We stayed at the M4 Westbound Travelodge (£60) near London on Saturday 28th July 2007, so we would be fresh for the 04.00 check in and the Servisair All-Inclusive lounge (£36) to have refreshments prior to boarding our flight at 06.00, little did we know that after you have checked your baggage in and cleared all the security, we would only have 15 minutes in the lounge!
We flew by Air France from London Heathrow to Paris, Paris to St. Martin (approx £800 return each) and via Winair, St. Martin to Saba (96 USD one way each) all in one day, on Sunday 29th July 2007. If you have survived the landing after the 15 minute Island hopping flight, well done, if you haven’t…don’t bother reading the rest of this review!
The Taxis outside will take you to your hotel destination, for Scout's Place we paid 7 USD total for both of us Inc 2 large & 1 small suitcase. We paid extra for the Category 3 rooms located in a separate building at Scout's Place, the so called former Saba government guesthouse. The room (C2) had a good ocean and village view, it was equipped with shower, toilet, cable TV, refrigerator, telephone and own balcony, coffee maker with daily complimentary coffee & tea supply, internet access with own laptop & double bed - no pushing the singles beds together here!! In fact if you go to their site sabadivers.com and click on the Hotel Scout’s Place tab on the right of the page, scroll down to the rooms
• Picture 1 is the view from the balcony looking in to the room we had.
• Picture 2 was above and behind our room, so not too far to walk.
• Picture 3 is the view of the bed (prior to me breaking one of the base slats and having to report it for repair).
This was primarily a diving and visiting relatives’ holiday, we arrived during the Carnival celebration, catching the tail end of the procession which included the Scouts Place & Saba Divers float and team. The evening celebrations then followed with plenty of “Wine, Women and Song” All the dive instructors from the different dive centres were united in wearing the Sea Slave Labour T-shirts, showing great companionship, even though they are essentially competing for the same business, at the end of the day it is a small island and everybody one day needs somebody.
We stayed 13 nights @124 USD a night for bed & breakfast and we had the option of upgrading the breakfast for an additional small sum from the menu. The lunch menu was extensive but not as impressive as the Dinner menu. You could eat inside the dining area or outside on the veranda overlooking the village and ocean with Mt. Scenery overlooking you, an absolutely amazing viewpoint. And don’t forget you get 10% discount on all your restaurant meals as a Scouts Place customer.
I had 9 dives costing 387 USD which included the equipment, Marine Park, Hyper baric fees and transport to and from the harbour. My Nitrox level 1 & 2 courses were 185 USD inc. book & slate materials and there is no extra charge for using Nirtox 32% mix compared to the usual 21% compressed air ratio.
Whilst there we used the laundry service twice at a cost of 50 USD, but there was a lot of washing. I would drop it off before we left for diving in the morning and it would be in our room again by that afternoon all neatly folded, which is an excellent service.
We climbed Mt Scenery, setting out at 06.00 at dawn, whilst it was still cool, wearing the appropriate hiking footwear and carrying 1.5 litre bottles of water each. It is only a short walk from Scouts to the start of the Mount Scenery Steps trail (click on to the Scouts Trekking tab for more details) the first few hundred steps are concrete, by which time we were already knackered – wish we got the taxi to the Rendez-Vous.
Then the concrete steps changed altogether to smaller steps, they were cut at angles backwards and to the side of the drop, very slippery and damn right dangerous. There are several (3) stopping rest points along the way, but I can assure you, that you will be stopping a lot more than that on the way up.
Eventually you get to a sign post pointing the scenic view to the left, where the steps are now wooden trunks filled with mud, as you walk through the “Haunted Trees” and the clouds (in our case) it gives a eerie spooky feeling, so don’t forget your camera, unless you dropped it earlier on a slippery step before hand. There is at one point quite a high step, be extremely careful, you’ll understand when you look around you. As you approach the end, you have to walk through a large “boulder cave” filled with mud, use the large leaves around you, so you can walk through, unfortunately we were unable to as the mud was far too deep and had to turn back.
On our return, we passed a couple with serious walking hiking sticks and sandals and a young couple with a baby strapped to his chest, we advised them what lay ahead but didn’t rate the young family’s chances of getting much farther. We stopped off at Ecolodge / Rendez-Vous and had a look around, wow, so glad we didn’t stay there, if you like it basic well done but it’s not for us BUT we have been told their restaurant is one of the best on the Island. I suppose it has to be if you’re going to climb a few hundred steps each way to get there, unless you cheat and get the Taxi and then you have a little walk along a track to get there.
It transpires we were only about 30 feet from the end, but with all the cloud we would not have seen anything anyway! But if you turn right at the sign post you walk downwards for a while before you start climbing again and approach the top from a different point, but we understand this route is a lot easier than the one we attempted. If you go to the Saba Tourist Bureau sabatourism.com afterwards and tell them that you have climbed Mount Scenery, they will give you a Certificate of Achievement, which after 1064 steps, 2877 feet or 877 metres each way , you kind of expect more than a bit of paper to say you have done it.
The team at Scouts and Saba Divers are very friendly:
• Wolfgang and Barbara are the owners and Sabaoke King & Queen.
• Bettina, Mel and Jen are based in the office.
• All the Kitchen / Restaurant / Bar / Hotel staff, too many names to single a few out.
• Dive instructors Bob, Marie, Gersh, Joachim and Nina.
Some of the people we met are worthy of a special mention too, namely, Emilie and Vic from My Kitchen who we met several times during our stay whilst drinking and / or diving, but not at the same time you’ll understand, otherwise you get sea water in your beer if you do that!
We ate mainly at Scouts Place Hotel, but did venture into Swinging Doors for a BBQ, My Kitchen for a birthday celebration and Brigadoon for a farewell meal. All meals were reasonably priced and at no time did the total bill per head exceed 50 USD and that is with starter, main, dessert and plenty of alcohol to top it all off with.
We looked at several hotels prior to choosing Scouts Place (and visited them once we were there, to see if we made the right choice) for example:
• El Momo Cottages, nice if you like your room as garden shed and 60 odd steps to get there BUT stunning views.
• The Cottage Club, even better than the web site leads you to believe.
• Ecolodge / Rendez-Vous, so glad we didn’t choose that, it’s just not us.
• Willard’s, absolutely stunning but well out of price range.
• Queen’s Garden Resort, again absolutely stunning and also out of our price range.
We caught the 07.00 Dawn 2 ferry on Saturday 11th August 2007 for the 2 hour journey back to St. Martin (50 USD each). If you suffer from sea sickness – avoid like the plague, though they are thoughtful and bring round sick bags if required.
Would I recommend Scouts Place and Saba Divers? You bet! It’s just the expense of the flights that is off putting, it just means you have to stay at least 10 nights and not 7! And remember if you see a mosquito, you haven’t as they don’t have them over there or so they say (so remember you repellent).
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Scout's Place Hotel is your all-in-one-resort on Saba. A cozy Caribbean Inn with a local bar, excellent restaurant and an award winning dive center round off the picture. Our friendly staff can organize all your activities on Saba and provide you with the informations you need to spend a great time hiking, diving or just relaxing on our lovely island. We are committed to make your stay unforgettable and fun. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Scout's Place Hotel Saba/Windwardside