We are always telling you about how wonderful a stay at Hotel the Champs can be. Today we feature a beautifully written experience by Travel Blogger, Clem of the blog “Travel with Clem“. Clem recently visited Hotel the Champs accompanied by Dominican Bouyon Band, “Signal Band“. In her review of the hotel, Clem says,
“Regardless of the room that you pick, you get access to all the room amenities, high speed wifi throughout the whole property, and a modern style bathroom that fits the vibes of the room you choose.”
She also give high praises to our restaurant and the breakfast menu:
..I was particularly impressed with everything we could choose from in the breakfast menu! In fact, because of their breakfast, they can easily rank as one of the top restaurants in Dominica… I love staying at hotels where I don’t have to think about breakfast, because it helps me jump start my day and save time!
Breakfast at the Champs
Clem & Signal Band at Indian River
Beyond the hotel, Clem and Signal Band visited some of the sites and attractions in the area that we also include as part of a Hotel the Champs package. The sites visited were Indian River, Cabrits National Park, and Belle Hall Beach.
The visit was documented by Discover Dominica Authority as part of a travel series collaboration.
Clementine “Clem” Affana is a Medical Doctor by profession, an entrepreneur, travel blogger, business owner and life enthusiast. Passionate of travel and cultural immersion, she build the brand “Travel with Clem” in 2016, which teaches young millennials and busy professionals to travel the world without having to quit their full-time job. She has experienced cultural diversity in more than 20 countries.
Dominica is called the Nature Island of the Caribbean, once you will enter the country (by sea or air) you will understand why.
At Hotel The Champs we are not farmers but because it is so easy to grow fruits / veggies (plants, flowers and trees) we decided to put some herbs / veggies in the soil. Please check below in the first picture you see an eatable hibiscus it tastes like a wild spinach (also growing in Dominica) and some basil (tea / pesto / salads etc) In the second picture you see a small paracetamol (tea) and a patchouli oil: an essential oil derived from the leaves of the patchouli plant, a type of aromatic herb. In order to produce patchouli oil, the leaves and stems of the plant are harvested and allowed to dry out. They then undergo a distillation process to extract the essential oil and is used in perfumes, cosmetics, and incense. Tea: hot or cold.
Below our pool deck we made a special “bed” to grow some nice juicy watermelons;
Top 9 health benefits of eating watermelon.
Helps You Hydrate. …
Contains Nutrients and Beneficial Plant Compounds. …
Contains Compounds That May Help Prevent Cancer. …
May Improve Heart Health. …
May Lower Inflammation and Oxidative Stress. …
May Help Prevent Macular Degeneration. …
May Help Relieve Muscle Soreness.
Don’t forget our crispy cucumbers. Its so nice to pick a fresh cucumber for your salads
7 Health Benefits of Eating Cucumber
It’s High in Nutrients. Cucumbers are low in calories but high in many important vitamins and minerals. …
It Contains Antioxidants. …
It Promotes Hydration. …
It May Aid in Weight Loss. …
It May Lower Blood Sugar. …
It Could Promote Regularity. …
Easy to Add to Your Diet.
And what to think about our fresh chives delicious with every salad, on your eggs in the mornings in a salsa. In front of our Garden Rooms you will find some Papaya plants. Deliciously sweet with musky undertones and a soft, butter-like consistency, the papaya was called the “fruit of the angels” by Christopher Columbus. In Dominica we eat the Papaya ripe (orange inside) as sweet fruit or green in a salad or cooked in coconut oil.
Our last plant / tree in the garden is the Moringa. Moringa is believed to have many benefits and its uses range from health and beauty to helping prevent and cure diseases. The benefits of moringa include:
Moringa seed oil is beneficial for protecting hair against free radicals and keeps it clean and healthy.
Moringa appears to protect the liver against damage caused by anti-tubercular drugs and can quicken its repair process.
