The lush island of Dominica has always been Gregor Nassief’s favourite place in the world. As a child, he explored its pristine grounds and reveled in its natural beauty. Today, his strong connection with his playground remains as he shares its splendor with travelers through an eco-luxury resort.
Launched last year, Secret Bay is Nassief’s small-scale eco-tourism venture. Despite being new in the destination market, Secret Bay is already carving a reputation as the ultimate getaway oasis from the bustling chaos and noise of everyday life. Located in Dominica’s northwest coast, the resort is only a 10 minute drive from the picturesque town of Portsmouth and an hour’s drive from the capital Roseau. It contains only four villas and bungalows. But, in this case, quality trumps quantity.
Secret Bay is breathtaking with modern state tree houses nestled in the heart of nature that provide the comfort and luxury of boutique condos. “Secret Bay is full of wonderful contradictions,” explains Nassief. “We are in the jungle and on the beach. We are eco yet luxury. We are a development concerned with preservation.”
With villas perched on cliffs over the ocean and bungalows which sit in the jungle, Secret Bay provides unforgettable views and luxurious amenities to its travelers. The architectures’ immaculate floor to ceiling glass windows provide a 180 degree view of Dominica’s flora and fauna. Outdoor showers and sweeping decks give visitors an experience like no other by immersing them in their surroundings. Contrast that with the units, which are equipped with state-of-the-art entertainment systems and rejuvenating pools and Jacuzzis., and there’s no doubt that Secret Bay has something for everyone.
The Zabuco Villa provides an intimate escape for lovers in the Caribbean while the two-bedroom Zing Zing villa offers more room for couples and families. Then, there are the Mapou and Ti-Fey Bungalows, which sit on the hillside surrounded by the sounds and smells of nature. All units follow Secret Bay’s eco-friendly architecture, which allows guests to fully enjoy their stay and at the same time adhere to Nassief’s philosophy of natural preservation.
A Dominican-native, Nassief comes from a family of hoteliers and businessman. He’ s succeeded in the business world when he founded Tecsys Latin America, a supply chain optimization software company, 17 years ago. An international citizen, he’s lived around the world – New York, Toronto, Dominica, Trinidad, Venezuela and Chile. But, he’s always kept close ties with his Caribbean roots. Secret Bay is more than business for Nassief. It’s a project close to his heart.
The site not only contains fond memories of his childhood, it’s also a symbol of his family and legacy. When he started acquiring land for the site 15 years ago, he had a clear mission: share it untarnished and unexploited. “I wanted to develop [Secret Bay], but I also knew that I did not want to change it,” says Nassief. “It was all about preserving the beauty of the place, but allowing others to experience it.”
Nassief gained the support of his wife’s father Fruto Vivas, a celebrated architect and together they turned the vision of Secret Bay, an eco-luxury haven for explorers, into reality.
When developing Secret Bay, Nassief held on to his vision of sustainable luxury. No significant trees were cut in the construction process. While their foundations are made of concrete and steel to ensure hurricane and earthquake protection, the superstructures of the villas and bungalows at Secret Bay were built entirely with Guyanese hardwood (Greenheart), a sustainably-sourced material. Local craftsmen carved Dominican Red Cedar to bring high-quality luxurious furniture to visitors.
Secret Bay is also committed to conserving minimal water and electricity by maximizing nature’s resources to its potential. The massive glass windows provide ample light and rainwater is collected from the roofs and re-used for irrigation throughout the property. Waste water (including sewage) for drip irrigation is re-used after going through treatment according to international standards.
In addition to its environmental philosophy, Nassief says that Secret Bay focuses on ensuring visitors receive the ultimate travel experience. Their activities are completely up to them and there are many to choose from. At Secret Bay, relaxation is the primary attraction. Guests don’t follow typical itineraries found in most trips. Secret Bay also offers the chance to indulge in two beaches with crystal clear water – Tibay Beach and Secret Beach. Guests can kayak to the beaches and refresh their body and soul by taking a sea-bath in the beautiful waters. They can also head to the beautiful expanse of Prince Rupert Bay – one of the longest, usually deserted, white-sand beaches- which is only 10 minutes away.
The resort is committed to delivering the best customer service by catering to its guests’ specific needs. Although it is a hotel, Secret Bay has no restaurant, front desk or common swimming pool.
“it really is all about the guest,” says Nassief. “We serve them in the privacy of their villas, cook what they want, arrange in villa massages or yoga classes or local cooking classes. It’s a very private and exclusive experience.”
Dominica, “The Nature Island”, has much to offer. It houses 1,200 plant species, glorious rivers, lakes, streams and waterfalls. Its Morne Trois Pitons National Park was the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in the eastern Caribbean and it’s famous for its active volcanoes and for housing the second largest hot spring in the world: Dominica’s Boiling Lake.
Secret Bay is popular amongst those seeking a travel experience that is both luxurious and eco-friendly. It has received 60 top reviews in Trip Advisor and many Canadians visit the place.
As the secret comes out, Nassief is successful in bringing his cherished hometown and the unique things it has to offer to the world.
Images courtesy of Derek Galon & Dominica Bay.