21 Jul, 2016
What started as a specialty tourism project among siblings, quickly blossomed into one of the region’s premiere wellness sanctuaries, as well as a buttressing bond of an already closely-knit family. Nestled in the ex-lime estate of Kanawa, just beyond the picturesque settlement of the Soufriere Village in Dominica, Rodney’s Wellness Retreat Ltd. found its home.
The agro-tourism venture was conceptualised by tropical agriculturalist and patriarch of the Lewis family, Rodney Lewis. Rodney’s passion for nature was a central driving force behind the Retreat, and with its launch in 2010 his family ensured that his legacy continued. In fact, Managing Director, and daughter of Rodney Lewis, Lucilla, saw the need to build on her father’s work while tapping into the unmatched opportunities given the property’s excellent location.
“I was driven by the desire to develop a viable agro-tourism project based on a business model that draws on the community tourism potential of my village, and finding our niche was just as natural. Our key resources were the assets of the Soufriere area, namely the two segments of the Waitukubuli National Trail, as well as the proximity to the Soufriere Bay, Champagne, and the Sulphur Spring baths made it an obvious choice. Additionally, our business competencies, focusing on the specialty of tourism, emerged with the right approach and the way forward for us”.
Situated within the propinquity of some of Dominica’s most incredible sights, Rodney’s Wellness Retreat employs five persons fulltime, with three on a part time basis, and offers campground and cottage accommodations, bar and restaurant, authentic souvenir shopping and indigenous tours. There is also the availability of Wi-Fi for those who still want a connection to outside, while immersed in the island paradise.
The resort’s major customers are hikers and nature lovers visiting the area from Europe, but even with the existence of other community tourism businesses, Lucilla believes that the uniqueness of their service offering sets Rodney’s Wellness Retreat apart from their competition.
In addition to unmatched service delivery, Lucilla sites strong brand awareness among staff as a vital element in their overall business strategy.
“Each staff member, fulltime and part-time, must understand and take ownership of our brand; as this is critical to our market entry strategy, which primarily focuses on a vibrant social media presence”.
In capitalising on their export potential, Rodney’s Wellness Retreat sought to build their own internal capacity, and this is where their engagement with the Caribbean Export Development Agency became paramount.
“I was familiar with Caribbean Export in my role as a management consultant during which I participated in some of the Management Consulting Symposia. However, we became a client of the Agency through the Break Point initiative, and the Direct Assistance Grant Scheme”.
The qualified economist shared that the company’s engagement with Caribbean Export has led to an increase in sales – resulting in an increase in revenue of between 50-75%; the establishment of new contacts; and improved efficiency overall.
“Through [the Agency], I have benefitted from training and networking opportunities, and income making opportunities. As such, the operations of Rodney’s Wellness Retreat have become much more efficient as a result of grant funding in support of the implementation of a Sale/Quick Books Integrated System. We are now more focused on marketing efforts since less time is required for recording sales transactions. This has further translated into enhanced market presence, and the confidence to move forward in the pursuit of collaborative opportunities and alliances”.
Lucilla firmly believes that other firms within this sector can experience similar results, if they see the value in developing and maintaining strategic partnerships and cooperating to enter new markets.
“Even with our challenges of high operating costs, and labour productivity challenges, all the accomplishments of Rodney’s Wellness Retreat, are realised because of our relentless endeavours to exceed guest or client expectations. This induces word-of-mouth promotion and repeat business for the resort”.
But even with sustained achievements, Lucilla continues to pursue success one step at a time, not only for her family’s company, but also for her island home.
“Over the next six months we will continue to invest in product development and entering into new markets, but my biggest business wish is to restore the Soufriere area to the economic success that it once was in Dominica”.
In preserving her father’s heritage, Lucilla and her siblings have effectively demonstrated that dedication and determination are required when building an accomplished business. However, when these characteristics are further bolstered by an intrinsic need to improve the lives of others, any success garnered is well worth the effort extended in achievement of the greater good.
To find out more about Rodney’s Wellness retreat contact:
Rodney’s Wellness Retreat Ltd.
Kanawa, Brooklyn, Soufriere P.O. Box 417 Roseau