Guided by the vision of Dominica-native Gregor Nassief, GEMS’ highly respected portfolio of owned and managed properties have received global praise for their quality of experience and design, commitment to environmental responsibility and understanding and support of local culture and community
PASSIONATE AND PRINCIPLED
Dominica-born Gregor Nassief is a longtime entrepreneur and successful businessman. Exposed to hospitality early on, Nassief officially began his hotel career in 2011 when his vision to create a lush, family home evolved into Secret Bay—the first luxury resort on the Caribbean’s Nature Island, Dominica. With a penchant for design, art, architecture and customer service, Nassief established GEMS Holdings Limited in 2016, which includes a portfolio of world-renowned owned and managed properties including Fort Young Hotel & Dive Resort and Secret Bay, and most recently, The Residences at Secret Bay, the company’s initial foray into luxury real estate. Prior to entering the hospitality space, Nassief studied software engineering and finance at New York University. He went on to launch Cerca Technology in Latin America, building a new technology and pioneering an untapped market. Nassief continues to lead Cerca, which now has offices in five countries and customers in over 20. Nassief is married to contemporary artist Sandra Vivas, with whom he has two children, Manuela and Gaston.
Avinash Persaud’s career spreads unusually across finance, academia and public policy. He is a former senior executive of J. P. Morgan, UBS, State Street and GAM London Ltd and former Chairman of Elara Capital PLC and RBC Barbados. He is a non-executive director of Proven Investments Limited. He is a former Governor, London School of Economics and 2010 President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (Section F). He was elected Trustee of the Global Association of Risk Professionals and the Royal Economics Society of Great Britain. He won the Jacques de Larosiere Award in Global Finance from the Institute of International Finance and was voted one of the top three public intellectuals in the world on the financial crisis by an expert panel. He is Emeritus Professor of Gresham College in the UK. He is former Chairman, Regulatory Sub-Committee of the UN Commission on Financial Reform; Chairman, Warwick Commission on Financial Reform; Chairman, Financial Services Commission of Barbados; Member of the UK Treasury’s Audit and Risk Committee and the Pew Task Force to the US Senate Banking Committee; Visiting Scholar at the IMF, Distinguished Advisor, Financial Sector Law Reform Commission of India and current Chairman, CARICOM Commission on the Economy.
A practicing lawyer with over 30 years experience with health-related litigation in Canada, André Michael was born and raised in Antigua to Antiguan and Dominican parentage. He has remained connected to these islands, and is knowledgeable and passionate about their history, culture and development. A former director of The Advocates Society in Canada, and with experience providing legal representation for governments in complex legal proceedings against the tobacco industry, his organizational leadership is considered and balanced. He currently is the Chair of Dominica Coconut Products and of Fort Young Hotel & Dive Resort. He and his wife are the proud parents of an Actress and a Veterinary Surgeon.
Rudy Reid is currently the Director of Operations with GE Oil & Gas and Flow Process Technologies. With extensive experience in business acquisitions and integration, Reid has been distinguished as one of the key leaders for the integration of Lufkin Industries, a $3.3 billion business integrated into GE Oil & Gas. Formerly, Reid served as Ombudsman and compliance Director for GE Power and Water in Houston, worked on the Governing Board of Engineering in Ohio, and was the Director of Engineering at Morrison Knudsen/Washington Group, one of the premier EPC consulting companies. Reid was also the Director of Global Operations for GE Gasification, where he oversaw clean energy programs and biofuel technologies in Indonesia, China and India. He also oversaw the development of solar, clean water programs and heavy industrial projects in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Thailand. Reid is currently an advisor to GDI patented solar and renewables technology start-up. Reid, along with his wife Maroussia and three children, live in Jacksonville, Florida. He is a certified Black Belt and Master Belt in Lean Six sigma.
David is a landscape architect by education and has been working in the Caribbean since 2008. He spent 10 years as the VP of the development company, FSRE, at the Four Seasons in Nevis. In 2018 he started The Integrum Group, a Nevisian company, focused on general contracting and construction management services within the Luxury Residential and Boutique Hospitality markets. Chekemian and his wife Robyn, along with their 3 children live in Bryn Mawr, PA but consider the Caribbean and in particular, Nevis their home away from home.
Isabel is currently the Director of Market Strategy at Salesforce where she leads market and business analysis for Salesforce’s social impact business. Before working in technology, she began her career in Middle East policy, where she developed expertise in Syrian rebel groups and was a regular contributor to major news outlets including Ajlazeera, MSNB and Foreign Policy. Isabel holds a BA from Bowdoin College in Political Science and lives in New York with her fiancé, Ben, and their dog, Saba.
