A trip to Goldeneye, the Jamaican seaside resort where James Bond was born

“I was there in the room when everything changed,” says Chris Blackwell. It refers to the moment when the filmmakers of the first Bond film, Dr No, watched the scene they just shot on the beach in Jamaica. “Until Ursula Andress came out of the water, it was a B-movie. When the producers saw the scene, they immediately went back to London and said, ‘You have to increase the budget, we have a magical image. “

More than half a century later, Blackwell, the founder of Island Records and longtime Jamaican resident, stands by one of the small pools at Goldeneye, an understated luxury resort built around the villa. where Ian Fleming wrote Dr No and the 13 other James Bond novels. Last week marked the premiere of 25e Bond franchise film, No time to die. A nod to 007’s spiritual home, the latest film opens with the spy retired at a house on the water on Jamaica’s north coast.

There appears to be no single focal point in the resort and guests have spread out accordingly.

Goldeneye Resort

Blackwell has a close connection to the property, as his mother, Blanche, was Fleming’s close friend and avowed lover. He tried to convince Bob Marley to buy the villa, but ended up reclaiming it himself in 1976. It is now part of a sprawling 52-acre hideaway that reflects Blackwell’s personal tastes, of architecture that blends into the landscape to eclectic music. broadcast at the bar by a DJ in Israel.

Goldeneye grows on you, revealing itself over time as you discover its diffuse offerings and subtle touches. There appears to be no single focal point in the resort and guests have spread out accordingly. With three small pools, two beaches, a snorkeling cove, a lagoon, and a coral nursery – conservation is a theme of the resort – plus countless spots for kayaking or paddle boarding, it’s easy to get around. feel like you have the place to yourself, even when the 60-villa property is fully booked. This scattering, combined with the alfresco dining area, makes the property perfect for the Covid-leery traveler. You can also catch a direct flight to Ian Fleming Airport, a 10-minute drive away, if you prefer to avoid the crowds in Kingston or Montego Bay.

A beach hut in Goldeneye.

Goldeneye Resort

According to historian Matthew Parker
Goldeneye: Where Bond was born ”, Fleming got up at 7 a.m. for a swim before showering and having breakfast. It’s also a good timeline half a century later, whether or not you rent Fleming’s current villa. Blackwell recently opened a new water sports and dining area, Button Beach, on a quiet bay, perfect for a morning swim. It’s a short paddle from one of the lagoon cottages, which have adjoining docks, or a short walk from the one or two bedroom beach huts.

After an outdoor shower, which is one of life’s underrated luxuries, the walk to breakfast takes you past a large field with a few scattered trees, hammocks, and a swing made of stone and wood. ‘a thick patinated plank. The resort doesn’t have a gym – a feature or a bug, depending on how you define “vacation” – and Blackwell plans to build one there. But he also likes the open space.

The villa where Fleming created his iconic character.

Christian Horan Photography / Island Outpost

“I like to do things slowly and as carefully as possible,” he says. “Because it’s so easy to mess it up. He takes care of every detail. One of the restaurants is an outdoor patio, directly on the ocean. The speakers are all around, subtly mixed with the stone walls and the roof above the bar. But the sound lacks the “clarity” demanded by Blackwell, who introduced reggae to the world and signed artists ranging from Bad Company to U2. So he tells me he’s replacing the sound system.

Breakfast, like other meals, emphasizes local dishes such as ackee and salted fish, callaloo leaves, and plantain and peanut porridge. There are plenty of deals for the less adventurous (and their kids), including eggs and baked goods, and a few rescue cats who are happy to finish whatever you’ve got left.

There is no marble or Spanish tile in Goldeneye. It is the antithesis of the Caribbean Resort hotel chain. Even Button Beach’s new outdoor grill and bar seems to have been around for years. Yet comfort is everywhere, from whimsical foosball tables strewn about to the handy tap outside the door to wash the sand off your feet. Inside the bedroom, a mosquito net and powerful air conditioning allow you to sleep soundly, and the ice buckets are always full.

The Fleming Villa outdoor bath.

Goldeneye Resort

Although the architecture is not touristy, the atmosphere is definitely Caribbean. A lifeguard threw a few life jackets in the kayak, but advised a father and teenage daughter not to wear them, which is uncomfortable, he said. A lawyer’s nightmare, but of course he was right. Paddleboarding and sailing on catamarans isn’t limited to a small, demarcated area off the beach; there is plenty of room to catch a strong northeast breeze and pull a hull out of the water.

Within two days, the friendly staff all seemed to know a certain adorable 5 year old by name, and their long tenure was evident from their extensive knowledge of the area. The guy at the helm of the glass bottom boat wasn’t just driving; he had been snorkeling this reef since he was a teenager, so he knew every nook and cranny of it.

Thanks to the constant sense of discovery, it is tempting not to leave the property. Make the effort, however, to visit Noel Coward’s home, high above Goldeneye on a hill with stunning views of St. Mary’s Harbor. Coward was friends with Fleming (and Blanche), and Blackwell now maintains the property as a museum. Almost 300 years before the playwright’s arrival, pirate Henry Morgan is said to have used the property as a hiding place, and an outhouse is now a small bar, with holes in the wall for shooting guns.

Authentic food abounds in and around the resort.

Goldeneye Resort

Dollar for dollar one of the best meals you’ll ever have is less than a 10 minute drive away. Chris’ Café consists of two mismatched tables on a porch, and there are dive bars with much nicer washrooms. But the family-style meal that cost US $ 87.50 for five people (including two Red Stripes) would have been priced right at US $ 87.50 per person. Caribbean lobster, curried goat cheese, shrimp and fried chicken were piled up on the table, and after a few bites of vegetable salad, you’ll be asking Chris for the secret to his subtle vinegar dressing. No wonder Anthony Bourdain is such a fan.

The meal was not only delicious, it was authentic. And it’s also Goldeneye’s secret sauce.

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