President of Jungle Bay Resort Sam Raphael has announced that he will be relocating the establishment to the southern community of Soufriere.
The resort, located in Delices on the eastern coast of the island, was severely damaged by Tropical Storm Erika in August 2015 and Raphael told a special meeting of his management team and community leaders in La Plaine on Sunday that many factors were taken into consideration and he had to make the “difficult decision” to relocate.
“After an exhaustive island-wide search, my architects and I decided to relocate Jungle Bay to a parcel of land that we have since acquired in Morne Acouma near the village of Soufriere,” he stated.
Raphael said construction of the new Jungle Bay will commence within six months and will be opened in the latter part of 2018.
“The new development will provide employment for persons from around Soufriere, however, we will endeavor to reemploy as many of our past employees as possible,” he remarked.
He stated that over the past 20 years, Jungle Bay has evolved from a dream to be become a world-class hote with international recognition.
“Before Tropical Storm Erika struck last August, Tripadvisor ranked Jungle Bay as the number one hotel in Dominica and the number three top (of 25) hotel in the entire Caribbean,” he said. “Jungle Bay employed many of our local villagers as tour guides, maintenance workers, housekeepers, spa attendants, guest service attendants, cooks, waiters, managers and drivers. The hotel also purchased farm produce from a number of local farmers. The people of Delices, Boetica, La Plaine and Petite Savanne were welcoming and accommodating to our guests and ensured their enjoyment, safety and wellbeing. Jungle Bay’s success was possible because of the tremendous support we received from you, the people of the South East.”
He added, “As you all know, we were forced to close Jungle Bay in late August because mudslides from Tropical Storm Erika severely damaged several of our cottages. We were grateful that none of our staff or guests was injured. Subsequently, our employees were made redundant however we have made every effort to assist them and even our local suppliers with financial contributions and job placement assistance because we recognize that the situation has brought hardship to many of them and other persons in the South East who depended on our hotel for a livelihood. We plan to continue to do whatever we can to support our extended South East family by encouraging future investment and job creation in this region.”
He said after the ravages of Erika, a lot of thought was given to the future of the hotel and the welfare of employees and the people of the area.
“I decided early on to focus my attention on rebuilding Jungle Bay in Dominica because to me it wasn’t just a hotel investment, but a livelihood to people who had become my extended family,”Raphael said. “Therefore, I suspended plans to develop a sister resort in Barbuda even though that project had already received approvals from the Cabinet of Antigua & Barbuda and was well on its way. I did this so I could focus my attention on rebuilding, and reopening Jungle Bay as soon as possible. We needed to rebuild Jungle Bay soon in order to continue to host our repeat guests and maintain the brand we had worked hard to establish.”
He stated that he initially thought of rebuilding on the original site but there were many factors he took into consideration.
“Notwithstanding, after considering the current geological vulnerability of the area immediately around our site, and the lack of proper emergency access along with other factors, I came to the realization that it was not prudent to rebuild Jungle Bay in the same area at this time, so I had to make the difficult decision to rebuild Jungle Bay in a different location,” Raphael said.
He invited former employees who are willing to work in Soufriere to make contact with his management team and said he is not abandoning the area.
“I would like the people of the South East to know that I am not saying goodbye to you and to our beloved region,” he said. “I want to go on record today and announce my intention to return to the South East as soon as it is feasible to reinvest in local enterprises that will create jobs, and in the redevelopment of our Pointe Mulatre property. I also want you to know that in the interim I will also use my contacts and influence to encourage the Government of Dominica, other potential developers and other interested parties to invest in infrastructure and job-creating enterprises in the South East. We acknowledge the work the Government of Dominica has done to rebuild the roads and bridges in our area thus far, and we need to encourage them to do even more.”