Open main menu

Golden Clouds was the name given by Ruth Bryan Owen, the first female US ambassador, to her house in Oracabessa, Jamaica.[2][3] It is situated between Goldeneye, where Ian Fleming wrote many of the James Bond novels, and Noël Coward's Firefly Estate. The award-winning ocean front 12-bedroom estate is on 7 acres (2.8 ha) of manicured lawn and gardens with over 500 feet (150 m) of shoreline and its own private beach.[4]

Golden Clouds
Golden Clouds aerial view.jpg
Aerial photo of Golden Clouds
Golden Clouds is located in Jamaica
Golden Clouds
Golden Clouds
Location within Jamaica
General information
LocationOracabessa, Jamaica
Coordinates18°24′45″N 76°56′28″W / 18.412503°N 76.9410646°W / 18.412503; -76.9410646Coordinates: 18°24′45″N 76°56′28″W / 18.412503°N 76.9410646°W / 18.412503; -76.9410646[1]
OwnerColin Simpson, Oksana Simpson
ManagementGolden Clouds
Other information
Number of suites12


Ambassador Owen purchased the property in 1911 from Chris Blackwell's grandfather, Percival Henriques Lindo, whose family owned the J. Wray and Nephew Ltd. distillery along with several thousand acres of real estate in the Oracabessa area.[5] Owen oversaw the construction of the luxurious villa and entertained many famous guests there including Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, and Charlie Chaplin.[2][6][7]

During the 1970s the estate was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Keeson, who restored the property. The Keesons began renting the villa to the public, and over the years the clientele has included a number of celebrities such as musicians Willie Nelson and Jimmy Buffett,[8] and film stars Denzel Washington and Robert De Niro.[9] The villa has also hosted many weddings and is consistently ranked as one of the top Caribbean wedding destinations.[10][11]

In addition to being a popular wedding location, Golden Clouds has also served as a movie location and was featured in the film The Mighty Quinn, starring Denzel Washington, Robert Townsend, and Mimi Rogers.[12] Golden Clouds has also been featured on several television shows including Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, and as a grand prize on The Price Is Right.[13]

In 2009, Golden Clouds was purchased by bestselling author and musician Colin Simpson and his wife, Oksana. Colin Simpson is the great-great grandson[14] of renowned slavery abolitionist James Phillippo who built the first church in the area and helped establish Oracabessa as one of Jamaica's first Free Villages.[15] The Simpsons were married at Golden Clouds in 2001, and in an interview with The Jamaican Observer, the new owners indicated their intention to carry on the century-old tradition of luxurious accommodations and casual elegance that has made the villa world-renowned.[16]

Famous clienteleEdit

One of Golden Cloud's most famous early guests was Charlie Chaplin, who was a good friend of original owner, Ruth Bryan Owen.[17] In a note to Owen, Chaplin described Golden Clouds as "A wonderfully magical place where time stands still. It is, simply paradise."[18] While these words were written over 100 years ago, very little has changed since that time, and guests still use words such as "magical" and "paradise" when describing their stay at Golden Clouds.[19]


Golden Cloud's neoclassical architectural design was based on Casa Figueras, an 18th-century luxury villa that Owen stayed at during her first trip to Spain,[20] and reflects Oracabessa's heritage as a Spanish settlement.[21] In 1996, Golden Clouds received the prestigious Governor General's Award[22] from the Jamaica Institute of Architects for its outstanding design, which combines historical elements with modern amenities.

Sanctuary and attractionsEdit

Golden Clouds is located in the Oracabessa Bay Fish Sanctuary, which was established in 2010 to protect Oracabessa's marine ecosystem.[23] Through investments by the Oracabessa Foundation, Seacology,[24] and GEF,[25] the Fish Sanctuary has reintroduced Sea turtles and thousands of new coral into the Oracabessa Bay area. An important part of the Fish Sanctuary is the Oracabessa Bay Turtle project. The Turtle project monitors the beaches in Oracabessa Bay, and in 2012 they helped the release of more than 16,000 hatchlings from their nests.[26]

The reef located directly in front of Golden Clouds is one of the largest in Oracabessa Bay and is a popular dive destination due to its diverse reef structure, vibrant marine life, and close proximity to the Cayman Trough. This trough starts on the edge of the Fish Sanctuary with walls that begin at 60 ft. and drop down to over 150 ft. The walls are covered in a large variety of hard and soft corals and contain many overhangs and ledges that are home to lobsters, king crab, green and spotted moray eels, as well as a host of other marine creatures. Beyond the boundaries of the Oracabessa Bay Fish Sanctuary, the Cayman Trough plunges to depths of over 25,000 ft and is renowned for deep-water sport fishing including marlin and tuna.[27]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Wikimapia". Retrieved November 8, 2010.
  2. ^ a b Caribbean Caravel, Ruth Brown Owen, Dodd, Mead & Co. (1949), New York, 222 pages.
  3. ^ Historical reference
  4. ^
  5. ^ Reference to Blackwell family
  6. ^ Owen's guests at Golden Clouds
  7. ^ Reference to notable guests
  8. ^ Steve Eng (1998) Jimmy Buffett: The Man from Magaritaville Revealed, St. Martin's Press, P. 301 ISBN 978-0-312-16875-9
  9. ^ Koss, Richard (2008) Jamaica (Country Guide), Lonely Planet, P. 162 ISBN 978-1-74104-693-9
  10. ^ Popular Wedding Destinations
  11. ^ Modern Bride Magazine, Caribbean Wedding Dreams, p. 19, March 2008, Conde Nest Publishing
  12. ^ Franklin J. Schaffner (Scarecrow Filmmakers Series) (1995) Scarecrow Publishing P. 277 ISBN 978-0-8108-1799-9
  13. ^ Television Feature
  14. ^ Public Record Office Readers Guide No 11. PRO, Kew, Surrey, 2nd Edition, (2002) pp 116. ISBN 1-903365-38-4
  15. ^ James Phillipo, Jamaica: Its Past and Present State, J. Snow, 1843
  16. ^ Jamaica Observer p. 5, December 7, 2009 "Historic Oracabessa Villa Sold".
  17. ^ Reference to Charlie Chaplin
  18. ^ Caribbean Caravel, Ruth Brown Owen, Dodd, Mead & Co. (1949), New York, P. 171.
  19. ^ Guest Testimonials
  20. ^ Caribbean Caravel, Ruth Brown Owen, Dodd, Mead & Co. (1949), New York, P. 114.
  21. ^ Historical Significance
  22. ^ Governor General’s Award
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 26, 2012. Retrieved January 15, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ Seacology grant
  25. ^ GEF Grant information
  26. ^ Turtles in Oracabessa Bay
  27. ^ Sport fishing destination

External linksEdit