PARADISE AWAITS AT THE GOLDENEYE, JAMAICA
words by DANIELLE RANSOM • Travel
A three-hour flight from New York and I’m stepping into paradise on Earth: the GoldenEye Hotel resort in Jamaica.
I love Spring Break for three reasons: 1) The girls are out of school for a week 2) it marks the end of fashion season and 3) I can begin to bring out my beloved summer staples.
Nestled in a rainforest, it’s a magical oasis backdropped by the aquamarine waters of the Caribbean Sea. It’s the Caribbean’s not-so-secret, secret; complete with a peaceful energy you feel as soon as you arrive (with a tranquil two-hour drive from Montego Bay - where you are completely surrounded by nature). This, I find, puts you in an instantly refreshed mood; immune to the stresses of home. That, and a back-seat beer helps too.
WHERE TO STAY
Villas, bungalows, and huts dot Oracabessa Bay, the tiny village that houses the resort. The girls and I elected to stay in one of the bungalows along the lagoon for an especially unique experience (one I would highly recommend, provided your fellow travelers are confident swimmers!)
Each bungalow has its own private deck and comes equipped with canoes for paddling around the lagoons, to the nearby beaches, or even to lunch at Button Beach restaurant. The ability to spend the days by the beach and evenings on the lagoon is such a special transition. And watching blowfish, barracudas, and stingrays floating nearby is as far from a typical New York evening as you can get.
But if you’re feeling a little home-sick or in need of a little TLC, the resort staff are always on hand to help. They are the most wonderful, respectful, and informed people. Whatever you seek, they have you covered.
WHAT TO DO
Relax. That is at the core of a vacation at The GoldenEye. Pure, simple, relaxation. There’s nothing better than taking a siesta around lunchtime when the heat is at its peak. While the entire resort has WiFi access, take it from the woman who has trouble putting down her phone, this place has a magic that makes you disconnect from the outside world. Five days and 5,000+ emails later — and I don’t feel guilty at all.
If you’re the ‘organized fun’ type (I am not), there are group-led activities for all ages and interests. If not, there are more than enough coves, beaches, coral reefs, and mountains to explore on your own. Or there’s an open spa in the middle of rainforest where you can get a massage, sea salt scrub, herbal wrap, or facial. Plus yoga classes aplenty.
The private seaside sanctuary captures the essence of island living: simplicity with quality. It’s not showy or pretentious. No one cares or is trying to impress others, so you can leave your Chanel beach bag at home (a tip I probably could have used before I arrived). All you need is a bathrobe, a swimsuit, and a will to let go and enjoy.
WHAT TO EAT
If you’re staying over a weekend, you are blessed with the resorts Saturday barbeque ritual. Quite unlike anything I have ever experienced, fire pits are used to cook seafood, meat, and vegetables - or you can request the chefs make something special just for you.
The resort has three bars and three restaurants. The rooftop bar, Shabeen is a personal favorite - the views are truly amazing. Little can compete with sipping on a cocktail while watching your kids have fun at The Gazebo nearby (a lounge inside one of the restaurants that is built like a tree-house). Menu recommendations? The lobster gnocchi is extremely delicious, and their ginger mojito is equally delightful.
There are no shops or tourist spots anywhere along the island, but everything you need is taken care of. The whole experience is seamless and you feel the love that has gone into creating every inch of the resort. I felt like the luckiest person in the world to be there.
*GoldenEye Resort will begin renovations in May to build more properties around the island. Reduced rates will apply through while construction is underway (anticipated end date of November).