“It’s one of those places I’ve always known,” photographer Kacey Jeffers said of Golden Rock, a much-loved Nevis hotel nestled in a jungle-covered (and possibly active) on top of a volcano. In fact, as someone who grew up on the island, a trip to Golden Rock was a rite of passage for Jeffers and his family—especially when the hotel was taken over by art-world moguls Bryce and Helen. When Madden bought it 109, he turned it into a creative retreat for locals and tourists alike.
So when Marden’s daughter, Mirabelle, asked Jeffers to create a series of photography for the hotel, he said yes. But instead of just shooting the landscape (among them, a tropical-style bungalow in Golden Rock, an Ed Tuttle-designed swimming pool, and lush grounds designed by the aptly named Raymond Jungles, Jeffers could easily do it), he decided to make a statement .
“In the context of images promoting tourism, you rarely see images of black people and people of color at leisure,” he explained. “It’s something I really wanted to achieve.” He did.
Jeffers at Golden Rock 10 Day, imagine his project using a native actor model. He envisions the different types of guests that typically frequent the resort—young families, couples, solo travelers, adventure seekers, and those looking to do nothing—and the kinds of things they might do to get there. A mother applies sunscreen to her child by the pool. A couple walks to dinner holding hands, with their backs to the camera and eyes fixed on each other. A young girl holds a pink cotton dress to a room mirror, wondering if it matches her mood. Jeffers also filmed the Golden Rock crew, but as separate subjects rather than secondary characters — a role they’re often relegated to.
result? A series that feels authentic, refreshing, and reflects reality well. A recent report found that black leisure travelers in the United States spent $109.4 billion dollars on 2019 travel. Meanwhile, the population of Nevis is almost 10% Afro-Caribbean. As the legacy of colonialism continues to shift across the Caribbean and diverse spending power grows, hotels in Nevis and the region as a whole have changed; no longer a homogeneous place where the guests are all white, The local residents of the island serve as service staff rather than paying customers themselves. “The culture has shifted, flying is easy, and all types of people are traveling,” Jeffers said. “But in the context of tourism, I think those tropes are still being peddled.”
He conveys his message in a subtle way, presenting his models in various states of joy, contentment and curiosity – all the emotions one experiences while on vacation, or sees them in casual commercials. “It’s a story as old as time,” Jeffers said. “We just showed a different cast.”