GoldenEye is not an ordinary hotel, but a collection of private villas, cottages and beach huts. Each is set amid tropical gardens, private beaches and secluded coves—a Jamaica home away from home. GoldenEye is a place. A mindset. A far-reaching myth in the collective imagination. And yet, GoldenEye couldn’t exist anywhere in the world—except, of course, exactly where it is…
Artists and writers. Spies and seducers. Their stories are as much a part of this place as the ancient tangle of vines and trees that have made GoldenEye a jungle garden of incredible diversity.
Race Course Oracabessa Jamaica Jamaica
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We’d had our eyes on Goldeneye for a while as it got good marks from a few friends. We were taken aback at first, as we were expecting pampering and luxury per the five-star moniker, but it did grow on us. If you’re looking to embrace a casual, no frills type of situation with a tropical island feel and light water sports, this is the place. If you’re hoping for a luxe experience, this isn’t it. Firstly, the drive from Montego Bay airport is brutal. It’s easily 2:15, more with traffic. 2.5 hours each way for us. The car that picked us up seemed on its last leg (many service lights blinking) and had no waters, never mind a little nosh. I suggest confirming with the resort that you’ll have a more updated van with water. Springing for the $3k helicopter seemed exorbitant, but be warned that the alternative is long and not luxe. In any case, it was indicative of the experience. The food is okay, not great, and probably couldn’t be tolerated for more than 3 nights. There are some good spots nearby to switch it up. The art of espresso making has not yet reached Goldeneye, but the brewed coffee was quite good. The service was largely fine, not great, though there were a few stellar individuals by the pool (Donette is awesome!). Our consumed beverages, water, and snacks weren’t replenished during visits from housekeeping. Many requests to guest services went unanswered, though they were kind and helpful once prompted. The accommodations are dated and reminiscent of their mid century roots. They have all the essentials and nothing more. It feels like a cross between a lakeside “camp” (similar to those in Maine and Wisconsin) and an eco lodge in a place like Tulum. Rugged, dated, yet charming and not lacking anything in particular. The beds and linens were quite comfy. The towels were a bit threadbare. While at first we were taken aback by the outdoor shower (no indoor option besides a tub in our ocean front cottage), we embraced the experience. We don’t exactly feel clean, but toting toiletries outside to bathe does leave one with a certain feeling of accomplishment. We were joined by many creepy crawlers in the room, but most were so microscopic (ants, spiders, other tiny bugs) that they were tolerable. I liked that you can choose to lay by the pool or the beach, with different experiences or views. The snorkeling is nothing to write home about, but we did glimpse a majestic sea turtle which was the highlight of the trip. It’s nice to have the option to snorkel, kayak, paddle board or swim in the gentle waters of the lagoon. I was also pleased with our room choice: beach front cottage. While you can’t hop right into the water given a rocky ledge, the views are great and you can walk about 20 feet to enter the ocean. You have your own lounge chairs and a nice balcony to enjoy the view. Sleeping to the sound of the ocean is fabulous. The Lagoon option is also special with swimming etc. right off the back ledge. Our room had an air conditioning unit and we were grateful for it at night. Other great things worth mentioning: - Yolanda at the spa served up the best massage I’ve had in a long time. I highly recommend. I had a prenatal 90-minute. - the homemade ice cream - Fabulous homemade banana bread at breakfast - Great brewed coffee delivered to the room in the mornings (if asked). - The grilled shrimp by the pool at Bizot In closing, some suggestions, if I may: - A better greeting situation upon arrival to shake off the long drive. - more fresh options on the menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner at Bizot. Perhaps a daily wellness smoothie, more robust fruit and seed bowl, a coconut yogurt. Etc. - more fresh food in general, much of the fruit and veggies weren’t rip - Varying the menu at bizot between lunch and dinner services - A printed itinerary upon arrival - A more “concierge” style of guest services. The text option via WhatsApp works fine but is a bit slow, sometimes goes unanswered, and we had no working phone in the room to dial a guest services number or call around for spa, room service, housekeeping, etc. - A few more complimentary snacks would have been nice, especially since getting a bit of nourishment if needed between meals took a while. - Some upleveled amenities in the rooms and near the pool and more consistent service would go a long way in making this charming properly feel more luxe. - It’s time to think about renovations and updating the cottages and public areas to have more modern conveniences. Central AC, motorized blinds, more high-end bathrooms, etc. The summary: I can certainly see why many find Goldeneye special and charming. I don’t think it compares to a truly luxury Caribbean experience.
