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“Dominica's (Perhaps the Caribbean's) Best- Above the Rest !” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Secret Bay

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Secret Bay
Ranked #1 of 4 Hotels in Portsmouth
Certificate of Excellence
St. Catharines, Canada
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Dominica's (Perhaps the Caribbean's) Best- Above the Rest !”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 24, 2012

(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.
Here's why:

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.

Room Tip: For those who think of "bungalow" as meaning one floor of living space, at Secret Bay, bun...
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  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank John H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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471 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (171)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Raleigh, NC
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 21, 2012

Wonderful, relaxing trip to Secret Bay last week. My husband and I were celebrating our 10th anniversary and booked the Zabuco Villa. It is every bit as gorgeous in person as it is on the website photos and exceeded our expectations. We arrived at night and marveled at the beautiful villa, but when we woke up at sunrise and saw the view...WOW! My hands-down favorite part of the villa was the open-air shower. The hot water combined with the cool ocean breeze was sensational. Also, the bed was the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in. It is very peaceful and quiet there and most of the time we were alone at Secret Beach. Amazing. This should go without saying but if you are looking for a glitzy resort with bars and nightlife, this is not the place. We felt like we were at home but in a beautiful secluded setting with no responsibilities!

The staff is very friendly and Anna accomodates most anything you could need. The food was great, we just told them to prepare us local dishes every day and it was all delicious, especially the desserts! They do run a bit on "island time", if you tell them a time for a meal, they will probably run a little late. This didn't bother us because it was a very laid-back vacation, but if you want things on the dot, you might specifically request that. We also did not care to do the couples yoga session that was included in our package and they subsitituted a massage on the upstairs deck which was fantastic!

Dominica as a whole is very affordable and beautiful. We bought a weekly site pass for $12 US per person that allows you entrance to basically every attraction on the island. We went to several of them in one day with a driver arranged by Anna. We visited Trafalgar Falls, Emerald Pool, Titou Gorge (an absolute MUST) and snorkeled at Champagne Beach. We also did the Indian River boat tour on another day. It is so non-touristy, we were usually the only people there or one of just a few, which was nice. I would not recommend renting a vehicle as suggested by another reviewer. Nothing seemed to be marked, many attractions were off the beaten path, and I am sure we never would have found the places we were going to on our own!

We definitely would love to return to Secret Bay, I just hope that with all the success and accolades they have been getting, we will be able to get reservations again!

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank laurilib
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
United States
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 16, 2012

My wife and I enjoyed our honeymoon at Secret Bay for 7 days in the first week of June. It was our first trip to Dominica, and actually our first big trip together, and we had been so excited to enjoy the natural beauty and adventure of this special island. Secret Bay seemed like the best way to get luxury with a natural/local Dominican feel, so we booked Zabuco and planned to alternate between adventurous days and relaxing ones.

Before we arrived, I talked with Anna about many of the details of our trip - she helped me find flights and set up a rental car for us. She also gave us a form to fill out that told Secret Bay what we wanted to have pre-stocked in our kitchen. I was excited about as much local fare as possible including the Dominican rum and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Also, I couldn't find my SCUBA dive card, so I sent her a certification letter that I located online and she had it printed for me in the villa when we arrived - Anna was extraordinarily helpful!

We were greeted at the airport with an incredibly energetic and fun driver who gave us cool towels and bottled water - Anna knew our flight info and told us that they would have a taxi waiting for us. The driver Marcus let us stop along the way to take a few gorgeous photos on the coast. When we got to Secret Bay, Anna and Gilbert (and one or two others?) were there to bring our luggage up to Zabuco Villa. Anna gave us the villa tour before we ate a much needed dinner of fish and veggies, broke into the rum and fresh mango juice, and officially started the honeymoon.

Throughout the whole stay, the staff were very attentive to our needs. Security brought fresh eggs up to our villa early one morning, Anna sat down with us in our villa to plan all of the excursions we wanted to try, Gregor gave us a personal tour of the bat cave at Secret Bay, the amazing cooks prepared a number of local dishes for us, and most importantly the staff left us alone when we wanted to be alone.

