What We Love
- Jetsetter 2015 Best of the Best Finalist: Best far-flung escape
- The resort, designed by Fruto Vivas, will appeal to both eco-lovers and architecture buffs
- Fun extras like in-villa cooking classes and fresh smoothies at the hotel’s The Souce Shack
- The dramatic clifftop setting and secluded nooks throughout the resort
- Two swimming beaches
- Rooms come with a Kindle for use on property; there are also board games, a DVD collection, and a small library
- Bose speakers and iPhones with helpful resort phone numbers and pre-installed apps are available in all villas and bungalows
What To Know
- Transport to the resort is free for stays of five nights or more
- For home-cooked meals served in the comfort of your villa or bungalow, Secret Bay offers a personalized cooking service (up to two meals a day); guests can also self-cater and either shop for provisions at local markets or take advantage of a pre-stocked kitchen (an additional fee).
- Guests must be at least 13 years old to stay here
- A 20 percent tax per night will be collected at the Jetsetter checkout
- Adults Only
- Free WiFi
- Handicap Accessible
- Parking On Site
An intimate collection of chic treehouse-style villas perched cliffside in pristine Dominica
Romance abounds at Secret Bay, a secluded lair worthy of a James Bond villain and surrounded by the wild natural beauty of Dominica, a delightfully under-developed Caribbean escape. Villas and bungalows, crafted in Caribbean woods, fuse high style with an eco-friendly sensibility, and guests can avail themselves of a number of additional activities, from private yoga classes to nature walks and boat trips. Those in search of luxe details will find them in the hotel’s meditation decks, temperature controlled wine cellar, concierge services, and private driver available on request.
In the Area
Dominica is known for its dramatic topography, which boasts mountainous terrain, wild waterfalls, hot springs and volcanoes, and well-protected national parks perfect for nature lovers. Adventurous types can hike the Waitukubuli National Trail, visit the Kalinago tribes of the island’s Kalinago Territory, or scuba dive and whale watch with Dive Dominica. Secret Bay can also facilitate passes to the national parks, massages, and unique experiences like a class on local medicinal herbs.
How to Get There
We stayed here for 6 nights. I booked Secret Bay as a surprise for my husband for his birthday as we had never visited Dominica despite living in the Caribbean for 10 years. I would highly recommend you rent your own car so you can drive to interesting spots around the island - Dominica has many wonderful things to see and do, it's called the "nature island" for good reason.
My one and only suggestion to make this place a bit more convenient would be to have golf carts around the property so people don't have to hike up and down to the beach. It's possible Secret Bay has these now as we visited right after they re-opened.
A very special shoutout to Lenita and Megan who were absolutely wonderful - you ladies truly made our stay very, very special. Every single staff member we encountered was friendly and nice (and it seemed genuine).
Secret Bay uses locally made soaps, shampoo and conditioner - all of which were so great we bought extra in town to take home! I really appreciate that they support local businesses in this way. They helped us organize a trip with Fire, a super knowledgeable local captain to take us down the river - do youself a favour and go out with Fire - he's fantastic.
Rooms were very comfortable and clean. The private pools were great. Food was also great, I can't recall the chef's name but he was super, and very friendly. He sources local fresh ingredients daily. Yum.
I would absolutely stay at Secret Bay again, and would not hesitate to recommend this hotel.
It was a super huge blessing to be able to stay at Secret Bay. It was unlike any vacation we’ve ever had as we usually choose large resorts when traveling, but this experience encourages me to seek out more luxury boutique resorts in the future. We did not have a care in the world throughout our entire stay because Secret Bay had thought of everything ahead of time. Anything you need, just ask.
