Last week, somewhere between the temperature in NY drastically plunging, my heater breaking, and begrudgingly pulling out my Norma Kamali one-size-fits-all, unisex “sleeping bag coat” for the first time this winter, I thought, “something’s not right here.” It was just too damn cold. And when the going gets tough, the tough…go to Jamaica. Or so it would appear. I kept hearing murmurings of GoldenEye these past few months—a very well-known makeup artist, returning from a fall getaway, saying how he “just happened” to overlap with his old pal Kate Moss. Then, according to Terry Richardson’s Diary, Miss Moss was back enjoying New Year’s Eve festivities with the photographer and Grace Jones. Suddenly everyone was talking about GoldenEye. Luckily, I’d already booked my ticket.
The history of this place pretty much takes the cake in terms of hotel stories. Back in 1942, a young Englishman by the name of Ian Fleming was sent to Jamaica by Britain’s naval intelligence service on a secret mission. He fell in love with the island, bought land, built a house, and spent his life there, writing—wait for it—James Bond. All fourteen of them. GoldenEye was in Fleming’s estate until Bob Marley sought to purchase it in 1976, "But then he got cold feet, said it was too posh," recounts the current owner, Island Records founder Chris Blackwell, "So I bought it myself. The original sale document said Bob Marley and we crossed that out and wrote in Chris Blackwell." The music impresario entertained friends for years (Moss has, in fact, been visiting for almost two decades), only recently turning it into a resort—complete with two restaurants, two pools, and a spa. I was invited to explore the property so, naturally, I packed up a Bond-girl worthy Lisa Marie Fernandez zip-front swimsuit*, plenty of Anthelios SPF, and my buddy Nick, and hightailed it down there.
GoldenEye may have been too posh for Marley, but it’s pretty mellow by most standards…think “understated luxury” at its finest. Waterfront cottages dot the beach and several more form an outline around an illuminated, clear turquoise lagoon complete with their own docks and kayaks. Everything is woven through a canopy of lush foliage, over a hillside, so you get the sense of being in the woods—or jungle, rather—while still being “on the water”. One rustic pathway leads to the Field Spa, a petite, private house (rumored to have been Naomi Campbell’s one-time digs) offering a straightforward menu of massages, brightening facials, purifying body treatments, healing water therapies and energy work using flowers and herbs grown at GoldenEye’s private 2,500 acre organic farm. We enjoyed peppermint foot soaks at twilight on the porch, looking out on the lagoon, and a warm ginger and pimento massage. “Make that deep tissue,” we said in unison…because not only did we kayak, we paddle-boarded. A lot. Like Cameron Diaz. And if anyone tells you (as I might have, unwittingly,) that it’s not a workout, they’re dead wrong.
Of course, music is everywhere, and thanks to Shazam and impressively pervasive WiFi, I now have several new Pandora stations to remind me of sunnier times in Jamaica (plenty of reggae; “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” by the Temptations). We also returned with Blackwell’s rum, which is served in just about every carefully hand-crafted drink on the menu, but our favorite GoldenEye treat, we’ll have to go back for: the best ice cream I’ve had in forever—flavors like banana, coconut, and even white chocolate-wasabi, made daily. Just remember to do twenty minutes of “wata sports” for every scoop.