Hotel Review: Das Jungle Bay Ressort on Domenica – indescribably good
I am sitting on the terrace of my beautiful Cottages #2 and look at the rising sun over the ocean, while writing these lines. It is impressive: surrounded by jungle on one side and on the other soughing waves impinging the riverside. I cannot count the amount of bird voices that accompany me during the day and the little gecko (or one of hundreds) appears every morning to greet me. But where exactly am I? To answer that question, let’s take at look at things a little closer.
My travel led me from Berlin over Madrid (MAD) to San Juan (SJU). After a stopover and night stop I went further on to Domenica (DOM). Already the landing on the “nature island” was an event. Mountains, woods, rivers and whatever nature admires is to be found on this island. And there is another feature of the island: The water surrounding it is not as salty as in other areas and a little warmer. The reason for that are more than 300 rivers, arising from the mountains’ sources, which float into the ocean.
After landing on the small airport I precede to the usual security check, get another stamp in my passport and see the smallest luggage pick up band ever. The Jungle Bay Resort picks me up, but there would have been also taxis as alternative. “Brother” is the name of my driver and he explains the island to me, the Resort. Then I get the first, fresh fruit juice. Not from filled bottles with lots of sugar and preservatives, but from a carafe in a cooling box. The recovery can begin and so we move on the little streets (well, the name “streets” does not quite fit) to the south of the island.
The island Domenica:
With a size of 780 square kilometers, Domenica is a little bit smaller than my home island Rügen in Germany (926km). Domenica is surely one of the greenest corners on earth. Right in the Caribbean (at the southern tip the atlantic ocean and the Caribbean sea come together) you find an indescribable beauty that wants to be explored. The people on this island mainly make a living with agriculture (laurel oil, bananas and other kinds of fruit and vegetables) and live a life most of us can’t dream of. Other than in hasty Europe, it is way more relaxed here. People are super polite: everybody greets, smiles and ceases the day, which is probably not as easy as it is here. Income varies from 300 to 800 US Dollar and you can live well with that, I was told. The demands are different here. Food grows in nature and must not be bought. On a few tours, we see people who pick up their foods from fields and woods, kind of a supermarket for free. In general, life here seems to be much more relaxed than we might imagine in Germany.
The Jungle Bay Resort:
After about 90 minutes we arrived at the Resort. Integrated into tropical woods and located right at an open bay, the Jungle Bay Resort awaits us. It’s not a typical hotel and many readers of this blog might ask themselves what brought me here. Other than most of my travel destinations, it’s neither a luxurious hotel nor it has the typical categorization. But that’s exactly what I was looking for and what Cubetravel supported and organized.
There are no rooms in the classical way, but Cottages: little wooden shelters on stalks, built right into the wooded hillside. They offer a fantastic view on the ocean and the rising or sinking sun. But let’s start with the main building. There is the reception desk, where I being welcomed super friendly. After a short check-in and receiving a few information, Brother brings me to “my” Cottage, which will be my home for the next 14 days. In the hotel building are the rooms for Yoga and a little shop in which you can get snacks, drinks, souvenirs and clothing. Especially the right clothing and shoes are important for the trips, but more to that later.
You can also find some activities in the main building, in case it rains. There is table tennis, billiard, a TV with DVD player and a computer. Free Wi-Fi is available in and outside the hotel and if you like to tell your beloved ones what you experience, you can do that for free in the offices.
But you can also spend your time another way: swimming in the big pool or relaxing in beach chairs with a view on the ocean is pure rest.
The Cottage is located on the hillside. Depending on which Cottage and location there are few or more steps, but the higher the better the view. When I opened the door to my terrace, a little gecko looks at me a little surprised. I get a glance at the beautiful view on the ocean and the woods. It’s impressive how peaceful and calm it appears, without any haste. The hammock on the terrace promises a restful time here. But let’s look at the ineriority of the Cottage: directly behind the entrance you find a spacious, implemented cupboard. I quickly stuff my things and the bag inside. Further on there is a coffee machine with pads and a fridge, so that there is not only the possibility to cool stuff but also get a coffee in the morning.
There are also two armchairs, a tablet with fresh flowers on it and the big bed. My Cottage is equipped with a King Size bed, but there are also two separated beds. A mosquito net lies on the bed rolled up, but I only used it once. The ceiling fan provides fresh air because there is no technical cooling. Anyway, it would be redundant, since the 7 windows bring enough fresh air to the inside. You wont find a TV, but nature is way more beautiful. There is fauna and the ocean so who needs a TV? The whole Cottage consists of a wooden construction that fits to nature pretty well. While I am writing these lines I am lying on my bed and a little bird flies in, steals a piece of my cookie and leaves the room. That’s pure nature. Also the little gecko comes in from time to time and leaves right away.
