Saba Rock is ready to begin a new chapter.
The nine-room resort located on an acre of island underwent a complete rebuild in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, which decimated much of the British Virgin Islands in September 2017. Saba Rock first made its mark in the 1960s thanks to Herbert “Bert” Kilbride’s diving base and legendary beach bar The Pirates‘ Pub.
New ownership is now in place and the property is under the guidance of general manager Alain Prion, who was tasked with restoring the secluded getaway. The first order of business was strengthening the structure to protect the resort for generations to come.
“Prior to the hurricane, there was a little more wood that was being used into the framework of the property itself,” Prion told Travel Noire. “Now it’s all concrete walls, concrete floors, concrete ceilings. The roof itself is made out of pressed wood. And there’s actually some teeth involved in it as well. But the main structure is set to go against the category five hurricanes. Major improvements on the property or the construction itself are just basically the rigorous amount of detail that was put into the building in order to sustain and go through a cat five hurricane if — hopefully not — it would come about again.”
The rooms have also been elevated to what Prion refers to as “a barefoot elegance and barefoot luxury.”
“They’re really super nice, larger hotel rooms. We have two suites that can accommodate up to four people in those suites and then we can accommodate double occupancy in our rooms with two rooms being two twin beds, and a little pullout twin bed as well from a couch. So we can accommodate up to about 28 people total.”
One of the unique features of the resort is the option to buy out the accommodations portion of the resort and essentially have the run of the island, exclusive of the restaurant and bar. It’s the sort of experience that can take a large family vacay or bachelorette party to a whole new level.
Speaking of leveling up, Prion shared that their customer service, as well as food and beverage operations, will be taken up a few notches.
“My team and I come from various degrees of backgrounds in hospitality,” shared Prion. “We’ve all worked a minimum of about seven to 10 years in the Caribbean. So we do have the Caribbean experience, and we’re very proud of that. My food and beverage director and my chef come from an international experience having worked in Europe and in Asia at some points. We’re bringing a level of culinary experience, which we hope will be a little more advanced than what it was prior. The chef loves to bring in local food and does some local cuisine and obviously, you can’t get away from the conch, ceviche and lobster. He’s come up with a couple of little extras and specialties, and we aim to have a bit more variety in terms of our cuisine.”
The property is also hoping to integrate the neighboring islands into the itineraries of their guests. Prion mentioned nearby Leverick Bay, Oil Nut Bay, and other resorts including the Bitter End Yacht Club as possible points of interest for visitors. Watersports enthusiasts will find ample opportunities for kite surfing and snorkeling in the turquoise waters of Spring Bay beach. The Baths National Park’s granite formations and white-sand beaches are also a popular attraction.
“Our guests can enjoy the environment around Saba. And obviously, you can get there through our ferries, which we will be taking people throughout the day and throughout the evening, to go ahead and experience the other sites around the North Sound.”
Like the rest of the travel industry, Saba Rock was heavily affected by the pandemic. Construction on the new property was stalled due to delays in cargo, border closures, and curfews. Even now, as they prepare for a tentative Fall opening, Saba Rock is still awaiting containers that should have arrived two months ago. Prion acknowledges that although they’re not where they want to be as yet, he is confident that eventually the resort will be restored to its non-stop party days.
“I’ve had to applaud the government of the BVI because they’ve been very watchful as to what’s been happening, but things are beginning to open up, and they’re loosening up now. It’s very positive. We’re all looking forward at this point that we can actually start seeing guests come on to our properties and welcome them and have a good rum punch at the bar.”