Dominica's tourism strategy incorporates more luxury

The Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski Dominica is set to open in late 2019 with views of the Caribbean Sea and the surrounding Cabrits National Park.
The Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski Dominica is set to open in late 2019 with views of the Caribbean Sea and the surrounding Cabrits National Park.
Meagan Drillinger
Meagan Drillinger

Next year the Caribbean island of Dominica will welcome its first branded luxury hotel, the Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski Dominica. For an island that is known for very small-scale, boutique luxury, the opening of a Kempinski resort marks a noticeable shift in the tourism strategy.

"Dominica's Tourism Master Plan indicated a number of strategies to improve the tourism industry on the island," Colin Piper, CEO and director of tourism for Discover Dominica Authority, told me. "One such strategy was to augment the supply of hotel rooms." 

Piper indicated that expansion of the luxury market would be the right approach, which would create a separate class of supply and an experience that was not previously widespread on the island.

The Kempinski will have 160 rooms with views of the Caribbean Sea and the surrounding Cabrits National Park, in four room categories: Junior Suites, Bays Suites, Executive Suites and the Presidential Villa. The Villa will be the top option, with two bedrooms, indoor and outdoor living spaces, a kitchen, private pool and private spa-treatment room. Guests will have the opportunity to explore Dominica via the resort's excursions; Kempinski is in the midst of working with local tourism operators to put together immersive experiences that would take in the island's rivers, waterfalls, hot springs and other local attractions. 

Anichi Resort & Spa, which will be another luxury branded resort and part of Marriott International's Autograph Collection, will open in Dominica in late 2020 on 12 acres of property on Picard Beach in Portsmouth. The resort will have 128 rooms, many with private plunge pools. There will be swim-up bars in infinity pools, specialty restaurants, a ballroom and a spa. 

Hotels to reopen

In addition to the newbuilds, Dominica is welcoming back hotels that were previously closed due to hurricane damage. Secret Bay reopened on Nov. 1, following renovations after Hurricane Maria. The boutique hotel has a collection of six sustainable villas that sit on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean.

Still to come is Citrus Creek Plantation, which was also damaged by Hurricane Maria. It will reopen its one- to three-bedroom, individually designed cottages in December.

Jungle Bay will reopen in March. This resort has been closed since 2015 when it was destroyed by Hurricane Erika. The new resort has relocated to Soufriere Bay, overlooking the marine reserve. The hotel will have 60 eco-villas, as well as two yoga studios and a swimming pool.

"Improving access to Dominica remains of critical importance," said Piper. The Air Access Committee is preoccupied with increasing capacity, improving the scheduling and bringing about better pricing for potential travelers to Dominica."

As of Nov. 1, Air Antilles has added two new flights from Guadeloupe. The flights operate on Thursdays and Sundays at 9 p.m., with the return flights on Fridays and Mondays at 6 a.m. The service will run through March 29. Last June, LIAT added flights from Antigua and pushed back the departure times to allow for same-day access with one stop from many U.S. gateways. 

Piper added that the government has announced its intent to move forward with plans for an international airport, "but that is in the mid- to long-term."

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI