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Return of the Rock

Legendary Saba Rock Resort is set to reopen on October 15. While the resort’s resurrection sees it embracing the best in contemporary luxe, it’s lost none of its old-world charm.

For decades Saba Rock has been a beacon on the British Virgin Islands sailing scene. When Herbert (Bert) Kilbride opened his private island home to passing boaters in the 1970s, selling beers and snacks out of his bohemian-style bar, The Pirates’ Pub, Saba Rock became an instant hit. A must-visit destination in the North Sound for those in the know.

My friends, it is quite likely that after your first visit, you will become bohemian Sabarockans, incurably dependent on the charm of the island. Every attempt to leave ends in the desire to return as soon as possible’

Bert Kilbride

Now, four years after Hurricane Irma decimated it, this iconic island resort is reborn, wholly reimagined, rebuilt and reopening on October 15 2021, with a brand-new redesign. The latest incarnation of a much-loved BVI classic that has brought faithful visitors back year after year.

Since reconstruction began in 2018, led by Gardner Construction with project management by BCQS International, there has been much anticipation around this grand reopening. Devoted Saba Rock supporters were eagerly awaiting more details as the resort began to take shape. Responsible for that new look is architect, Petr Kolar from ADR architectural studio. He introduces a modern and industrial beach-chic feel, with island-inspired design elements and a healthy dose of Saba Rock history–retaining many of the features that have made it so incredibly popular with guests for the last five decades. The team at Saba Rock wanted to keep the island’s original free-spirited charm, while bringing it up-to-date. Appealing to guests both new and old, every detail has been carefully considered, every comfort thoughtfully tended to.

A key consideration for the construction was the longevity of the resort and the structural integrity. The previous framework has been replaced with a concrete structure: concrete walls, concrete floors, concrete ceilings, and a pressed wood roof. Exacting detail has been incorporated into the design and construction, so that the resort can better sustain future hurricane threats.

Accommodation options

The resort features just seven hotel rooms and two suites. They ensure that your getaway is perfectly secluded and delightfully private. There’s an element of exclusivity, rooms and suites are nestled in lush gardens at the back of the resort. They have kept the barefoot-casual vibe but elevated it beautifully.

Spacious and generously appointed suites with sweeping ocean views, contemporary furniture and free-standing baths have vibrant accent colours of teal, scarlet and burgundy. Rich velvet furnishings are juxtaposed with polished concrete, bare wood, mixed metals and lots of glass. The quirky decor features surfboards, kite-boards, oars and other pieces of nautical paraphernalia. Each room is slightly different, but all of them feature a memory wall paying tribute to Saba’s transformation through the years. Smiling sepia-toned pictures of the “last Pirate of the Caribbean”, Saba Rock founder Bert Kilbride, stand out alongside bright blue skies, sea views, kite-boarders, surfers, flags and boats across generations of Saba Rock history.

The accommodation is furnished with amenities like Nespresso machines, mini-fridges, dining furniture on the balconies, Bluetooth speakers and a bespoke resort AV system. Caribbean guides, adventure, sailing and pirate books, maps and other intriguing titles adorn the shelves. The suites benefit additionally from enormous outdoor living and dining spaces.

The boutique

The new Saba Rock Resort boutique will continue to stock the popular branded Saba Rock merchandise, expanding to include even more logo items alongside multiple lines of swimwear, footwear and apparel. In addition, they have partnered with local designers and will be offering custom made one-of-a-kind collections of high-end jewelry and resort wear. The stylishly curated displays of garments are interspersed with the nautical pieces in the mini-museum that Saba is known for. Salvaged artefacts, memorabilia, coins and trinkets continue to be a feature at the resort, many donated by the Kilbride family.

The new resort also sees the return of the famous Saba Rock aquarium, bigger and better than ever. Once again, it will house pieces salvaged from the wreck of the RMS Rhone by Bert himself.

Restaurant and Sunset Bar

The same spacious wrap-around deck area forms the restaurant, with captivating views over the water and beautiful sunsets. Restyled with mismatched furniture, it has a barefoot elegance, with the bar now more prominent than ever.

The hospitality team comes from various backgrounds–having worked across the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia. As a result, the chef and his culinary crew intend to elevate the cuisine, featuring local dishes, fresh seafood and other extras and specialties influenced by their international experience.

A favourite new feature has to be the addition of the Sunset Bar, upstairs of the boutique. This casual lounge space with its swinging seats, sofas and a pool table add another gathering place, the perfect lounge spot and play area for afternoon drinks and snacks. The antique mirrors, neon Saba Rock sign, rusted bar and hanging glass floats are cheerful and eclectic. Views over neighbouring Prickly Pear, Eustatia Island and, what will undoubtedly be a bustling dock, with seven slips for overnight sailing guests and 18 mooring balls, with plans for another 12. Other fun new features include the working red telephone boxes and a red post box.

Dive shop

This iteration of Saba Rock Resort will see a new dive shop on-site. Dive BVI now has a retail space offering dive training, dive trips, day trips, private charters, gear rentals, and air fills. Bert Kilbride initially founded dive BVI, so it seems fitting for them to have a home at the resort.

Spa and treatment room

Another new feature of the resort is the new spa. Resort guests will be able to enjoy a selection of massages, facials and other rejuvenating treatments.

Despite its diminutive one-acre size, the team at Saba Rock Resort have maximized the space available on this islet to include all the features that you would come to expect from a Caribbean beach resort experience.

While keen to move forward and make new memories, Saba Rock Resort has embraced its history and found ways to imaginatively incorporate it into the new design. Now the resort is ready to begin its new chapter, and bookings are already live for the upcoming season.

“This is an exciting time for the entire Saba Rock team as the countdown to our grand opening intensifies. The reception and anticipation surrounding this project continues to be an inspiration and has contributed to our team’s tireless efforts to ensure that we are ready to not only welcome guests, but exceed their expectations. We are mindful of the current climate in our industry. Still, we are happy to say we remain on schedule for our October 2021 opening date and look forward to creating and sharing memorable moments on this iconic island paradise, the new Saba Rock.”

Resort manager Alain Prion shared

Rates start at just $550 for rooms in low-season and $950 for a suite. Contact the Saba Rock Resort team at info@sabarock.com to find out more.

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