Caribbean Digs for Netherlands Royalty: Inside the Queen’s Garden Resort
Photos by Will McGough
The Queen's Garden Resort is without question the premier lodging choice on the island of Saba, a special municipality of the Netherlands just 25 miles south of St. Maarten.
After all, this is the place that the King and Queen of the Netherlands stay when they visit. But from the moment you step through the door and meet the owners, Hidde and Claire, you feel like you're at a small boutique hotel or a bed and breakfast.
Come now as we take a walk through the property and reveal what you can expect from a stay at the Queen’s Garden.
Part of the reason it feels so much like you’re staying at a small inn is because, despite the label of a “resort,” you are. The property has only 12 rooms, and the proprietors are the ones actually running the place. They're working the front desk, cooking in the kitchen, training the staff, and, when they have a free moment, they're having a drink at the bar with guests. This ability to carve out time to mingle with guests is reflective of the over-arching, welcoming attitude you find on Saba. By the time you finish checking in, every employee will call you by name.
READ MORE: 5 Pristine Islands For the Nature Lover
But that is something you’ll feel over time. What doesn’t take long to understand is the aesthetic appeal of the property. Built into the side of a rainforest-covered mountain, it expands vertically down the hill from the check-in desk. Not only does this ensure that every room has a killer view, it creates a wonderful amphitheater-type feel for the resort. The first big moment for me was walking up to the railing and looking down on the resort grounds below me — the pool and the restaurant and the bar — and then looking past that and seeing the green valley continue down the hill towards the deep-blue ocean.
The Queen’s Garden has a total of twelve rooms decked out in West and East Indies decor. Of the dozen rooms, nine have an inside-outside, open-air Jacuzzi that looks out over the grounds and the valley/ocean view (only the three ground-floor standard deluxe suites lack a Jacuzzi). The Queen’s Suite, where the King and Queen of the Netherlands stay, has a second-story loft and 1,300 square feet of space. Although all rooms have a nature view of some sort, you definitely want to request a room on one of the upper floors to maximize the ambiance.
The restaurant at the Queen’s Garden is considered the best upscale dining on the island. That doesn’t mean you have to get dressed up — it just means your food will be. With luxuries like a live lobster tank on site, the French-Caribbean restaurant focuses on using as much island produce and fresh fish as possible. It’s also regarded as having one of the best and most extensive wine lists on Saba. If you go for lunch, don’t miss the romantic "birds nest" deck, built like a treehouse into the branches of the mango tree that dramatically drapes itself over the outdoor dining terrace.
One level below the restaurant is the Ocean Bar and Lounge. From here, you can order a specialty mojito or an international gin from their “Gin and Tonic Bar.” Whatever you get, you’ll want to sip it slow to enjoy the panoramic view that overlooks the capital city, The Bottom, as well as the valley and the ocean. You can sit at the square, open-air bar or in one of the soft lounge beds off to the side. If you’re looking for a night out, the Queen also recently opened a partner restaurant, Chez Bubba Bistro, on the other side of the island in Windwardside. It too specializes in French-Caribbean cuisine.
Spa and Activities
The big news of late for the Queen’s Garden is the opening of its spa, Frangipani, the first and only one on the island. The treatment center is its own building, propped up on the edge of the property to ensure a good vantage point. It can only accommodate one appointment at a time, which means that when you book a treatment, the entire spa is yours.
On the ground level, you have the balcony, steam room, and a dry sauna. Upstairs is the treatment room, capable of accommodating two massage tables (perfect for a couple’s massage). You can see the spa building in the photo, identified by its brown, wood exterior.
Proof of the Queen’s remote location in the rainforest-covered hills is that two major hiking trails have a starting point nearby. The Sandy Cruz Trail, considered one of the most beautiful on the island for its thick rainforest terrain — is a 10-minute walk up the hill, and the Bottom Mountain Trail, which takes you to the top of Mt. Scenery (the island’s highest point), is literally across the street from the Queen’s entrance. With several other hiking trails within eyesight from the property (Paris Hill, for example, is visible from the grounds), there’s plenty of opportunity to stretch your legs.
READ MORE: Saba: Get Lost in This Hidden Oasis
Saba’s biggest attraction though is its diving. It is best known for soft coral that survives due to a combination of favorable currents — think sea fan coral and other “waving” organisms on the ocean floor. A dramatic dropoff of the coastline means you don’t have to go far for good scuba diving. Most of the beginner scuba spots (40-60 feet) are just a few hundred yards from shore. You can book through the hotel or via an independent outfitter.
More by Will McGough
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