We stayed in the Ti-Fey villa at the end of April/beginning of May, and it was gorgeous. The view from every room was absolutely stunning! It feels like this resort is your own personal retreat. It was so relaxing to wake up in the morning hearing the sound of ocean waves lapping the shore and birds chirping. You do not hear any other guests nor do you see any other villas while lounging on your deck beside your private, infinity pool overlooking the beach. Since this resort has only six villas, many days we would be the only people at the beaches and had them all to ourselves. The only times we really saw other guests was when having dinner at Zing Zing restaurant, but having dinners on our own deck had better views than even the restaurant or the sunset deck. I won’t bother to post photos of the villa because they look exactly like the ones on the Secret Bay Web site.
We purchased the Breakfast & Dinner plan, but before arriving I was concerned about how to get lunch each day since we did not rent a car nor are there restaurants within walking distance. Secret Bay does provide a menu to purchase freshly prepared, in-villa lunches if desired, but we found that we had enough breakfast items stocked that came in our package that we already had everything we needed right there in our villa to make our own lunches each day. This is a huge plus for your vacation budget and something I wished I understood ahead of time and wouldn’t have stressed over it so much. I suppose they call it the Breakfast & Dinner package because that’s all they actually prepare for you, but you should have enough food to prepare your own lunches. An example might be making your own turkey/ham bagel sandwiches with a yogurt/granola side. Our villa attendant, Megan, would ask us each day what time we wished for her to make breakfast in the morning and what time and place we would like to have dinner each evening. You could choose from dinner on your own villa deck, on the sunset deck, or at Zing Zing. All meals were great. I am a somewhat picky eater, and I enjoyed all that was served. We were told that the staff doesn’t know each day until about 1-2:00 p.m. what will be served for dinner because it depends on what fresh ingredients they were able to obtain earlier that day. For breakfast If you wake in the morning and feel like eggs and bacon, then eggs and bacon it will be. If you wake and have a craving for pancakes and sausage, then pancakes and sausage it will be. Megan would even decorate our table settings with fresh flowers, which was a nice touch that we really enjoyed. She even brought us a beach blanket and picnic basket should we want to have lunch on one of the beaches.
There are so many things to do/see on Dominica. If you haven’t booked your villa yet, just ask Secret Bay to email you a copy of their Experience Secret Bay document ahead of time to give you ideas. I am a planner by nature, and Lenita was wonderful to work with before arriving and while on property to get our tours and transportation scheduled. We went SCUBA diving at the Pole to Pole dive site with Fabian at Island Dive Operations. We spent a couple of days kayaking and snorkeling right at the resort. Captain Don at the watersports desk offered to accompany us in exploring the onsite sea cave. (You won’t find it without his help). I went to the spa one afternoon, and the view/sounds were magical. The sounds of the ocean waves lapping the shore and the birds chirping is what spas here at home try to minic with soundtracks, and all of this was real! We did a night snorkel on our own right at the resort since we already had our own gear and dive lights. The only tour we were not able to do is the Canyoning Tour. It rained 1.5 days during the week, and those days just happened to be when we wanted to go Canyoning. It was not safe to be in the canyons when it had rained so much, so we understood. I was really disappointed, but now we have a great excuse to go back to Dominica next year in the dry season. There is so much to do on Dominica that we could easily plan another trip full of activities that we have not experienced yet.
Though no fault of Secret Bay, this is the only negative thing about Dominica. You need to know that it’s hard to get there. There are no carriers that fly direct out of the United States. You must fly to another island first, then take a regional carrier to Dominica. We chose to use Seaborne Airlines, but be aware that NONE of the regional carriers have good reputations for being on time and also have reputations for canceling flights for no reason. (I hear the ferries from Martinique and Guadalupe are even worse.) We were really lucky in that both our Seaborne flights to/from Dominica turned out well. More than one person on the island told us that if Seaborne leaves Puerto Rico and the cloud cover is low over Dominica (such as due to rain), they will not land and will take you back to Puerto Rico. This explains many of the bad reviews for Seaborne Airlines, so you have to book a trip to Dominica knowing that is a possibility and purchase travel insurance. I suggest if you don’t want to stress over the possibility of missing your next connection due to delayed flights that you put extra days into your itinerary. We flew to Puerto Rico and stayed a day there before flying to Dominica the next afternoon. We did the same on our way home from Dominica. The few flights you can book to go straight to/from the U.S. and Dominica in one day have really short layovers, not giving much room for delays. But, this is also what makes Dominica so special. It is not very commercial making the island very quiet and tranquil. The other people you meet REALLY want to be there just like you!
