Meet Secret Bay’s New General Manager, Craig Sands

From cultivating memorable guest experiences at renowned luxury hotels to overseeing multi-million renovations, Craig Sands has honed his expertise in the hospitality industry. Now, as Secret Bay’s newly appointed General Manager, he’s paving a new path and combining his passion for sustainable tourism with an unwavering commitment to service. We sat down with Craig to learn about his journey, his vision for Secret Bay’s future, and what excites him most about sitting at the helm of our six-star destination. 

What inspired you to pursue a career in the hospitality industry, and how did your journey lead you to Secret Bay?

From a young age, I have always been passionate about creating memorable experiences for others. This passion naturally led me to the hospitality industry, where I could combine my love for service with my desire to explore different cultures and environments. 

My journey in hospitality began with a strong interest in understanding the intricacies of what makes a guest’s experience exceptional. Over the years, I have had the privilege of working in various renowned establishments, each teaching me invaluable lessons about guest satisfaction, operational excellence, and the importance of a dedicated team.

When the opportunity to join Secret Bay in Dominica arose, I was immediately drawn to the resort’s unique blend of luxury and sustainability. Secret Bay’s commitment to preserving the natural beauty of Dominica while offering unparalleled guest experiences resonated deeply with my personal and professional values. 

Since becoming the General Manager at Secret Bay, I have been dedicated to enhancing our guests’ experiences, fostering a strong and motivated team, and continuously finding innovative ways to blend luxury with eco-friendly practices. It’s been a rewarding journey, and I look forward to continuing to contribute to the growth and success of this extraordinary resort.

How have your roles at The Relais Henley Hotel and The Relais Cooden Beach Hotel shaped your approach to managing a six-star resort like Secret Bay?

My experiences at The Relais Henley Hotel and The Relais Cooden Beach Hotel have played pivotal roles in shaping my approach to managing a six-star resort like Secret Bay.

At The Relais Henley Hotel, I managed a luxury property known for its exquisite attention to detail and exceptional guest service. This role taught me the importance of creating bespoke experiences for each guest, ensuring that every aspect of their stay was tailored to their preferences. The high standards of luxury and personalized service I upheld at The Relais Henley have become fundamental principles in my management style at Secret Bay.

On the other hand, my tenure at The Relais Cooden Beach Hotel provided a different set of challenges and opportunities. During my time there, I oversaw a multi-million-pound refurbishment project, which was a transformative experience. This project taught me the intricacies of project management, the importance of strategic planning, and the need for seamless execution. It also emphasized the significance of maintaining the essence of the property while upgrading its facilities and services to meet the highest standards of luxury.

Combining these experiences, my approach to managing Secret Bay involves a meticulous focus on personalized guest experiences, rooted in the luxury standards I practiced at The Relais Henley, and a strategic, project-oriented mindset developed during the refurbishment at The Relais Cooden Beach. This blend of skills ensures that Secret Bay remains a beacon of unparalleled luxury, sustainability, and innovation.

By integrating these lessons, I strive to create a truly exceptional and memorable experience for our guests, continually enhancing the unique offerings of Secret Bay.

What were you most excited about when you accepted the role of General Manager at Secret Bay?

When I accepted the role of General Manager at Secret Bay, I was filled with excitement and anticipation for several reasons.

First and foremost, Secret Bay’s commitment to sustainability and eco-luxury was incredibly appealing to me. The opportunity to lead a resort that not only offers unparalleled luxury but also prioritizes environmental stewardship aligned perfectly with my personal values and professional goals. I was thrilled at the prospect of contributing to a property that champions sustainable practices while providing guests with a unique and immersive experience in nature.

Additionally, I was eager to be part of a team known for its dedication to exceptional guest service. Secret Bay has a reputation for creating personalized and memorable experiences, and I was excited to bring my expertise in luxury hospitality to further enhance this aspect. The chance to work with a talented and passionate team to continuously elevate the guest experience was a significant motivating factor.

Another aspect that excited me was the unique and breathtaking location of Secret Bay. Dominica, with its untouched landscapes, and rich culture, offers an extraordinary backdrop for a luxury resort. The opportunity to showcase the natural beauty and cultural richness of Dominica to our guests was something I looked forward to immensely.

In summary, the combination of Secret Bay’s sustainability ethos, commitment to guest service, stunning location, and innovative culture made me incredibly excited to take on the role of General Manager. It’s been a thrilling and rewarding journey, and I am dedicated to leading Secret Bay to even greater heights.

Can you describe your vision for the future of Secret Bay and the key initiatives you plan to implement?

My vision for the future of Secret Bay is to enhance its status as a leader in eco-luxury and sustainability while elevating our personalized guest experiences. I plan to introduce more eco-friendly initiatives. Additionally, I aim to create unique experiences that highlight Dominica’s natural and cultural beauty, such as curated adventure tours and wellness retreats.

Incorporating cutting-edge technology will streamline operations and personalize our guests’ stays, ensuring convenience and luxury. Investing in staff development through training and recognition programs will keep our team motivated and valued. To expand our market reach, we will engage in strategic partnerships, collaborate with luxury travel agents, and participate in international travel fairs.

Listening to our guests through a robust feedback system will help us continuously improve and exceed their expectations. Ultimately, my vision is to lead Secret Bay into a future of sustained excellence and growth, maintaining our commitment to eco-luxury and exceptional service.

How would you describe your leadership style, and what principles guide you in managing your team?

My leadership style is centered around collaboration, empowerment, and continuous improvement. I believe in creating a supportive and inclusive environment where every team member feels valued and motivated to contribute their best. By fostering open communication and encouraging feedback, I ensure that all voices are heard and respected.

I prioritize understanding and addressing the needs and concerns of my team members, treating everyone with respect and empathy to build trust and foster a positive work environment. I am committed to the professional growth of my team, providing opportunities for training, development, and career advancement to empower them to reach their full potential.

Leading by example is crucial; demonstrating dedication, integrity, and a strong work ethic inspires my team to uphold the same standards. I encourage a culture of innovation where new ideas are welcomed and explored, being flexible and adaptable to navigate challenges and seize opportunities effectively.

Acknowledging and celebrating the achievements and contributions of my team is important to me. Regular recognition boosts morale and reinforces a culture of excellence. By adhering to these principles, I aim to create a motivated, high-performing team dedicated to delivering exceptional service and achieving our shared goals.

What are some of your favorite aspects of living and working in Dominica?

Living and working in Dominica is incredibly rewarding. The island’s stunning natural beauty, with its lush rainforests, pristine waterfalls, and unspoiled beaches, is a daily privilege. I also love the vibrant local culture and the warm, welcoming community. Participating in local festivals, enjoying traditional cuisine, and learning about the island’s rich heritage are highlights.

Dominica’s commitment to sustainability aligns perfectly with my values and influences our initiatives at Secret Bay. The serene atmosphere and slower pace of life here provide a perfect balance to the demands of managing a luxury resort, allowing me to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Overall, Dominica’s natural splendour, rich culture, and dedication to sustainability make living and working here a truly fulfilling experience.

How do you like to spend your free time when you’re not at Secret Bay?

When I’m not at Secret Bay, I enjoy fishing and exploring the beautiful island of Dominica. There’s always a new trail to hike, a hidden waterfall to discover, or a pristine beach to relax on, which makes every outing an adventure. I also love eating at local restaurants and getting to know the community. It’s a wonderful way to experience Dominica’s rich culture and flavors firsthand.

Additionally, I make it a priority to stay connected with my girlfriend and family back in the UK. Regular calls and virtual meetups help us maintain our close relationships despite the distance, and I cherish the time we spend together, even if it’s online.

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