In a relaxed frame of mind after my invigorating walk at the Emerald Pool eco-site, which was followed by a fantastic lunch at Islet View Restaurant and Bar, I drove a short distance further to my destination that Saturday: Dominica`s renowned Beau Rive boutique hotel.
As soon as I arrived on the property, Florence and Maxim, the friendly house dogs barked excitedly as Mark Steele, proprietor of Beau Rive strode quickly to my car and warmly welcomed me with a firm handshake and sincere smile. It was not my first time at this lovely hotel, and I felt instantly “at home” as I gazed around the beautifully manicured grounds. Right away, Mark took my bags and showed me to my room.
After some brief instructions about the room’s features and details about dinner, Mark left me to my own devices. I took a little time to unpack and then admired this sensational setting before a planned nap. Pretty anthurium lilies in a vase complemented the beautiful Nature Island painting by local artist Marie Frederick. A quiet ceiling fan circulated cool ocean breezes around the room. But I was most enraptured with the expansive balcony and its captivating view: far below, a gentle, rhythmical surf pounded against ancient rocks that
formed a tiny promontory. As I gazed further out into the mighty Atlantic, several shades of blue blended into the cottony cloud-covered sky. With the veranda doors wide open, I lay down on the bed, but resisted shutting my eyes. I just couldn’t stop gazing at that magnificent scene right from my propped-up pillow!
When I arrived at the upstairs dining area just before 7 p.m., Mark met me there and asked if I had had a good rest. I chuckled as I told him that I did feel more refreshed but that I had been unable to close my eyes because I was so entranced by the view!
Mark had already asked me about food preferences when I made the reservation. He and his staff had graciously prepared a delicately seasoned local tuna dish with fresh vegetables. The appetizer did contain tomatoes, but I hadn’t mentioned that they can be problematic sometimes. As it was only a starter, I did sample this popular fruit which lightly topped a delicate pastry crust – and it was divine! I had already requested smaller servings so that I could enjoy everything and let nothing go to waste. Of course, I savored every morsel, including the rum-flavoured chocolate cake! (Unfortunately my camera could not capture the details of these appealing plates in the evening light).
In the background, a mix of easy-listening tunes – R+B, jazz, opera arias and instrumental medleys complemented this superb dining experience. In the foreground, the strong waves made their presence known and nearby tree frogs greeted the evening with gusto. But the melodious blend of sounds did not interfere with an interesting conversation about books between me and Allison, another repeat guest at Beau Rive. We were enveloped in soft candlelight at our adjacent table settings and our exchange flowed easily. She confessed that although she is Barbadian by birth and now resides in the U.S., Dominica is always her first choice for a vacation – but not only that – in her mind it has to at Beau Rive, and nowhere else! When I queried this seasoned traveller further over the weekend about the essence of her attraction to this lovely hotel, she always responded with, ” There is nowhere else like it. It is so unique. It is different from everywhere else.” We both agreed that one can get away from everything and quietly rejuvenate here in complete comfort.
Mark Steele obviously has a special gift and a magic touch that has enabled his quaint hotel to attract guests from all over the world. Many return to repeat their exceptional experiences and some even invite him to visit them in their homelands! It is obvious that careful thought, meticulous attention to details, consistent dedication to the highest standards possible as a hotelier, and of course, a love of, interest in and concern for his guests and his staff have resulted in regular highly ranked recognition on Trip Advisor. At this writing, Beau Rive is the number one hotel in Dominica (June 2014). It’s not the only time he has placed first and he has also previously received a number of other awards for his renowned hospitality endeavors. If you stay at Beau Rive, you will quickly understand why!
Almost immediately after I ate, I returned to my room to read for a while. It wasn’t long before I drifted off to sleep to the crash of the distant surf and the pattering of a
light rain on the roof. I awoke early to enjoy a muted sunrise amidst some gray clouds. At about 7:45 a.m., I left the room for breakfast on the upstairs patio. The dogs greeted me along the way and I also met Frederick the frisky ginger-coloured kitty. These pets really gave me some extra cheer and lessened the pain of the loss of Tia-pet, my cherished cat of 16 1/2 years.
