Inside GoldenEye: The Jamaican Property Where 007 Was Born
If you’re a big fan of James Bond, you might already know the suave British Secret Service agent was born in Jamaica—literally.
Writer Ian Fleming, who created the fictional 007 in 1953 and featured the agent in 14 novels and a collection of short stories, first came to Jamaica during World War II for a conference. He fell in love with the country and promised to return. After the war, he came back to Jamaica and acquired 19 acres of property in Oracabessa Bay on the north coast to build a home.
It was in this basic bungalow retreat called GoldenEye where Fleming would begin to pen “Casino Royale,” his first Bond book. During his winter stays there, he went on to write every single Bond thriller. (Bonus fact: The spy’s name comes from a reference book on birds by James Bond, the ornithologist.)
Several years after Fleming’s death, GoldenEye was put up for sale and was almost purchased by reggae legend Bob Marley, who pulled out of buying it. In 1976, Island Records mogul Chris Blackwell bought GoldenEye, and over time the property was transformed into a world-class resort while still keeping Fleming’s old home.
Belonging to the Island Outpost collection, GoldenEye today consists of 11 one- and two-bedroom villas directly on Low Cay Beach or on a seawater lagoon, six lagoon cottages, and one oceanfront villa. Fleming’s former jaunt still stands but is now called The Fleming Villa. It’s a place unto itself.
More reclusive and shaded than its fellow accommodations, the Fleming Villa has a private swimming pool, tropical gardens, and a full-time, dedicated service staff. In the main house, there are five individual bedrooms, such as the king-sized 007 Bedroom, which has Fleming’s writing desk, a dining/living room area, a kitchen and bar, and indoor and outdoor bath and shower areas. Up to 10 guests can stay here. A patio area provides a relaxing lookout over the surrounding private beach where Fleming spent much of his time. There is also a smaller, separate cottage named “The Sweet Spot.”
Fleming’s detached garage has been turned into an entertainment room overlooking the patio and pool area. And James Bond’s presence—movie versions of his books “Dr. No,” “Live and Let Die,” and “The Man with The Golden Gun,” have scenes filmed in Jamaica—is still felt throughout GoldenEye. Readers will find Fleming’s Bond books placed in bookcases or nightstands inside the various accommodations as well as at the Fleming Villa. Upon arrival, spot a collection of Bond-related memorabilia on the walls of a building near the main entrance.
Spa services are offered at FieldSpa, a lagoon-based cottage with private and open-air treatment rooms. The menu includes cleansing treatments called bush baths as well as massages, salt scrubs, facials, and herbal wraps.
As for dining, the Bizot Bar provides low-key options set near a fresh-water swimming pool and the western part of the beach. Breakfast and lunch is served here. Choices include Jamaican fare such as ackee, saltfish, and jerk chicken with rice as well as continental burgers, pasta, and salads. Its opposite option is the Gazebo. This tree house-style lounge and restaurant provides a bit of a nightlife scene with some international flare. Fine dining dishes include grilled lobster tail and seasoned roast lamb. Its open atmosphere also sets up as a cocktail lounge area, where perhaps you might order that martini—shaken, not stirred.
GoldenEye is located 20 minutes east of Ocho Rios. It is a 90-minute drive from Montego Bay Airport and an eight-minute drive from Ian Fleming International Airport (private aviation) in Boscobel, Saint Mary Parish.