During a well-attended festive reception in the afternoon hours, Saba Island Governor Jonathan Johnson performed the opening by cutting a ribbon which was held by the hotel owners. Johnson, on behalf of the Public Entity Saba, wished the owners of Juliana’s much success with this new venture and many happy guests.
“The road to this opening, after nearly 21 years has not been an easy one but with the perseverance and perceptive vision of the current owners Wim and Johanna, I am delighted to officially open the Captains’ Suites which will form part of Juliana’s Hotel. I am happy to know that part of Saba’s history is being restored and engaged under the auspices of these new captains’ suites,” said Johnson in his short address before the ribbon cutting. He said that the addition of four new suites was a welcome addition to “our attractive piece of paradise.”
Commissioner Zagers said in a reaction that the opening of the Captains’ Suites was a very positive development for Saba. “Adding four more high-end rooms will further boost our tourism product. In addition to this, the restoration project was one that has brought back what was once a well-known hotel back to its glory days,” said Zagers.
“This is a big step for us,” said Wim Schutten, thanking the island government for its support in the process of the transfer of the property. “The fact that we are expanding shows that there is a need for more rooms. This is a big improvement for Juliana’s and for Saba’s tourism in general,” said Johanna Schutten.
The four additional suits bring up the total capacity of Juliana’s Hotel up to 18. Construction of the suites started in March this year and was mostly done by locals. The hotel owners made special mention of Leon Hassell, who worked on the original Captain’s Quarters building, and did a lot of work to help build the new suites.
A special element in the suites is the photo book titled the Captains’ Log, produced for the suites by Malachy Multimedia with content from local historian Will Johnson. The book contains historic information and photos on four Saban captains: Capt. William Benjamin “Ben” Hassell, Capt. Thomas Charles Vanterpool, Capt. Ernest Alfred Johnson and Commodore Thomas Simmons. Each suite has the name of one of these captains. The paintings in the suites were made by artist Heleen Cornet, while the throw pillows and throw blankets were made by artist Anna Keene using Japanese Shibori and dyed with local indigo.
Thursday’s opening of the four new suites was not the only joyous occasion at Juliana’s as The Studio, run by artist Anna Keene, was also opened. This, said Island Governor Johnson, “attests to the forward- thinking vision of Wim and Johanna.”
The modern, light studio, created in a large room in the back of the hotel that formerly housed a hair salon and a general store, will offer a wide range of arts and crafts, from weaving and Shibori Japanese tie dye to jewelry making and painting. The Sunday workshops, previously held at Tropics Café, will now take place at the new studio. Tourists may also make use of the studio at other times. Art supplies will be also be for sale.
Juliana’s resident artist Keene could not have been happier with her workspace. “When I retired four years ago, I planned to be an artist on Saba. This has been my dream in the past 10 years: retire on Saba and make art. And the fact that I can now help others to make art is fantastic,” she said.
The area of Juliana’s Hotel will be further upgraded once the Captain’s House has been rebuilt. Owner Carla Nardi, who attended Thursday’s reception, said that reconstruction of the old house will start shortly. It will be an exact replica of the former two-story house with a shingle roof and outside paneling also made of old-style shingles.
“Mr. Will Johnson has provided me with many photos of the old house,” said Nardi. There will be two large bedrooms upstairs. The patio, which once housed the restaurant, will be restored as well. Nardi said she would not run it as a small boutique hotel. “Maybe it will become part of Juliana’s Hotel or possibly rented out as a village.” Nardi bought the property several years ago. “It is a very special, historic place.”
Published in: Antilliaans Dagblad, Reporter BES, and The Daily Herald
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