We heard about Secret Bay several years ago and have been planning a trip here for a while. We just got back from celebrating our 4 year anniversary there and had an incredible time.
Travel - we flew into San Juan and stayed overnight as we weren't able to get one of the few flights that fly into Dominica for the same day. We flew Seaborne into Dominica and Liat back (they have a strict 15 lb carry on policy so we had to check our bags); we were nervous about flying these smaller airlines as they don't have the best reviews but despite all of our flights leaving ~20-40 min late, we had no trouble with them. Give yourself time so you don't have close connections, as it would be easy to miss your US bound flight since you could be late. We were picked up at the airport by a Secret Bay driver and provided w/ plantain chips, cookies and water which was wonderful! The drive is about an hour along windy roads and they drive on the left side so a little caution if you decide to rent a car. We didn't and were pleased that we didn't.
Room - we stayed in Ylang Ylang II. This villa was incredible. The whole resort is gorgeous; so green and colorful. Our villa was fantastic and I think one of the better ones - it is set back so it has a fair amount of privacy w/o sacrificing a view. You have a private pool and 2 decks, one covered and one uncovered. I spent a lot of time outside reading w/ a great view.
Service - you are assigned a personal attendant that helps you w/ whatever you need. You also receive a iphone to reach them. We were able to text all our requests which was nice. It was nice having a personal attendant but at times we weren't quite sure what the expectation was regarding doing dishes or getting us wine or cards or whatever we wanted. At times, we felt like we were annoying in our requests.. Lenita, the concierge, was absolutely fantastic. She was quick to respond to our texts and amazing at arranging all of our activities. She was truly wonderful.
Food - you receive a pre-arrival questionnaire that helps tailor your experience. They pre stock based on what you select. The only downside to this is that I wasn't quite sure when or what I wanted to eat or when to do excursions and wanted to play it a little more by ear. We selected the breakfast/dinner package which includes meals at Zing-Zing the restaurant. It's only open a few days a week and the rest of the days are in-villa dining. The food was incredible! Chef Grant is from South Africa and is a super interesting guy and a genius. There isn't a menu which was a little anxiety provoking for me as I do not like seafood but helped me get out of my comfort zone. My husband loves seafood and cooking and could not get enough of Chef Grant's food. I even was eating squid and tuna, which is way unusual for me and enjoying it. Basically, he has limited ingredients on Dominica and makes his own bread or spices or whatever he is inspired to and it is ALWAYS delicious. We did a cooking class with him and he was very charming and fascinating.
Activities - we only did a couple of activities while we were there. We unfortunately had a fair amount of rain but it was still wonderful to sit under your covered veranda and read while raining as it wasn't too cold. We did the hike to boiling lake - Ryan was our driver and guide and he was super wonderful. Answered all our questions and gave us a little tour on our drive down to the boiling lake. It rained the entire hike but it was still a beautiful hike. My husband and I have never hiked before so it is doable if you are a newbie. I recommend shoes that you don't have to wear socks in as you will be in water up to your knees at times. There is a lot of climbing and uphill stairs so you need some reasonable cardiovascular reserve to handle it but totally doable and totally worth it!
We also did the lion fish catch/cook - this wasn't the greatest for us. We aren't super strong swimmers and didn't realize we needed to dive to the bottom of the reef to try and spear the lion fish so we didn't end up seeing any of them. It was basically an expensive snorkeling journey, so I wouldn't recommend this unless you're comfortable diving down to the bottom of the floor (20ft deep maybe?)
