Emerging Incentive Destinations: Oracabessa, Jamaica

Oracabessa, JamaicaIt's not too often that a sleepy fishing village takes center stage on CNN. If you caught Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, Jamaica this week, one of his stops off-the-beaten track was Oracabessa, located 10 miles East of Ocho Rios on Jamaica's north coast in St. Mary.

When Columbus arrived, in 1494, the area was sparsely populated by the original Taino inhabitants. The Spanish named it "Ora Cabeza", meaning "golden head, inspired by the dramatic formation of the cliffs and the golden sunsets from the spectacular views the cliffs provide. The Spanish arrived on large sailing vessels. Today, private luxury planes can fly into Ian Fleming International Airport, 2 miles away in Boscobel.

At various points in Oracabessa's history, starting with development of the community spearheaded by abolitionist Reverend James Phillippo during the post-emancipation area (1834), it has been a thriving agricultural community, fishing village and artist's colony. It has attracted painters, wood carvers, world famous musicians,  actors, and other artisans. There are art galleries including Wilderness House of Art and Von White's studio. British reggae band UB40 has a recording studio in Oracabessa.

Music mogul and luxury hotelier Chris Blackwell has purchased 70 acres of prime beachfront property that is slated for development. James Bond Beach, where Ursala Andress emerged from the sea in an iconic scene from the movie Dr. No.

It's the first phase of the development. It has the large open air, 2-storey Moonraker Bar with a capacity of 200. It's a perfect venue for special events. Ziggy Marley, Rihanna, Lauryn Hill and other famous musicians host concerts there.

Oracabessa Foundation, founded by Chris Blackwell, has several key initiatives to give back to the community including Oracabessa Skills Bank and Oracabessa Bay Fish Sanctuary.

Oracabessa was the location of Goldeneye, the estate where Ian Fleming penned the James Bond novels. Today it is Goldeneye Resort and Luxury Villas.

Other options for small group accommodation include Tamarind Great House, on a restored estate with an organic farm, dating back to the 18th-century and Golden Clouds, a 9-suite oceanfront villa in the midst of a lush, 6-acre estate. In 2009, the Golden Clouds estate was purchased by Colin Simpson, Canadian software developer, author, and a great-great grandson of James Phillippo.

Photo Credit: Golden Clouds

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