Saba will have more hotel rooms when the construction at Juliana’s Hotel has been completed and the new Saba Arawak Hotel has been built. At the same time, the promotion of the island abroad continues and local authorities keep striving to increase connectivity.
Juliana’s Hotel has started its expansion and renovation project. Four new rooms will be added to the property when a building of the former Captain’s Quarters Hotel has been reconstructed. The captain suites will be rather large, featuring a king size bed, 12 feet of sliding doors and a private porch. Local historian Will Johnson has offered to provide information about four former Saban captains, which will be displayed in the suites.
Juliana’s Hotel was able to acquire the former Captain’s Quarters property late August 2018. The reconstruction project focuses on one building. The other building was not salvable and had to be demolished. The goal is to have the reconstructed hotel building open by the start of the next season in November this year.
Hotel owner Johanna Schutten said the construction work is being carried out by local workers. Currently Juliana’s Hotel has 14 units in total, comprising of rooms, cottages and suites. The plan is to further expand in the future. “We will do so step by step,” said Schutten.
There is more good news on the hotel front. Preparations have started to ready the piece of land on the outskirts of Windwardside where the Saba Arawak Hotel will be constructed. Details on this project, which will add 27 hotel rooms to the island, have not been announced as yet. Reconstruction of the Ecolodge at Rendez-Vous has begun and the island hopes to see this hotel reopened soon.
Saba and its Tourist Bureau have been active in marketing and promoting the island. The Canadian market is being targeted this year with promotion. Saba has a year-long advertisement campaign with Escapism, a Canadian travel magazine and website (escapism.to). Saba has also been promoted in Foodism, Escapism’s sister and longer established platform.
Another Canadian platform that Saba has worked with last year, will again be promoting the island in May, namely the Horizon travel magazine. This magazine, which has 226,000 readers, will be inserted into the Toronto Star, one of Canada’s most circulated newspapers. Additionally, Horizon will be placing small commercial advertisements on their screens in PATH, Toronto’s underground walkway and shopping center, as well as on the Yonge Street and Dundas Street screen in May.
Saba will also have an advertisement in the May edition of the National Geographic Traveler.
There has also been some great online promotion of the island by visitors. Queen’s Gardens Resort was recently featured in an article on Forbes.com. In January this year, vloggers Kara and Nate visited Saba. They created two videos about their visit, both of which have over 100,000 views on YouTube.
Multiple travel writers are visiting the island this year. These writers have connections to large platforms such the New York Times, Forbes.com, National Geographic Traveler and Newsweek.com. A group of 12 travel writers, tour operators and travel agents will be visiting in May, which has been arranged in cooperation with the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau. Some visits by social media influencers are also in the planning for later this year.
Saba will be represented at the SMART tourism conference in St. Maarten at the end of May. The representatives will have appointments with many tour operators, travel agents and travel writers. Samples of Saba Spice and promotional materials will be handed out in the vendor hall, as a further enticement to visit the Saba appointment stand. Saba was represented at the Holiday Fair (“Vakantiebeurs”) and the dive show “Duikvaker” in the Netherlands earlier this year, as well as at the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta late February/early March.
Meanwhile the Public Entity Saba and the Saba Tourist Bureau continue to work on getting more flights to the island, including the reintroduction of a flights between St. Barths and Saba. In order to effectively promote Saba and to get more visitors to the island, Saba needs increased connectivity. This means more flights.
More ferry services
Increased ferry services are also part of the strategy. The addition of the Big B ferry of Blue Peter Charters, owned by St. Maarten businessman Bobby Velasquez, since March this year is a great addition to the ferry services that already exists between St. Maarten and Saba.
The Big B, a 230 passenger 130-foot vessel, runs multiple days a week. It does not only provide service to residents and tourists of Saba and St. Maarten, but also to cruise passengers who want to visit Saba for the day before their cruise ship departs St. Maarten.
In January 2019, the Executive Council approved a proposal of Commissioner of Tourism and Economic Affairs Bruce Zagers to have a Connectivity Plan drafted, in which the options for more and better transport to Saba will be explored.