Moringa extracts might help treat some stomach disorders. Due to its antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties, moringa extracts might combat infections caused by Salmonella, Rhizopus, and E. coli.
Moringa also contains calcium and phosphorous, which help keep bones healthy and strong. The powerful antioxidants found in
Moringa extract might help prevent cardiac damage and has also been shown to maintain a healthy heart.Extract of moringa has been shown to help wounds close as well as reduce the appearance of scars.
Moringa helps to reduce the amount of glucose in the blood, as well as sugar and protein in the urine. This improved the hemoglobin levels and overall protein content in those tested.
And much more but I am sure for those who like more information about the benefits of Moringa will “google” and find the answers.
Chef Kevin was very busy in the kitchen when I arrived to interview him. There was an amazing fresh garlic-y smell infiltrating the restaurant area from the kitchen. He was finishing up making a garlic herb butter which he showed me and said he would join me for the interview asap. 15 minutes later he appeared in his chef’s hat ready for the photo….
What made you decide to become a chef?
I always liked cooking and enjoyed it and found it fascinating since a child and always around parents adopted grandparents I grew up in Fond St Jean near Stowe and Petit Savanne in the south – there’s a little hamlet above it called Fab. It’s a small village where everyone is your aunt or uncle.
Font St Jean is the opposite end of the island from Hotel The Champs (see red pin on map below)
As a kid it (cooking) was something we had to learn- as first of 5, left by parents so they could work overseas you learn fast – in the home/hostel I grew up at age 9 I was cooking for 15 people in household.
When I was about eleven, I got a job washing pots, beating the cake, learned how to make pastries etc. locally on the weekend and after schoolwork and home economics. I have always had that love for cooking.
I grew up fast, it was encouraged not as a vocation or career but useful to contribute to the household, yet I still had to do the dirty work i.e. cleaning and sweeping etc.
I asked Kevin if there was a rota so that chores were shared, he said not really…
There were only verbal rotas so as non-blood child, I did the hard graft. I was the male version of Cinderella.
Are you the classic grumpy chef everyone fears, it doesn’t seem like it?!
Some people are a bit afraid of me. I must be in a good mood. I can snap in and out of it. Creative people, we want to be left to our own devices, but we still have employers and must keep them happy. So slowly we manage to get our employers to let us do what we want more. I prefer a menu that’s less conventional because I have ideas and like to create. I cannot maintain a standardised menu. I like getting the leeway of being able to be creative and change the menu to get variety in our lives. Hotel guests love it. It works well in Dominica because of some produce being available at different times.
So is your family still spread around like a lot of people here?
I moved back to DA September 21st 2005. I have three sons Kinou lives here, one in UK one in US.
Tell me something funny
Once was making gourmet style my way bread pudding – there were two jars both with white stuff in it. Just grabbed and didn’t taste – big mistake – lost all that LOVE when I tasted it just before it went in. I’d put salt instead of sugar. So glad I didn’t waste time baking it!
Also I was 19 I went to work at a small hotel resort in the BVI’s and I was making pumpkin soup and it was suggested I put cinnamon in it. I stirred quite a lot of dried powdered cinnamon as it didn’t smell or taste like cinnamon. That was when I learned that herbs and spices in powder form is much stronger. We fixed it but adding more pumpkin and coconut milk. Then it turned out great. I hadn’t encountered using dried herbs for cooking until then (only for baking).
What’s your favourite item on the menu?
I have no favourite on the menu because menu changes so much but I do love Italian and French, especially Mediterranean food.
I over 20 years with Asian, French, Italian, Spanish and American chefs then went to culinary school because I was asked to. That was to a certificate. Instead of 4 years I did fast track as already had experience so did it in 2 years – at Johnson and Wales University in Providence Island.
Come join us for a delicious meal any time Thurs-Sunday unless you’re staying at the hotel then it’s whenever you wish…. and we are now also offering take-out of part of the menu.
We look forward to seeing you soon!
