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Reviewed July 1, 2012

My husband and I chose Secret Bay for our honeymoon, and we couldn't be happier with our decision~ The Zabuco Villa was not available immediately following our wedding so we chose to wait two weeks until it became available - and it was definitely worth the wait.

We were greeted at the airport with waters and cool scented towels. Upon arriving to Secret Bay, they drove us right to the Villa and people were waiting to help us with our luggage. We were given a tour and fresh fruit juice. The villa was already stocked with fresh fruits, jams, banana chips, watermelon and pineapple sorbets, cocoa tea (make sure you try this!), lemongrass tea bundles, and local fresh juices (make sure to request an organic food basket prior to your arrival). Yum!

The Villa itself was amazing - the sheer size, the amazing views, duel-headed showers, a lovely bath, infinity pool, state-of-the-art kitchen...I could go on and on. The amenities were simply amazing.

Secret Beach, a short 5-minute kayak ride away- was ultra-private - and Gregor gave us a personal guided tour to the Secret Cave. The hotel offers kayaks and snorkeling gear for all their guests to use - the kayak ride to the secret beach is very scenic and peaceful.

The staff at Secret Bay is really what makes it such a special place. Everyone is so accommodating, and willing to help. Ana helped to organize our trip from the beginning, and she made sure that everything was taken care of. She also booked our excursions and made recommendations for us based on what we were looking for. I would highly recommend going with whatever Ana recommends - the excursions were definitely a highlight.

For most of our stay we had Delo as our go-to person for any needs - she was fantastic! The staff really cares about its guests - for example, the first day we ended up getting sunburns on our shoulders - the staff noticed, and we kind of laughed it off, not giving it much thought. The next day, without us saying anything, they bought sunburn cream for us, and it was waiting for us in the villa! Again, can't stress enough what wonderful customer service Secret Bay offers. They go above-and-beyond to provide for their guests.

Another one of the many examples of the excellent staff and service: One morning when we were waiting for a bus to Roseau, Ana noticed that the bus was running late - she then called Gregor to drive us to our location personally! I can't think of any other resort that would go so far to help their guests.

The only thing we had to worry about were mosquitoes - but this is to be expected - remember to bring bug spray :)

The views from Zabuco Villa were spectacular - all around us there were wonderful views of the island. The infinity pool was simply awesome. The cooking service was so convenient - while there were restaurant options outside of the resort, we ate all but one meal at Secret Bay! We especially liked the grilled shrimp and chicken curry. You can ask for basically anything you want. I mentioned to Ana that I wanted fresh coconut juice - the next day she was holding a huge bag of coconuts, which someone brought to our villa, and opened each one for us. Again, I cannot stress that the quality of the service is truly what makes Secret Bay stand above the rest.

Our honeymoon was relaxing and wonderful. I cannot thank Secret Bay and their staff enough for giving us a truly wonderful vacation~

Secret Bay felt like paradise - because it is!

Room Tip: Definitely go for the Zabuco Villa if available - it will be worth it!
  • Stayed: June 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Ester K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed June 25, 2012

My husband and I were slightly disappointed with our stay in the Zing Zing Villa at Secret Bay, we didn't hate it but it wasn't quite what we were expecting either. Upon arriving, a bowl of fresh fruit was sitting on the countertop which had attracted a bunch of fruit flies we had a tough time getting rid of. There were holes in the window screens in every room allowing creatures the freedom to venture in, and they did. One window was missing a screen completely. We had filled out a form prior to arriving for what I thought was to have breakfast cooked and served to us the first morning, however somehow there was a misunderstanding and food had been purchased for the villa for us to cook ourselves instead. The grocery charges came to about 3 times what we thought they should have been and the bill wasn't itemized, so I would recommend just going to the store to do your own shopping. There is a grocery store less than 10 mins away in Portsmouth. We had dinner served to us the first night which was brought to us in tupperware and consisted of chicken, lukewarm rice and cold vegetables. It wasn't bad but there wasn't anything special or fresh about it either. We opted to dine out the next evening. There are no blinds or shades in the kitchen of the Zing Zing Villa which faces the pathway that leads to the snack shop. Overall this particular villa is not very private nor does it have any sort of a view. My husband and I joked about feeling as though we were in a fishbowl. Despite these things, we still enjoyed our time on the property. We took full advantage of snorkelling and kayaking to Secret Beach and Coconut Beach, both lovely beaches. I was upset after receiving our grocery bill (for groceries I didn't actually order) and called Anna to speak about the things we were disappointed in. She later called back to discuss everything with me again and brought a bottle of champagne to our villa. She was sincerely interested in receiving our feedback to help make improvements for future guests. We had the opportunity to tour the Zabuco Villa, which offers both privacy and breathtaking views. Unless you're travelling with a group of people and require a 2 bed / 2 bath villa, I would recommend staying in the Zabuco Villa or a Bungalow. The Zabuco wasn't available when we booked so we booked the Zing Zing expecting "spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea, mountains and rain forest" and "private garden jacuzzi" as described on the website. We didn't have a view of the Sea or mountains from our villa, only trees, and there really wasn't much privacy. The villa is very nice but you should know what to expect if you decide to stay here.

