Looking for a Caribbean island where LGBT clients will not only feel welcomed, but will be treated like royalty? Curacao, along with the tiny island of Saba, seem to have the LGBT market cornered in the Caribbean. But for the traveler looking for the mainstream of the two, Travel Agent suggests Curacao and breaks down some of the reasons why — including the destination’s hottest hotel offerings for members of the LGBT community and other travelers, as well as some big cruise news making a splash.
Hot Hotel News
Avila Beach Hotel Completes Renovation: Avila Beach Hotel, the oldest operational hotel in Curacao, recently completed a $600,000 renovation to its Ocean Front Blues Wing. The rooms have been fully upgraded with contemporary decor, new beds, soundproof walls, modern bathroom and balcony furniture.
Additionally, the beachfront property, which is within walking distance from Willemstad and was featured in this year’s iconic Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, replaced the roof on its Sea Terrace Patio and Belle Terrace restaurant.
To celebrate Curacao’s appearance in the aforementioned publication, Avila provides guests with an opportunity to re-create the experience that the models enjoyed on island with Avila’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit-themed “Strike a Pose and Get Spoiled” package which includes a three-night /four-day stay in Avila’s Octagon Deluxe Room where the models stayed; a one-hour Rolls-Royce drive, including a one-hour photo shoot by Claudia Sanches from Wow Weddings; as well as makeup and hair on location by hair and beauty experts from Cherie, a $100 food and beverage credit at Avila’s Blues Bar & Restaurant, a couples massage at the Santai Spa and a private boat excursion.
Kontiki Acquires Cabana Beach: Kontiki Beach Resort recently acquired Cabana Beach, the trendy neighboring beach club that has chic day beds, scenic water views, free Wi-Fi and lounge chairs shaded by breezy palapas. Just steps away from the private beach is the club’s restaurant and bar, open from noon to 10 p.m. daily, for beachgoers to have lunch, dinner and small bites.
The new addition of Cabana Beach marks Kontiki Beach Resort’s second beach club on the island. The resort also recently opened MOOD Beach, the adjoining bohemian-inspired beachfront property.
Lions Dive Unveils Renovated Rooms: The Lions Dive Beach Resort Curacao recently unveiled the remainder of its renovated apartments and suites, including 24 Lions Apartments, four One-Bedroom Lions Suites and the Penthouse. To give the guestrooms a fresh island-inspired appearance, the dark colonial furniture and cabinetry have been replaced with lighter pieces, evoking a more modern look and feel to match the rooms’ ocean views.
Top LGBT-Friendly Hotels in Curacao
While just about every hotel located on Curacao is welcoming to the LGBT client, Travel Agent decided to highlight the three best in this regard, in no particular order, according to Caribbean specialists we have spoken to.
Floris Suite Hotel – Spa & Beach Club: This hotel is often cited by travel advisors as being one of the most LGBT-welcoming hotels in not just Curacao, but the Caribbean in general. In fact, we were told roughly 50 percent of the hotel’s guests are members of the LGBT community. This 72-suite hotel belongs to the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) and is also the site of the annual Curacao Pride festival celebrating the Caribbean LGBT community. General Manager Frank Holtslag is also the president of Curacao Gay Pro, which works to organize LGBT events on the island.
Floris, which renovated its rooms just two years ago, has a spa with a steam room and a sauna, modern fitness equipment, a private pool in the courtyard, and is one of the only hotels on island that caters strictly to guests 18 and older. The restaurants and bars at the Floris have authentic style and ambiance, with creative cuisine and extensive wine and cocktail selections.
Another great feature for your LGBT clients is the hotel concierge’s “Out and About” list, which details LGBT-friendly activities throughout the island. Floris also recently unveiled its new Spazio Suite, set on an elevated platform right on Moomba Beach. The chic, 650-square-foot accommodation affords unobstructed views of the Caribbean Sea and comes with butler service, fully stocked bar and refrigerator, a smart TV, Bose sound system and customized iPad.
The hotel also recently upgraded its suites with a new paint scheme and sleeker design to make them more suitable for business travelers.
Floris, which is only a short drive from downtown Willemstad and Hato International Airport, has free Wi-Fi, affordable rates for meeting spaces, and spacious apartment-style accommodations with living rooms and fully equipped kitchens that are well suited for extended business trips.
Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort Curacao is an LGBT-welcoming property that has 350 rooms.
Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort Curacao: This IGLTA-member hotel, which up until a few years ago was a Hyatt Regency Resort, should appeal to LGBT travelers looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Willemstad and relax on the serene eastern side of the island. The 350-room property also has one of the best spas, Abatei, on island. All spa suites include a personal vanity, rain shower and outdoor relaxation patio. LGBT clients may also stretch out and kick back at the co-ed relaxation lounge where the hotel provides complimentary refreshments and light snacks.
Sonesta Kura Hulanda Village & Spa: This is another of the many island hotels that belong to IGLTA. It’s centrally located on island, within walking distance to the Queen Emma Bridge and downtown Willemstad, shopping, restaurants and nightlife. Spread over an eight-block area, the 4.5-star resort village includes two pools, multiple restaurants and bars, shops, a world-acclaimed anthropological museum, spa, courtyards and gardens. No two of the rooms are alike and many have unique architectural elements that may appeal to the LGBT traveler, especially the art enthusiast.
On November 13, Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas became the first ship to moor at Curacao’s new mega pier, Tula. After the groundbreaking ceremony that took place last February,
the construction of the second pier started full speed ahead. Now, that the pier is ready to receive the scheduled cruise ships for this season, the Curacao Ports Authority (CPA) will continue with the logistics and beautification of the surroundings. This includes additional dolphins (spars) at the Tula pier, which will make it possible to moor the largest vessels on the market. The CPA is organizing a grand opening of the Tula pier for early 2018.
The Adventure of the Seas was the first ship to moor at Curacao’s new mega pier, Tula.
The Tula Mega pier not only expands the capacity to receive more cruise ships, but the island can now also moor some of the largest such vessels on the market. Curacao is currently receiving roughly 600,000 cruise visitors per year. With the addition of the second mega pier, the CPA is aiming to accommodate about one million passengers yearly.