Canadian Resort Owners Die in Tragic Incident on Dominica

Daniel Langlois, Owner, Coulibri Ridge Resort.

They were so happy and so engaging. And now they’re gone in a tragic accident.

I was lucky enough to get a tour of the truly remarkable Coulibri Ridge resort in Dominica in January of this year.

Canadian owners Daniel Langlois and Dominique Marchand proudly showed me around their uber-luxurious, environmentally friendly and incredibly designed property on a ridge on the south end of the island. Langlois beamed like a kid in a candy store as he displayed the electrical panels and talked about the solar panels and collection of rain water, and the massive walls that were designed to withstand the most powerful hurricane.

Langlois’ face lit up like one of his solar panels as he discussed the merits of copper ionization and the vertical blades on the resort’s wind turbines, which help keep birds and bats from getting confused and dying in the blades.

Marchand showed me the resort’s boutique and pointed out that most of the bathing suits were locally made.

“We want to have a connection with the community,” she said.

Marchand sat next to me over a fine lunch of local fish and talked about their commitment to using local labour for the complicated construction job, and how much they helped the island recover from a terrible hurricane a few years ago, which left some people without power for a year.

The Jonquiere, Quebec-born Langlois made a fortune in the movie business, establishing a company called Softimage. They made software that was used to help dinosaurs come alive in Jurassic Park. The software also was used to help make the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars.

Langlois appeared quite shy as he toured me around, downplaying his movie wizardry but gladly championing his resort. The way I saw it during the two hours we had together, Marchand’s twinkling eyes and personality were a great contrast to his inward-looking character.

Coulibri Ridge resort

It’s easily one of the most impressive places I’ve visited, and they seemed like an amazing couple. Marchand and Langlois told me how they visited islands all over the Caribbean before settling on the beauty of laid-back Dominica.

“It was love at first sight,” Marchand told me. “We just loved the area and the people.”

I’ve told Langlois’ and Marchand’s story a few times in the past 11 months, so you can understand the shock I received when I received an email from the resort saying they were found in a burned out car on the island they loved so dearly.

“With profound sadness and heavy hearts, we announce the tragic passing of Daniel Langlois and his partner Dominique Marchand in Dominica. The entire community on the island is in mourning following a devastating incident on Thursday, November 30,” the resort said in a media statement.

News reports say the couple were found in a burned-out car near the resort, and that their bodies were burned beyond recognition. Subsequent tests revealed the bodies to be Langlois and Marchand.

There’s little to go on, but Dominica News Online said local police had suspects in custody.

Dominica Minister of Justice, Immigration and National Security Rayburn Blackmoore told CTV News that four people have been taken into custody in connection to the deaths - three non-nationals and one national.

The horror is unimaginable, and I find myself thinking of them constantly and wondering what happened. I don’t believe they had children, so I’m also not sure what will happen to the resort.

“Daniel and Dominique were trailblazers in so many ways, most recently as founders and operators of Coulibri Ridge Resort,” resort officials said in their statement. “Their commitment to sustainability set a standard in the tourism industry, and their passion for the environment and helping others has touched the lives of many who experienced the magic of Coulibri Ridge.

“Their legacy will continue to live on through the efforts of The Daniel Langlois Foundation, the Resilient Dominica Project (REZDEM), and the Humane Society of Dominica.”

Jessica Canham, a friend of the couple, told CTV they were “exemplary community members and investors.”

“Everybody is just in shock. Disbelief."

The Daily Mail in England said an American couple are among those being questioned by police. The newspaper also said Langlois and a neighbour had been involved in a dispute over the usage of a road that leads to Coulibri Ridge.

Responding to reports that one of the four being questioned by police is an American citizen, a spokesperson for the US Department of State told the BBC: "We are aware of reports of the arrest of a US citizen in Dominica.

"Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment at this time." The Daily Mail said an American couple are among those being questioned by police. The newspaper also said Langlois and a neighbour had been involved in a dispute over the usage of a road that leads to Coulibri Ridge.

Responding to reports that one of the four being questioned by police is an American citizen, a spokesperson for the US Department of State told the BBC: "We are aware of reports of the arrest of a US citizen in Dominica.

"Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment at this time."

Parliamentary Representative in the Soufriere constituency, Denise Charles-Pemberton told Dominica News Online that the deaths of Marchand and Langlois are a terrible loss.

“Daniel and Dominique may be known for their world-renowned eco-resort in the village but to the people of the Soufriere constituency and to me, they were kind, loving and truly community oriented,” she said.

“This was not a random act of violence. Our community is safe and secure, our people are warm and friendly, and we loved the couple.”

 

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