At Goldeneye, Simple Pleasures for $5K a Night

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Associate editor Cathy Carroll visited Island Outpost's Goldeneye, the former Jamaican estate of Ian Fleming, the author of the best-selling James Bond spy novel series.

ORACABESSA, Jamaica -- Snorkeling in the martini-clear Caribbean water at Goldeneye, I easily could see how the spot helped inspire the novels "Octopussy" and "Dr. No." As a retreat for Ian Fleming, renowned sportsman, womanizer, naval commander, world traveler and spy, Goldeneye inevitably has a cachet not found at many luxury resorts, regardless of the number of marble Jacuzzis they might offer.

Goldeneye montage

On the contrary, the house, near a cluster of five delightful cottages, is simple and airy, the way Fleming sketched it on his admiral's desk blotter. And during the high season since last winter, guests have been experiencing the simplicity of Fleming's home -- for $5,000 per night.

The large, spacious living room is his design, as is the absence of glass in the expansive windows, which allows tropical breezes, the sound of the sea and the chirping of nocturnal creatures to float throughout the space. Every evening, the staff lights mosquito-repellent coils in the two bedrooms, subtly scenting the air with jasmine and musk and keeping away insects. A delicate white mosquito net suspended from the ceiling is draped around the beds at night, and the traditional slatted louvers, or jalousies, are drawn from inside a recess of the thick, white concrete walls, another Fleming design.

On the mahogany desk he had built into the corner of the room rests a framed black-and-white photo portrait of the author, looking melancholy with a cigarette in hand, staring through a stream of smoke. Near it, a blank writing book with a blue cotton hardcover bears a handwritten inscription from the Island Outpost founder: "Welcome to Goldeneye. In this room and on this desk is where Ian Fleming wrote a James Bond novel every year. I hope you enjoy your stay. One love, Chris Blackwell."

This is the milieu many upscale and experienced travelers desire, according to Bruce Hearn, director of operations for the hotel company, Island Outpost Jamaica. "It's not structured. It's not polished. But it is private and exclusive. It is as if you are the personal houseguest of Chris Blackwell," Hearn said.

It is Goldeneye's lack of pretension that creates a relaxed, casual atmosphere. The food, for instance, which the staff prepares in the home's original kitchen, seems as if it could have been lovingly and simply prepared by your Jamaican grandmother. It usually includes traditional Jamaican dishes such as fish cakes, fritters of the indigenous fruit akee, fried dumplings and callaloo, sauteed greens with onion and fish. Meals are served in the villa garden overlooking the sea, on the cottage patios and on the private beach. Clients who have traveled extensively would appreciate this setting, devoid of the trappings of a traditional hotel or resort.

For instance, there is no formal check-in or checkout. And the privacy here would suit rock stars and supermodels or those who just want to live like them. In fact, recent guests have included Yoko Ono, Ralph Lauren, Naomi Campbell and Jim Carrey. And over the years, Goldeneye has served as a retreat Blackwell offers to his friends in the entertainment and recording industries. The guest book has words and drawings of thanks from scores of guests, including the late film star River Phoenix and guitarist Mick Jones of the Clash.

To commemorate such visits, Blackwell has trees planted on the property. As a result, the grounds are dotted with tree markers that read like People magazine. There is Johnny Depp's guava tree; Kate Moss' star apple tree; a julie mango, being the name of the latest screen personification of Agent 007; the Pierce Brosnan, and a couple of trees named for British royalty.

But it's not all about posing. The staff can set up Bond-like activities such as jet-skiing, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing and yacht cruising.

The commissionable rates in the low season for the Fleming villa, through Dec. 14, is $3,000 per night, and the one-, two- and three-bedroom cottages are $500 to $1,250 per night, including all meals, drinks, water sports, taxes and service. All of Goldeneye, which accommodates up to 26 guests, can be sold to a group for $60,000 per week.

Goldeneye: Phone (800) OUTPOST

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Beyond Goldeneye

Island Outpost has other plans for Oracabessa, this sleepy town about eight miles from Ocho Rios. For five years, Island Outpost founder Chris Blackwell had tucked away a plan for 70 acres of the town that woud include a 100-room hotel, seaside villas, a water-sports center, a yacht club, a "main street" of Jamaican shops, a promenade, homes built atop stilts and the public James Bond Beach.

Construction is likely to begin next year and take two years to complete, said Bruce Hearn, director of operations for Island Outpost Jamaica. It is the single-largest project for Island Outpost, which has received acclaim for the Marlin in Miami's South Beach and 12 other properties in Jamaica, Miami and the Bahamas.

The master plan describes Blackwell's commitment to creating an authentic Jamaican experience in which guests would be "amused by Oracabessa itself and not such artificial amenities as tennis courts, golf courses and tourist outings." The project would mark "a return to an earlier Jamaica when the resorts were the towns, and the people were in business for themselves and provided services and amusements for visitors such as fishing, making and growing things and trading them, cooking [and] being ... mariners, philosophers, lovers, artists, storytellers, musicians and poets."

The concept is in line with other Blackwell projects, like the restoration and management of Firefly, the former estate of Noel Coward, near Goldeneye.

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