Caribbean | 2015 Grand Awards
By Andrew Harper
The Hideaway Report | January 9, 2015
The new Eden Roc at Cap Cana is a 34-suite resort tucked away on a 30,000-acre development at the east end of the island. With a mix of residences, a marina and the Punta Espada Jack Nicklaus golf course, Cap Cana is a tranquil and upscale haven within the wider Punta Cana resort area.
Eden Roc is an enclave of brightly painted cottages with up to four bedrooms. Arrayed in an oval around a lagoon-like pool, each is set on its own landscaped plot, with a terrace and small private pool. Our Junior Suite came with a vaulted ceiling and a wall of windows. A four-poster bed, light cream walls and coral stone floors with intricate inlays all helped to create an exceptionally attractive environment. Sophisticated lighting and temperature controls could be handled manually or by a wall-mounted iPad. We found the bath to be one of the most appealing we’ve seen in some time, with facing vanities, a soaking tub next to a window, a large walk-in shower and an additional outdoor shower area.
At check-in, we were presented with keys to our own golf cart. This we used primarily to get to the Caletón Beach Club, a splendid facility with a large pool and a smaller children’s pool located just steps from the powdery sand and crystalline water. The seaside restaurant, La Palapa, is a breezy pavilion that serves excellent seafood. Mediterraneo, the resort’s principal restaurant, provides a fine setting for distinguished cuisine. We could not resist the lasagnetta of spider crab and leeks served with seafood ragout, and I also enjoyed grilled snapper with truffles and mashed potatoes.
Eden Roc has a spa with six treatment cabanas, plus a well-equipped gym. This lovely place is a notable addition to the roster of the Caribbean’s leading resorts.
Secret Bay is the first truly upscale property on the lush volcanic island of Dominica. Its owner, Gregor Nassief, discovered an ideal spot for development — a dramatic promontory on the unspoiled northwest coast situated between two beaches. To realize his vision, he turned to the distinguished Venezuelan architect Fruto Vivas, who also happens to be his father-in-law. The results are stunning: three one-bedroom clifftop villas; one two-bedroom villa; and two hillside villas.
Without question, the most desirable are the clifftop Zabuco Villas. At 110 feet above the sea, their location alone would set them apart, but the architecture is breathtaking. Supported by four concrete pedestals, the upper level seems to defy gravity and to float above the ground. Open and pavilion-like, with floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room, the 1,400-square-foot space includes a sea-facing deck, a fully equipped kitchen, and a combined bed and bath, the latter with Italian fixtures, a freestanding tub and a shower with six heads. On the ground level, there is a plunge pool and a hammock. The beauty of the materials impressed me greatly — warm Guyana greenheart and glowing furniture crafted from Dominican red cedar.
There is no dining room or restaurant at Secret Bay; instead, there is a dedicated cooking facility, where meals are prepared at your direction and brought to your villa by a staff member. For both lunch and dinner, we were given an array of choices. The food was delicious, among the best we’ve had in the Caribbean. The unfailingly helpful staff advised us on hiking, snorkeling and kayaking. Dominica is an intriguing alternative to the more developed islands. Beach options are limited, but if you are energetic, there are innumerable activities and excursions. And for the more sedentary, there is always a plunge pool and a sublime view.