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Discovering CuracaoJuly 30, 2008 By: Michael Browne
The largest of the Netherlands Antilles’ ABC islands, Curacao has traditionally taken a back seat to little sister Aruba in the area of tourism (Bonaire is the “B”). Part of that is by design—Curacao has been careful not to place all of its eggs in one basket, and the island is home to a number of diverse industries, among them, banking and finance, and oil (a throwback to when Curacao was a virtual outpost of the Royal Dutch Shell company).
But tourism is a big part of the country’s economy, and continues to grow. For years the island—with its combination of a cosmopolitan European feel and beautiful beaches—has been a vacation hot spot for Europeans and many South Americans (it lies just 35 miles off the northwestern coast of Venezuela), but an increasing number of Americans are also discovering this Caribbean gem.
Hotel Kura Hulanda
Among resort properties, Marriott and Hilton have been in place for years, and Hyatt will be bringing the island its first five-star property next year (for more on this, see the upcoming August 18 issue of Travel Agent). In addition, there are any number of lesser-known but no less luxurious resorts on the island, notably the Hotel Kura Hulanda Spa & Casino smack dab in the middle of Willemstaad, where we were fortunate enough to stay during our recent visit.
Along with casinos, eclectic fine dining and active nightlife, Curacao offers first-rate beaches and excellent diving and snorkeling opportunities. While Aruba may have the honeymooners and spring breakers, Curacao offers a more exotic, cultural destination that more and more travelers are beginning to discover.
Stay tuned for more on our recent trip to this beautiful island.