ORCABESSA, Jamaica – When I went to GoldenEye, I couldn't stop taking pictures. It was a small attempt to capture a perfect tropical hideaway. When you read so much about a place, you worry that it won't live up to the hype. Not GoldenEye. It exceeded my expectations.
The setting is boho chic cool. Have a GoldenEye rum cocktail at Bar Bizot. Pull a banana off a bunch hanging right there. Time for a paddle around the lagoon. Or a swim in one of the two pools. Or a snorkel. Oh, look a famous indie movie star is reading a book to his kid. Music is everywhere and always at the perfect volume.
The staff is terrific. General manager Jenny Wood ensures everyone stays happy and never wants to leave. Concierge of cool Clayton Hinds arranges excursions if you can tear yourself away, and is great company. Our driver Oneil knows the best places to eat on the north side of the island. The waiters were funny and sparky, and the cooks taught me to make their insane akee with salt cod. (The outstanding food of Jamaica is another photo story.)
Am I gushing? I've barely started.
PLAN YOUR TRIP
Fly: Sangster International Airport (MBJ) in Montego Bay has direct flights to many US cities and is an hour and a half away by car. Norman Manley International (KIN) in Kingston is two hours away. The hotel will arrange transfers to either. Ian Fleming International Airport (OCJ), just a few minutes away, caters to the priate jet and helicopter crowd. (How we wish the airport code was "007.")
Drive: Jamaica is a former English colony, so they drive on the left side of the road. You can rent a car to get around, but GoldenEye has excellent drivers who can guide you to the best area attractions and local jerk shacks. Good to know: The island is deceptively large, and the roads aren't all fantastic. Distances may take longer to cover than you might think.
Is your beach bag beach-ready? (Fathom Shop)