At the end of my little tour through my Cottage we take a look at the bathroom. It’s small but dainty and contains toilette and sink. Here’s another example of sustainable and ecoconscious tourism, because shampoo, conditioner and lotion are kept in refillable cases instead of waste causing ones. There is one more highlight: the shower. It’s spacious and made of wood with a direct view to the outside. What can be more beautiful than starting the day with a shower in nature?
What I personally like is that you can see the other Cottages, but you can also have privacy if you want to. It’s fantastic on the terrace, where I am now again, writing these lines. The sound of the sea in the background, birds and geckos around me – where else could blogging be cooler? One little flaw or maybe just the advantage, depending on which site you’re looking at it from, is that there Is no Wi-Fi in the Cottages and also the GSM net has its problems. But that fact definitely contributed to my relaxation in the recent days.
There are two possibilities concerning food in the Resort. You ether choose the open Pavillon-Restaurant, or the room service in your very own Cottage. Who booked the “Jungle Bay Package” does not only have all meals inclusive but also non-alcoholic beverages. There is always the possibility to get fresh water in the Jungle Bay, and you get a bottle that you can always fill up. Make sure to drink a lot. But let’s get back to the food.
The breakfast is being offered as buffet, where you can find much healthy stuff. A lot of fruit, fresh and local, such as Banana, pineapple, melons or passion fruit. Delicious scrambled eggs with herbs, omelets as you want them or pancakes and French toast round the offer. Always tasty and best to take away are fresh fruit juices, which can get at any time in the restaurant. So I hardly need water but always have the chance to try a new juice.
If you are not doing a trip at lunch time , you can order a la card in the restaurant. There are not only salads but also fish, chicken and more delicious things on the menu. My ideal lunch consists of a Jungle Bay Salad (8 USD), “Green Goddess & Tomato Sandwich” (8 USD) as main course and as dessert a house made Sorbet (5 USD). Makes sure to not forget the tasty potato chips with dip. Main courses are set in the price range of 10 to 12 USD, if not included in the package. For a fee of 5 USD you let them bring the meals to your Cottage, but it’s just nice to eat in the restaurant or at the pool. And then it’s time to eat again, when sun sinks behind the ocean. Also for diner, there is a changing menu: every evening two sorts of local fish are on the menu, which differ in preparation. If that’s not enough, you can create your own menu. Appetizers are super delicious, for example local specialties in “Domenican Heritage Sampler” for 8 USD, pumpkin ginger soup for 13 USD or Tofu for vegetarians for 9 USD.
Main courses for diner vary between 15 and 21 USD. If you don’t like fish or just want to have some pasta or burgers that’s no problem. Even though it’s not on the menu the restaurant will do it for you.
But…after all these delicious things we have a look at the desserts: You find something for any taste, while my favorite is the sorbet in all variations. You can have flambéed bananas, passion fruit cheese cake or ice cream, even Key Lime Pie is possible. All that comes with steady fresh sea air, sound of the sea and nice company.
The bar offers a big choice. Even though I don’t really drink alcohol, let’s take a look at the menu. A bottle of Champaign starts at 36 USD (Grandin Methode traditionelle Brut) and ends at 102 USD for Moet & Chandon. Wine in the variation of rose, white or red comes at 19 to 36 USD. Local beer on Domenica is for example Kubuli, but there is also Heineken or Shandy (comparable with Alster or mixed beer). The bottle goes for 3 USD. Besides known rum types like Bacardi you can also have local rum or coconut rum. There are also delicious non-alcoholic beverages on the menu: fruit juice, coconut water and the very tasty ice tea with ginger-lime or cinnamon for 2 USD (all prices are with 15% VAT).
The spa opens at 1 P.M. ( in winter at 10 P.M.) and closes at 8 P.M. Guests with the Jungle Bay Package don’t only have food free but also a daily half an hour in the SPA. Besides a few massages with different techniques there are cosmetically treatments. I can recommend the Jungle Bay Massage, a whole body massage with coconut oil, which I had many times in the recent days. Who booked at package and cannot do the trips or doesn’t want to, can spend his 30 or 60 minutes in the spa. To give you an image of the prices, here is a list:
Jungle Bay Massage 30 Min. 50 US$, 60 Min. 100 US$
Aromatherapie Massage 30 Min. 50, 60 Min für 95 US$
Massage for couples, 1 Stunde für 200 US$
Also massages for rest during pregnancy or loosening neck, head or shoulders are possible. If you can back from an exhausting trip I recommend you to take a foot or reflex zone massage for 50 USD (30 min).
As announced there are also many cosmetically treatments, which can be used in the package fro free (30 min. daily).
Face treatment for her or him, 30 min. 50 USD
Manicure or Pedicure between 35 and 50 USD.