We spent the majority of our time at the resort however as it was great. We took kayaks and stand up paddle boards to Secret Beach and snorkeled around Tibey Beach as well. We had a picnic lunch planned for Secret Beach but ended up staying at Tibey Beach. I do wish they had a little more access to the water sports hut - a lot of the time we had to call for someone to unlock but never had to wait long.
We had a massage at the spa as well - fantastic setting, you could hear the waves crashing which was so relaxing. It rained during our massage but the sound just added to the relaxing environment. The ladies were wonderful therapists too as we were very sore from our hike!
Overall we had a great time and would love to go back! Just know that the resort is very pricey and you will pay for everything but I definitely think it is worth it!
I have been trying to finish this review for two months since e we left Secret Bay. This should be easy; after all, it’s a five-star resort on one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. But it’s not that simple, because this is a home-away-from home like no other. One of the most important things to understand about SB is that they are not your traditional high-end hotel or resort. And calling it a “boutique resort” doesn’t begin to do justice to SB itself or its service model. This review is sort of a stream of consciousness; my apologies; I just wanted to finally get it written and submitted here on TA.
1. Intro: This was a trip two years in the making. We made our reservations at Secret Bay in the spring of 2017 for a February 2018 stay. And then Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2017. Secret Bay had to close its doors for rebuilding. Many of the staff members’ homes were destroyed, and large parts of the island’s lush vegetation were denuded. As we flew in from San Juan, you could see the hurricane damage, but you could also see how it was growing back. We were met at the airport by Ryan, who drove us to SB. It’s about a 50 minute drive. We arrived on a Sunday, so traffic was light. Weather was warm, and the humidity moderate but noticeable.
2. Driving & Support Staff: From Ryan to Randell to Devon, the drivers are superb. They know and love their country, and there is no task with which they are unwilling to assist. Several mornings, Ryan came to pick me up before 5am so I could go out for sunrise photography. Randell spent the entire day with us as we criss-crossed the northern side of the island. Devon helped up track down an elderly woman who knew a friend of mine when she was just a baby before her family left Dominica. Ryan hacked through jungle to find a path to a hidden beach in between Calibishie and Number One Beach in Hampstead, and shouldered my equipment backpack without my ever asking. There was literally nothing these folks were not [apparently gladly] willing to do. Devon hung out with us all afternoon and past sunset at a restaurant on a beach the north side of the island, where we were joined by the Prime Minister and his entourage.
3. The evidence of Hurricane Maria is still all over the island, but so is all the island’s natural and human-made renewal. Many countries have supplied relief to Dominica, but skilled labor is still in short supply. Some homes are still overwhelmed by mud and rocks in their first floor, Many are simply gone. Rivers are still b being dredged of debris all over the island.
4. Before your arrival, SB will send you a detailed questionnaire asking how you want your villa stocked, and what activities you might be interested in pursuing. Pay very close attention to this questionnaire. Understand that, as you fill it out, you are really stocking your home away from home. it’s difficult to describe just how un-ordinary this process is. SB will be exactly as nice as you decide it is going to be. Want beer? Tell them what type. Wine? Same. Yogurt? They will make it fresh and it will be in the beautiful European-style 2-door fridge. Next to the Elatta superautomatic espresso machine. Want whole milk or low-fat for your Flat White? Tell them, and it will be there. But if you don’t tell them, it won’t. And there is no large kitchen storage on site, or convenience shop to catch a forgotten supply. But if you want it, they will send someone to town to buy it. Think ahead.
Want breakfast cooked each day? tell them what time, and what you like. Your “butler”—ours was an absolutely delightful young woman named Deslyn, who learned how to make crepes for us [and they were fantastic], made superb French toast, Denver omelettes, etc.—will prepare almost anything for you. And if your butler cannot, don’t be surprised if the head chef shows up at your door. All this done in your kitchen in your villa. Want to do it yourself? That’s fine, too. It’s literally like having your own home, with all the service you could desire, or all the privacy you want. It’s up to you to decide. Don’t know for sure what you want ahead of time? Just say so, and once you are settled into your villa, make up your mind and let them know. Whatever you want will be in your villa waiting for you on your return or by the next morning, depending on when you ask.
