It wasn’t just the hotel that put Dominica on the map with luxury travelers — it was the one that helped turn Dominica into a luxury destination, period.
When Secret Bay opened its doors back in 2011, it was the first-ever five-star hotel in Dominica, and a new kind of luxury resort for the Caribbean.
Today, the hotel is regularly recognized not just as one of the best hotels in the Caribbean but the best anywhere on earth.
To learn more, Caribbean Journal’s new feature, Caribbean Hotelier, talked to Gregor Nassief, the proprietor of Secret Bay (and Dominica’s Fort Young Hotel), about his hospitality philosophy.
What was the first hotel you fell in love with? Why?
My wife Sandra and I spent our long postponed honeymoon in 2003 at Luna Sonrisa, a boutique hotel in Valparaiso, Chile, where I was working at the time. It felt comfortable and familiar, a home we never knew we had. The hotel was the result of the owner’s love story which became intertwined with our own. And history repeated itself, as our love story resulted in creating Secret Bay.
How do you define hospitality?
Hospitality to me is really about caring for others. It’s about being a part of people’s lives in a meaningful, transformative and lasting way.
What makes hospitality unique in the Caribbean?
Hospitality in the Caribbean is largely defined by our people, our food and our culture. It’s inimitable.
What is your philosophy on luxury?
It’s the simple things in life that give us the greatest pleasure. Simplicity is the new luxury, and simplicity begins with nature, with authenticity and with caring for our planet.
How has luxury changed in the last decade?
Luxury has shifted from marble floors and butlers-in-waiting to “the simple things” that feel authentic and come without pretension. It’s also about attention to detail and very importantly making human connections that feel natural and sincere.
What do you see as the biggest trends in hospitality right now?
We’re seeing travelers wanting to have authentic, immersive experiences that allow them to build a connection with the destination, especially with its people. Regenerative and impact travel is also a growing trend; people want to feel like they’re not just taking from an experience, but giving something back. And, lastly, wellness travel is still pervasive, though it’s really evolving beyond luxe spa treatments and yoga – it’s about eating sustainably, doing activities that are inspiring and connecting with nature.
What should a guest expect at your hotels?
Guests can expect the luxury of time and space along with authentic experiences rooted in above-and-beyond hospitality and service, along with knowing they’re supporting sustainable-minded operations. Our culinary programs are also outstanding, with the chefs focusing on local, seasonal and sustainable cuisine. And, we always come back to wellness in the sense of guests feeling like they have transformative experiences – whether that’s a rejuvenating waterfall hike, bucket-list activity like a lionfish expedition or swimming with the whales, or simply being pampered on property by our sincere and caring team.
What do you want your guests to remember about your hotels?
I want guests to feel reconnected with themselves, with the ones that they love and with nature.
For more, visit Secret Bay.
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