Today we travel again to the Caribbean, this time to Saba, east of the Virgin Islands and to the south of St. Martin/Sint Maarten. Saba is a small island: five square miles of dormant volcano, rocky cliffs, and forest foliage. There are only around 1400 full-time residents, but eco-tourism is slowly growing there. Thanks to the island’s natural charms, diving, snorkeling, hiking, and climbing opportunities abound. Ecolodge Rendez-Vous caters to eco-travelers who want to explore this forested island, once a outpost for Caribbean pirates.
Ecolodge Rendez-Vous has 12 cottages running up a scenic trail, along with a restaurant, pool, and sweat lodge. Heleen Cornet owns the resort with her husband, Tom Van’t Hof, and their son and daughter-in-law, Bernt and Dana Reece Groenendijk. She reports that the facilities are all run with solar power. The cottages have their own solar panels, solar water heaters keep the showers warm, and solar power pumps collected rainwater to a cistern on the top of the resort’s hill. The cottages’ siding is made form Hardiplank, an eco-material made from cement, sand, and recycled paper. The decks are built out of Trex Wood Polymer, made from recycled plastic and wood waste.
The resort uses composting toilets to save water and non-toxic cleaning supplies like vinegar and baking soda as much as possible. The property has an extensive organic garden that provides Bernt, chef of the on-site Rainforest Restaurant, with fresh vegetables and fruits to serve their guests.
Currently, Heleen says they are trying to figure out how to heat the resorts’ hot tubs with solar energy. They hope to install more private hot tubs in more cottages and also build a sauna for the resort.
Heleen’s family has a long eco-history. Tom is a co-founder of the Saba Conservation Foundation, through which he established the Saba National Marine Park. The park rings the entire island and is one of the main reasons Saba has a strong diving tourism industry. Boat-accessible sites for both SCUBA divers and snorkelers let visitors see marine life up close. Hawksbill turtles are especially common.
Saba is a hiker’s paradise, too, with trails of all lengths and difficulties covering the small island. (Ecolodge Rendez-Vous has a helpful map detailing several of the island’s most popular hikes.) Heleen says guests should see the island’s cloud forest while they are here; the Mount Scenery trail will lead up the dormant volcano of the same name, high into cloud forest territory.
For details on accommodations and rates, come back tomorrow!