As part of our “Caribbean - Open for Business” series, in which we profile the hottest selling points for Caribbean islands that were not scathed or majorly impacted by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria, Travel Agent explores the hottest new selling points from the LGBT-welcoming island of Curacao.
Curacao Launches New Mega Pier
The Adventure of the Seas was the first ship to moor on November 13 at the 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 at the Tula pier, which will make it possible to moor the largest vessels on the market. The CPA will organize a grand opening of the Tula pier at the beginning of 2018.
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 cruise 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.
One-on-One With Curacao Tourist Board's Andre Rojer
Offering New Yorkers a chance to warm up this winter, the Curacao Tourist Board recently partnered with JetBlue Vacations to bring city dwellers sun, sand and sea at a mobile beach oasis.
From now through December 18, New Yorkers are being encouraged to visit the truck, which is making stops in Midtown West, Union Square, the Financial District, Midtown East, Flatiron, SoHo and Bryant Park.
And Travel Agent took the tourist board up on its offer.
We sat down with Andre Rojer, the Curacao Tourist Board’s marketing manager for North America, and got the latest island news from details on the new mega pier to hot hotel news and more. Check out the video above.
Curacao's Hottest Hotel News
Avila Beach Hotel
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, and modern bathroom and balcony furniture.
Additionally, the beachfront property, which is 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 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2017, clients can re-create the experience that the models enjoyed on the 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 Beach Resort Acquires Cabana Beach
Kontiki Beach Resort recently acquired Cabana Beach, the trendy neighboring beach club featuring 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 enjoy lunch, dinner and small bites. The new addition of Cabana Beach marks Kontiki Beach Resort’s second beach club on the island. The resort recently opened MOOD Beach, the adjoining bohemian-inspired beachfront property.
Floris Suite Hotel – Spa and Beach Club Updates Guest Rooms
Floris Suite Hotel – Spa and Beach Club, an adults-only boutique hotel in Piscadera Bay, recently upgraded its suites with a new paint scheme and sleeker design to make them more suitable for business travelers.
The property, which is a short drive from downtown and Hato International Airport, offers free Wi-Fi, affordable rates for meeting spaces, and spacious apartment-style accommodations with living rooms and fully-equipped kitchens that are ideal for extended business trips. To celebrate the upgrades, visitors can take advantage of special introductory rates starting at $79 per night for travel now through August.
Lions Dive & Beach Resort Curaçao Unveils Renovated Guest Rooms
This month, Lions Dive & Beach Resort Curacao unveiled the remainder of its renovated apartments and suites, including 24 Lions Apartments, four One-Bedroom Lions Suites and the Penthouse. To give the guest rooms 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
The spa at Curacao’s Floris Suite Hotel – Spa & Beach Club has a relaxation area with access to the pool.
While just about every hotel located on Curacao is welcoming to the LGBT client, Travel Agent decided to highlight the three best, 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 LGBT members. This 72-suite hotel is a member of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) and 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 suite 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.
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. None of the rooms are alike and many have unique architectural elements that may appeal to the LGBT traveler, especially the art enthusiast.
Cool Hotel Pools in Curacao
Millennials looking to take a cool dip on an off-the-beaten path Caribbean island might want to check out the zero-entry pool at the LGBT-welcoming Papagayo Beach Hotel in Curacao.
The zero-entry pool on the sands of the affiliated Papagayo Beach Club is a popular spot for both locals and hotel guests. It has an infinity edge that creates a sort of optical illusion, seamlessly blending the colors of the pool and sea with similar blue hues.
A favorite among travelers, the infinity pool, which is continuously refreshed with natural saltwater from the Caribbean Sea, is said to give vacationers the feeling of being in the ocean without the crashing waves.
Surrounding the pool are three rows of white chaise lounges in pairs of two, ideal for couples or groups of friends who want to chill during their European-inspired escape. The chairs are set beneath gently swaying palms and cream-colored windsails, which provide ample shade from the sun. Beach chairs are available to the public for $10 each and are free for all hotel guests.
