WINDWARDSIDE, Saba -- This tiny island is experiencing something of
a tourism renaissance, thanks to a new airport terminal, more hotel
rooms, enhanced air and ferry services and a renamed and
revitalized Web site.
According to Glenn Holm, director of tourism at the Saba Tourist
Office here, rebuilding the terminal at Flat Point Airport is part
of a three-pronged renovation plan to be completed by late
"It's not going to be a huge terminal, but it will definitely be
an improvement and make life easier for passengers and residents,"
The facility will provide air-conditioned arrival and departure
areas, several boutiques and a tourist information office.
The terminal building, destroyed by Hurricane Lenny in 1999, was
replaced with a temporary structure.
The renovation project started late last year, with the
resurfacing of Saba's 1,200-foot runway, widely considered one of
the shortest anywhere.
Holm said some of the cliffs surrounding the airport will be
judiciously pruned back, a move likely to reduce the apprehension
of pilots and arriving passengers.
Also planned is the opening of 20 rooms at two properties along
with the potential reopening of a third inn.
These additions will push Saba's room count to
approximately 105 units.
According to Holm, the 10-room Ecolodge Rendez Vous, slated to
open in the first quarter of 2002, will be the first property on
Saba to actively court ecologically minded visitors.
Accommodations in cabins will feature solar-heated showers and
composting toilets, a restaurant serving organic vegetables and
fruits grown on site and a sun deck with a solar-powered hot
The property's courting of ecotourists "is the way we want to go
because we're focusing on that type of tourism," Holm said.
Captain's Quarters, which was damaged by Hurricane Georges in
1998, is for sale and likely will reopen next year, adding another
10 rooms to the island's inventory.
Gate House, a relatively new property that shut down abruptly
last year, also is for sale. A reopening would add another six
units to the roster.
Holm said access to Saba by air and sea is a little easier, due
to new charter air and additional ferry services.
Windward Express Airways -- one of a handful of carriers
authorized to land at Flat Point Airport -- offers chartered
flights for up to nine passengers from Princess Juliana Airport on
The Edge ferry service recently doubled its capacity by adding a
second boat, which serves Saba five days a week from St. Maarten,
Saba's Web site in March was relaunched as www.sabatourism.com.
Updated information, more links to local hotels
and businesses and a planned bulletin board are among the
Holm acknowledged that the site "had stagnated awhile, and we
needed to add new information to keep up."
The bulletin board feature will offer news on events of interest
to tourists and interisland travelers, he said.
Early indicators show that the relaunched site is receiving more
visitors than before.
Holm said he is pleased with the developments on this tiny
island of 1,648 residents.
While he acknowledged that beachless Saba "is not for everybody,
tourism drives the economy."
"People come to dive because Saba is among the best dive sites
in the region, if not the world. They come for hiking, nature and
our architecture," Holm said.
"We don't want hordes of tourists. We want just enough to keep
the economy going."