05 July 2014

Saba, Say Me

Not mine. Image found here
My DH and I had been toying around for some time with the idea of combining another island with our yearly Anguilla pilgrimage.  Neither one of us was particularly interested in St Maarten/Martin, and he had already spent a lot of time in the 1980s visiting St Barths, but the more I looked into the tiny island of Saba, the more we were intrigued.

Saba (pronounced SAY-buh), part of the Dutch Antilles, is just about the polar opposite of Anguilla--lush, mountainous, and utterly lacking in beaches--so that was part of our decision. But a large part was also the thrill of landing at the airport.  The runway is only 200 feet longer than an aircraft carrier's, and as you can see in the photo above, there's not much margin for error.  Big mountain on one side, sheer dropoff to the sea on the other, and a teeny-tiny runway on the edge.

Despite what DH and I had both read (and watched on YouTube) about the experience, however, landing on Saba was not at all hair-raising. We flew Winair on a tiny plane out of St Maarten, and I was lucky enough to be on the starboard side where all of the action was happening.  At first approach, it looks like the plane is going to fly into the side of the mountain, but it veers left at the last minute to land:

After much deliberation, we had selected Queen's Gardens Resort for our two nights on the island.  They arranged for a taxi to pick us up at the airport, along with a family of three from Seattle who had been on the flight with us. Everybody tells first timers not to drive on Saba, but I didn't really get why until I saw the roads.  I shot a few pics from the back of the taxi on the way to the hotel.

The welcoming committee at Queen's Gardens included the manager and a sweet dog named Casper.  That, combined with the chilled, vanilla-scented towel and the tropical beverage, and we knew we'd picked the right place.  Most travelers come to Saba for the hiking and the world-class diving.  Us?  We wanted to read and relax, so we picked a hotel that would cater to our wishes.

Queen's Gardens was perfect for our needs: quiet, lush, and gorgeous views everywhere you look.  There are only 12 rooms there, each one a spacious suite occupying an entire floor.  Most of them have their own private Jacuzzi, too.  Since we arrived at the hotel (really, resort is a bit of a misnomer) after a 15-hour travel day, we sank gratefully onto the sofa in our room to take it all in.

We were in unit #3, which was a short walk and a flight (or two)of steps away from either the pool or the reception and restaurant level.  The resort is built into a hill, and there are steps and tiers everywhere.  This is not the location for you if you have knee problems or any kind of difficulty with mobility.
Desk in the front half of the suite. The rest of the space was oddly empty

Sofa with a view 
View out of the main window, seen from the sofa
Our king-size bed 
View from the bed
The very interesting fixture used for our bathroom sink
View from the Jacuzzi
After unpacking and freshening up, we headed to the restaurant for dinner.  We normally wouldn't eat most of our meals at our hotel , but breakfast was included in our package, and we couldn't bear the thought of paying a driver to take us anywhere at that time of night, so we ate all our meals, save for one lunch, at Queen's Gardens.

Entering the outdoor restaurant
View from our table
With the exception of the treetop table for two (which is always booked up way ahead), we had the best table on the terrace, overlooking the bar and pool area.  There were tiki torches tucked into the lush gardens surrounding the terrace, and we congratulated ourselves on our good fortune of picking such a romantic spot.  Too bad we were too tired to appreciate it fully!
the amuse-bouche
My snapper
DH's escargots
I ordered the grilled, whole snapper that was stuffed with crabmeat while DH had a green salad and the escargots appetizer.  The amuse-bouche was a fig stuffed with cheese and maybe a paté, wrapped up in prosciutto.  I didn't care for it much, but DH loved it.  The prices were about the same as what we expect in Anguilla, though the quality didn't quite match.  Still, it was good and we were happy to tuck in.

They bring a dessert board over after the meal, from which we selected the Saba Spice (a local liqueur) creme brûlée, with a mango compote.  The Saba Spice flavor was very interesting and I just loved the compote.  A dram of Grand Marnier completed the meal and before long, we were close to nodding off at the table.

Stay tuned for our island tour of Saba.  I will need to download my DH's photos from his fancy-pants camera, because they will look significantly better than the ones from my phone.

Day is done


  1. Well done as usual Emily, very nice!

    1. THanks, Ellen! I hope to get to the Anguilla stuff soon, but I'm back at work today and there's LOTS to catch up on. (As you well know, I'm sure.)

  2. WOW!!!! Your pictures and descriptions were well worth waiting for. Can't wait to see the rest....millions of thanks....

    1. Thank you for the compliments. I hope you enjoy the rest of the posts (when I get around to them).

  3. Hi Emily,

    We stayed in that same suite last year! It had a dining room set in the empty space. Maybe they are refinishing it?


    1. Interesting. Maybe that is the case. There were elements in that room that were in pretty bad need of touching up, but nothing that affected our comfort or enjoyment in any way.

  4. Emily - yes, I know all about the joys of returning to a ton of work and trying to get caught up. Thanks for always taking the time.

  5. The pictures are so pretty! You did a good job with your camera phone! And whoa, that view from the jacuzzi.

    1. yes,the view alone was worth the price of admission.

  6. Those pictures are actually pretty fantastic! And also, I kind of love that weird bathroom vanity/sink... so pretty!

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