As part of Travel Agent's ongoing coverage of the Caribbean Tourism Organization's State of the Industry Conference (SOTIC) 2015 in Curacao, we sat in on a press conference by Andre Rojer, the Curacao Tourist Board's marketing manager for North America, and learned what's hot in the destination. Here's what you need to know.
New Cruise Pier in Progress
The island recently announced plans to build a $40 million cruise pier, the Tula Pier, to keep up with the increasing cruise traffic to the area. This will be the island's second pier. The new Tula Pier will be located in the Otrabanda area, west of St. Anna Bay, and construction is slated to begin on November 1.
New Shopping Center
Curacao recently opened a new shopping center located between Willemstad and Curacao International Airport. The upscale shopping center, Sambil Curacao, was built this May. The new shopping center, designed in a fish-shape, encompasses more than 100,000 square feet and features 180 establishments, including 156 shops, eight movie theaters, four restaurants and a food court offering a variety of local and international cuisines.
American Airlines will launch new weekly service from Charlotte to Curacao International beginning December 19. Flights will run every Saturday, and tickets are available for purchase.
Rojer also noted that JetBlue Airways will be expanding its service from New York's John F. Kennedy international Airport. JetBlue currently flies twice a week from New York on Tuesdays and Saturdays. JetBlue remains the only airline to offer non-stop flights from New York to Curacao. Flights operate twice weekly, on Tuesdays and Saturdays, between New York’s JFK International Airport and Curacao’s Hato International Airport. Canadians can also now travel direct to Curacao from Toronto with Air Canada.
Marriott International has announced plans to open the first Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Willemstad. The hotel, set to open in 2017, will feature 177 rooms and will be located just a few blocks from the existing cruise ship terminal.
The Bayside Boutique Hotel recently opened its doors to the public. The property features 36 luxurious rooms and a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant, "Pictures." Guests of the hotel can also enjoy free use of the 18-hole golf course, a challenging and exciting course for players of all levels, as well as a swimming pool, several tennis courts, a dive center, beach shop and children’s playground.
City Suites Curacao will open in November. City Suites Curacao is a new 43-room boutique hotel that will be located in the heart of the flourishing Pietermaai District.
One of the island’s boutique hotels, Scuba Lodge & Ocean Suites, recently finished restoring its Merchant Villa, with the addition of nine rooms. The property features a Caribbean-inspired restaurant, a PADI dive center, and is conveniently located in one of Curacao’s most lively and up-and-coming areas, Pietermaai Smal.
Floris Suite Hotel, the island’s well-known LGBT-friendly and adults-only boutique hotel, unveiled a new 1,500 square foot spa. The spa offers guests a large steam room, dry sauna, treatment facilities, rain showers, and more. Later this year, the property also has plans to build a new gym facility.
Papagayo Beach Resort refurbished its 75 villas with the help of several renowned designers. The spacious two and three-bedroom villas now sport a trendy look and feel, with refreshed open kitchen layouts and wood floors. Additional renovations will continue into 2016, with updates to the Royal Suites, lobby, pool area, and restaurant. Visit www.papagayo-beach.com.
Considered one of the island’s premier luxury resorts, Baoase, has plans to open a health club in the coming months to compliment its existing amenities. The resort will also build dressing rooms and restrooms for its private beach, which is ideal for visitors utilizing the resort’s exclusive day pass. Earlier this year, the property continued its expansion plans with the addition of eight luxurious suites, each featuring outdoor showers and private pools.
The Avila Hotel, the oldest operational hotel in Curacao, renovated its popular Blues Bar & Restaurant, which features live jazz music on Thursdays. Refurbishments included new stools, tables, chairs, countertops, and accent lighting.
Hilton Curacao recently began a new phase of renovations to its lobby, hotel bar, entrance signage, and gym facilities. All renovations will reflect a more contemporary look and feel.