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HIGHLY COMMENDED Jungle Bay Resort & Spa, Dominica

Island of hope JUNGLE BAY launched onto the Caribbean holiday scene in 2005 as a radical alternative to traditional Caribbean sun’n’sand resorts. The 55-acre boutique hotel is unique in many ways – not least of which is its founder, local-born businessman and developer Sam Raphael. It’s rare for upscale Caribbean properties to be developed and operated by local Caribbean people. The resort features 35 wooden cottages perched on stilts, in the midst of the rainforest. Amenities include an open-air restaurant, pool, spa, yoga centre and nature trail. And Dominica doesn’t fit the Caribbean profile. This relatively unknown rainforest island has almost no beaches, above-average rainfall, a rugged coastline and no direct flights from major destinations. The most radical departure, however, is Jungle Bay’s philosophy; that it is possible to develop and profitably run a luxury hotel that conserves the environment and creates jobs and

spa attendants, cooks, room attendants,

a garden and access to fresh water. But the

economic opportunity for the local population.

maintenance people and managers.

collapse of an entire industry required a new

Around the turn of the century, the

The story of the resort forms part of the

mind-set – and Jungle Bay provided it.

island’s economy came to a shuddering halt

experience for visitors who can also visit

with the demise of its subsidised agricultural

some of the many community projects

in the tourism industry in the Caribbean,’

trade, sending 8,000 small Dominican

Jungle Bay supports, including the House of

said Raphael. ’The Jungle Bay philosophy

banana farmers into bankruptcy.

Hope, a home for disabled orphans, which

is beginning to blossom. The real Jungle

will expand to house the elderly and battered

Bay story is that out of an unfortunate set

built over five years by large numbers of

women and their children. One unexpected

of circumstances, the Caribbean tourism

previously unskilled ex-banana farm workers

sideline was a decision by the staff to donate

industry might have a viable alternative

using discarded rocks and reclaimed timber.

ten per cent of their tips to help such projects.

to old practices, one which will be more

Jungle Bay filled part of that void. It was

Because tourism was new to the southeast

The success of the Jungle Bay model has

‘This is the beginning of a quiet revolution

sustainable in the long run.’

region of Dominica, Raphael and his wife

not gone unnoticed. The government is now

Glenda set up a local NGO, the South East

convinced that low impact tourism is key

Tourism Development Committee to lay the

to the future of Dominica, and Jungle Bay is


groundwork for its brand of ecotourism, such

seen as the ‘signature resort’.

‘JUNGLE BAY is a leader in responsible

as developing trails, and training guides.

Accepting a World Saver award earlier


tourism and poverty reduction in Dominica

this year, Sam Raphael said Jungle Bay was

– 85 per cent of the payroll goes to local

and fishermen have had a new market for

changing an entire community. This lush

employees, the resort supported the

their fresh organic produce, handicraft

island, more akin to a chunk of Costa Rica,

development of local enterprises to create

producers and heritage dancers have had a

doesn’t match the familiar poverty image of

employment and to supply organic produce,

venue for their trade and 60 villagers have

subsistence farming in a dry, dusty landscape

fish and craft production; and runs a House

been trained to host visitors as tour guides,

parched by drought. Most Dominicans have

of Hope for disabled children.’

Since Jungle Bay opened, small farmers

r:travel | 87

Profile for Alex Lyons

r:travel, official magazine of the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards 2008  

Official magazine of the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards 2008

r:travel, official magazine of the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards 2008  

Official magazine of the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards 2008