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HOW THE COOKY CRUMBLES AT FRENCHMAN'S COVE
Robert Coughlan
May 30, 1960
The following letters, written to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S Articles Editor Percy Knauth, are, in a manner of speaking, confidential. Not that there was anything secret about Writer Robert Coughlan's being sent to Jamaica, B.W.I, last winter to investigate rumors of a fabulous new resort being built there. On the contrary, he was to find it, if it existed, and get the story. For reasons entirely beyond his control, however, he was unable to complete his mission. This leaves the editors with no alternative but to disclose these letters. They are the only proof the world will ever have that Coughlan went there at all.
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May 30, 1960

How The Cooky Crumbles At Frenchman's Cove

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The following letters, written to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S Articles Editor Percy Knauth, are, in a manner of speaking, confidential. Not that there was anything secret about Writer Robert Coughlan's being sent to Jamaica, B.W.I, last winter to investigate rumors of a fabulous new resort being built there. On the contrary, he was to find it, if it existed, and get the story. For reasons entirely beyond his control, however, he was unable to complete his mission. This leaves the editors with no alternative but to disclose these letters. They are the only proof the world will ever have that Coughlan went there at all.

FRENCHMAN'S COVE
PORT ANTONIO POST OFFICE
JAMAICA, B.W.I.

Dear Percy:
This will be just a preliminary report, mainly to let you know that there is such a place as Frenchman's Cove, that it is in Jamaica (not Erewhon) and that Grainger Weston actually is in charge. Further to the latter point, just before leaving New York I got the financial report from London on his father, Garfield Weston, the "Cooky King," and the estimate is that his net worth is around $50 million; which helps put this place in perspective. The $3 million or so of the family fortune that son Grainger is putting into Frenchman's Cove is, I suppose, roughly comparable to one of us giving our kid money to build a rabbit hutch.

I wouldn't want that to sound bitter or anticapitalist, heaven knows. Far from it—I've always wanted to be rich. So has my wife; so have our families, far back on both sides. Not that we've cared about money as such, but many and many a time Patricia and I have thought what we could do with just a million or so. Or, as she has often put it, more felicitously and precisely: "I don't want to be a millionaire—I just want to live like one," a concept with which I absolutely agree and which has added a strong element of stability to our marriage.

I mention this not only because it is a subject that is rather constantly on my mind, but so you will know that we were the right people to send on this special investigation. I've double-checked now, and the financial formula here actually does allege that for $2,000 a couple can stay at Frenchman's Cove for two weeks and have anything they want. While this doesn't include carry-away goods, such as sable coats, or services inimical to public morality, it does include almost anything else you can think of. In other words (so they say), once you have paid the $2,000 no money changes hands. No bar checks, no laundry bills, telephone charges or tipping; in fact, nothing. You don't even carry pocket money. For two weeks you actually live like a millionaire.

Happily enough, this will be beneficial to Frenchman's Cove also—for, due to your successful advance planning, we seem to be the very first fully paying, hence fully demanding, guests to arrive here. Through our efforts, therefore, the management will be able to test its own formula—to discover the maximum possible response that two people can make to this extraordinary challenge it has set up. I think it's especially fortunate from both viewpoints that Patricia is along, for I can honestly say that I have never known a girl who can think of more reasons for spending money, or think of them faster, than she.

As I said, this is a preliminary report—we landed in Jamaica only two days ago—so don't expect too much yet. However, I imagine that you will be interested in what we have managed to do so far.

We had no sooner landed and entered the customs shed at Kingston than a man named Briscoe, Frenchman's local agent, approached us and informed us that a car and chauffeur were waiting for us outside. Later, as the luggage was being loaded, Mr. Briscoe fixed me with a kindly eye, shook my hand affectionately and said, "Now just go ahead and do anything you want. The car is yours any time you want it. And let me know if there's anything else you want—don't hesitate to call me."

There was no immediate chance to put these statements (which, I must say, struck me as preposterous) to the test, because we were tired from the trip and what we really wanted was dinner and a night's sleep. So we drove to the Blue Mountain Inn (Frenchman's had already made the reservation), a very nice place up in the hills back of Kingston. There, as good luck had it, we ran into some friends from the U.S. Naturally we had several drinks to celebrate the occasion—a detail more significant than you might at first suppose. Frankly, you know how it is in accidental social situations like this: you're glad to see each other, but the chill question hangs in the air, "Who is going to reach for the check?" But then it hit me, and I heard myself saying in tones of complete sincerity, "What'll you have? Anything you want!" Patricia gave me a startled look; then she, too, remembered, and a slow, abstracted smile spread across her face. That night we ordered champagne with dinner. It is difficult for me to describe my emotions when I signed the bar and dinner checks, "Charge to Frenchman's Cove," adding 15% for tips and initialing the item with a flourish.

The next day we set off across the island for Frenchman's. It's about a three-hour drive along narrow mountain roads that wind along through quite marvelous tropical scenery, and so it was late afternoon by the time we arrived. From the outside you could see nothing of Frenchman's but a wall of hand-hewn Jamaican limestone. Driving in, you swing around to what they call the Gate House—a one-story building that holds a reception room, office and library. An attractive Jamaican woman named Mrs. Coote emerges and says that you are to call her whenever there's anything you want: meanwhile, your home is ready for you and the boys will escort you there.

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