Cabrits Resort and Spa Kempinski prepares to impact Dominica’s economy

Cabrits Resort and Spa Kempinski, Dominica

By Caribbean News Now contributor

ROSEAU, Dominica – Dominica is closer to becoming the world’s first climate resilient nation has also approved a total of seven major real estate projects under Citizenship by Investments (CBI).

Range Developments is an international property developer focusing on high-end hotel resorts in the Caribbean that are well-designed, sustainable and desirable, is due to open the Cabrits Resort and Spa Kempinski in Dominica this Autumn. This hotel marks Range Developments second opening in as many years, a testament to its dedication to the Caribbean.

Range Developments opened the world recognised Park Hyatt St Kitts in 2017 and is currently developing the Six Senses La Sagesse Resort in Grenada, scheduled to start this summer.  

Six Senses La Sagesse to launch under the Grenada citizenship programme for international investors

At a youth forum held on Saturday, June 6, at the Portsmouth Secondary School in Dominica, Michael Schoonewagen, general manager, Cabrits Resort and Spa Kempinski Dominica, addressed the impact of the hotel to the local economy, how to optimize business opportunities to work hand in hand to meet the criteria of service standards necessary in a five-star hotel, and the support that Cabrits Resort and Spa Kempinski Dominica would be able to give to local enterprises.

Schoonewagen gave a brief introduction of himself, born from a Dutch father and British mother, who grew up in Amsterdam, Switzerland and Cannes. 

“After passing my French Baccalaureat,” Schoonewagen said, “I wanted to be a pilot, but my father said no and sent me to a well-known hotel school in Switzerland, Le Centre International de Glion, and started my expatriate career immediately after. As an internationally trained hotel manager, I speak fluent English, French, Dutch and Portuguese, along with conversational German, Spanish and some Russian. Schoonewagen and his wife Sylvie have two children, Andrew and Alexandra.”

General Manager, Cabrits Resort and Spa Kempinski, Dominica, Michael Schoonewagen

Schoonewagen arrived in Dominica from nearly five years at the helm of the well-known Belmond La Samanna in St Martin, F.W.I. and previously five years as general manager of the St Regis Bora Bora and has a portfolio including well-renowned properties in Monte Carlo, Cannes, the Comores, Mauritius, Moscow, St Tropez, Madeira and several others.

The European heritage of Kempinski 

Notable, Europe’s oldest luxury hotel group (1897), is committed to providing our guests with memorable journeys inspired by exquisite European flair.

We believe that our prestigious, European heritage puts Kempinski in a unique position to satisfy the expectations of the stylish and discerning traveller. It’s not just to simply provide a hotel bed and a meal, at Kempinski it’s all about bringing a story to life.

Kempinski is committed to providing perfection for our guests at every moment and in every way. Perhaps it’s something as life changing as a wedding celebration, where our attention to detail and perfect service mean that your special day goes without a hitch. Or perhaps it’s as simple as the note left on your pillow at night, which thoughtfully lets you know the weather tomorrow, so you know how to dress in the morning.

The Lady in Red is an iconic Kempinski brand ambassador, and enduring feature, of the company’s hotels worldwide. Present at every Kempinski destination across the world, the Lady in Red is instantly recognisable in her red attire, lightly interpreted to reflect the local culture and traditions.

Kempinski created and launched the unique Lady in Red concept in 2009, in expression of the company’s innovative spirit as a pioneering European luxury hotelier, offering a truly personalised luxury guest experience.

With an intimate knowledge of the local destination, the Lady in Red is present in the lobby of each Kempinski hotel, working alongside the concierge to recreate the beauty of a grand hotel tradition.

The Lady in Red goes out of her way to understand each guest’s individual needs, and craft memorable experiences with a personal touch throughout their stay.

Cabrits Resort and Spa Kempinski Dominica will be a 5 star hideaway resort that will rank amongst the best in its class in the Caribbean with 160 rooms and suites, three large meeting rooms, one amphitheatre, Spa, three swimming pools, three restaurants, water sports centre, kids club, shops, and tennis courts.

Initially scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2019, although not official, I think the opening will be October 1, 2019. We will initially be hiring 170 staff members but this will increase in line with occupancy   

This might seem low, but it is absolutely normal for an opening hotel to take three years to get to cruising level, which we think will be 70 percent, so meaning roughly 220 guests in the hotel every night. 

We have four major challenges

Launching a destination: Dominica is not on the map when it comes to tourism and not only do we have to open a hotel but equally launch a new destination.  We are doing as much as we can and have already hired public relations firms in the US, UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France and Russia. An enormous amount of money is and will be spent on what we call the pre-opening budget. We already have groups of press, wholesalers and travel agencies arriving in November and January for what we call hard hat tours. 

Airlift: There is a committee who is doing their best to have more airlift to Dominica. Kempinski has some ideas on this but it is too early to talk about them now. 

