A 52-acre compound on Jamaica’s North Coast, perfect for a true Caribbean escape
It’s impossible to separate GoldenEye from its visionary owners, past and present. In 1946, a young Ian Fleming bought fifteen acres tucked along the rugged coastline of Oracabessa and built a three-bedroom villa, where he would write all fourteen James Bond novels. Together with neighbors Noël Coward and Errol Flynn, Fleming lured fashionable friends (Princess Margaret, Lucian Freud, Charlie Chaplin, Sofia Loren and Laurence Olivier, to name a few), who favored the North Coast’s beaches and seclusion. After Fleming’s death, a young Bob Marley purchased the property, only to sell it a year later to his manager, the record mogul Chris Blackwell. Blackwell, whose family has lived in Jamaica since 1743, was no stranger to the grounds; he grew up on the adjacent Bolt House estate and often joined his mother, Fleming’s mistress, for lunches and parties at the villa. He has owned and operated GoldenEye for the past forty years and oversaw its substantial restoration and expansion in 2010. Blackwell can often be spotted grabbing a snack at Bizot Bar or taking a dip in the lagoon.
Take the word of Ian Fleming, who favored GoldenEye for its “peace and silence and cut-offness from the madding world.” When you drive through the property’s white gates, you’re transported to a lush Eden of coconut groves, buttonwood, sea grape and banana palms. Blackwell brought in noted Jamaican architect Ann Hodges and Balinese interior designer Linda Garland to reimagine the whitewashed simplicity of the Caribbean cottage, complete with teak, grand louvers and oversized bamboo furniture. The open-air lobby, which functions more as a living room than a reception area, sets the tone of any stay. Shoes, mobile devices, and most necessities of “real life” are optional. Indoor and outdoor spaces flow as one and the same. There’s no harm in turning right or left as you walk the grounds. In fact, it’s encouraged to wander and get lost: GoldenEye has five distinct dining options, four beachfronts, and, bizarrely, an uninhabited island that was visited by Christopher Columbus.
Guests have the choice of lagoon, sea, or mountain views from their balcony. All 47 of the dwellings, including 19 villas, boast a clawfoot tub on a timber deck, rain-head showers, and crisp white linens. For extreme privacy, choose one of the property’s three cliffside villas. And if you fancy the ultimate James Bond experience for your friends and family, the Fleming Villa is available to rent for up to 10 people and boasts a sunken garden, private pool, and dedicated butler service.
It’s not uncommon to recognize famous faces among the fashionable guests, which include families, couples, and small groups. The place makes it easy to meet others, whether sunbathing on Button Beach, sipping a ginger brew cocktail at Shabeen, or late-night dancing at Bizot. The true stars are the property’s staff, many of whom have been with the property for decades. Chief among them is Ramsey Dacosta, GoldenEye’s resident historian and arborist.
For better or worse, there’s not much to do outside the property gates; the only thing you’ll come across in the nearby village of Oracabessa is a string of shielded estates and roadside fruit stands. If you find yourself antsy, arrange a visit to Noël Coward’s Firefly estate, spend a day horseback riding in nearby Ocho Rios, or rent a speedboat for a morning of deep sea fishing. For a true change of scenery, we suggest arranging a car and driving three hours to stay a couple of nights at GoldenEye’s idyllic sister property, Strawberry Hill, perched high among coffee farms in the Blue Mountains.
Although GoldenEye has always embraced freedom of expression, it’s impossible to ignore Jamaica’s horrendous track record on human rights, including harsh laws aimed at the LGBTQ+ community. This certainly won’t affect anyone’s guest experience on the property, but we believe Jamaica would be a more appealing destination for more travelers if the country took a hard look at its criminal justice system.
Couples, families, and small groups seeking sun, remoteness, and privacy will find an oasis in Goldeneye. This slice of the Caribbean — azure water, empty beaches, palm trees galore — is the one you’ve always hoped for.
For those seeking a seamless, safe arrival to the property, PRIOR has arranged direct access to Ian Fleming International Airport, which is a five-minute drive to Goldeneye. Get in touch with our team to inquire at email@example.com.
Gabriel Brotman is the Chief Operating Officer of PRIOR. Previously, he spent eight years at POLITICO, the global news organization focused on politics and policy, where he served in various senior roles in strategy, corporate development, product and new ventures. He lives with his partner and two dogs in New York.