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Paradise Found at Goldeneye
There are only a handful of places in the world that I continue to revisit, and Goldeneye in Jamaica is one of them. Recently we returned for our fifth visit to the resort for a little end of year rest and relaxation and to welcome in 2017 (it doesn’t hurt that they throw quite a spectacular New Years Eve party too). The Goldeneye resort is tucked away on the north coast of the island about 2.5hrs drive east of Montego Bay in a rather special corner of St Mary’s parish, the fishing village of Oracabessa.
There is no place quite like Goldeneye and, as the name suggests, James Bond is involved (side note: the village name Oracabessa translates to ‘golden head’). Indeed, this is where British author Ian Fleming lived and wrote all of the James Bond novels starting with Casino Royale in 1952. When you spend time here, you’ll feel the magic and will want to stay indefinitely… perhaps write a novel too, or just relax and read one of the 13 Bond novels on hand while enjoying the serene beauty. Today this stunning corner of the world is owned by Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records which is the record label that introduced the world to Bob Marley. He has created an intimate resort while maintaining the natural beauty of its surroundings. Luxurious yet relaxed, and full of Jamaican spirit.
The original resort accommodation offerings are the beach villas where you roll out of bed in the morning onto the sand; and the lagoon cottages where you can jump right off your deck into the beautiful lagoon for a swim. They’re both fabulous. If you have young children you won’t want to stay at the lagoon cottages though because of their direct accessibility to the water. The newest additions to the resort (launched in April 2016) are a selection of free standing beach huts. Having stayed in both the beach villas and lagoon cottages before we thought it only right to try out the new beach huts on this visit. While keeping with the established vibe of Goldeneye, they’re a little more whimsical in their design. Each painted in vibrant colors and nestled amongst beautifully lush landscaped gardens situated towards the second beach of the resort, James Bond beach. Yes, this is the beach where that iconic scene from Bond’s "Dr No" was shot…. you know the one where Ursula Andress steps out of the water clutching a conch shell?
We weren’t disappointed. Beautiful beach style interiors, an outdoor rain shower that I wanted to take home with me, and an outdoor sitting area. It’s all very calming and peaceful – listen to the birds singing while the ocean breeze flows through the room. These beach huts don’t have air conditioning – their architectural design (very high ceilings and large strategically placed windows) allows for maximum cross ventilation from the ocean breeze, and they also provide a fan should you need. We didn’t encounter any issues with the temperature in the room – it was always very comfortable.
The daily offerings pretty much revolve around the beach and exploring the various little coves and secluded spots as you decide where to take your next snooze. If you’re feeling adventurous you might have a go at some "wata sports" with the help of the delightful twins, Dane and Dave and their team… jetskiing, snorkelling, kayaking, paddleboarding, etc. You might take a swim in one of the 3 pools while you wait for cocktail hour to arrive. And when it is time for a refreshment you’ll head to one of the 3 bars for a rum refresher or maybe a freshly picked coconut. My favorite cocktail is the "Goldeneye", a slight variation on rum punch and made with Chris Blackwell’s very own rum, Blackwell Rum. You’ll then happily continue on with what you were doing until lunch.
If you fancy a bit of pampering you can head to the Field Spa situated on the lagoon which means you can swim there if you choose, or take your kayak. My favorite treatment is the warming pimento and ginger massage. The massage oils they use are made locally and smell divine – I actually brought some home with me this time since they have finally started bottling the magic. I also enjoy exploring the tropical gardens around the property where you can see all the trees planted by past guests – Pierce Brosnan, Kate Moss, and Grace Jones to name a few. If you choose you can plant your own tree too (for a fee of which the proceeds go to the local Oracabessa Foundation) and have your name placed on a plaque next to it. During a passing rain shower I’d either enjoy yet another snooze or a quiet game of backgammon at the library (where you’ll also find all the James Bond novels on the bookshelf).
FOOD AND DRINK
The day starts off with a delicious breakfast, usually on the deck of the Bizot Bar overlooking the Caribbean sea. While the fresh Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is flowing, the blackbirds might stop by to say good morning and then you’re instantly humming that song "Three Little Birds"… (that’s if it’s not already playing in the background). Oh and if I didn’t already mention, the music playing in the background at Goldeneye is always tune after tune after tune. You know Chris Blackwell is to be thanked for that.
I’m not usually a big breakfast person, but at Goldeneye I dive into everything. For starters, the freshly baked muffins are not to be ignored – they are SO good I’ve asked for the recipe many times. I also love the traditional Jamaican breakfast… steamed callaloo and eggs.
Lunch is either at the Bizot Bar or you’ll head over to the new jerk stand at Bond Beach, and I have to say it is the tastiest jerk I have ever had (this is not something I say lightly).
For dinner if you fancy more of a fine dining experience you’ll head to the Gazebo restaurant at the top of the resort. For a more casual beach vibe you’ll stay at the Bizot Bar. And for all you sushi lovers, Fridays are sushi night at Goldeneye. They bring in a top sushi chef from Kingston to roll up some rather delicious sushi rolls, sashimi and other Japanese style treats. So good!
All of the ingredients used at Goldeneye are so fresh because they’re mainly sourced from their very own property a couple of hours away, the Pantrepant Farm. You can also visit this farm and stay overnight at the cottage there – this is something I plan on doing next time.
There are lots of adventures to be had in Jamaica outside of the gates of Goldeneye, should you care to leave paradise for a bit. On this visit we only made it off the resort a couple of times. The first time for an organized baby turtle release at a nearby beach sanctuary; an amazing experience, especially for the little ones. Our little man was enthralled by it. The second brief escape was for a morning drive around St Mary’s Parish. I really like to take in the local life when in Jamaica and stopping here and there to explore a bit – perhaps pick up some locally grown specialities at the fruit stand, or just stop along the coast line to take in the view. If it wasn’t already obvious – I love Jamaica. It has such an amazing vibe which is certainly part of the reason I’ve been visiting the island for years – the people, the food, the music, and the stunning lush landscape of the island. It really is a beautiful land with a rich culture. Over the years, our adventures on the north side of the island have included a bike ride down the Blue Mountains, swimming at the stunning Blue Lagoon in Port Antonio, drifting down the picturesque Rio Grande on a bamboo raft and stopping halfway for lunch cooked by the locals, spending the day at beautiful hidden beaches including Winnifred Beach and Frenchmans Cove, and sampling the jerk offerings at some of the best spots including Boston Bay and Scotchies. All of these experiences were phenomenal, unforgettable, and always left me even more fond of Jamaica. In short, there are many options for the adventurous type whom is up for leaving the resort and taking a drive.
All this reminiscing has left me asking the question, when are we going back? I think it’s time to look at the calendar and figure that out! www.goldeneye.com
One Love xoxo
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