Chester Francis-Jackson, Contributor
The iconic Chris Blackwell is known for his almost beatnik style but his avant-garde sense of panache translates into an engaging personal style that is admired as it speaks to his individuality and sense of comfort. Above all else, Blackwell is revered for his seemingly mindless trendsetting business acumen!
My dears, Blackwell is a visionary beyond compare! A man ahead of himself and his peers by leaps and bounds as he has time and time again showed by his initiative that opportunity not only favours the brave, it embraces their endeavours and rewards their foresight!
The buzz words in some tourism circles are 'heritage tourism'. But while many only now embrace the concept, Blackwell has been quietly building a tourism empire using heritage tourism as its very foundation.
Boutique hotel setting
Opting to eschew the popular sun, sea and cachet of the all-inclusive appeal, the quiet almost shy entrepreneur has been carving out a niche in the tourism marketplace, using as his calling card a boutique hotel setting that appeals to the very chic and the cosmopolitan without subscribing to the more garish nature of the tourism product. And luvs, with his signature understated elegance as the trademark of his Island Outpost brand, the visitors have been a-calling and how!
Those flocking to Blackwell's Island Outpost boutique resorts are the leading denizens from pop, entertainment, the movie industry as well as from the world of technology, not to mention European bluebloods!
Situated on the coastal side of Oracabessa is a jewel of a property named Goldeneye, the simple and naturally beautiful property was once the home of the internationally celebrated writer, Ian Fleming, of James Bond fame.
Talk about heritage tourism! The old Ian Fleming beach bungalow is pretty much intact, but Blackwell and his team have transformed the old property into a simply marvellous 21st-century boutique resort while critically managing to retain the charm and rustic appeal, in creating the 'New Goldeneye'.
In its heyday, Goldeneye was not only a sanctuary where Fleming produced his best-selling novels that later became the blockbuster master spy James Bond movies, the place was pretty much the international crossroads for international celebs and the who's who of the artistic, literary, movies and social world.
Today, the New Goldeneye still remains all that for the international who's who and Blackwell has not only transformed and expanded it, the property now boasts a beautiful lagoon and the original property has been augmented with an additional 40 acres of land, its own little island, plus some 30 beautiful suites, making for a simply fabulous resort.
Great place to be
It was here that Blackwell and a shortlist of friends welcomed 2011, and luvs, it was the place to be for the New Year celebrations. No one throws a New Year's Eve party like Blackwell and his team!
Luvs, it was a case of no attitude! No drama and definitely no agenda, except the celebration of life, its bounties and friendships and dearhearts, it made for a fabulous do and nothing but!
Dears, think: stilt-walkers, jugglers, mimes, clowns - a circus troupe in full entertaining mode; hand-carved party favours and keepsakes. It was a family affair when it came to the musical offering as the fabulous music was by Susan, Wayne, Brian and Sebastian Jobson providing some fabulous reggae, rock, middle-of-the-road and '60s tunes that made for free-flow dancing and singalong!
And along with an open fare, fabulous mixes, with the Blackwell Rum at its core, oodles and oodles of champagne, y'all know, we are talking a fabulous party!
Luvs, just shy of midnight, the heavens opened, as if to bestow its blessings on the occasion. It was a light and brief shower and as it fell guests got into Auld Lang Syne with a gusto, matching the passion of the tumultuous year that 2010 was for some. But the most moving moment of the celebrations was when guests were invited to participate in the lighting and releasing of sky-lanterns and watch them float upwards to the heavens, symbolically releasing the old year to welcome the new. Luvs it made for a very a very special moment for all involved - just watching, as 2010 floated into history.
A fabulous storm
Dears, amid the champagne toasts, the happy-go-lucky-dancing, the free-spirited celebrations and camaraderie, international trendsetting diva/actress/singer/movie-glamourzon Grace Jones danced up a fabulous storm; host Blackwell was his cool masterful self, as he too danced away the old year and welcomed the new, with family-friend, the lovely Alex Pringlel 'Pring' Ebling.
Also dancing out the old year and welcoming the new were Culture and Sports Minister MP Olivia 'Babsy' Grange; Chris Blackwell Jr; Chance Blackwell; Grace Jones's sibling Chris Jones; Joanna Saulter; the lovely Suzette Newman; Ian and Basia Hamilton, in from London, with son Felix and Max; former Belgian ambassador to Jamaica, Herman Portacarero and his lovely wife, Myriam; the charming Dianne Jobson; David Brooks; David West and the lovely Cathy Snipper, who got engaged on Christmas Day; the lovely Sheila Snipper; Joe Adduci and his charming wife, Laura; Brian Jobson; Seyon Hanson and Georgia Lumsden; Pradeep and Shalini Vaswani; Balram Vaswani; Clay Parks and wife Iona Wynter-Parks; Adam and Marika Miller; Don and Denyse Green with daughters, Sophia and Eva; Brian McNish and the lovely Lisa Gomes; the lovely Rebecca Issa; Marco Fila and family; plus a number of others.
Kudos to Jenny Wood, and her Goldeneye team for a superb outing and nothing but.