottage, villa or beach hut is unique. Colonial style architecture and boho interiors make them thoroughly charming and homely. From one bedroom to sleeping up to ten, and everything in between, there’s something for couples and families alike. The Originals are a collection of huts and villas tucked away amongst the lush forest, with outdoor showers, lagoon views and private decks.
The Villas sit directly on the beach or lagoon and are made for barefoot living. Airy and spacious, with their own kitchens, they also come with their own kayaks. You can step straight into the water from the Lagoon Cottages – they’re a slice of tropical paradise. Whilst the Beach Huts feel like tree houses, with perfect views over the water. Then there’s Fleming’s own villa with its original sunken garden, that can sleep up to ten.
Authentic and fun, the cuisine here is distinctly Jamaican. The very casual Bizot Bar, right by the pool and steps from the beach, is open all day from breakfast through until dinner. It serves delicious international and local cuisine and very tempting snacks. For an even more laid back vibe, wander down to the Bamboo Bar on Button Beach for Jamaican jerk grills and fresh seafood. Guests can choose in-room dining, or eat by candle light somewhere private on the estate. Then end the evening on the roof top bar at Shabeen.
Most guests don’t even leave the estate – the inviting Low Cay – 500 metres of crescent shaped beach, and Button Beach with its bar shack will keep you happy for at least a week. The water (or wata) beckons, and the resort guides are on hand with a host of activities, from snorkelling off one of the nearby reefs to heading out in a glass bottomed boat, to kayaking or paddle boarding around the cove, to learning to sail.
Further out, there’s some fabulous deep sea fishing for marlin, barracuda, wahoo and spearfish on the resort’s boat For Your Eyes Only. If staying on land is more your thing, the Blue Mountains offer adventure, with rainforest treks, waterfalls and coffee plantation tours. Or maybe, just sit back with a vodka martini… You know the rest.
This isn’t a place for kids’ clubs or organised activities, but it is perfect for families. The beach gently slopes into calm waters for little ones, and older children, especially teenagers, will love the cool vibe.
Chris Blackwell, the owner of GoldenEye set up the Oracabessa Foundation to help support local communities and create tourism based and vocational opportunities for at risk youths. The foundation also supports efforts to replenish fish stocks and replant coral. Hotel employees volunteer in local schools and help with beach clean ups. GoldenEye comes complete with a sustainable farm, where much of the produce is grown.
On the north coast of the island, ten miles from Oracabessa – 90 minutes from the airport.