How another boat baby ended up living the island dream...

How another boat baby ended up living the island dream...

March 02, 2017

Johanna van't Hof was born on the tiny island of Bonaire, and lived onboard the family sail boat for several years before they settled on the island of Saba when she was 8 years old.  I love this grainy old black & white photo of Johanna & her brother on the bow of the boat.
She grew up on Saba until high school, when she left to do her high school education in Florida and from there off to study at university in her parents homeland of Holland, but the islands were already flowing in her blood.  She met her husband Wim, at university and the two were bound to end up back in the islands.  
Wim also had an unconventional upbringing, having been born in Holland, grew up in California, high school in France, and then to university back in Holland.  As soon as the two graduated they moved straight back to Saba.  Saba is one of my most favorite islands, unconventional itself, as there is no typical Caribbean white sandy beach, however the views, rainforests, hiking and diving are the most incredible in the island chain.  Look at how stunning it looks from the air.
The pair got the amazing opportunity to purchase Juliana's Hotel and Tropics Cafe in January 2003, and they have been loving life ever since!
Now this is the cutest hotel on the island, all the rooms are built in traditional old Caribbean cottages.  Click here to visit their website.
It is a small intimate boutique hotel with only 14 rooms, offering incredible ocean views.  Then there are 3 adorable two bedroom cottages that are perfect for families.  How stunning is this room with its traditional West Indian mahogany 4 poster bed - and look at that hammock on the terrace with the most amazing view.  
These guys are very passionate about their business, constantly upgrading the hotel, and the attached Tropics Cafe. They're hands on owners, serving breakfast to their guests daily, so that they can get to know them all and take care of any questions they might have before they start their day of island exploring or diving.
Happy Hours at their outdoor Tipsy Goat Bar are island famous!  Here is Wim making some gorgeous looking cocktails.... YUM !
The island of Saba is not like the famous cruise-ship style islands of the Caribbean.  It's quiet and peaceful and traffic on the island is more likely to be goats than cars.  So shopping on the island when I was last there, consisted of dive shops and some ladies making traditional Saba lace in their homes.   Click here to read more about traditional Saba lace work.  Obviously everyone wants to take home from such a unique island so Johanna started a small gift shop with logo-ed t shirts, tank tops, koozies etc.  The basics sold well, so the next step was to give up their garage for a new front office with extra space for more gifts.
Johanna says "we came across West Indies Wear.  We love the material, colors and the island theme fits very well with our "keeping it island and happy" concept. We're very happy with West Indies Wear and our guests love it as well."  How cute do their employee's look in our clothing too!

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