Chris Blackwell sits at the head of a broad wooden table, rum punch in hand, as the orange sun sets off Jamaica’s north coast in front of him.
He’s discussing his portfolio of properties on the island: an inland farm, halfway between Oracabessa and Montego Bay; an all-inclusive luxury resort called The Caves in Negril, on the far-west coast; Strawberry Hill, his house outside Kingston where Bob Marley famously retreated after being shot in 1976; and GoldenEye, Blackwell’s crown jewel, where he lives most of the year and where British author Ian Fleming wrote all 14 of his James Bond novels. It was Fleming who planted the twin almond trees that shade the table in this yard back in the late 1940s, when he lived in its Spartan three-bedroom house, and Fleming whose legacy attracts many of the resort’s guests each year.
But it is Blackwell, who purchased the property in the 1970s and through the years has expanded it into one of the world’s most prestigious getaways, whose presence now looms largest. Few, if any, who come here are unaware of his storied career, and his omnipresence on the property makes for an easy rapport with his guests. “I enjoy the process of meeting people when they visit the place and showing them around,” he says in a slow British drawl. “It’s like playing somebody a record.”