Saba is relatively unknown in the travel world. A shame, if you ask me. But those who know the 5 square mile unspoiled Caribbean haven, know that the island is famous for its diving and hiking. What you probably didn’t know unless of course you have had the honor of visiting, is that it is peaceful and makes for an excellent recovery or destress destination.
A great accommodation is key to any trip, anywhere. Fortunately, Saba despite her small size, does not lack lodging choices. On an invitation from the owners, I decided to try out Scout’s Place for this 4-day visit to Saba.
Here is my review.
I arrived early one Monday morning and was neatly dropped off at the door to Scout’s Place by taxi driver Garvis, who picked me up earlier from the airport. A man of few words, Garvis quickly became one of my favorite persons on Saba at the end of my trip. This is a testament to Saba’s hospitaility and friendliness of its people.
Upon arrival to Scout’s Place I was met at the reception desk by owner Barbara Tooten, a pleasant and charismatic woman and we clicked immediately. She quickly stored my luggage in the office whilst I awaited my check in time and led me to the hotel restaurant for breakfast, located just a flight of stairs down from the reception office.
The restaurant was dark but cozy and featured a deck off on the side and a smaller deck out in the front. The view offered from either is just stunning. I could sit there forever. But first breakfast.
The hotel is more of a Bed and Breakfast than a hotel. A continental breakfast consisting of bread, cheese, ham, marmalade, coffee and orange juice is offered complimentary with your room but you also have the choice to upgrade to a Healthy Breakfast, an American breakfast, or traditional Caribbean breakfast, if the continental breakfast is too simple for you. Being the island girl that I am I just could not pass on the Caribbean Breakfast. All I can say is, bring a doggy bag because this one is big enough for two.
Sitting down in the restaurant it quickly became apparent that it was much more than just a place to grab some food. There was a DJ booth in a corner, enough space for dancing and on the board above the bar, special events were promoted like the “Sabaoke”; Scout’s version of karaoke, sushi night and Martini Thursdays.
When asked, Barbara explained that the restaurant offered breakfast, lunch and dinner daily and that it turned into a lounge in the weekends. The bar is frequented by locals, students from the island’s International School of Medicine, divers and hikers alike. I loved that there were no distinctions and everyone mingled together freely.
Scout’s Place was built some time in the 70’s and has been under the ownership of German expats Barbara and Wolfgang Tooten for the past 20 years. The couple found their way to the island years ago when they were looking to purchase a dive shop. Barbara has a background in marketing and Wolfgang was in the restaurant business.
The hotel has 13 standard rooms and cottage rooms with private balconies as well as a so called pirate cottage, the largest room in their inventory. Most rooms boast beautiful views of the ocean in the distance and the colorful roofs of the neighbors below.
A pool on the side deck of the hotel offers guests a refreshing dip after a long hike. Beware though as the water can be quite cold thanks to the altitude.
With Saba’s strict building rules in place all properties must adhere to the white, green and red ordinance, Scout’s Place is no exception. I guess someone knew what they were doing because these colors blend beautifully into the lush green backdrop of the hillsides surrounding the Windward Side of the island.
Saba has a few luxury resorts and a few very basic accommodations like hostels but not much in the mid range. This is what makes Scout’s Place attractive. Their guests comprise mostly of European hikers and divers but also business travelers. It makes for the best affordable place for longer stays on the island due to its bed and breakfast qualities, its simple rooms and attractive long term prices. The hotel offers for instance reasonable packages for half board with dinner included to anyone staying for longer periods.
The room I shared with my travel buddy, Angie was simple but comfortable. Two single beds, a desk, a chair with a small coffee table, a fridge, a kettle with complimentary coffee and tea and a small bathroom. A large TV screen hung in the corner but remained untouched for the duration of our stay. Who needs a TV when you had beautiful views to take in and nice conversations at the bar downstairs?
There was a small balcony overlooking the bank and post office next door as well as the rest of the village while the corridor gave access to stunning panoramic views.
Location Location Location
Scout’s Place is perched on a hillside in the heart of the village of Windward Side and within short walking distance to souvenir shops, supermarkets, a gallery and several restaurants and bars. You cannot go wrong with the location even if you tried.
Some hiking trails were just a hop away from the hotel as was the trail shop. The hotel is located in the middle of everything but still quiet enough for you to truly enjoy your vacation.
Art Week at Scout’s
I was joined by the very vibrant Wolfgang one afternoon on the outside deck of the restaurant. During our conversation about the hotel and another property owned by him and Barbara, he told me about an exciting event he is organizing on Saba in the month of May.
Together with the Florida International University in Miami or FIU, Wolfgang will be holding an exhibit with artists from Florida during the UNESCO International Art Education Week, from May 22nd to 28th. The public will be able to view the art pieces as they are being made as well as walk around the exhibit park afterwards. All art pieces will be donated to Saba and will remain on the island for everyone to admire.
Wolfgang will be teaming up with Leonore Anthony, a renowned artist from Cuban decent based in Miami and with studios in the Hague, Netherlands and Brooklyn, New York.
Scout’s Place will of course be offering special packages for the week of the event and because it cannot possibly accommodate everyone, has teamed up with other hotels that will be offering special rates for that week as well. This is a must attend event for art lovers in and out of the Caribbean region. I myself might just pop back up on Saba especially for this event.
Although the accommodation does not come close in comparison to other places I have stayed at, I did love my stay at Scout’s Place and that was mainly because of the Tooten’s hospitality and that of their staff.
If you are looking for luxury, this is not the place for you. The rooms are basic but clean and comfortable. I slept like a baby on my single bed. The staff as I said is super nice and helpful. The location is perfect and breakfast and drinks out on the restaurant deck will go down in history as one of my favorites. It is important to note though that the hotel does not offer a vegetarian friendly menu, but Barbara being a vegetarian herself will surely be able to assist if you just ask. The internet was spotty but that gave me the excuse to drag myself from behind my computer and phone screen and go out and explore more of the island. One does not visit Saba just to sit behind a screen.
After a busy day adventuring my way through the island of Saba, returning to Scout’s Place was like coming home, and that is something no amount of money can buy.
Visit the hotel website here to book your vacation at Scout’s Place.