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Review: Coulibri Ridge

This sleek eco-resort is proof positive that a sustainable stay doesn’t have to be a bare-bones experience; it can be luxurious and pampering, too.
Hot List 2023


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Why book? 
This sleek eco-resort is proof positive that a sustainable stay doesn’t have to be a bare-bones experience; it can be luxurious and pampering, too.

Set the scene 
Coulibri Ridge is set—you guessed it—on a mountain ridge overlooking Dominica’s south coast. It’s not a great fit for beach lovers or families with little ones (the profusion of steps and plunge pools may be an issue, and only kids 12 and older are permitted). It is, however, perfectly suited to visitors who want an uncommon island experience in a tranquil and sustainable setting. The adventure begins with a winding two-hour drive from Douglas Charles Airport (DOM) to the resort, where the 285-acre property is punctuated with a cluster of modern buildings, each offering views of the shimmering Caribbean and Martinique in the distance.

The backstory 
Coulibri Ridge was built with sustainability at its core—a construction process that took the Canadian owners a whopping 15 years (including a five-year delay after the devastating passage of Hurricane Maria in 2017) to complete. Now, what was once a colonial-era citrus plantation has been transformed into an eco-sensitive hillside retreat, which aims not only to be self-sufficient but also to eventually supply power to the neighboring village.

The rooms 
Five three-story “villa” buildings (with thick walls crafted from volcanic stones mined on the property) comprise studios, lofts, and one-bedroom penthouses. But if you’re thinking they’re more functional than fancy, think again. All are similarly designed in a “Caribbean country lodge meets contemporary condo” style, with exposed cut-stone stone walls, low-slung modern furniture in muted neutral tones of sand and stone, and floor-to-ceiling windows that offer dramatic views of the Caribbean and verdant surrounding valley. Two-story penthouses in particular are designed for longer stays (the record so far is 18 days). Each has a stocked kitchen, two terraces, an outdoor shower or private plunge pool, and a living room/dining room in an open-plan layout that averages 1,000 square feet. (The air-conditioned bedroom and en suite bathroom are upstairs.) The visual vibe is one of elegant restraint, with pops of color coming from the oversized photo prints of hummingbirds, which are common to each suite. 

Food and drink 
In the pair of restaurants, Mesa (open for breakfast and lunch) and Vista (dinner), the focus is on local fish, meat, chicken, and seafood—with minimum imported meat and vegetables. Vegetarians, vegans, and other plant-based eaters will be particularly pleased with Dominican chef Damien Mason’s menus, which showcase fruit (cacao, soursop, avocado, mango, orange, lime, guava, bananas) and veggies (radish, bok choy, lettuce, cherry tomatoes) organically grown on the estate. 

Breakfast (included in the rate), is a real standout. You’ll begin with a tropical bounty including a platter of fruit, banana muffins, and fresh-squeezed juice (order the ginger-lime). Then, skip the eggs in favor of the Dominican special. It varies daily, but may include puffy deep-fried bakes with salted cod fish or cheese; cinnamon-dusted fried plantains; and sauteed local spinach, accompanied by a steaming cup of “cocoa tea.”

The spa 
Coulibri’s petite, by-appointment-only spa has two indoor/outdoor treatment rooms, and an infinity plunge pool and soaking tub that overlook the lushly forested valley at the resort’s rear. Treatments include massages, scrubs, and facials, and feature locally made products formulated with island ingredients.

The neighborhood/area 
The hotel is a 20-minute drive from the coastal village of Soufrière, where almost half of the staff lives. Because of its mountainous topography and winding roads, it takes longer than you’d expect to go anywhere on Dominica. The nearest attraction is Champagne Reef and beach, about a 30-minute drive away. The capital, Roseau, is about an hour away.

The service 
Coulibri Ridge’s all-Dominican team of roughly 40 people is friendly and welcoming. Without exception, they’re genuine and eager to share information about their island with guests who show an interest. Curious about local music? They’ll share a Spotify playlist. Interested in the local nightlife? Don’t be surprised if you’re invited to join a local “lime” (hangout). You meet as strangers but you’ll most likely leave as friends—if only on social media.

Eco effort 
Coulibri Ridge is completely powered by the sun via solar 90 panels and 288 recyclable non-lithium batteries. Additional electricity is generated by two wind turbines and, when necessary, a backup generator. As many as 200,000 gallons of rainwater are stored in a quarter-mile-long cistern beneath the room blocks, purified, and then used throughout the resort. Each of the room blocks serves as a sort of “mini grid,” sharing power and water with its neighbors, and is angled to optimize the energy produced by the sun’s rays and to capture the near-constant cooling breezes. Private plunge pools and two communal pools are solar heated and kept clean not with chlorine, but by using a copper ionizer to kill algae and fungus. All the resort’s interior lights, faucets, and outdoor showers are motion-activated to reduce waste.

With no elevators or wheelchair ramps, and rooms reached by as many as four flights of exterior stairs, Coulibri is ill-suited to wheelchair users or anyone who has difficulty walking.

Finally, in 100 words or less, what makes this hotel worthy of Hot List?
Combining eco-sensitive best practices with true luxury, Coulibri Ridge is a model for Dominica and the wider Caribbean, demonstrating that you needn’t sacrifice creature comforts to have a sustainable vacation.

All listings featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. If you book something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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