Sorrel Drink – A Caribbean Christmas Staple

Sorrel Drink – A Caribbean Christmas Staple

Pictured Above: Chef Ainsley Harriot’s Sorrel Cocktail Drink

It’s not Christmas in Dominica, and throughout the Caribbean, without Sorrel Drink.

Traditionally served during Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, Sorrel Drink is a beverage made from the flower of the ‘Roselle’ plant in the hibiscus family (locally called Sorrel, the scientific name is Hibiscus sabdariffa).  The bright red petals are steeped with various spices including cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves, lemon or orange peel, and ginger according to your taste. Some versions of Sorrel include white or dark rum, but this is optional. The resulting beverage is tangy and a bit acidic similar to lemonade and is served over ice.

At Hotel the Champs and restaurants and bars across Dominica, one is sure to find a version of Sorrel drink during the holiday season.



Chef Ainsley Harriot

In 2018, famed British Chef, Ainsley Harriot filmed an episode of Ainsley’s Caribbean Kitchen in Dominica.  The episode aired on ITV in the United Kingdom on Sunday, March 10, 2019, and featured a variety of traditional Dominican delicacies and highlighted elements that truly showcase why Dominica is the Nature Island and a must-visit.  The signature cocktail during this episode was Sorrel Drink, which he prepared right here at Hotel the Champs.  View the episode’s trailer here: Ainsley’s Caribbean Kitchen Episode 8 – Dominica


Photo Credits: AINSLEY’S CARIBBEAN KITCHEN by Blue Marlin Productions

Developing the Art of a Tiny Caribbean Hotel

Developing the Art of a Tiny Caribbean Hotel

Developing the Art of a Tiny Caribbean Hotel

In October 2007 Lise and Hans came to live and work in Dominica. They never worked in the hospitality industry and never formally studied hospitality. But they have stayed in many hotels and visited countless restaurants and bars.


Staying at Hotel The Champs has to be such a good experience that all our guests will tell their family and friends that The Champs is THE place to stay in Dominica.

That was the standard when The Champs opened on Nov 8, 2008, a standard that has worked well for many years. 

We are now writing July 2019. Almost two years after devastating hurricane Maria, after building a new roof, new interiors and beds in the rooms, after rebuilding and expanding the pool, after creating an intimate breakfast-and-dinner restaurant, and while still working on more great facilities.

And at a new level of tourism in Dominica with Secret Bay around the corner, Kempinski opening in October, the “Morocco Hotel” almost ready to start, Anichi under full construction. The 2008 standard is no longer good enough. Now is the time to develop the art of a tiny Caribbean hotel.

Join us in thinking and talking about the “new champs”.

We think that Hotel The Champs is not a typical boutique hotel, although it is much sleeker than a bed and breakfast. There’s an on-site restaurant, though that certainly doesn’t make it a resort.

There is a particular class of tiny hotels in the Caribbean, delightful little places with a handful of rooms, a lunch-and-dinner restaurant and, if you’re lucky, a pool or a beach.

They’re typically under the radar, the sorts of accommodations for seasoned travelers who know what they like, what they need and what they want to avoid. And Lise & Hans want Hotel The Champs to be part of that particular class.

It’s the special experience of Lise and her team offering a mix of Dutch and Caribbean hospitality, always smiling and cheerful, a simple hotel filled with simple pleasures for sophisticated travelers.
That’s precisely what we’re trying to offer at The Champs, perched on the hillside of Picard, overlooking Prince Rupert Bay, on the Nature Island Dominica, still waiting to be discovered.
It’s an hour-long winding drive from the airport over narrow mountain roads, but when you walk through the doorway and see that splendid million-dollar view, you’ll know that is was worth the flight and the drive to get here. This tiny little jewel box of a hotel has just five rooms, all contemporarily appointed with neatly designed wooden interiors and spacious bathrooms. But when you’re here, why would you won’t be spending much time indoors?



Because the top-floor restaurant is worth the trip all by itself, and so is the beautiful pool-deck set above the lush garden with sweeping views of the Caribbean Sea and the hills of the Cabrits. Inviting and comfortable furniture and a crystal-clear little pool.

And yes, there are beaches at walking distance. Coconut Beach, Picard Beach, Purple Turtle Beach, all offer the authentic Reggae & Rasta experience with spicy rum-punches and local Kubuli beer.

And then there are the superior sea view rooms, decorated with local art, and the garden/pool level rooms, the ones that open right out onto the pool and deck, giving you the feeling of your own private balcony on the Picard hillside.

The food is excellent, with The Champs’s always-smiling friendly service and the rooftop tables where you’ll never be bored of consuming the incredible 270 degree view.

Take your time sitting down with your personal concierge Lise who love to help you exploring Dominica’s adventures or the quaint little colonial towns. After your day out come back to Hotel The Champs and end your day on the pool-deck, savoring a colorful cocktail while the sun sinks in the sea painting astonishing colors in the sky. And while the tropical night comes rolling it with all its stars and sounds, you will relax with the joy of knowing you’ve found one of the island’s best-kept secrets.

