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Taking the Kids: A place that has been muse, idyllic respite and more

Eileen Ogintz, Tribune Content Agency on

Idyllic, seductive, unique. Not a person, a place. Have you ever been somewhere that makes you consider upending your life to move there?

Ian Fleming not only thought about it he did upend his life and move to Jamaica after World War II. He was a British intelligence analyst visiting Jamaica for a wartime conference when he fell hard for the island — the turquoise water, lush tropical plants and flowers, the friendly people. He promised himself after the war he would return — for good.

Jamaica proved to be Fleming’s muse as he created his alter ego James Bond at a villa he built off Oracabessa Bay not far from Ocho Rios. Fleming wrote every one of his 14 James Bond novels here, taking the name of an English ornithologist for his hero. He named his home GoldenEye in tribute to a mission he had been part of codenamed Goldeneye.

“No Time to Die,” the 25th film in the James Bond series and the fifth and final to star Daniel Craig, has been released, making us all wonder — and marvel at the world Ian Fleming created while living as far away as possible from the glitzy locales his fictional British Secret Service agent frequents, always courting danger.

Today, people rent the Fleming Villa (it sleeps 10) where Fleming lived and wrote his books — it is part of the GoldenEye Resort, 20 minutes east of Ocho Rios and about 2 hours (by car) from Montego Bay with its own private beach, pool, gardens and media room along with butler, housekeeper and cook.

The resort, a collection of 40 villas, cottages and beach huts spread across 52 acres, has proved a muse to others as well. Sting wrote the hit “Every Breath You Take” and Bono wrote the theme song to the GoldenEye movie here. Bob Marley, though, famously thought the resort was too fancy. (GoldenEye's special offers can be viewed here.

 

Chris Blackwell, now in his 80s, bought the GoldenEye property in the ’70s and as more friends began to visit, he began to build the resort, starting with a beach hut for himself, one for his mom, and then some villas — all enclosed in tropical trees.

Blackwell knew Fleming. He too was born in Britain but raised in Jamaica and ultimately was the person most responsible for turning the world onto reggae music, according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He formed Island Records when he was just 22, helping to forge the careers of Bob Marley, Grace Jones and U2, among many others. He was also a successful film executive responsible for Oscar-winning movies. At the age of 72, he introduced his own brand of rum, Blackwell Black Gold, which each guest is given upon arrival.

Blackwell later created Island Outpost to market a group of elite unique Jamaica resorts, including Strawberry Hill in the Blue Mountains, The Caves in Negril, as well as GoldenEye, which continues to draw fans more than 50 years after Fleming’s death.

“I’m a huge James Bond fan,” said Nesa Nourmohammadi, here with her sister from North Carolina. “I’m not usually a sitting on the beach person but I’m really enjoying myself … we don’t have a plan, we’re just letting things happen,” she said.

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