Room Tip: Don't expect great views or privacy in the Zing Zing Villa. Unless you're travelling with a larger group, I recommend staying in the Zabuco Villa or a Bungalow.
  • Stayed: June 2012, travelled as a couple
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9  Thank Missjillabong
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Management response:Responded June 27, 2012

It makes us extremely happy to read of an exceptional guest experience. However, when we learn of a guest who was disappointed, the team is saddened and we take the feedback very seriously and immediately seek to understand what could have happened to cause such disappointment.

We appreciate this feedback both positive and negative and we would like to clarify a few points. Firstly, we prefer to know of these issues or disappointments as they occur so we can try to rectify them immediately. Sadly, we learnt of your issues only on check out.

Ripened fruit can attract fruit flies and we now place them in the guest refrigerator if it is a bother. Insects entering your room will generally only happen if windows and doors are left open. We apologize that some screens were not replaced and this is being rectified.

The concept of our cooking service was fully explained in our email exchanges and the questionnaire you filled out did indicate that “any grocery items purchased will be added to your bill along with a small fee for the service.” Upon your check in the cooking service was further explained and you indicated you agreed and understand.

The Tupperware bowls are utilized to transfer the food from the kitchen to the guest villa. It is not customary of us to give guest lukewarm food as food is served once the meal is prepared. We do not limit the portions for the guest and as such serve food in containers. Guests have the option to request that the food is served, in which case it is placed in chinaware on the table and served. You chose not to have this service.

Our food concept is fresh, local and organic. As indicated by previous reviewers, the cost of food is quite low. Despite all of this, and based on the misunderstanding, we fully waived all food-related charges on the final bill!

From the Zing-Zing Villa there is a view of the Caribbean Sea which is less than 200 meters away! You can best view this through the panoramic view of the villa on our website. Due to our commitment to the environment, most views on the property include the many trees we wanted to preserve.

Zing Zing is our only two bedroom villa and typically used by small families or two couples. It is occasionally used also by one couple as in your case and has been enjoyed without mention of issues such as privacy. The bedrooms and bathrooms have curtains all around for complete privacy.

Again we apologize for all inconveniences and hope we can welcome you back some day.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed June 25, 2012

We delayed our anniversary vacation based on Secret Bay's availability after reading all the stellar reviews on TA. We are so pleased that we did! If you're looking for the best accommodations in Dominica, look no further. Secret Bay perfectly marries the attentive hospitality of a B&B, and the comforts and luxury of a world-class hotel. All the while, respecting the beautiful natural surroundings of this optimum location with its eco-friendly, minimal impact approach.

Secret Bay's mantra seems to be all about making their guests 100% pleased with their stay. Anna, Secret Bay's concierge extraordinaire, will coordinate any excursion you request (taking out all the time-consuming legwork for you!), accommodate any meal, and is always available via SB's courtesy cell phone even after typical work hours. Gregor and Sandra, the owners and developers of SB, were the most gracious hosts; completely humble and unpretentious. I couldn't imagine Donald Trump lending something from his own personal collection to one of his guests, but that's exactly what Sandra did - when she learned that our iPhone 4S was not compatible with the sound dock system in our bungalow, she made a separate trip to the hotel just to lend us her personal portable speakers. Just one of the many examples of SB's dedication to its guests. Safety and security are also a #1 priority for SB's staff. They are set up so that if you take a kayak, paddle board or snorkeling gear out, the security team will know that you've gone into the waters in await your return. The same applies if you go out for the day on an excursion on your own.