Goldeneye is absolutely wonderful! The staff is incredible, the grounds are gorgeous, and the amenities are plentiful. There are multiple beaches and pools, and because this is a smaller resort, we actually had a pool or a beach to ourselves a couple of times. Highlights: - Lagoon Villa: We loved being on the lagoon and having a kayak tied to our dock for convenient use. We also liked jumping off the deck and snorkeling around the lagoon. The bed was very comfortable and the outdoor shower very cool! It had a kitchenette, but we didn't use it other than putting some things in the fridge. Bottled water is free and the fridge is stocked with it. They also include bug spray in your room. Because there are a lot of trees on this resort, there are mosquitos, but when we were there, they weren't bad at all! I'm not sure if that is different other times of the year. - Kayaking from our lagoon villa to Button Beach for lunch/lounging/cocktails. The lagoon villas/cottages have kayaks attached to their docks, so you can easily take them out for a spin. Button Beach also has paddle boards, more kayaks, and sail boats for guests to use. We spent most of our time at Button Beach. - Snorkeling at Snorkelers Cove. We took our own snorkeling gear, but they also have it there for guests to use. - Sitting in the Goldeneye Pool at sunset. - Breakfast (included with price of accommodation). It was a very hearty breakfast with multiple choices of entrees. We assumed it would be a typical continental breakfast, but that wasn't the case. It came with coffee/tea, fresh squeeze juice/coconut water, choice of muffin/danish, and choice of entree. Breakfast was our favorite meal at Goldeneye. - Transportation: Pops, a Goldeneye driver is the best! He picked us up at the airport and made our 2 hour drive from Montego Bay to Goldeneye so much fun! We then requested him to drive us to the Blue Hole and to take us back to the airport. He is very knowledgable and will tell you local spots to check out. Request Pops if you like to learn from a local and have great conversation. - Walking to Chris's Cafe: It's a 20 minute walk to this cafe from Goldeneye. Do not be scared by the looks of if this place, the food is really good. Take cash, as they don't take card. - Blue Hole: This was a fun experience and our guide Travis was great! Pops called Travis on our way to the Blue Hole so that we could get him as our guide. He took great pictures and videos of us jumping into the water. - Miss T's Kitchen: We stopped here after the Blue Hole for delicious food. Again a recommendation from Pops. Goldeneye is a very special place and it might not be for everyone if the large hotel chains or all-inclusives are more your style. It's a quiet resort where at times you almost feel like you have the place to yourself. This was our first trip to Jamaica and we can't wait to get back to this wonderful country and to Goldeneye - and we'll definitely request Pops for all of our transportation needs!
We first stayed at Goldeneye in early July 2005. This was all before the relatively recent expansion, and, at the time, you could only book the one, two or three bedroom compounds, or the Fleming Villa. I guess there was also that one down by the water that Naomi Campbell used to stay in as well. We had previously been to the Caves a few times, and were really in love with the whole vibe that Island Outpost was putting down in Jamaica. We ended up booking the one bedroom, just a hop through the hedges to the Fleming Villa, whose pool we dipped in from time to time. The whole stay was absolutely perfect...that is, until it was extended unexpectedly by Hurricane Dennis. As it turned out, staying in a 5 Star luxury resort during a hurricane can actually be a pretty good time (other than you can't hear the tv over the wind, so those classic movies you checked out at the office in anticipation of some extended down time were of little company). Having first class multicourse meals and beverages brought to your bungalow at all hours of the day by foul-weather clad--yet always smiling--Goldeneye staff was always a highlight, although you tend to lose track of what meal you're having as the dark hurricane days drag on and on and on. Anyway, despite the inclement weather on the end of our stay, we decided to make a return with our two young boys (ages 7 and 13), and we were able to book the Fleming Villa at a great rate for a return stay the following summer. It was simply one of the most memorable experiences of their young lives, and the whole staff was exemplary. The boys carved coconuts and went fishing with Ramsey, where we were skunked in overfished waters, although the youngest did get seasick. They romped on the private beach at all hours of the day, snorkeling, swimming and just hanging out. Evenings were spent watching James Bond movies in the pool house home theater area (and falling asleep on the couch). They still talk about that experience, these many years later. It was indeed a memorable trip. My youngest even smuggled out a hermit crab inside a small matchbox from the villa.