Reviewed by Tom Horan
PRICE: from £261, room only
HOTEL LOCATION: JAMAICA
ADDRESS: ORACABESSA, ST. MARY, JAMAICA
TYPE OF HOTEL: LUXURY|SPA|BEACH|HOLIDAY|RESORT
HOTEL STYLE: COASTAL COOL
If the buzz around Spectre has you both shaken and stirred, then send yourself on a glamorous mission of your own – to the decadent Caribbean hideaway where James Bond was born.
It was at Goldeneye, on Jamaica's ravishing northern coast, that high-society writer Ian Fleming dreamt up the world's favourite spy, and wrote all 14 of his original adventures (the first, Casino Royale, in 1952) – while taking regular breaks to sip martinis with famous names from Errol Flynn to Katherine Hepburn. Post-Fleming, Island Records founder Chris Blackwell bought Goldeneye for his protégé, Bob Marley, who said he found it 'too posh'. So Blackwell took it on, and built the lush resort that stands around it today.
Somehow both spectacular and totally laid-back, the setting is pure Bond: six luxurious suites and 13 ocean-front beach cottages reached via a beautiful footbridge that spans a soft lagoon. Grace Jones has been known to jump off it.Blackwell has added his music-biz cool to the raffish old-school ambience, and you're as likely to find Arcade Fire at the spontaneous jerk-pork parties as you are Kate Moss sipping pirate rum with her full Jamaican breakfast (Johnny cake, fried dumpling and callaloo). Book out Ian Fleming's house and you can sleep in the great man's bedroom, and even dream up a story or two of your own at his old desk.
Amid the seclusion and the luxury, Blackwell's triumph here is that you never feel cut off from real life – a wander into the nearby village of Oracabessa is as every bit as languorous and pleasurable as an afternoon snorkel in that twinkling lagoon.
- Lolling on the giant-sized day beds in every room – like being in Honey I Shrunk the Kids.
- Putting Diamonds are Forever on in the living room at Fleming's House and having speakers blast it out on the private beach below
- Standing on your own private jetty to welcome visitors to your lagoon suite. And if you have a spare £million, you can even buy one
- Hip French radio station Radio Nova plays live in the beach bar – it's like being in Paris-on-Sea.
- The cool eco-policy means US$20-a-night off the bill if you don't use your air conditioning
- The price of seclusion is a fair old drive to the airport – nearly 1.5 hours to Montego Bay
Need to Know: Goldeneye
Number of rooms: Ian Fleming's villa has five (sleeps 10); 13 x one- and two-bedroom cottages; 6 x lagoon suites
Check-in/check-out times: check-in 3pm, check-out noon
Room service: Yes
Swimming pool: 2
Wi-Fi Free throughout the resort
Spa: The new FieldSpa is housed in one of the converted villas right on the lagoon. The largest of the three treatment rooms has a candlelit outdoor bathroom hidden from the water below . On offer are massages, salt scrubs, skin brightening facials and herbal wraps (using local herbs and flowers).
Eating and drinking: Just yards from the Caribbean, the rough and ready Bizot bar serves delicious local specialities from ackee and saltfish to spicy jerk chicken with rice and peas. Set back and high up in the trees, the new Gazebo restaurant is a ritzier affair, built over the water, and lit up at night by a huge beach bonfire.
Near to? The lovely Oracabessa fishing village, a short walk away. For nightlife the (rather touristy ) resort of Ocho Rios is 20 minutes west.
Getting there: Most mortals fly into Montego Bay 70 miles west, then take the scenic shuttle. For the Lear jet and helicopter club, Ian Fleming International private airport is a handy three miles away.