Serene Caribbean hideaway with coveted new amenity: a second passport
Dominica is hailed as the ‘Nature Island of the Caribbean’ and for a good reason. With as many rivers as the number of days in a year, subterranean volcanoes, waterfalls, hot springs, a boiling lake and secluded white- and black-sand beaches, Dominica is a place of marvel, wellness and adventure. Nestled on its northwest coast is the 40-acre expanse of the multiple-award- winning Secret Bay Resort and Residences, which itself boasts an unusual mix of rainforest and three beaches of different shades of sand topped by dramatic cliffs as well as two micro-climates, its own river and a magical sea cave. Add in the benefits of six-star Relais & Châteaux hospitality, and you get a sense of sustainable luxury offered by this limited collection of private villas.
Each stunning home has been meticulously constructed by hand and is oriented for privacy and to protect the natural environment on its own significant plot. A villa estate is an option, too, with two or three architecturally stunning homes for family and friends. Surrounded by the rainforest, the residences have fully equipped kitchens, with Siemens appliances, de’Longhi espresso machine and wine cooler, and a private plunge pool. The chef, spa therapist and yoga instructor will come to you at your villa, or you can enjoy the many amenities available in the resort, including the Gommier Spa and the Bwa Mang Wellness Pavilion. A beachfront lap pool, the architecturally stunning welcome house, and a stylish lounge at the no-menu Zing-Zing restaurant have been added more recently – all inspired by biophilic design. A funicular, art barn and a Kombucha microbrewery are slated for completion in 2023 as part of the multi-year masterplan that will see the number of residences grow from the current 12 to 42. With less than 7 per cent of the land designated for development, Secret Bay will preserve the much-lauded eco-friendly aspect of the resort even as the community expands. The first of the new multi- villa Clifftop Estates with four villas will be added to the resort inventory in June, and two more estates will be added before the end of the year to bring the tally of villas to 20.
Secret Bay is a passion project. It took proprietor and developer Gregor Nassief 17 years to acquire the first five acres. As a boy, Nassief loved this rocky nub of unspoilt coastline and used to free-climb the cliffs. After meeting his future wife, Sandra, while working in South America, he introduced her to this special place. They showed the land to Sandra’s father, Fruta Vivas, a distinguished architect in Venezuela, and his wedding gift was a drawing of their family home to be built there. “I had to persuade Sandra to leave her city of nine million people to come and live in our jungle!” recalls Nassief. An environmental impact study revealed that traditional construction would be impossible without disturbing the forestation, so every villa is built by hand. “It truly is a labour of love,” affirms Nassief. “But we knew we wanted to create a special place where people could connect to nature, to themselves and to the ones they love.”
Purchase of Secret Bay real estate is an investment as well as a lifestyle choice. When you own a villa, you can stay for a limited time per year with a hassle-free shared rental stream. Full ownership prices range from US$1.49m (£1.2m) for a beautiful Ti-Fey Villa to US$5.5m (£4.6m) for an expansive Clifftop Estate. Fractional ownership starts at $208,000 (£173,450) per share. All investments come with an optional amenity of second citizenship through the island’s Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme.
For the sixth consecutive year, The Financial Times’ subsidiary Professional Wealth Management has named Dominica as the “Best Country for Citizenship by Investment in the World”, ranking the programme the first in the CBI Index – the most prestigious resource that catalogues all active CBI programmes across the globe.
In its 11 years of operation, Secret Bay has earned the reputation of being one of the world’s most acclaimed boutique resorts for its six-star experience. This means that Citizenship Investors are investing in a proven operating asset with rental demand and rental returns. Secret Bay has a strong track record, with an average 70+ per cent historical occupancy rates and showing an 80+ per cent growth in its average daily rate since opening its doors as a resort. Citizenship Investors can look forward to positive financial returns from day one of their investment.
A unique differentiator of the Residences at Secret Bay versus other CBI opportunities is that the Residences is also being sold to non- Citizenship buyers, known as Lifestyle Buyers, who acquire a second or third vacation home in the Caribbean. This means that Citizenship Investors can benefit from a robust resale market and sell their investment in Secret Bay to Lifestyle Buyers after just three years or to Citizenship buyers after five years. This is one of the most flexible and competitive exit strategies in the industry.
Secret Bay is part of GEMS, which owns and manages hotels that have successfully operated in Dominica for over 30 years. Further, it is owned and operated by Dominica-born entrepreneur Gregor Nassief. This means that Secret Bay is committed to Dominica and has the experience and agility to navigate the challenges and ensure the future success of Secret Bay.