There were a few hiccups - the fancy Siemens coffee/espresso maker in our villa never seemed to work properly, but the villa already had a regular drip coffee maker that we were able to use instead. We very much enjoyed the bath as well as the shower, but the shower leaked a little bit between the sliding door and basin...we actually forgot to tell Secret Bay about this, so it must not have bothered us too much.

I think the only thing we would change next time we go is that we would plan ahead a little more for when we wanted meals, laundry service, and housekeeping. Anna was able to get meals to us last minute at our request, but we would have enjoyed the pampering even more if we had spent some time figuring out our days and expectations just a bit...it seemed like our indecision occasionally inconvenienced the staff. For example, we asked for a second codfish breakfast since we enjoyed it so much the first time, but we asked the night before assuming it would be no big deal...we found out the next morning that the staff actually had to take an unplanned trip to the store to get the necessary ingredients and ran a bit late with the breakfast delivery because of this. We would have just taken whatever they had available if we knew it was going to be any trouble.

An unexpected benefit of being at Secret Bay was that it seemed like many Dominicans knew and respected the resort and its staff. We got some pretty awesome perks, like a personal tour around Syndicate Parrot Reserve from a very well respected ornithologist. The resort was ideally located for seeing the Caribbean coast of Dominica, but we never found ourselves on the Atlantic coast for whatever reason. We did take some long drives in the rental car down as far as Scotts Head, but this was really easy since we only had to follow the one main road down the whole coast.

Anyway, I'm starting to ramble because I can't say enough about this wonderful trip. It was so clear that Secret Bay cares deeply about their guests as well as their island. It is a luxurious resort, but it is so in tune with the natural beauty of Dominica, and it is clear that Dominica will stay beautiful with eco-friendly resorts like Secret Bay.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Walter B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
21 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 12, 2012

I feel a little guilty not raving about Secret Bay because the staff is fantastic, and because we did have a very nice vacation. Also they personally ask you a number of times to write a review, and the're so nice that maybe people don't want to if it wasn't a great experience.

We didn't have some of the amazing experiences listed here: no one met us with hot towels - we called after we arrived and a cab was sent to get us. There wasn't homemade watermelon sorbet in a stocked kitchen: we were stocked with processed cheese and store bread, and had to ask again for the full order. Our prepared dinners were fairly dull: barbecued chicken twice, and a tasty but bland breadfruit casserole 2-3 times. The water in the wonderful tub never got hot enough (even after we asked if something could be done) so we boiled pots of water on the stove to make it warm enough. The pool was freezing, and the ocean water very choppy due to high winds. When we left, no one warned us that we needed cash as a departure tax and with the airport ATM out of order we almost missed the flight until someone took pity on us and loaned us the money (paid back via PayPal the same day). I'm sure it was probably listed in multiple places, but we didn't read through everything.

The villas are huge and gorgeous, and equipped with absolutely top of the line everything, including an impressively curated library. The grounds are lovely, with beautiful little sitting areas where you can watch the sunset. We had a lovely time relaxing and reading, and everyone was extremely nice. If you plan to explore, I highly recommend renting a car: we had a lot of problems arranging rides for outings.

So while we had a wonderful time, and were very relaxed and enjoyed our trip immensely, we somehow missed out on the experience that most of the other people had.

Room Tip: They're all beautiful.
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  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
16 Thank SunFlight
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 7, 2012

From the moment we arrived in Dominica (pronounced Da-ma-nee-ka) we were pampered with service. Gregor, the owner and visionary for Secret Bay picked us up at the airport and already had almond infused hot towels for us to wipe our faces.

Once we started talking with Gregor, Melissa and I knew this was going to be a wondrous stay. Gregor's heart is so humble and sharing. During our drive to Secret Bay, he was sharing his heart and vision for the resort as well as some of the things we can expect and do during our stay. He did a great job in growing our expectations before we even arrived.... And let me tell you, every one of those expectations were met or exceeded.