P.S. here’s my current favourite item on the menu… Thai Coconut Shrimp on a bed of sauteed vegetables, Avocado and Papaya Accra.
Role: Breakfast and morning tasks as required. It’s a small hotel where we have to be flexible.
Tamara was given no warning of the interview and I hadn’t met her before so she was a little reserved at first but opened up easily and seemed very friendly and happy to talk to me.
Tamara standing in front of the fly curtain – made of bottle caps
(In case you’re interested there will be a separate post about the antique clock and barometer on the wall next to Tamara.)
How long have you worked here? Since December 3rd 2018
What’s your favourite item on the food menu? Waffles, but I don’t usually have breakfast at The Champs, I have oatmeal at home before I head to work, starting at 7am. I usually finish at 2 or 3pm.
How far away do you live? 25 mins walk mostly up the hill on the way, just behind IGA Supermarket in Picard. Of course after a day at work it’s a less tiring walk downhill to get home.
Where’s your favourite spot in Dominica? My home village is Cottage where I go and watch them play rounders, I used to play too but can’t really join in and practice because live here. Cottage is just north of Toucari Bay, so by public transport would take far too long to get to us on a regular basis reliably.
Cottage, just north of Toucari Bay (The Champs is just off the bottom of the map)
What are your hobbies? I make candies like ginger and peppermints and sell them at family and friend’s shop. I also make sorrel jam which is available at The Champs.
Breakfast and lunch breads are all made by Tamara as well as apple pie.
Stay tuned for more insights into our staff members!
Perched in the hills of Picard, Restaurant the Champs is the ‘perfect’ blend of Chef Kevin’s mouthwatering meals, five-star service with a smile, and relaxing panoramic views of the best Dominica’s North West Coasts have to offer.
The Champs caters to a wide range of discerning tastes and our restaurant aims to please, from Pizza Nights to Fine Dining, everything is made fresh, balancing a delicious fusion of international and island cuisine. Choose from a variety of in-house dining options: in our top-floor restaurant, on your guest room balcony or inside your room, or poolside. Every option offers some of The Champs’ signature views. What else could guests want when visiting the Nature Island?
The town of Portsmouth has a growing variety of options for foodies, be it lunch, dinner, cocktails and whatever the palette desires we can find it, even if it takes you off-property. At Hotel the Champs, we are here to satisfy the varying tastes of our guests, our friendly concierge team can recommend and make reservations for guests who want to go sample the local and international fare around the town. One option which we recommend is Zing Zing Restaurant at the luxurious Secret Bay Resort (Lise actually dined there for her 60th Birthday — Check out our earlier blog post).
Zing Zing is Secret Bay’s centrally-located, sit-down restaurant, which offers locally-sourced fare with a “no menu” dining experience set to jaw-dropping views of Tibay Beach. Zing Zing sets a romantic scene with a canopy-style roof, display kitchen and private dining room. The restaurant opens for dinner service on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings from 6:00 until 9:00pm, by reservation only. Source: SecretBay.dm
Dining around Portsmouth does not end at Secret Bay, guests can select from the 5-Star restaurants of the Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski to fresh-caught local seafood at Keepin It Real in Toucari. Just let us know what you’d like and we’ll get it done.
Chef Kevin is a graduate of the New York Restaurant School. He is also a Red Cross volunteer and conducts disaster management training for the Dominica National Red Cross.
Join Hotel The Champs as we welcome a new member to our restaurant team. With many years of experience in local, regional, and international cuisine, Chef Kevin Gregoire is a refreshing addition at The Champs.
Our themed nights are back, so we invite you for Pizza Night on Fridays and Fine Dining on Saturdays or join us on another night to enjoy freshly prepared daily specials with island flavors and Chef Kevin’s twists on delightful international dishes.
As Chef Kevin infuses his unique blends to some of your favorites, we also expect him to introduce new dishes to the menu which complement the atmosphere of The Champs dining experience.