A Rock-Star Trip for the Rest of Us: Oracabessa, Jamaica
No place in the Caribbean, or maybe the world, better defines the low-key luxe beach experience than Chris Blackwell's GoldenEye. It has the pedigree of being Ian Fleming's estate (where all 14 Bond books were written). Then there's the unmistakable rhythm of a rock-soaked life from Blackwell himself, the founder of Island Records who signed Bob Marley and U2, among others. GoldenEye is the kind of place where an almost-famous bass player might sleep it off at the palm-ringed infinity pool as a rebel heiress mixes a dark and stormy with a fat spliff at the bar. To Blackwell, the right type of guests "enhance the property with their very presence." If the Caribbean were a high school cafeteria, GoldenEye would be the table where you most wanted to be: barefoot opulence with no questions asked, a beach resort for people too cool for resorts.
And now that may even include you. Last spring, the 52-acre property (located in Oracabessa, less than two blessedly inconvenient hours from Montego Bay) added a cluster of wooden huts around its Snorkler's Cove. And while the huts share the rest of GoldenEye's louche-luxe appeal, with prices starting at $425 a night they're more affordable than the main cottages (which start at $660). Not that you'll feel like a roadie among guitar gods. Blackwell himself lives in a hut that served as the prototype. "You really feel like you're living outdoors," he says of them.
And of course they got the details right. The huts are open, breezy octagonals, some with a bamboo-enclosed outdoor bath and shower and Smeg refrigerators. None of them have AC, which Blackwell says would drown out tropical night noises that "make you really feel like you're in nature." The duplexes are perfect for families; imagine your sandblasted kids snoring away upstairs as you unwind on the veranda. ("Unwind from what?" you might ask. "Snorkeling? Playing backgammon at the bar?") And somehow, the expansion hasn't been a buzzkill to the GoldenEye vibe: There's still the original beach and lagoon-side bungalows, the famed Bizot Bar, and the walking bridge to the reading room, where you can pore over a stack of the hippest coffee-table books in the Caribbean. The two worlds mingle — you and them. And if you're worried about your kids waking up the bass player by the pool? Send them off to the new wooden jungle gym just off the beach bar on the lagoon side. They thought of that, too. –Mark Healy
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