Training: Training is a very important factor and we will have two full time trainers arriving from Kempinski in January or February, even though we will not have hired all our staff, we will propose training to local potential staff. This will be in the form of basic role playing, speaking, body language etc; nonstop five days a week, eight hours a day.

Cleanliness of the island and especially Portsmouth: If I go around to tour operators and press, saying how beautiful the island is, back to nature, authentic etc;  and they come to visit and see the bulldozer hanging in the entrance of Indian river or the rubbish lying all over the road, I will be somewhat discredited. Now I cannot solve this problem by myself, but I have already brought my concerns to the various authorities, and as much as I do not think the island will not be perfect when we open, I still think everyone should do their little bit, when seeing people littering, or dumping. Anyway, this is not the subject today, but it is a worry of mine and will be a challenge. 

Economic impact

Impact to the local community is more than just job creation and additional tax revenue. When all economic considerations are accounted for, total direct, fiscal, indirect, and induced impact can give the public a more universal understanding of a hotel development’s impact.

Direct impact

  • Room revenues, food and beverage revenues from restaurants and banqueting, as well as other potential revenue sources such as spa or parking;
  • Payroll paid out to employees hired at the hotel as well as all payroll paid out to temporary construction workers who construct the hotel.

Fiscal impact

  • State and local taxes that will be collected from property development and operations;
  • Sales taxes collected in association with the hotel generated revenues;
  • Payroll related taxes collected from full-time hotel employees and temporary construction workers;
  • Local governments will also collect new property taxes from the operation of the hotel; including revenue through lodging taxes.

Indirect impact

  • Contractors and suppliers will also benefit – all jobs and income generated by businesses that supply goods and services to the hotel;
  • Examples of businesses that will indirectly benefit from the development of a hotel include suppliers of rooms related goods, food/beverage, flowers, room amenities (e.g. soaps), telecommunication vendors (internet, cable TV, etc.), utility companies and other hotel related vendors;
  • Guests spending outside of the hotel, for example; excursions, souvenirs, restaurants;

Induced impact

Economic effects generated when employees (full-time and temporary) and suppliers re-spend wages on local consumer purchases, for example; employees picking-up groceries or fuelling their vehicles on their way home from work.

Five Star criteria

  • Multilingual staff with a high staff to guest ratio is required alongside a 24-hour reception desk, valet parking, butler services, a doorman greeting every guest at the entrance, and separate concierge staff available at least 2/3 of the day;
  • Separate elevators for guests and hotel staff, high speed internet, Wifi and a reliable communication infrastructure;
  • Luggage storage services with enough space to store all guest luggage out of sight – both within guest room and public spaces;
  • A fine-dining restaurant and a separate lounge or bar.
  • Nightly turn-down and full housekeeping services each day also available to each guest upon request at any time. Also, laundry, ironing, dry cleaning, and shoe polishing services;
  • In-room features: room service 24 hours a day, electronic safe, laundry bags, full length mirror with lighting, exercise programs, remote controlled flat screen television, national and international television channels, all electronic cables and cords hidden from view, choice of pillows (pillow menus), high power hair-dryer, fully stocked mini-bar, multiple daily newspaper choices etc;
  • Spa services with at least four different types of treatment and available in-room;
  • Transfers and executive or house car services. Immediate taxi service; 
  • All bedrooms with private bathroom. Amenities: bathrobes, slippers, brand name toiletries, and large heavyweight towels;
  • Meeting space choices with the latest audio-visual technology, business services, and support for in-house IT;
  • Poolside amenities such as daybeds, umbrellas, lotions, ice water, attendants on duty. Food and beverage service must be available at the poolside;
  • Vetted child-care services; Currency services; Flawless, personalized, and consistent service.

Quality of food and drink suppliers: Kempinski probably will have a chef who is at the level of a Michelin star restaurant, meaning when he orders beef fillet, he needs the best quality, and if he needs it to come cut at 250 grams, then it has to come cut at 250 grams.

Taxi service: Kempinski will require several taxis in the hotel parking so that when a guest needs a taxi, its immediately. The taxi needs to be clean, smell nice, the driver must be polite and pleasant, and ideally know a bit about Dominica and the area; and the car needs to be in good shape. 

The support Cabrits Resort and Spa Kempinski can give to local enterprises: Those who are interested are more than welcome to come and see us, we know our guests well and what they expect and how they will spend more with local companies such as restaurants or excursions.

If I see an interest then we can equally organize a onetime training session for different professions such as taxis, restaurants, coffee shops excursion representatives, excreta. 

In a prior statement, General Manager Schoonewagen said: “We think that this intervention is very timely as we cannot wait until the hotel is open to prepare for it, we have to prepare and wait for the hotel. 

“We try to target a special group, our young professionals and public officers…so many of them have skills and talents, we will be giving them that opportunity to be part of the opportunity at Cabrits Resort and Spa Kempinski, Dominica.” 




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