A Tiny Must-Visit Resort in the British Virgin Islands
The new Saba Rock resort in the British Virgin Islands is a magnificent blend of form and function, capturing some of the ephemeral feel of a Caribbean beach bar while designed to survive the destructive force of a hurricane like the one that wiped out this small private island resort in 2017.
Hurricane Irma did its best to erase the Saba Rock resort — a North Sound fixture since the 1960s — but it won’t be so easy next time. The core of the structure is a virtual concrete bunker with thick walls, and the roof of the restaurant and bar are supported by v-shaped steep supports, thick wooden beams, and braided turnbuckle cables. The fine finishing work — pickled wood paneling on guest room walls, rope braided around support pillars — masks it all, but there’s no doubt that version 2.0 of the Saba Rock resort is, well, rock solid.
Reopened in October 2021, Saba Rock includes 7 guest rooms, two luxury suites, a restaurant, bar, and gift shop, all fanned out in a half-circle facing the (usually) placid waters between Virgin Gorda and Prickly Pear Island. The front of the resort is almost entirely dockage, a nod to Saba Rock’s popularity with boaters who dinghy over for lunch or a drink (the resort has seven slips and 18 mooring balls, with the capacity for boats up to 80 feet in length).
The back of the 1.5-acre island has a small sandy beach for guest use, and resort activities include kiteboarding, diving (Saba Rock was founded as a dive center), snorkeling, paddling, yoga classes, and spa services offered in the resort’s single treatment room.
Saba Rock may be small, but designers ADR Architects put the available space to good use, creating spacious guest rooms and expansive, open-air dining and drinking areas on two levels, linked with broad waterfront decks and stairs. As the first member of the media to stay overnight in one of Saba Rock’s individually named guest suites (mine was “Turtle”), I enjoyed a comfortable, nautically themed room (semaphore flags over the bed spell out the resort’s name), with a king bed overlooking the beach and views of the North Sound from every part of the room other than the commode, thanks to glass walls separating the shower and sink area of the bathroom.
Rooms ring in around 530 square feet, and the peaked ceilings make them feel even bigger, so there’s plenty of space to lounge around in your logo waffle robe, including on a deck facing Virgin Gorda and the nearby Bitter End Yacht Club. On the day of my visit a rare winter gale was blowing through, which I could see but not hear through the 10-foot windows in my room — another nod to the resort’s sturdy construction.
One Saba Rock quirk is that the guest rooms are all on the second floor of the property, with doors facing a small grassy courtyard that’s about as removed from the public areas of the resort as possible in such a tiny place. The rooms’ slightly cloistered locale stands in contrast to the rest of the resort, where dining and drinking areas take shelter under the vaulted roofs but are otherwise open to the elements.
It’s a design clearly meant for sunny days, although I was still quite cozy for dinner with the wind and rain blowing around out over the water. The dinner menu included a mix of classic and tropical cocktails — the Saba on the Rocks was a refreshing mix of spiced rum, triple sec, and fresh pineapple and passion fruit juice — with appetizers and entrees drawing on a mix of cooking traditions from yellowfin sashimi to curried shrimp, jerk snapper, and a no-nonsense roast chicken. You can get more casual fare at the upstairs bar, however.
Coupled with the reopening of Bitter End Yacht Club, and some obvious rehabilitation work going on over at the long-shuttered Biras Creek resort, the return of the legendary Saba Rock proves that the North Sound is back after the devastation wrought by Irma — along with the rest of the BVI. So pull up to the dock, grab a sunset drink, and you may well be tempted to get out of your cabin and stay for a night or two at this luxurious new addition to one of the best boating destinations in the Caribbean.
For more, visit Saba Rock.