Tourism development in the Caribbean is largely dependent on people associating the region with beautiful images of aqua blue waters and white sand beaches. However, in the Caribbean region, hurricanes are a fact of life, and when they hit they can cause significant destruction to land and properties. Caribbean hotel developers and operators can help ensure travellers vision of paradise during hurricane season by crafting a disaster risk management strategy and plan of action to minimise loss of life and property.
In August 2015, Tropical Storm Erika inflicted extreme damage to the multiple-award winning Jungle Bay Resort in Dominica. The resort was hit by a landslide from the mountains that severely damaged several of the cottages. Luckily no one at Jungle Bay was injured thanks to the efforts coordinated by resort owner, Sam Raphael, who relocated guests to a hurricane shelter and later airlifted them out of the country proving, that when storms approach a region, time is critical to ensure the safety of guests and communication with the outside.
When time came to assess damages, and prepare restoration, Raphael hoped to find a solution to rebuild his resort in the same location to support the people in the South-East Dominica who helped to make the Jungle Bay brand so successful. However, the area’s vulnerability and geological sensitivity forced him to look elsewhere. Determined to stay in Dominica, Raphael and his architects, OBM International, went on an exhaustive journey to find a new site to relocate Jungle Bay that would be better suited to withstand any potential damage from mother nature.
The new Jungle Bay property will be larger and more upscale than the one that was destroyed by Tropical Storm Erika, even while “much of the feel” of the original Jungle Bay is kept. Sitting on a plateau on Morne Acouma overlooking the Soufriere Bay, OBMI architects have designed with the land utilising the elevated location to mitigate against potential natural hazards. The 60 luxury eco cottages, wellness spa, yoga centre, restaurant and bar, swimming pool and more are under construction with more resistant materials such as local stone that should hold up better to protect the cottages from torrential rains, flying debris and severe wind.
Construction of the luxury eco-tourism property is set for completion in December 2018. Raphael expects his loyal guests will enjoy the new site and the many attributes – champagne reef, hiking, kayaking – that make the sleepy village of Soufriere attractive. This story of resiliency is defiant proof that not even a storm named Erika could keep the Jungle at bay.