5. Convenience: The resort supplies you with an iPhone pre-programmed with contact info for your butler and concierge. Text or dial. There is also an AppleTV in the main room that you can set up with our own iTunes account. And there is a Sonos speaker from which you can play music through a Sonos app if you install it on your phone. All quite secure.The kitchen is lovely, fully outfitted with European appliance, including a large refrigerator, dishwasher, and integrated washer-dryer. It’s better than being at home.
6. Activities: Our concierge, Lenita, another delightful person, prepared a set of activities for us with rest days in between each. And then, when changes in circumstances arose—e.g., a cruise ship rescheduling its stop in Roseau—she changed the schedule so that we would not be in Roseau or nearby attractions on the same day competing with 5000 people pouring out of an RC ship. There was almost nothing that the staff did not think of for us before we thought to ask.
7. Food & Drink: SB’s resident chef, Grant Lynott, is an expat South African with an entrepreneurial sense of adventure and dedication to his craft. SB does have a menu of sorts, and it’s fine for ordering mid-day snacks or lunches, but truthfully, the food model is built around Grant’s inspired preparation of whatever fresh foods he has sourced locally that day. If there is a restaurant model even fresher than farm-to-table, Grant is developing it. Food in the restaurant and in our villa was superb. The personal attention by Grant and his staff was never overdone, always spot on, and made each meal all the more enjoyable. The morning we left, Grant cooked breakfast for us in our villa and spent an extra hour chatting. Just like a friend would in your own home.
8. The villa: Zabuco 1, the original Honeymoon Villa, is the one that sits on the edge f the cliff in the videos and photos featured on SB’s website. When you enter the resort, there is no front desk or reception. You are taken straight to your villa. Again, from the moment you arrive, it feels like home. After your arrival, a staff member [Lenita, in this case] will appear and go through the orientation for your villa. Everything from the staff’s deference to the manner in which they interact and serve reinforces the sense that you are home. Not in someone else’s facility.
I cannot say enough good things about Secret Bay. It is not cheap, but it’s less expensive than many other fine resorts we’ve visited. It is an unparalleled resort, and it will spoil you for almost anything else.
My wife’s and my week at Secret Bay last month was the highlight of our year. The resort is the definition of comfort and serenity. We loved pre-stocking our kitchen (I do a lot of cooking) and customizing our stay right down to the mattress selection before we arrived. I highly recommend the Chef’s Choice package in which you will learn about and feast on the ultimate, delicious native cuisine. Chef Grant Lynott has mastered elevating the tastes of locally sourced fruits, vegetables, meats and fish and eagerly shares their story of how they came to be the strong local fare and traces their path from growth to your plate. His tastes are pure and delightful.
Sit back and read, go to the beach, snorkel the coves or book one of the carefully curated excursions with Secret Bay’s chosen island expert guides. Enjoy all your meals prepared for you by your villa attendant or do it yourself with the ingredients they bring to you. We loved both! And, now since rebuilding from the hurricane, Secret Bay has a great centrally-located open air restaurant where you can continue being pampered by their friendly staff.
Plan your days in advance or wait to get there and do it with their concierge who will sit with you, go over options and then bring you a printed itinerary, so you don’t have to do any more thinking during your stay. We traveled to the rain forest and had a lucky day seeing both native parrot populations – a rarity! We swam and dove for lion fish and brought it back to the chef, who prepared it for dinner as part of a five-course cooking class he did for us right in our villa kitchen. Lunch after lion fish diving was a trip, while still in bathing suits, with our guides brother and sister Don and Donna to a great beach bar where the food is plentiful and the lightly spiced rum punch, perfection.