There is one more thing in the spa: treatment view ocean sound and view. By the location at the hillside you can hear the ocean while being massaged. I cannot imagine anything better, but relax and sleep in while being treated. At the end of the massage you get a glance at the sea and are relaxed like never before.
Reasons to come here are not only the spa, nature and the tasty food but also the varying trips and tours. They can be booked single or as package. For example, there is a tour where you go with a guide into the woods or up the mountains. They are well conceptualized and there is something for everybody. The tours contain all information concerning duration, kind of tour and level of severity.
It beings in the morning (or sometimes in the evening after special request) with Yoga for beginners. You should really try this out. It was a completely new experience for me and I felt muscles where I didn’t know were some. Nancy made the Yoga course so interesting that you want to come back and continue at home. It goes on with a daily changing program.
My highlights were:
The Monday snorkeling tour at “Champaign Beach”. After a 60 minutes drive by car we reach the Champaign beach. It’s called so because throw the volcanic rock underneath the water many little blisters soar and it looks like you’re in a glass of Champaign. Countless fishes and sometimes turtles make it an experience. You don’t have to worry about equipment. After that you get lunch in a local restaurant with surrounding fruit gardens, in which you can try any type of fruit. There are sugar apples, avocados, nuts, grape fruits and even cocoa. Also cane is not to be forgotten, more sweet and delicious than any sweet. After we filled up, we moved on to the south of the island. Scenic towns lead the way up to a hot pool inside the ocean. The reason are fizzy sources under the seabed and so the nature was used to build a pool of stone with hot water. One is really hot – too much for me to take a bath in. At the southern tip of Domenica we went snorkeling and swimming again. On one side you have the rough ocean and on the other one the Caribbean sea and find some fish. You can also climb the hill and get a beautiful 360 degrees view.
The absolute highlight for me was something else:
Every Thursday you get the chance to hash a view on Garden of Eden or just the paradise. Where it is? Simple. Follow the tour guide on a 20-30 min. drive. First, through the flat rain forest, later on a 20-30 minutes tour up the way. At the end there is a huge expanse, picturesque framed by mountain tops you find the house of Pomme, a, let’s call him hermit, separated from the “normal” life. Distanced from the rest of the world, without electricity and floating water he lives by a river in a house, surrounded by garden. Countless kinds of fruits, vegetables and weeds are waiting to be expected. I didn’t know what this yellow fruit was supposed to be, but after opening I found something red and inside that something brown. It was a nutmeg. Such surprises follow in mass. Fresh fruit without any proceeding grow naturally. There I ate the juiciest grape fruit, the sweetest star fruit and many other things of my life. Afterwards we had a tasty local lunch, where soup is served in bowls (made of coconut for example). It was just sooo delicious, I didn’t want to go away from there. We received some fruit as “provision” and went back to Jungle Bay.
Other trips are interesting, nice and educational, too. Where else can you have vanilla sheet ropes directly from nature and watch fauna and flora? Also the Glasse Trail was very interesting. Arriving at the tip of the mountain, a spit looms into the ocean. It consists of volcano rock and has holes that filled with water and create a natural pool. At the very tip of it there is one of these special pools, the “Lovers Pool” that has place for two. When the waves come you better hold on to something, or you’re being taken with them. It’s a very special experience. On the way back you can harvest cinnamon, cut from the tree and dried in the Cottage.
A detailed overview of all tours, such as the trip to the cooking lake or the forgotten valley, the Victoria or Sari Sari waterfalls and to the capital Roseau can be taken from the website of the resort.
The prices for the tours, if not included in the package, range from 20 to 75 USD, not including VAT.
Who does it suite to?
The resort suits to everyone who searches for rest and like to relax in the spa, the pool or while snorkelling, but also for active vacationers and hobby divers. The surrounding and the tours offer so many possibilities to discover nature and have fun that there are no restrictions. Also families with kids will have fun. It’s just important to have good shoes and suitable clothes, then you’ll have a wonderful time.
These two weeks here might be the most beautiful of my life. I haven’t been so relaxed in a while and the Caribbean feeling of life directly transfers and let’s you forget anything else. I really enjoyed the time and will come again for sure. Where else can you relax s good, do something actively or just enjoy the silence and the sea? The personnel are super, polite in the whole Resort. Nancy made the Yoga course even interesting for me. The owner Sam loves to talk about his home and Richie in the restaurant always smiles. It’s just an incredible stay – thank you all.
If you like to book it, talk to Cubetravel. They can organize the right flight arrangements, the hotel and maybe a stopover in San Juan, Miami or St. Maarten. The employees of the travel agency in Berlin can do one thing really good: arrange travels :-). And here are some pictures, pictures and even more pictures.