Come check out the new Hotel The Champs. The days of student-hangout have gone. No more busy bar with shuttle service. Now our 5-star personal service fully focuses on you, the hotel guest, the fill your stay with life long memories to make you feel warm inside when you’re back home in cold wintery weather.

Let us have your comments if you stayed at Hotel The Champs in recent times. Do you think that we are developing the art of a tiny Caribbean hotel? Tell us how we can do even better.

We love to learn.

Congratulations! Happy 60th birthday Lise

Congratulations! Happy 60th birthday Lise

Congratulations! Happy 60th birthday Lise

On Saturday June 29th our proprietor Lise reached her big-six-o and of course that was a good reason to celebrate and to do some other things than just the usual weekend workdays.

We actually started already on Friday by giving ourselves time to get a guided tour of the new Hotel Kempinski which is still under construction. The opening is scheduled for October and it looks like they still have a lot to do but General Manager Michael Schoonewagen feels confident they will be ready in time.

What an impressive 5-star Grand Luxe resort this is going to be. A majestic entry and lobby, sea views all around, 3 restaurants, a conference center, more swimming pools than you can imagine, a fitness and spa complex like you’ve never seen and even the smallest room is bigger and more luxurious than the superior rooms in Hotel The Champs.
Our tour also included all the kitchens, offices, and the spaces “in the back” for the staff. Picture this: a buffet restaurant for the 175 staff that can easily compete with any public restaurant on island :-).

This resort is absolutely going to be a big addition to our island and for those guests who cannot afford the 5-start room rates (they are scary…) The Champs can offer a great alternative:
Book a Superior XL room at The Champs and have some money left to go dine in one of the 3 restaurants of Kempinski or treat yourself to a day in their spa. Our beds and our personalized service will make you feel like a 5-star VIP guest and the perks at Kempinski will complete your vacation of a lifetime. We will be happy to shuttle you up and down.

So back to Lise’s birthday. Friday night we enjoyed dinner prepared by Chef Francis and Tarnita in our own restaurant at Hotel The Champs. Friday night is pizza night but we took one of the alternative dishes, the mussels & shrimps in white wine sauce with a side salad. I just love that sauce. I used one of the shells of the mussels to scoop up the sauce to the very last bit. Delicious.
For the Saturday we had in mind to go “shop” for a new car for Lise and her staff team. The current vehicle has survived hurricane Maria but we never really brought it back in good shape and the engine is giving us challenges so we’re ready for the next one.
Bad luck for us, or is it that we just don’t pay enough attention? We drove to Canefield to find out that Auto Trade is not open for sales in Saturday morning since the hurricane. Well, I tried to check that on Friday using my WhatsApp but I should have made a phone call. So now Lise just had a nice island ride in the sun on the Saturday but no signed deal for a new car. Sorry Lise!

Saturday evening dinner was the “pièce de résistance” of Lise’s birthday. We were going to have dinner in the Zing Zing Restaurant of Secret Bay. What a delicious and relaxing experience.
We were treated by executive chef Grant Lynott and his team to culinary trip around the world with start and finish in Dominican ingredients and flavors that we did not discover in the 12 years we are here on island. Paired with the welcome cocktail, via the excellent wines, to the after dinner drink the taste combinations of food and drinks were heavenly.

So beloved guests staying at Hotel The Champs here is some good news for you: the Zing Zing Restaurant is now open to the public, but be aware, you cannot just walk in. If you’re staying at The Champs and you have something special to celebrate and would like to have dinner or lunch at the Zing Zing, then we can try to make a reservation for you. If they have an opening then you will receive two forms to fill in: one for your credit card and one to inform the kitchen about your food preferences, allergies, dietary requirements etc. Chef Grant wants to be well prepared because this is what he wants to give you: “Indulge in nutrient-rich, colorful and succulent island fare with a personalised dinner program designed by our executive chef himself and delivered fresh in the comfortable surroundings of the beautiful Zing Zing Restaurant.“
Dinner or lunch at Secret Bay is not just eating; it’s a culinary feast for your all your senses and especially for your taste buds.

And the party for Lise’s birthday wasn’t over yet. For Sunday afternoon Lise had invited her island friends to come over for a pot luck pool party. While Lise provided a good start for the drinks and snacks the other guests came with their own favorites to share with all. We cooled in the pool, were lazy at the sun beds, sat in the shade of the big umbrella, and chatted with each other. A great relax until after sunset and time the switch the colorful pool lights on. Our Dominican StayCation guests joined the fun and had a good time like all the others.
Now that our extended pool deck is (almost) ready with small service area, a changing room and toilet and room to move all around at the pool a new facility opens up at The Champs. Dominicans can now come and enjoy our special StayCation offers and see with Lise how to combine that with time at the pool with their friends and family. Hotel guests of course have free access to the pool and get complimentary use of pool towels. Friends can be invited using our new Pool & Restaurant Combo and you can all have a great afternoon at the pool and enjoy the colorful cocktails and savory snacks of The Champs. Life in Dominica keeps getting better and better with Hotel The Champs.

Are you already seeing yourself enjoying a dinner at Secret Bay, a spa treatment at Kempinski, or an afternoon at the pool of Hotel The Champs Check out the links, book a StayCation and allow yourself to live life to the fullest right here in Dominica.