Goldeneye in Oracabessa (or St Mary’s Parish) Jamaica, has a lot more than tourism cred – it’s the birthplace of pedigree artistic creativity.
Goldeneye, named after a military operation, was the tropical home of Ian Fleming where over 18 years he created 14 Bond stories from a tiny corner desk and travel typewriter.
“My own life has been turned upside down at, or perhaps even by, the small house named Goldeneye I built on the north shore, and by my life in Jamaica,” Fleming once said of his home.
Goldeneye itself was Fleming’s villa and where he spent months at a time and later moved into permanently, hosting local and international society in between conjuring up Bond.
His writing friend and fellow resident Noel Coward bought land close by and created his own literary sanctuary known as Firefly, overlooking Port Maria – perfect for hosting his star-studded and royal guest list. Firefly was named after the illuminating insects found in the area at night.
According to Jamaican folklore Firefly was thought to be the lookout for Sir Henry Morgan, the Caribbean pirate from the late 1600s who went on to become Jamaica’s first Lieutenant Governor.
Coward bought the Firefly land through a local society friend of Fleming’s and vast land owner, Blanche Blackwell.
Blanche, who is still alive at 103 and living in New York, was Fleming’s island mistress in the 1950 and 60s.
Confused? Well, fast forward 60 years and Goldeneye is now an historical villa for hire and part of high-end resort idea created by Blanche’s son, Chris Blackwell.
Blackwell was on the scene when Fleming was alive and helped out as a location scout for the filming of Dr No. He sourced the Ursula Andress walk-up beach location.
While he was schooled in England, he is very much a local white Jamaican with hero status throughout the country.
Blackwell started with music, reggae music, producing local rasta sounds and most famously producing and promoting Bob Marley to the world.
He also worked with another Jamaican local, creating the household name of Grace Jones, who can often make an unscheduled appearance at Goldeneye if she hears the music and is on the island.
These artists were produced under a record label started by Blackwell, Island Records, where he produced artists from studios also on land owned and developed by the Blackwells in Jamaica. Island recording artists also included The Police and U2.
Sting wrote the words to the song ‘Every Breath You Take’ while staying at the Goldeneye villa, taking in the same ocean views Fleming once enjoyed.
Today, Blackwell has sold Island Records. While his interests are mainly in tourism and turning Goldeneye into a uber island resort with villas and beach huts, whilst incorporating the museum-style Firefly, Chris still dabbles in local music.
He recently signed a new Jamaican artist with a familiar local sound, Chronixx, thought to be the next Marley.
Goldeneye is a nostalgic experience where you can’t help but feel like you’re on the set of a vintage Bond location, surrounded by the ghost of the creator and his literary island world and set to the constant background rhythm of rasta music.
It is well worth reading Matthew Parker’s book Goldeneye – where Bond was born: Ian Fleming’s Jamaica, published by Hutchinson in 2014, to get all the pedigree behind the people and the location but for Bond enthusiasts it links Fleming’s Jamaican experiences to the imaginary events, ideas and people in each of his 14 Bond stories.
Just remember to pack plenty of Aeroguard.
• Qantas/American Airlines offer flights with stopovers from major Australian cities to Jamaica.
• Airport transfers to Goldeneye (one-and-a-half hours drive from Sangster International Airport) are US$165 one way.
• Room rates for the beach huts start at US$400 per night during low season (April – December), $600 during high season (January – March).
• Rates for the Fleming villa start at US$2500 per night.