When it came time to plan our 10 year wedding anniversary, I asked my husband where he wanted to go. Literally, anywhere in the world. My husband who is an avid reader of Ian Fleming said, “you know, I’ve always wanted to go to GoldenEye and see where Ian Fleming wrote the Bond novels”. So Bruce got to work making up a list of James Bond themed sites to see while I got to work making our travel plans to Jamaica.
GoldenEye has long been known as a secret hideaway for the rich & famous looking to getaway from the masses. Upscale, but not over the top. Think more rustic-chic vs. modern luxury. Located a good 2.5 hr drive from Montego Bay, you’d drive right past the stone gate entrance unless your driver knew where they were going as there is zero signage out front. This is on purpose of course so that you can vacation without those pesky paparazzi following you everywhere.
The original villa is indeed Ian Fleming’s 3 bedroom house with it’s own private pool and beach area built in the 1950’s. Two additional one bedroom cottages have been added to make a 5 bedroom estate complete with garage converted game room. Fully staffed, this makes for a private retreat ideal for a small wedding or family group traveling together. (rates from $5,000USD per night). The main house is filled with photos and treasures from Ian Fleming’s time. For a complete run down on the historic aspect, check out my husband Bruce’s site www.flemingsbond.com (additional info to be added soon)
The property next door was later purchased by Chris Blackwell in the 80’s and expanded into the GoldenEye resort it is today. With a handful of lagoon facing cottages and direct beachfront villas, the property has always been ideal for families or extended friends/couples looking to getaway together for a relaxing holiday. The larger 1 or 2 bedroom villas have a private lounge, kitchenette area, patio and air conditioning. Everything you might need to unwind, unplug or write that next best selling novel.
In April 2016, GoldenEye unveiled the new Beach Hut section on the other end of the resort. There are approx. 20 stand alone huts on stilts in about 3 rows back from the sea. This area has it’s own small cove beach called Button Beach with a beach bar and water sports access. The actual beach huts however are not directly beachfront. The huts are staggered into 3 rows with only a handful directly facing the sea. The majority are clumped together 1-2 rows back and offer limited views. What makes these huts desirable however is that they are all built for two guests. So now GoldenEye doesn’t have to be a haven for large parties or only the rich and famous. With the lower price point of the beach huts (from $450USD p/nt) the resort is emerging as an ideal honeymoon hotspot for couples that want a rustic-chic retreat.
Aesthetically the huts are beautiful. Think rich, dark mahogany woods, jalousie windows (no screens), ceiling fans and a romantic mosquito net draped queen-sized bed. Top it off with a private patio and outdoor rain shower. The huts are designed to offer a natural feel and total escape. Each hut is assigned a cell phone at check in which you can use to reach the main lounge or restaurant for assistance. I found it funny that while there are no land lines, clocks or air conditioning – each hut does have a flat screen TV. We didn’t turn the TV on once in the three days we were there but we did make use of the open WI-FI available throughout the property.
There is a small pool, and club house with bar and game room close to the Beach Hut section. The main restaurant Gazebo is up near the lobby (or lounge) and Bizot Bar is in the middle of the property near the main pools and beach access. So if you are in the Beach Hut area, be prepared for a LOT of walking back and forth. We didn’t mind the walking during the day but at night after dinner, the pathways are dark and we had to use the flashlight on our cell phones to walk on the rocky pathways back to our hut. Granted, I’m rather clumsy and need to watch where I am walking so this may not bother other more sure-footed travelers at all!
Noise alert: On the other side of the beach hut section is a dock & bar not affiliated with the hotel. You won’t have people wandering over to the resort to bother you at all BUT boats come and go constantly and there is loud music most of the day. Not super relaxing if you plan to hang out in your hut and are looking for total peace and quiet. Thankfully, if you walk into the heart of the GoldenEye resort, there are many hidden nooks to sit and relax with a good book or soak in the sunshine.
GoldenEye is not a traditional all-inclusive resort. You can certainly purchase a meal plan if you wish from breakfast only up to the full meal/beverage plan which is at an additional cost. Because of it’s location, I do recommend purchasing a meal plan unless you have a car rental and are prepared to explore on your own (Ocho Rios is about 20min away). Meals are at one of two restaurants – the Gazebo which serves international cuisine and Bizot Bar which is more Caribbean inspired with traditional Jamaican dishes. There are theme nights at Bizot like Sushi on Fridays and Jamaica Jerk BBQ on Saturdays for a more casual dining experience and to switch up the menus a bit if you’re staying for a full week. Meals are expensive so if you do not have a meal plan, you can easily factor in $60+ for breakfast and lunch and $150+ for dinner (for 2 adults). We ate most of our meals on property and the food was always top notch. The service is a bit slow but the staff so very warm and welcoming which is really a trademark of the Jamaican people. It’s a good reminder that you’re in Jamaica to relax, so slow down and enjoy that vodka martini (shaken, not stirred).