The food at Secret Bay is great - I recommend letting your cooks decide your menu based on what looks fresh to them. It's all yummy and the portions are HUGE. We typically had enough leftover from dinner for the next day's lunch and we are big eaters. Based on the grocery cost that we were billed at the end of stay, we would have done better to eat at SB for all meals than to go out for food. They don't nickel and dime you for food costs like other hotels do (i.e. room service and the minibar - it's pennies on the dollar comparatively).

We wish we could have extended our stay, and hope to return someday with the rest of our family.

Room Tip: If you like to sleep in and are used to black-out hotel curtains, bring an eye mask. The sun rises and sets early (5:30am in June!) and there are no curtains on the bungalows' bedroom windows that face the ocean. It didn't bother me bc the view is phenomenal and I easily fell back asleep if the sunrise woke me. Just FYI. Pack light! There's an ensuite washer/dryer combo and SB provides laundry soap. It's a european unit and takes five hours to wash and dry a load, but we could have left 70% of our luggage at home had I known! :)
  • Stayed: June 2012, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Tracy L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed June 24, 2012

(Note to reader: Rather than just lavishing praise I have attempted to provide real points of comparability between the Secret Bay experience and other higher end resorts available on Dominica.)

Perched atop a cliff overseeing sandy, secluded, Secret Beach, award-winning SecretBay has provided the greatest vacation I have had in my 62 years. After many trips to upscale resorts ("eco" and otherwise) throughout the Caribbean (including Mexico) Secret Bay is the best. I have had the pleasure of staying at other highly touted accomodations on Dominica. Though enjoyable they are no match for Secret Bay under any category of comparison- location, physical structure of the accommodations, amenities, service.
Here's why:

LOCATION- (a) Some of best resorts on Dominica offer waterfront locations, Others provide great high altitude positioning for expansive views. Secret Bay provides both - high on a cliff above the Caribbean, yet with on-property sea-level accessibility to the sparkling waters and soft sand of Secret Beach.
(b) Unlike virtually every other quality resort on Dominica, Secret Bay is located on a very thin band of "rain-shadow" found only on the leeward (west) side of the island. This makes all the difference on an island known for its rainfall -up to 400 inches per year (!) - dropped over the windward (east) coast and inland (which creates the mountain and coastal rainforest that is Dominica's main ecological attraction. As precipitation maps for the island show, this leaves very little rain left to fall on Secret Bay's location on the North-west coast.
So, a stay at Secret Bay provides a more arid (non-humid) and sunnier micro-climate than stays elsewhere on the island. Enjoy the beach, the sun and the glowing sunsets at Secret Bay,
whilst having immediate access to the mountains and rainforest only (literally) minutes away.
(c) While at the airport for departure, my wife and I occasioned to meet a young man, a Ph.D. candidate from Canada, who has been based out of Dominica researching sperm whales and their movement patterns for several years. When he learned the location of Secret Bay on the island, he offered that it would be an ideal location for land-based whale-watching and suggested a viewing scope be considered at the resort. I have since put Gregor, Secret bay's visionary and owner, in touch with this fellow and he is looking further into such a prospect.
(d) This is not a "hotel" with rooms or suites, nor is it a cluster of "lodges" next to one another. Our villa was an estimated 50 feet or more from our nearest neighbouring villa. There is a peacefulness that falls into place up on arrival. Guests respect that peacefulness without anything needing to be said. What do you hear? Waves lapping the shore below, rustling of leaves, a bird, a tree-frog. Or close up the hinged wall panels and hear nothing. What DON'T you hear? Any urban sounds, sales pitches for trinkets, power boats/jet skis, etc., etc.
(e) The privacy and beauty of Secret Beach, the rock sea arch, the sea-cave. See Secret Bay's website photos. What you see is what you get .

ACCOMMODATION STRUCTURE - Secret Bay is the product of an eco-conscious vision brought to life with a collaboration of architectural and engineering design that remembers how beauty and function are linked.
Each villa and "bungalow" ( Canadians think of a bungalow as one-level - Secret Bay's are two levels , connected by a spiral staircase ) is a separate building well-distanced from the others. It is constructed of a beautiful Guyanese hardwood , situated upon a concrete base which is itself
held elevated above the cliff surface on a single concrete pedestal. This achieves the least possible interference with its surroundings, while adding to its vantage point for the views over the Caribbean. Outside ,a deck a level below the villa projects seaward. The "honeymoon" villa has its own infinity pool at deck level; the two-bedroom villa has its own hot-tub imbedded into to the slope of the cliff. The upper level balcony is huge - it houses the dining room table and a separate lounge set. This balcony can be left entirely open or fully screened.
Inside, hardwood and cedar finishes are joined by the best in hi-tech kitchen appliances and bathroom fixtures, and furniture. The air-conditioning can be throughout, or compartmentalized
by the use of hinged wood-framed glass wall sections that you move to position as you wish.

