GoldenEye Hotel & Resort, the legendary cliff-top retreat of James Bond creator Ian Fleming, reopens its doors following a ground-breaking renovation by its owner, Chris Blackwell, the found of Island Records. BTN takes a sneak peek at this iconic playground.
Creative movers and shakers have flocked to GoldenEye ever since it was made famous by Ian Fleming, who penned 14 of his James Bond novels here shortly after World War Two.
Katherine Hepburn, Graham Greene, Truman Capote and Noel Coward were among the many luminaries who sought solace at this idyllic beachside retreat, which captured the free-spirited decadence of 1950s Jamaica.
(Above: Chris Blackwell, Founder, Island Outpost, wins “Caribbean’s Leading Luxury Villa” for GoldenEye. Pictured with Graham Cooke, President and Founder, World Travel Awards)
The resort is surrounded by dense tropical vegetation and offers the ultimate secluded hideaway, which is perhaps part of the reason it has become a favorite of the likes of Johnny Depp, Harrison Ford and Pierce Brosnan, not to mention supermodels Cindy Crawford, Kate Moss, Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell.
(Golden Eye’s new Beach Cottages are being snapped up by savvy real estate investors)
Ian Fleming, who called Goldeneye home, would undoubtedly approve of what its present owner, the legendary raggae producer and founder of Island Records, Chris Blackwell, has done to the place since taking over in 1976.
Following a dramatic, top-to-tail, overhaul the resort has just reopened its hallowed doors, and oozing Blackwell highly-personal touch, and his interpretation of barefoot chic.
(GoldenEye Hotel & Resort - a playground of the literati)
The two-year project includes a greatly enhanced Fleming Villa, where guests can write postcards at the very desk where the man himself created his cult spy series.
The villa accommodates groups of up to 10 guests, featuring the original three-bedroom home, plus two new poolside cottages; a private swimming pool, media room and bar, sunken garden and direct access to the private Fleming Beach.
(The desk where James Bond was born)
The collection of five original villas built by Blackwell, which range from one-to three-bedroom units, have also been artfully refit and updated.
The 52-acre beachfront property also features 11 new villas, which are being snapped up on the open market. Owners have the option of putting their properties into the rental pool to generate extra income whilst they’re off jet-setting elsewhere.
(Chris Blackwell, right, with Graham Cooke, President and Founder, World Travel Awards)
Set amid mango and banyan trees, the new Beach Cottages range from $900,000-$1.2 million, and are all situated on the resort’s private beach. The one-bedroom units sleep four, and come fully furnished, including high-spec kitchens.
All but three of GoldenEye’s 150 staff are Jamaican, and 90 percent Oracabessa Bay itself. “It is about hiring local people with personality,” says Blackwell.
(Nowhere is more than a stone’s throw from the Caribbean Sea)
This month, a new airport, Ian Fleming International, has opened for private aircraft and is only a five-minute drive from GoldenEye.
Chris Blackwell: the man who took reggae to the world
Born in London in 1937, Blackwell spent his childhood in Jamaica. After finishing his schooling in England, he returned to Jamaica in 1955 and held a variety of jobs, including selling real estate and renting motor scooters. However, when he heard an ensemble led by blind pianist Lance Hayward at the Half Moon Hotel in Montego Bay, Blackwell decided to record them and, borrowing the name from Alec Waugh’s novel, Island in the Sun, founded Island Records.
(Right: Chris Blackwell. Left: Nicholas Simmonds, left, Managing Director, GoldenEye Hotel & Resort, awarded “Caribbean Leading Luxury Villa” by World Travel Awards. Centre: Graham Cooke, President and Founder, World Travel Awards)
In 1960, Island Records opened an office in Kingston, Jamaica, and a series of local hit singles soon followed. The growing Jamaican immigrant population in England also bought Island’s discs and, finding that he was selling more records in England than in Jamaica, Blackwell moved its headquarters to London in 1962.
Throughout the ‘70s, Island Records introduced the world to scores of critically acclaimed artists, and the UK and U.S. album charts were continuously re-stocked with records from Island and its licensees.
(Bob Marley and Chris Blackwell back in the day. Image: Island Records)
Blackwell’s most lasting influence resulted from his Jamaican roots and familiarity with the Caribbean musical heritage. Island Records introduced the world at large to Bob Marley and reggae music. Blackwell was also the first major label executive to expose African musicians, including King Sunny Ade, to a wider audience.
In 1989, Island was bought by Netherlands-based conglomerate PolyGram, although Blackwell stayed on to supervise the Island companies.
(Strawberry Hill is also part of the Island Outpost portfolio)
Separately, in the early ‘90s, Blackwell created Island Outpost, a hotel and resorts company, and debuted in November 1991 the renowned Marlin Hotel in Miami’s South Beach and Jamaica’s Strawberry Hill in 1992, followed closely by Bahamian Pink Sands and Compass Point and The Caves, Jake’s and GoldenEye in Jamaica.
To find out more about Golden Eye Hotel & Resort and the portfolio of Island Outpost resorts visit www.islandoutpost.com