GOLDENEYE HOTEL: LAID-BACK LUXURY AND LEGENDARY GLAMOUR ON JAMAICA’S NORTH COAST has been the lowkey hub of cool since James Bond author Ian Fleming first built the lush estate in the town of Oracabessa on Jamaica’s North coast in the 1950s. For decades, this hideaway played host to the glitterati and literati – writers, musicians and heads of state. Now owned by Jamaica-raised Chris Blackwell, the visionary entrepreneur and founder of Island Records, GoldenEye opened to guests in November 2010. Through careful preservation and a discerning approach to completing the retreat, Blackwell has ensured that the relaxed allure of Ian Fleming’s GoldenEye endures. Set along the pristine coast, among lush tropical gardens and around the calm waters of the property’s lagoon and secluded beaches, the 52-acre estate now encompasses 45 units – 9 Beach Villas, two Lagoon Villas, six Lagoon Cottages, 26 Beach Huts, one Ocean Front Villa and The Fleming Villa. Guests can book Fleming’s own private two-bedroom villa — with three guest villas – where his writing desk still stands just as hem left it.
On arrival at GoldenEye, guests are driven along a winding gravel driveway, planted on either side with groves of indigenous trees donated by past guests like Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Jude Law, Willie Nelson and Martha Stewart. Those staying at the Fleming Villa will continue along the driveway to the right, past the decades-old stand of intertwined fig trees to where the iconic home sits at the cliff’s edge. The Fleming Villa accommodates groups of up to 10 guests, with the original three-bedroom home, which features an open-plan living and dining area, plus two new poolside cottages. Fleming’s private swimming pool, media room and bar, and sunken garden round out GoldenEye’s top villa, along with direct access to the private Fleming Beach below.
The Lagoon Cottages appear to float on the lagoon and offer lagoon access from private docks while Lagoon Villas feature outdoor patios that lead to the lagoon’s edge. The barefoot-chic Beach Villas are situated on Low Cay Beach and open directly onto the white sand. All villas feature a living room and fully-equipped kitchen with Italian upmarket Smeg appliances. Both villas and cottages have entirely private gardens with outdoor showers.
The Beach Huts, which opened in 2016, are freestanding one- and two-bedroom octagonal structures built in varying heights. Some Beach Huts are snuggled against Snorkeler’s Cove. Others are positioned for best views of the Caribbean Sea, Oracabessa Bay and Button Beach. Each is designed with a private veranda, oversized louvered windows and high ceiling. The layout for the huts was conceived to blend the indoors and out; the sexy sounds of the tropics with the feel of a hut on the beach.
The FieldSpa at GoldenEye is our ocular focus: built into the natural jungle-like landscape on the edge of the crystal clear blue lagoon allowing guests to walk, swim, or kayak to their spa appointment. Have you ever floated up to your spa treatment? We love the uncommon factor that this brings to the (massage) table. After toweling off, if you decided to swim up, you become immersed in what is known as F I E LD WORK
“The Intention is to integrate each guest into a comprehensive program rich with intuition, fun, and activity – yet fully connected to GoldenEye, the Jamaican home of
Ian Fleming, author of James Bond, and the place Fleming called:
‘The Healthiest Life I could Live.’ ”
Activities such as Lagoon Laps immerse you into the mindset the spa is designed to enduce. Have you ever been involved in a spa activity like this? We don’t think so. A gentle self-guided open water swim in the protected lagoon continues that tradition. Swim begins at Wata Sports Bridge and is marked by buoys ending at the Royal Palm Deck past the FieldSpa. This is not your typical hydrotherapy.
In fact, the word spa comes from “Salus Per Aqua” which means “health through water.”
Keeping you active, Par-Course, the outdoor tropical arena is the perfect place to get
in tune with nature while tuning up the body with an adult playground. We love this freeform, free-flowing approach to wellness at this spa.
Ingredients from the hotel’s local farm, Pantrepant, such as ginger, pumpkin, and yam are incorporated into therapies. FieldSpa also serves as the home-base for the fitness-focused experiences including stand-up paddle boarding, sunset yoga classes and daily group runs around the local area.
From body scrubs to bush baths, we feel grounded at this spa. It’s a slice of Jamaica in all its rich, natural, authenticity and charm. Speaking only about the spa is not what makes it so uncommon. The entire GoldenEye experience is nourishing to the soul.
Jamaican Dining on the property:
Perched on the western arm of Low Cay Beach is GoldenEye’s beach casual restaurant, Bizot Bar, which is named for Jean-Francois Bizot (1944-2007) – the journalist, musical taste-maker, founder of Paris-based world music radio station Radio Nova, and great friend of Chris Blackwell – who often visited GoldenEye. Located steps from the beach and the fresh and sea-water swimming pools, guests can partake of light bites, exotic cocktails and international wines all served to the cool sounds of Radio Nova, which is live-streamed at Bizot Bar.
The Gazebo features an all-day outdoor lounge and an evening-only restaurant, serving up local fare with an international twist. Located high on the eastern bank of the lagoon entrance, overlooking the calm lagoon waters and Low Cay beach beyond, The Gazebo’s west-facing view is the ideal setting to take in the fiery Caribbean sunsets. GoldenEye is also home to Sha’been, a seafront bar with rooftop lounge and games room.
Beaches & Lagoon
Low Cay Beach: Shaped like a French croissant, Low Cay is the hotel’s main beach with 500 feet of smooth sand for sunning, relaxing and swimming. Located right off shore is a small island with palm trees and lounge chairs for guest enjoyment.
The Lagoon: The protected lagoon is one of GoldenEye’s utterly unique features. The lagoon’s warm waters are a combination of seawater and underground spring water, making it a favorite hangout for a wide variety of little fish and guests alike. Always peaceful and placid, it is ideal for swimming laps even if you aren’t partaking in FieldSpa, snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding or floating around with a Red Stripe.
Wata Sports: Home to GoldenEye’s watersports, trained lifeguards will arrange for everything from beach towels and snorkeling equipment to kayaks, paddle boards, and glass bottom boat rides.
Snorkeler’s Cove: The spot where guests swim out to sea to explore GoldenEye’s coral reef and the Oracabessa Fish Sanctuary.
Established in 1995 by Chris Blackwell, the foundation serves to educate the local community and encourage sustainable development. Guests can follow in the footsteps of Michael Caine, Kate Moss, Quincy Jones, Johnny Depp, and Bill & Hillary Clinton and plant a tree on the property with a $1,000 donation to the foundation. The tree planting tradition was started by Anthony Eden, England’s Prime Minister in the 50s. The Oracabessa Foundation is dedicated to serving the community and provides leadership, organization, funds and volunteers for local projects such as the Oracabessa Fish Sanctuary, education and entrepreneurship programs for adults, and leadership and sporting programming for children.
A stay here makes us feel good all over.Do you want to keep reading?