Once we arrived we were met by Anna (our host) and Cornell (the security head). Immediately they took our stuff to our villa. Anna came with us and gave us the grand tour of the villa. Every part of it was breathe taking. Even the pictures on the website do not do it justice. My favorite feature of the Zabuco Villa was the automatic espresso machine built into the wall.... Um... AWESOME.

Our fridge was stocked with goodies like fresh local juice; homemaid yogurt; homemade granola; banana chips; amd a nimber of other things we had requested. Anna then asked some questions about the kind of food we wanted so she could
tell the cooks for our meals each day. Before she left she have us our personal kindle and cellphone to contact anyone from the resort in case we needed
anything.

We had the choice of whether the cooks would come up to our villa to cook or to just bring us our food from the kitchen. We took advantage of the cooks coming up to cook sober could learn and also just to have good conversation with the people. Rose, our breakfast cook, was wonderful and she did an amazing job!

One of the things Melissa and I loved about this place was the ease to do absolutely nothing or a grand excursion. It had best of both worlds. There are so many activities it would take you a month to do all of them or you can do absolutely nothing; sit on your deck and watch the ocean and the wildlife. The atmosphere at Secret Bay allows you to comfortably do both!

The wildlife and natural beauty of the island makes for very exciting hikes and kayaking. Melissa and I went on a hike to one of the MANY waterfalls on the island (the island is actually known as the island with 365 rivers). The journey was beautiful and the end result was stunning. Looking at the falls it seemed like I was in the movie Up. Note: if you are hardcore hikers, you should probably consider the boiling lake excursion. It's about a 6 hr round trip hike to a boiling lake on top of a mountain. Pretty darn cool if you ask me. Unfortunately Melissa and I did not have the stamina to do so lol.

One other very special activity that Gregor personally guided was the excursion to the sea cave that is located directly under the honeymoon villa. Talk about picture perfect.

During our stay each and every staff member went above and beyond to serve us. We were extremely blessed by the whole experience.

Melissa and I will be returning in the future. And we would recommend Secret Bay to anyone. It is perfect in so many different ways.

I know that I missing parts of our stay, but simply put, it would be impossible to write everything we loved about Secret Bay, the people, and our stay.

I hope this review helps your decision in booking this place :-)

Please excuse typos, this was written on my phone.

Jon

  • Stayed May 2012
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank hardej1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Jamestown, Rhode Island
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 20, 2012

My wife and I had the best vacation at Secret Bay. The views, food and overall experience exceeded our expectations and we cannot wait until our return trip. The accommodations were awesome. We stayed in the bungalows and really enjoyed the sound of the ocean falling asleep at night and waking up to the same sound in the morning. The food was absolutely incredible and it was a very difficult decision to go out to dinner for just one night. The staff was always quick to respond to our requests. Ana and the rest of the staff our superstars and only enhance the overall experience. I would strongly recommend taking the tour with Dr. Birdy and visiting the waterfalls. If you are looking for a low key vacation where you can enjoy the peace and tranquility of the ocean and a beautiful island, Secret Bay is the perfect place for everyone.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Corey N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 8, 2012

My boyfriend and I had the most amazing time at Secret Bay. We absolutely loved our treehouse-like villa equipped with the best appliances, and the view was breathtaking. We had the cooks come over to cook for almost every meal, and they guided us through the recipes (the best and the quickest banana brownie recipe and words can't describe the salted fish and boiled banana we had for breakfast). Everything was homemade and organic including the juices, yoghurt, granola, etc. Anna catered to our EVERY single needs, we called her close to 10 times a day and she was ever so helpful. She recommended the best activities and places to dine and visit - horseback riding is a must and so is a visit to Iguana cafe! I would recommend Secret Bay to anyone and everyone!

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Kay L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Secret Bay

Property: Secret Bay
Address: | Tibay, Portsmouth 00109-8000, Dominica
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Dominica > Saint John Parish > Portsmouth
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 4 Hotels in Portsmouth
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Secret Bay 5*
Number of rooms: 9
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 
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Also Known As:
Secret Bay Hotel Portsmouth
Secret Bay Dominica/Portsmouth

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