AMENITIES- The "luxury" in "eco-luxury" is everywhere: the built-in electronically-controlled fresh-grind coffee/cappuccino/espresso maker, the full fridge/freezer/ice-maker/cold water dispenser, the provided Kindle (which allowed me to keep up via the Toronto Globe and Mail),the touch on/off lamps, the sleek, spacious washroom with twin sinks, the comfortable beds in bedrooms appointed with flat screen TV/VCR. Eco doesn't need to be spartan, and this certainly isn't.

SERVICE- Gregor ,the owner, met us at the airport.In his vehicle we were given cool cloths to refresh our faces (another reviewer referred to having received hot cloths infused with almond - ours were cool -brought in a refrigeration unit in the vehicle). Arrival at Secret Bay included an introduction to staff, and a walk-through of the operation of the tech items in the villa. We found the fridge and cupboards stocked with the items ticked off on an on-line shopping list shortly after booking. Home-made guava jam, yoghurt and granola accompanied breakfasts we made ourselves (our choice) along with the provided eggs and bread for toast.
No en masse meal-taking at Secret Bay; each meal is a choice of making your own in your own kitchen with the stocked ingredients, or having staff prepare your meals either in your kitchen, or at the Secret Bay kitchen and brought to your table at a time of your choosing.
A sense of the owner's down-to-earth style is typified by his response to our inquiry as to whether his home was nearby. "About a 20 minute swim".
We were guided by Gregor on the provided kayaks from the shore at the mouth of the Cario River, (a small stream emptying into the Caribbean at the base of the property) around the point past a natural rock arch, to Secret Beach. Following Gregor's lead I swam through the sea-cave to the other side of the point, then back around to my wife who was sunning on the beach. Alone.

We will be returning to Secret Bay this December for 10 days. And again and again after that.

Room Tip: For those who think of "bungalow" as meaning one floor of living space, at Secret Bay, bungalow means a two-floor jewel of a villa, with spiral staircase between floors. All of Secret Bay's "rooms" are beautiful stand-alone villas.
  • Stayed: May 2012, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank John H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed June 21, 2012

Wonderful, relaxing trip to Secret Bay last week. My husband and I were celebrating our 10th anniversary and booked the Zabuco Villa. It is every bit as gorgeous in person as it is on the website photos and exceeded our expectations. We arrived at night and marveled at the beautiful villa, but when we woke up at sunrise and saw the view...WOW! My hands-down favorite part of the villa was the open-air shower. The hot water combined with the cool ocean breeze was sensational. Also, the bed was the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in. It is very peaceful and quiet there and most of the time we were alone at Secret Beach. Amazing. This should go without saying but if you are looking for a glitzy resort with bars and nightlife, this is not the place. We felt like we were at home but in a beautiful secluded setting with no responsibilities!

The staff is very friendly and Anna accomodates most anything you could need. The food was great, we just told them to prepare us local dishes every day and it was all delicious, especially the desserts! They do run a bit on "island time", if you tell them a time for a meal, they will probably run a little late. This didn't bother us because it was a very laid-back vacation, but if you want things on the dot, you might specifically request that. We also did not care to do the couples yoga session that was included in our package and they subsitituted a massage on the upstairs deck which was fantastic!

Dominica as a whole is very affordable and beautiful. We bought a weekly site pass for $12 US per person that allows you entrance to basically every attraction on the island. We went to several of them in one day with a driver arranged by Anna. We visited Trafalgar Falls, Emerald Pool, Titou Gorge (an absolute MUST) and snorkeled at Champagne Beach. We also did the Indian River boat tour on another day. It is so non-touristy, we were usually the only people there or one of just a few, which was nice. I would not recommend renting a vehicle as suggested by another reviewer. Nothing seemed to be marked, many attractions were off the beaten path, and I am sure we never would have found the places we were going to on our own!

We definitely would love to return to Secret Bay, I just hope that with all the success and accolades they have been getting, we will be able to get reservations again!

  • Stayed: June 2012, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank laurilib
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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