(Note to reader: Rather than just lavishing praise I have attempted to provide real points of comparability between the Secret Bay experience and other higher end resorts available on Dominica.)
Perched atop a cliff overseeing sandy, secluded, Secret Beach, award-winning SecretBay has provided the greatest vacation I have had in my 62 years. After many trips to upscale resorts ("eco" and otherwise) throughout the Caribbean (including Mexico) Secret Bay is the best. I have had the pleasure of staying at other highly touted accomodations on Dominica. Though enjoyable they are no match for Secret Bay under any category of comparison- location, physical structure of the accommodations, amenities, service.
LOCATION- (a) Some of best resorts on Dominica offer waterfront locations, Others provide great high altitude positioning for expansive views. Secret Bay provides both - high on a cliff above the Caribbean, yet with on-property sea-level accessibility to the sparkling waters and soft sand of Secret Beach.
(b) Unlike virtually every other quality resort on Dominica, Secret Bay is located on a very thin band of "rain-shadow" found only on the leeward (west) side of the island. This makes all the difference on an island known for its rainfall -up to 400 inches per year (!) - dropped over the windward (east) coast and inland (which creates the mountain and coastal rainforest that is Dominica's main ecological attraction. As precipitation maps for the island show, this leaves very little rain left to fall on Secret Bay's location on the North-west coast.
So, a stay at Secret Bay provides a more arid (non-humid) and sunnier micro-climate than stays elsewhere on the island. Enjoy the beach, the sun and the glowing sunsets at Secret Bay,
whilst having immediate access to the mountains and rainforest only (literally) minutes away.
(c) While at the airport for departure, my wife and I occasioned to meet a young man, a Ph.D. candidate from Canada, who has been based out of Dominica researching sperm whales and their movement patterns for several years. When he learned the location of Secret Bay on the island, he offered that it would be an ideal location for land-based whale-watching and suggested a viewing scope be considered at the resort. I have since put Gregor, Secret bay's visionary and owner, in touch with this fellow and he is looking further into such a prospect.
(d) This is not a "hotel" with rooms or suites, nor is it a cluster of "lodges" next to one another. Our villa was an estimated 50 feet or more from our nearest neighbouring villa. There is a peacefulness that falls into place up on arrival. Guests respect that peacefulness without anything needing to be said. What do you hear? Waves lapping the shore below, rustling of leaves, a bird, a tree-frog. Or close up the hinged wall panels and hear nothing. What DON'T you hear? Any urban sounds, sales pitches for trinkets, power boats/jet skis, etc., etc.
(e) The privacy and beauty of Secret Beach, the rock sea arch, the sea-cave. See Secret Bay's website photos. What you see is what you get .
ACCOMMODATION STRUCTURE - Secret Bay is the product of an eco-conscious vision brought to life with a collaboration of architectural and engineering design that remembers how beauty and function are linked.
Each villa and "bungalow" ( Canadians think of a bungalow as one-level - Secret Bay's are two levels , connected by a spiral staircase ) is a separate building well-distanced from the others. It is constructed of a beautiful Guyanese hardwood , situated upon a concrete base which is itself
held elevated above the cliff surface on a single concrete pedestal. This achieves the least possible interference with its surroundings, while adding to its vantage point for the views over the Caribbean. Outside ,a deck a level below the villa projects seaward. The "honeymoon" villa has its own infinity pool at deck level; the two-bedroom villa has its own hot-tub imbedded into to the slope of the cliff. The upper level balcony is huge - it houses the dining room table and a separate lounge set. This balcony can be left entirely open or fully screened.
Inside, hardwood and cedar finishes are joined by the best in hi-tech kitchen appliances and bathroom fixtures, and furniture. The air-conditioning can be throughout, or compartmentalized
by the use of hinged wood-framed glass wall sections that you move to position as you wish.
AMENITIES- The "luxury" in "eco-luxury" is everywhere: the built-in electronically-controlled fresh-grind coffee/cappuccino/espresso maker, the full fridge/freezer/ice-maker/cold water dispenser, the provided Kindle (which allowed me to keep up via the Toronto Globe and Mail),the touch on/off lamps, the sleek, spacious washroom with twin sinks, the comfortable beds in bedrooms appointed with flat screen TV/VCR. Eco doesn't need to be spartan, and this certainly isn't.
SERVICE- Gregor ,the owner, met us at the airport.In his vehicle we were given cool cloths to refresh our faces (another reviewer referred to having received hot cloths infused with almond - ours were cool -brought in a refrigeration unit in the vehicle). Arrival at Secret Bay included an introduction to staff, and a walk-through of the operation of the tech items in the villa. We found the fridge and cupboards stocked with the items ticked off on an on-line shopping list shortly after booking. Home-made guava jam, yoghurt and granola accompanied breakfasts we made ourselves (our choice) along with the provided eggs and bread for toast.
No en masse meal-taking at Secret Bay; each meal is a choice of making your own in your own kitchen with the stocked ingredients, or having staff prepare your meals either in your kitchen, or at the Secret Bay kitchen and brought to your table at a time of your choosing.
A sense of the owner's down-to-earth style is typified by his response to our inquiry as to whether his home was nearby. "About a 20 minute swim".
We were guided by Gregor on the provided kayaks from the shore at the mouth of the Cario River, (a small stream emptying into the Caribbean at the base of the property) around the point past a natural rock arch, to Secret Beach. Following Gregor's lead I swam through the sea-cave to the other side of the point, then back around to my wife who was sunning on the beach. Alone.
We will be returning to Secret Bay this December for 10 days. And again and again after that.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Tucked away on the unspoilt nature island of Dominica, Secret Bay offers sustainable luxury villas and bungalows and is the perfect place for a honeymoon, anniversary or the secluded holiday of a lifetime. Situated on a cliff-top overlooking the Caribbean Sea, Secret Bay is unique in its diversity: two beaches, the magical Cario River, a spectacular sea cave and two distinct micro-climates. Secret Bay is becoming known as one of the best boutique resorts in the Caribbean - and indeed the world - for honeymoons, anniversaries, small family escapes and adventure vacations. In 2013 Secret Bay was chosen as the number one luxury resort in Caribbean by Islands Magazine; and its Zabuco Honeymoon Villa was voted as having the 3rd sexiest bedroom in the world at the Smiths Awards. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Secret Bay Hotel Portsmouth
- Secret Bay Dominica/Portsmouth