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For Saba Rock, it’s been a years-long process of rebuilding in the wake of Hurricane Irma, the Category 5 storm that devastated much of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) in September 2017.
That process was supposed to culminate last fall with the reopening of the nine-room resort, which is located on a 1-acre cay in the North Sound area of Virgin Gorda. In February 2020, Saba Rock brought on Alain Prion as general manager, construction continued according to plan, and the resort’s team scheduled the property’s unveiling for October 2020.
But mere days after Prion’s hiring, it became clear that the emerging COVID-19 pandemic would force considerable changes to that timetable; by last March, the BVI had closed to visitor arrivals and would remain so through the end of 2020. According to Prion, the pandemic also meant longer shipping times for cargo, which created significant delays for construction materials and other supplies. The Saba Rock team eyed December 2020 or January 2021 for a new opening date, Prion said, which presumed a relaxing of restrictions by that time.
That didn’t come to pass, either. And as is the case with so many destinations, uncertainty lingers for the BVI over when its tourism industry can return to something resembling normalcy: Last month, for example, the BVI Ports Authority pushed back the reopening of its seaports to at least April 15.
But the Saba Rock team is persevering and is looking ahead to the day when it can finally unveil the completely rebuilt property. Saba Rock is tentatively scheduled to open this spring, and reservations are expected to open soon.
“Saba holds a special place in the hearts of many, and we can’t wait for our past guests to see and experience the new resort,” Prion said. “We expect fans will embrace our new identity and hope our chic and casual setting will attract new customers, as well.”
The new Saba Rock features what a statement from the resort describes as a “contemporary design aesthetic,” offering “a fresh take on the destination’s nautical lifestyle” within its seven guestrooms and two suites.
Saba holds a special place in the hearts of many, and we can’t wait for our past guests to see and experience the new resort.
The reimagined design aesthetic will be accompanied by a new level of service, according to Prion, as Saba Rock seeks to “bring the luxury level up [to be] on par with islands around us,” without abandoning the laid-back vibe of the resort’s previous incarnation.
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Part of that elevated experience centers around the resort’s dining.
“Our culinary offerings play a big role in the guest experience at Saba Rock,” Prion said, noting that the resort will “incorporate local products and influences throughout the menu.”
Those culinary experiences will be showcased within a bar and restaurant on the lower level, offering what Saba Rock describes as “an eclectic menu of Caribbean fusion cuisine,” as well as at an upper-deck bar/lounge that can be rented for private events.
Other on-site amenities are set to include a dive shop (for which Saba Rock is partnering with Dive BVI), a retail boutique, a spa, a full-service marina and a kiteboarding and kitesurfing school.
Prion said those amenities aim to encourage guests to explore Virgin Gorda and extend their stays beyond the resort’s traditional one or two nights.
Long renowned as a haven for recreational sailing as well as diving — the original Saba Rock resort was founded by scuba pioneer Herbert “Bert” Kilbride in the 1960s — Virgin Gorda is seeking to attract visitors interested in partaking in other watersports, such as kitesurfing, and exploring natural wonders, including Spring Bay beach or the natural pools and dramatic granite formations of The Baths National Park. Virgin Gorda is even making a bid for history buffs, with attractions such as Nail Bay Sugar Works (the ruins of an 18th-century mill) and Copper Mine Point National Park (comprising shafts, an engine house and other structures constructed by English miners in the 1800s).
Saba Rock has even discussed potential partnerships with other resorts to create multi-night itineraries within the BVI, Prion said. Those resorts, of course, are undergoing their own recovery stories, with the pandemic complicating what was already a monumental undertaking in post-Hurricane Irma reconstruction.
But Prion said he sees opportunities in those challenges and, regardless of the setbacks Saba Rock and other resorts have and may continue to endure, he is optimistic that Saba Rock is “in a really good place” for reopening.
“This whole process has been a labor of love for the entire Saba Rock team, and I am truly proud of how we were able to navigate the challenges at hand and bring the new chapter of this iconic resort to life,” he said.
The DetailsSaba Rockwww.sabarock.com