Since boyhood, Gregor Nassief, owner of Dominica’s Secret Bay hotel, had a lofty dream—to create a home away from home amongst the wild forested cliffs of Dominica. And to preserve the natural environment all the while.
While celebrating the nuptials of Gregor and wife Sandra, Sandra’s father and award-winning Latin American architect, Fruto Vivas granted the couple a special gift—a proposed drawing of their personal residence at Secret Bay. With this, Gregor knew Fruto would have the vision to materialize the dream at large.
With Fruto as lead conceptual architect, the assistance of Haitian architect Claude Lauture, and the guidance of Gregor and Sandra, the villas and bungalows that comprise the living, breathing eco-luxury resort at Secret Bay came to life.
We sat down with Fruto to reveal the vision and execution of Secret Bay’s famed residences.
How would you describe the villas and bungalows from an architectural perspective?
For me they are all the same: structures linked to the landscape, liberated from the ground, with a design that embraces the cultural patterns of the island. The original vision was to have a coherent answer with the Caribbean Architecture, which has developed its own concept of tropical architecture. I imagined these residences for maximum happiness; the architecture is designed for the guests to be its main characters. It allows the interaction of the guests with their natural environment, in particular the extraordinary vistas of the landscape around, achieving a great relationship with nature.
How did you integrate intimacy and privacy into each residence?
All the residences have their own space of absolute intimacy that allows the guest to realize their activities in private. This is possible because there is enough distance between them and thanks to the exuberance of the vegetation around them, a visual barrier.
How did you envision the residences blending with the natural environment?
When locating each villa and bungalow, we gave great importance to all the existing natural elements that allow a maximum integration with the environment. Each villa is placed with vistas to the sea and forest.
How did you go about preserving the environment while planning and building?
First, there was a topographic and environmental study that allowed us to maximize the natural resource without the need of removing almost any trees, because it is actually the trees that guarantee a fresh climate inside the villas in a tropical island with the typical warm temperatures. We took precautions to ensure we did not cause any negative impact on the environment during construction.
Did you envision more than the original six residences being built?
In the original design, we projected occupying the slopes with more villas designed to respect the landscape and the beautiful sea view that make Dominica a great tourist destination.
Which Secret Bay residences are your favourite?
Given the topographic and climatic characteristics of the implanting site, my favourite structures are the bungalows, which are friendly in design and versatile. They mold to the characteristics of the landscape.
What materials did you use? Why did you choose these for the specific features?
The supporting structure or column in each structure was made in formed concrete to allow the placement of a wooden structure on top, with great glass windows and roofs in corrugated laminar structure, typical of Caribbean Architecture. The structures are designed to be hurricane-proof and have already resisted one [Hurricane Erika]. The materials were chosen because they reflect the best of Caribbean Architecture.