Mountain Getaway In The Tropics

Ecolodge Collage
Day In The Life: Saba’s Ecolodge

Saba Profile: Rainforest Ecolodge Rendezvous-vous

“No living organism can be said to exist under conditions of absolute reality. Even larks and katydids are supposed by some to dream.”
Shirley Jackson’s immortal quote opens a classic horror story, but après pro of today’s go go go world, I often have the conversations with friends about how much we’ve migrated from human beings to human doings; at least in the US, in my humble opinion. We work our hours and chat with colleagues about getting away from it all, and plan with our families months or years ahead, and when the time comes at last, we revel in the vacation…a week…maybe two…then it’s back to the proverbial grind in a blink, a blip on a hungry soul.

Ecolodge's Michael, Bernt, and Elizabeth
Ecolodge’s Michael, Bernt, and Elizabeth

Today’s local Saba profile and pictures are the Ecolodge, a charming mountain retreat a hundred or so stone steps up Mt Scenery, immersed in the tropical forest above Windwardside (but notably, not visible from the village). Proprietor Bernt Groenendijk (shown in the collage with his two children Dylan and Alexis) got the idea from his father Tom van’t Hof, a noted ecologist/naturalist who still gives Wednesday night presentations at the Ecolodge Rainforest Restaurant about the unique ecosystems and ever changing forces of nature on Saba, particularly its cloud forest on Mt Scenery. Tom had seen other ecolodges in his travels but didn’t want to focus on the hotel business. Bernt was in culinary school in Holland at the time, and had traveled to Saba in the 90’s on a couple occasions; eventually he came to the island to start the hotel, they began building in 1998, opening in 2002. The Ecolodge is a group of cottages built up a sloping plot of land that had been used as farming for centuries by the local Sabians before falling into disuse. The herb garden I tilled the other day was up at Ecolodge, and the volcanic stones around are intact the way they were a century or more ago. Bernt and his team of Michael, Elizabeth, and Johnny (not shown here) also happen to be crack chefs, and the Rainforest Restaurant is celebrated island wide for its excellent meals, including Bernt’s Curry Shrimp. I regularly wake up at 0-dark-30 and hike up through the lush tropical forest at the base of Mt Scenery to have breakfast there as well. The locals who live and work on the island work hard to be here, and Ecolodge is no exception. Getting water and supplies and keeping logistics smooth while making guests feel welcome in this relatively remote location is a non-trivial exercise for the four Ecolodge employees, but they do it with panache.

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