One of the lagoon villas at GoldenEye
The reception lounge at GoldenEye is filled with Bond artifacts
One of the charming beach huts at GoldenEye
An outdoor bathtub at GoldenEye
A secluded patio off of one of the beach huts at GoldenEye
Ian Fleming's desk, right where he left it in the Fleming Villa
The Blackwell Rum Bar in The Caves Hotel in Negril
A view from inside one of the caves beneath The Caves Hotel
A typical sight at The Caves
In college, I went on a first date with a frat boy from Texas. One of the things he mentioned was his favorite movie: the 1964 James Bond classic, Goldfinger.
Ten years later, when researching destinations to celebrate our first wedding anniversary, I found myself drawn to Jamaica and that Goldfinger brand of glamour. This, combined with a rich culture, vibrant music scene, and jaw-dropping views, made it the perfect choice. So, we dove in headfirst.
Our first stop was The Caves Hotel in Negril, a boutique property on the farthest west side of the island, where steep limestone cliffs overlook an endless horizon of bright-blue water. With such terrain, the locals count cave diving and cliff jumping as recreation.
Perched throughout the cliffs are The Caves’ 12 brightly colored cottages and common areas, all connected by a winding limestone path. Every few feet are the hotel’s designated jump spots – that is, where the path comes to an abrupt halt 30 feet above the Caribbean Sea.
Winding stone stairwells lead into the sea caves, which can be reserved for a private dinner, where the staff lights hundreds of candles. This topped our list of cave experiences, as did a snorkel tour of the surrounding reef. Paul, our snorkel guide, can swan dive off the treacherous cliffs with the elegance of a ballerina.
Ian Fleming Land
As we drove the four hours from Negril to Jamaica’s north shore, we heard, at least subliminally, the faint sound of Honey Rider singing “Under the Mango Tree.” We had arrived at the iconic GoldenEye Resort in Oracabessa.
This place is pure magic. Built around the former island hideaway of author Ian Fleming, the 22-room private resort sits on what was the birthplace of Fleming’s handsome fictional spy, James Bond.
In the decades that followed Fleming’s death, creative types have flocked here for inspiration. Bob Marley once owned the property, Sting wrote “Every Breath You Take” during a stay here. And current owner Chris Blackwell (who also owns The Caves and one other hotel on the island under his company, Island Outpost) is credited with building the careers of U2 and Grace Jones under his label, Island Records.
Blackwell has managed to preserve the property’s original romance in a way that could only be achieved by a record-producer, rum-purveyor, and son of the woman who was likely the inspiration behind the original Bond Girl — his mother, Blanche Blackwell, was Fleming’s muse.
Fleming’s private home was been left relatively untouched — the desk where he wrote each of the 14 books chronicling Bond’s escapades is here, and the villa is available to rent. While we were there, it was booked by David Yurman‘s crew, which was shooting a campaign with Amber Valletta, Joan Smalls, and Ashley Graham.
This sort of fashionable thing happens here often. Fleming’s villa notwithstanding, there are beach villas, lagoon cottages, and beach huts to stay, surrounding the resort like pearls.