Delighted to see I’ve inspired some good industry friends to follow one of my dream event experiences for their own client incentive events. So hey, I might as well share with all!
Undoubtedly one of my most treasured discoveries in recent years. For being a simply stunning property and its unique, fascinating history. GoldenEye in Jamaica. The memory bank was given a recent boost by the news that the property is soon to reveal 26 additional new ‘beach huts’ – in addition to their existing 18 one & two Bedrooms Cottages and Villas located around a spectacular private beach and lagoon.
For an exclusive buy out, the size of resort was perfect, albeit a variety of different room types. A non commercial location despite a longer than ideal transfer. But its literacy heritage and entertainment following with guests from Beyonce to Kate Moss, it is an incentive planners dream!
Former home and inspirational retreat of Ian Fleming where he penned the enduring James Bond novels and the children classic ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’. Following a brief ownership by Bob Marley in the 70’s, the estate was taken over by his manager, the current owner by Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records, who developed this popular hangout for eminent musicians of the 20th century into a world class getaway.
If you have a very healthy budget, the right profile and size of group, this could be a very special find for an exclusive use incentive with thrilling theme possibilities.
The four acres lagoon, the centrepiece of GoldenEye, was created when the local village of Oracabessa was a banana port back in the 19th Century. Today it forms a peaceful ring around Santa Maria island and extends under the GoldenEye bridge into the Bay, GoldenEyes main beach Low Cay, is 500 feet of smooth sand that’s ideal for sunning, relaxing and swimming.
Its only a matter of time before I return to GoldenEye with another special event. The management and staff were simply amazing throughout. If you are ever lucky enough to experience GoldenEye, just make sure you take an Ian Fleming novel, relax in a hammock with some Island Life sounds in your playlist, and realise life doesn’t get anymore chilled than this. And you’re at the very place where those very words and music were born.
Best Bits: if budget allows – and you have a team or group of friendly couples, take the spectacular 5 bedroom Fleming Villa. It has an illustrious history of guests from Hollywood A Listers to music industry icons. Don’t expect the hotel to upgrade the Chairman to it, but if you can include it in the event, you’ll have access to the house, gardens and beach for stunning receptions and dinners.
Also, treat yourself to the incredible spa. The spa, formerly a private holiday home owned by Naomi Campbell, can be accessed across the lagoon on your private paddle board from your room veranda if staying in a Lagoon Villa.
Getting there: from the UK, British Airways fly into Kingston and Virgin Atlantic into Montego Bay. Montego Bay is the closest airport with the transfer approx. 1.5 hours. Kingston is approx. 2 hour transfer. There are light aircraft and helicopter charter companies for small groups which enable you to fly into the Ian Fleming Airport, approx. 10 minutes drive from the resort.
Perfect for: a short beach stay incentive with a good budget! The rooms are expensive and varied according to size and location. The hotel does offer all inclusive package supplement which will make it seem better value but be prepared!
Rooms: The Fleming Villa (5 bedrooms) plus a variety of types from 1 & 2 bedroom beach and lagoon villas. Plus the new simple Beach Huts. Variations on the simple, beach chic style. Outdoor showers in most. Not for a group who will compare room notes and like to be in identical rooms but you shouldn’t get any complaints as there isn’t a sub standard room. Most actually preferred the lagoon villas where one can paddle board off from their personal veranda.
Programme Ideas: they won’t want to leave the resort. But if you feel the need, charter a catamaran for a private beach BBQ down the coast, cocktails in Firefly, former home of Noel Coward, various island adventures off the beaten track. Avoid the tourist hot spots in neighbouring resorts and ensure you check cruise schedules if you do go out. Big cruise lines dock in Ocho Rios and you’ll want to be cocooned up in GoldenEye! There are numerous locations around the resort for varied private dinner options.
Touches: with James Bond heritage and the musical background of Blackwell, Marley and the Island Records … what more do you want! Don’t limit your creative. Great ideas for pre event teasers and incentive campaign themes. Fantastic room gifts to inspired entertainment – in one of the most inspirational hotels you’ll ever discover.
Paul Evans, Founder of Eveology, is a leading incentive travel specialist. For more information, visit www.eveology.com
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