The remote town of Port Antonio, Jamaica, may seem sleepy and secluded compared with the popular resort destinations of Negril and Montego Bay, but thanks to producer Jon Baker and his boutique hotel group, the Geejam Collection, the area has upgraded its star status without losing its charm.
“It’s no secret we’ve had high-profile people down here — but it’s obviously a secret when they’re here,” says Baker, 54, of the music-star draw in his collection, Geejam Hotel, which he named after his former independent label, Gee Street Records. Guests at the lush six-acre estate — which comprises three deluxe cabins, one suite and a self-contained three-bedroom villa — have included Katy Perry, Grace Jones and Rihanna, who filmed her “Man Down” video on the premises in 2010.
“The beauty of Port Antonio is the locals are totally unimpressed with celebrities,” says Baker, who partnered with Steve Beaver of the Hong Kong-based Beaver Music label to open Geejam in 2008.
Located on the island’s northeastern coast, the hotel features one uncommon amenity: a recording studio. Drake, Alicia Keys, No Doubt, John Legend, Diplo and Amy Winehouse all recorded there. “One of the first sessions we did was the first Gorillaz album, which went multiplatinum,” says Baker.
His in-house production company, Geejam Media, is now working with Jamaican-born musician Mystic Davis (featured on Diplo’s “Bubble Butt”), and The Jolly Boys, a well-known local mento group.
Baker isn’t the only music exec living and working in Jamaica. Island Records founder Chris Blackwell, largely credited with introducing reggae and Bob Marley to the world, lured Baker to the island in 1990 when he proposed a joint venture between Island/PolyGram and Gee Street. (Blackwell now runs Island Outpost, a collection of Jamaican luxury hotels and villas.) “There’s no question if it weren’t for Chris, I wouldn’t be in Jamaica right now,” Baker says.
Baker shuttles between New York and Jamaica to oversee his portfolio that includes the Trident Hotel (Beyoncé and Solange were guests in 2013) and the Trident Castle, where Arcade Fire stayed while recording Reflektor last year. “We’re experiencing a very organic growth, through pop culture,” he says. “We look at it like we’re marketing a band.”
Prices start at $395 per night; geejamhotel.com.