When basking in the sun calls for a bite to eat, Millennials can indulge in light beachside appetizers and snacks, including salads, sandwiches and pastas.
The experienced bartenders are also standing nearby to create specialty hand-shaken cocktails such as the Passion Fruit Lemonade, a signature drink that's not to be missed.
The hotel also hosts daily wine happy hours from 5 to 7 p.m. and live music on Friday nights. On Saturday, guests can enjoy burgers and brews, and on Sunday, the property takes it up a notch with fresh sushi rolls, sparking wine and a live DJ.
While the pool cannot be rented out for private parties, it's just steps from one of the island's most lively areas: Papagayo Plaza off Jan Thiel Beach.
Here, people have their pick of several restaurants, including Zest Mediterranean, Zanzibar Bar & Restaurant and Mojitos & Bites. The area, which comes alive on Friday and Saturday nights, also features several boutique shops, including Out of the Blue, a small jewelry store that sells local art and trinkets.
Baoase Luxury Resort
Millennials and other lifestyle-seeking clients heading to Curacao may want to cool down by taking a dip in the stylish main pool at Baoase Luxury Resort. The main pool here is roughly 1,000 square feet. This infinity saltwater pool has a Jacuzzi in the center.
The five Ocean Front Villas surrounding the main pool have direct access to the pool from their patio. The garden and view of the Caribbean Sea gives the pool a unique ambiance.
If clients would like to rent out the main pool for an event, they will have to buy out the entire resort, because it is public domain for resort guests.
The main pool also has a pool bar where people can sit, but there is no service there. The closest bar to the main pool is the restaurant bar, which is just a few steps away. This bar is open-air and fully equipped, next to the beach, and is a nice spot to start (or finish) your evening with a sparkling cocktail or your favorite drink.
Millennials who can’t decide if they want to take a refreshing dip in a pool or sunbathe on a beach during their Caribbean vacation can do both at the same time at the Renaissance Curacao.
The resort is home to the Infinity Beach Club, which has an elevated man-made beach, complete with natural ocean water, white sand, palm trees and sweeping ocean views.
By the pool, guests can also enjoy delicious Mediterranean-inspired cuisine along with refreshing cocktails while taking in a stunning tropical view. We were old the signature cocktail here is the "Infinity Margarita," made with tequila, Blue Curacao, Hpnotiq, pineapple juice and margarita mix.
Agents should note that the pool area can be rented out for private parties and events.
Located in the heart of historic Willemstad, Renaissance Curacao offers guests 237 rooms designed with a combination of contemporary Caribbean flavor and traditional European sophistication.
Photo courtesy of Sunrise Airways
Haiti-Based Sunrise Airways Adds Nonstop Flights to Curacao
Last month, Haiti-based Sunrise Airways announced the launch of new nonstop service between its hub at Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince (PAP) and Hato International Airport in Curacao (CUR). It began November 28.
Flights depart Port-au-Prince at 9:10 a.m. on Thursdays and Sundays and arrive in Curacao at 10:30 a.m. Return flights leave Curacao at 11:30 a.m. on Thursdays and Sundays and arrive back in Haiti at 12:50 p.m.
“Curacao has been on our wish list for route expansion since our start as a commercial airline in 2012,” said Philippe Bayard, president of Sunrise Airways, in a written release. “The route shows tremendous potential for growth on a point-to-point basis between Haiti and Curacao, while also opening up some very attractive connectivity options within our existing route structure. We’re proud and excited to spread our wings to the southern reaches of the West Indies in line with our 'One Caribbean' corporate philosophy.”
New Sunrise Airways flights between Haiti and Curacao aim to offer convenient one-stop connections with existing Sunrise service to/from Cuba and Orlando.
Sunrise Airways will deploy both its Boeing 737-800 and Airbus A320 aircraft along its new Curacao route. Both aircraft feature two classes of service – business and economy.
Maximum seating for the Boeing 737 is 168 passengers (18 seats in business class, 150 in economy), while the Airbus A320 can accommodate a total of 150 passengers (12 seats in business class, 138 in economy). Tickets are on sale now at special introductory fares for departures beginning November 28.