Karl Nassief is a Dominica-born businessman with operations in Dominica, St. Lucia and St. Martin to date. Following his secondary and tertiary education in Barbados and Canada, and a stint as a pilot with LIAT, Karl returned to Dominica in 1994 and entered business with the establishment of Auto Trade Limited, which is a complete car dealership representing Nissan, Suzuki, Kia, Goodyear Tyres and Yamaha and providing sales; parts; service; body shop; financing; as well as an Automotive Retail Store. Karl’s varied business interests have evolved to include a car rental; sea and air freight logistics; a full-service provider company for energy solutions, including high-quality LED lighting products, air-conditioning, hot water and solar systems; food retail and distribution; hardware supply; a car dealership on St. Martin that represents Toyota, GM and Suzuki with operations on both the Dutch and French sides of the island; as well as the purchase of the franchise for KFC with locations on Dominica and St. Lucia. In total, Karl’s group of companies employs well over 800 employees.
Presently the Director of Special Projects and Strategic Initiatives for GEMS, Marvlyn Alexander-James has held a number of progressively significant positions in hospitality over the past 20 years. Highly instrumental in Dominica's tourism development, Alexander-James is currently the Immediate Past President of the Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association and has served on a number of Boards and Committees to include the Discover Dominica Authority Board. Over the span of her career, she has led the implementation of the Tourism Sector Development Programme and developed the National Community Tourism Association, working with several community groups to improve on the quality and packaging of their tourism product. She also held the position of Head of Marketing for the destination, and more recently the General Manager of the Fort Young Hotel & Dive Resort, a leading hotel in Dominica. Alexander-James lives with her husband, Chaucer, and two children at Wallhouse, Dominica.
Patricia Affonso-Dass was born in Roseau, Dominica. A true product of the Caribbean, she spent her formative years in Trinidad, Antigua and Guyana; and has lived in Barbados for the past 24 years. Patricia studied Hospitality and Tourism Management at Florida International University in Florida, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree with Honours. Her affinity for tourism has spanned a 30-year career in the tourism industry ranging from her first job with the Caribbean Hotel Association (now Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association), to serving as a founding member and Past President of the Tourism Association of Guyana, to management positions in Guyana and Barbados with business hotels, jungle resorts, attractions and leisure properties. Since September 2009 Patricia has been the Group General Manager of Ocean Hotels, which comprises 3 boutique properties on Barbados with a total of 301 rooms — the four-star all-suite South Beach Hotel, Sea Breeze Beach House, a four- and half-star boutique all-inclusive property and O2 Beach Club and Spa, the island’s only five-star boutique luxury all-inclusive property. Patricia has a proven track record in consistently increasing occupancy and ADR, implementing measures to improve cost control, developing and maintaining supplier relationships and improving service quality. Passionate about service quality and service delivery, Patricia is a strong team leader, who supports training and is constantly encouraging and working with and through her managers and their teams at the hotels to continually seek ways to surpass guest expectations, focus on the details, improve their personal and professional abilities and to take pride in their hotel, industry and island.
Sanovnik Destang is the Executive Director and a shareholder of Bay Gardens Resorts. This Chartered Accountant and Chartered Financial Analyst has helped engineer a dramatic turnaround in the fortunes of Bay Gardens, using a digital marketing strategy focused on encouraging better yielding direct bookings. He has earned numerous awards including St. Lucia’s Chamber of Commerce’s ‘Business of the Year Award’ for two consecutive years, Caribbean Hotel & Resort Investment Summit 2014 Rising Star Award and Caribbean Journal's 2022 ‘Caribbean Hotelier of the Year Award’. Currently, he is the Immediate Past President of St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association, 2nd Vice President of the CHTA and holds positions on numerous boards, locally and regionally.
A highly-experienced executive with keen expertise in a variety of industries, including hotels and tourism, financial services, manufacturing, duty free retail, and food distribution, Yvor Nassief is the current executive of Archipelago Trading Ltd., Food Center St. Lucia Ltd, and Food Center St. Vincent. Nassief is also on the board of Archipelago Trading, Springfield Trading Ltd., Belfast Estates Ltd, and Proven Investments Limited. Formerly, Nassief was the Minister of Tourism for Dominica between 2005 and 2007, and also served as Chairman of Invest Dominica Authority and a Director of AID Bank. Nassief and his wife currently live in Belfast, Dominica, and each of their three adult children are working and studying abroad.