Exclusive Retreats

You want to hole up in luxury where the press can't reach you? Where better, asks Ben Ross, than Ian Fleming's former home. Rhiannon Batten suggests the best alternatives

Sting reputedly wrote "Every Breath You Take" while lounging on the sofa. Johnny Depp spent an afternoon planting a guava tree in the orchard. The swimming pool has, in its time, hosted the bronzed bodies of A-listers such as Naomi Campbell, Gwyneth Paltrow, Harrison Ford and the boys from U2. This is Goldeneye, on Jamaica's north coast, erstwhile home to James Bond creator Ian Fleming, and now a luxury holiday hideaway. The weather is tropical, the staff-to-guest ratio obscene, the cocktails primarily rum-based; it's like being in heaven without the white beards and togas. In fact, it's all so lush, so exquisite, that the first question that enters your head is: what have I done to deserve this?

The answer, most probably, is either that you know the right people, or you are the right people. Places such as Goldeneye are part of a niche category of destinations that pass directly through the opulence of the five-star hotel and inhabit their own microclimate of chic splendour.

The main house isn't trying to impress anyone: it's a simple three-bedroom white bungalow, albeit one draped with Indonesian fabrics and ethnic art. Staying here isn't about showing off your wealth; it's about enjoying it. Meanwhile, down at the cliff edge, simple wooden villas have rooms named after Bond girls: Domino, Tiffany Case and Honeychile. Each has its own terrace and bathrooms open to the sky. It's more banana leaf than gold leaf; more Pierce Brosnan (who has stayed here) than Wayne Rooney (who hasn't).

Presumably this lack of ostentation is what you want from a holiday: no fuss, just comfort and relaxation. Goldeneye is a place you can call home, especially if you've reserved the entire estate at £5,900 a night.

The location is important too: guards discourage the paparazzi while you get on with enjoying the stunning view of the Caribbean Sea from the lawn, or lounging on one of your three private beaches. Then there's a chance to potter about on the private boat, or snorkel on your favourite patch of coral reef, just as Ursula Andress did in Dr No. Indeed, location is Goldeneye's pre-eminent charm: you are paying to stay on a patch of earth that everyone wants to visit, but no one else is invited.

And if you're not a celebrity? It's amazing how quickly you adapt. On the first day, you exalt at your good fortune (in my case a happy combination of hard-working friends, the sale of their internet company, and their desire to celebrate in style). You scamper round like a child, exploring your villa, playing with the home-cinema system and swatting through a few sets on the tennis court. Then, a couple of Red Stripes and light lunch later, you mount your sun lounger and settle down.

You soon get used to the cocktail hour, the squadrons of gardeners, the fact that you never, ever, have to clear anything up. It doesn't strike you as odd that the sand on the beach appears to be raked every morning, or that a towel is there for you after every dip. Through a fuzz of banana daiquiris you have to pinch yourself just to remember that Life Isn't Like This.

And that's the one downside: with no incentive to leave the privileges of Goldeneye's 50-acre estate, there never seems to be a good moment to explore the real Jamaica that lies beyond. But why worry? A tiny taste of Goldeneye is a chance to concentrate on the important things in life - like what colour your next drink is going to be, and whether you too can write a number one song on that special sofa. You never know - one day the royalties might mean you can afford to come back again.

Pangkor Laut

WHERE IS IT?

A rainforest-covered retreat with148 luxury villas and eight even more exclusive private estates

WHERE IS IT?

Malaysia

WHO GOES THERE?

Pavarotti is a regular guest

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

Two-person villas from 805 Malaysian ringgits (£116) per night, room-only. Estates from MR8,000 (£1,153) for three nights

HOW DO I GET THERE?

Contact the resort (00 800 9899 9999; www.pangkorlaut.com)

Mnemba Island

WHAT IS IT?

Mnemba is home to just 10 hand-woven "bandas" or beach huts

WHERE IS IT?

Off Zanzibar, Tanzania

WHO GOES THERE?

Mariella Frostrup and Bill Gates - though not together, of course

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

From $585 (£320) per person per night, all-inclusive

HOW DO I GET THERE?

Contact CC Africa (00 27 11 809 4300; www.ccafrica.com)

Cay Espanto

WHAT IS IT?

A small but luxuriously formed resort of five private villas

WHERE IS IT?

Off Belize

WHO GOES THERE?

Leonardo DiCaprio

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

Bungalows from $1,195 (£655) per night, $10,000 (£5,478) per night for exclusive rental

HOW DO I GET THERE?

Contact the resort (001 910 323 8355; www.aprivateisland.com)

Parrot Cay

WHAT IS IT?

Not so much barefoot chic as well-heeled chic, this Caribbean retreat emphasises inner peace at its Shambala spa

WHERE IS IT?

Turks and Caicos

WHO GOES THERE?

Bruce Willis, Julia Roberts

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

Doubles from $410 (£225)

HOW DO I GET THERE?

Contact the resort (001 649 946 7788; parrotcay.como.bz)

Amanpulo

WHAT IS IT?

This private island, one of Aman's first, has 40 casitas modelled after the Philippine 'bahay kubo' dwellings

WHERE IS IT?

Pamalican, Philippines

WHO GOES THERE?

Michelle Pfeiffer, Mariah Carey

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

Double casitas from $650 (£356) per night, room only

HOW DO I GET THERE?

Contact Aman Resorts (00 65 6887 3337; www.amanresorts.com)

Necker island

WHAT IS IT?

Richard Branson's private island, with dreamy scenery and the kind of privacy that only cash can buy

WHERE IS IT?

British Virgin Islands

WHO GOES THERE?

Robert De Niro, Harrison Ford

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

From $20,500 (£11,229) per couple per week, all inclusive

HOW DO I GET THERE?

Contact the resort (020-8600 0430; www.necker.com)

North Island

WHAT IS IT?

The Robinson Crusoe experience repackaged with a personal menu and a private plunge pool

WHERE IS IT?

Seychelles

WHO GOES THERE?

J K Rowling

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

Two-person villas from €2,720 (£1,814) per night, all inclusive

HOW DO I GET THERE?

Contact the resort (00 27 11 807 1800; www.north-island.com)

Wilson island

WHAT IS IT?

The big attraction of its six rustic-chic tents is star-gazing of the astronomical kind

WHERE IS IT?

Australia's Great Barrier Reef

WHO GOES THERE?

It's so exclusive nobody's telling

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

From A$1,995 (£844) per person for five days, all inclusive

HOW DO I GET THERE?

Contact the resort (00 612 8296 8010; www.wilsonisland.com)

Turtle island

WHAT IS IT?

The setting for 'The Blue Lagoon', features thatched cottages

WHERE IS IT?

Fiji

WHO GOES THERE?

Tom Cruise, Charlize Theron

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

Cottages from $1,975 (£1,082) per night, or exclusive rental from $275,000 (£150,640) per week

HOW DO I GET THERE?

Contact the resort (0800 028 5938; www.turtlefiji.com)

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