As I took my seat overlooking that spectacular ocean scene, a huge bowl of mixed fruits was placed before me. Mark enjoys growing his own fruits and vegetables and some of his labours were in the mix. On the second morning, he proudly told me about his success at producing cantaloupe. It’s very uncommon on the Nature Island and here I was enjoying it at that very moment!
My plan for a Sunday outing was a long overdue refresher tour of one of Dominica’s principle historic and cultural sites: Kalinago Barana Aute (Carib Model Village). It was only a 20 minute drive through the Kalinago Territory from Beau Rive, and Mark felt this would be an opportune time to visit, as it would be quiet on the road on Sunday morning and it was also low season, meaning there would likely be fewer people there.
I left not long after breakfast. I had already informed Mark that I would probably be a couple of hours. I will report on that incredible experience in the next blog post, but suffice it to say that when I got there, I was informed that my tour would be delayed as the guides were waiting for a French group to arrive and I would go along with them. Being familiar with Mark’s concern about his guests, I immediately called him and informed him that I would be later returning than I had earlier predicted. He was very grateful for my message. I knew that he would worry if I didn’t show up as planned.
When I arrived back at Beau Rive about four hours later, Mark was at his garden for the afternoon and it seemed that no one else was about. (The staff were in the kitchen quietly preparing dinner)> . I lay down for a few minutes until I heard the sound of a familiar pick-up truck in the driveway. Lo and behold, it was Dr. Ronnie and Dr. Nausima, my favourite veterinarians! Mark mentioned earlier that they might be around to check on his
pets (including a cow tethered near his garden). I was surprised to see them and it was very meaningful to spend some time with the vets in a more relaxed setting since the cat had passed away. After they attended Florence, mother of Maxim, they went to meet Mark and check on his cow. I was supposed to go along, but after my lengthy morning tour and slow recovery from chikungunya, I opted for a little down time in my peaceful room.
The timing was perfect, because when they returned about an hour later, they called me to join them for a drink on the patio. Mark prepared and served our preferred beverages. Then he joined us. We discussed all manner of things, including, health, family, world affairs and of course, animals! While Mark is usually reticent to disclose much about his earlier life (he is an accomplished professional pianist), the British expatriate told us about some other fascinating posts and travels he had previously experienced in different countries. He explained that all of his past endeavors contributed to the realization of his dream of creating Beau Rive in Dominica. I won’t give anything else away – you’ll have to ask him yourself!
Our conversation segued into the dinner hour. The vets took their leave and I sat down to the most delicious pumpkin-coconut milk soup imaginable. That was followed by a big bowl of pasta topped with a creamy goat cheese/sun-dried tomato sauce (made from scratch, naturally!), and then ice-cream and cake for dessert. I was full, but I ate it all – I could not resist it! Allison and I chatted over tea for a while and again shared reasons for our enduring fascination with Beau Rive. The conclusion was the same as before: for our purposes of rest, relaxation, tranquility, character, charm, hospitality and price, it just doesn’t get any better than this!
Then Allison went to the library to watch a DVD and I stayed in the upstairs lounge for a little while longer to get better acquainted with Frederick the cat. We played for a few minutes and then he was off on a night-time prowl. When I passed the library door, Mark asked me if I would like to see the movie, but I declined. I was sleep-walking and could only just make it back to my room!
On my last morning, Mark departed after breakfast, taking along guest Allison to run respective errands in Roseau. I was told to take my time checking out and I did linger a little longer,spending half an hour doing mini-laps in the pristine pool. In these peaceful surroundings, the swim in tepid water did ease the arthritis-like pain that persisted with chikungunya.
As I headed back to Roseau feeling very refreshed and revitalized, I reaffirmed that a little time spent at Beau Rive is definitely a healing tonic for body, mind and soul!