Plan your escape to the Dutch island of Curaçao, and prepare to be pampered.
Curaçao is the Island of 35 Beaches. The Dutch island also has a smattering of upscale beachfront properties that show off that turquoise-hued water to maximum impact. Whether you are looking to take a plunge in a shimmering pool or the sparkling sea, or if a spa day is more your thing, you’re sure to find blue bliss at these four resorts.
With a helicopter pad on the premises and signs discouraging photography to allow high profile guests the utmost in privacy, this ultra-exclusive resort is the island’s only five-star property. Only 23 luxe rooms, suites and Asian-inspired villas means service is personalized and impeccable, including beach butlers who tend to your every need. Non-hotel guests can purchase a beach pass for $50, which gives access to a beach lounger, towel, ice water and snacks, and free use of beach cots, hammocks, pillows, kayaks and snorkel gear. Cozy nooks allow for canoodling and private sunbathing. The resort’s Michelin-starred restaurant overlooks the water; our group grabbed a table with lunch, and quenched our thirst with some ice cold, lime bottles Amstel Bright, the brewer’s answer to Corona. You can do a four-course tasting menu, or order a la carte; standouts include the burrata mozzarella salad with grilled shrimp, pumpkin soup with ginger and horseradish and spicy yellow curry with roasted pak choi, shiitake mushrooms and jasmine rice. Guests also have the option of setting up a private dinner in a gazebo on the beach, or a beach picnic.
The island’s oldest operating hotel, this property is close to Willemstad’s historic Punda district, the trendy area of Pietermaai, and Mambo Beach BLVD, where you can shop, sunbathe or dine by the water. When I stayed here, we were waiting for Hurricane Matthew to skirt on by; luckily it turned out to be pretty much a non-event (Curaçao is one of three ABC islands that’s supposed to be out of the hurricane belt), and the setting was still gorgeous despite the overcast skies. Book a room, octagonal room, apartment or suite; my first floor room had a patio that opened up onto the pool, and overlooked the lagoon-like beach. Start the day with breakfast outside at Avila Café, followed by lunch at Belle Terrace. One of my favorite things to do was to grab a drink at the beach bar at sunset and take it to a beach chair in the sand. (Curaçao has a reverence for the Gin & Tonic that rival’s Spain’s, and Avila has four well thought out options; I preferred Bobby’s, with Fever Tree tonic, orange, cloves and grapefruit). Live music during happy hour adds to the chill vibe. Reserve a table timed with the sunset at Blues Bar & Restaurant, as the restaurant is out on a pier and has sweeping water views. Start with a Blue Margarita, then the BBQ ribs or grilled mahi mahi with mango papaya salsa. If a dip in the pool or lounging by the water isn’t quite relaxing enough during your stay, hit the full-service Santai Spa for a lava stone or herbal massage.
Detached villas at this trendy European-style resort lend a modern-meets-tropical feel. The fabulous, high-energy spot overlooks Jan Thiel Bay and plays host each year to the International Swim Fashion Week, but it’s buzzworthy any month of the year. You can select a two bedroom, two-bathroom villa, or a larger one that can accommodate up to eight guests. The on-site restaurant serves up haute cuisine including small plates like pata negra ham with roasted scallops, cauliflower mousseline and truffle tapenade, or mains like grilled lobster with truffle ravioli, zucchini, fresh truffle shavings, morels, beurre blanc. Hotel guests have access to the adjacent Papagayo Beach Club, an oceanfront hotspot with an infinity saltwater pool, lounge chairs and large bar. I didn’t stay at the hotel, but rented a lounge chair at the club for the day for around $13, an absolute steal to be part of the action on this trendy club. In between dips and watching the sand crabs scurry about on the rock wall by the sea, we sipped cocktails, listened to music and people-watched.
This adults-only boutique hotel is one of Curaçao’s most accepting, with the lobby transforming every Friday evening into the Rainbow Lounge, for members of the LGBT community to mix and mingle. Seventy-two contemporary suites overlook either the garden or the pool, and hotel guests have access to the private Moomba Beach Club located just a short walk away. The newly opened Water Club Curaçao features private spa treatment rooms, a 20-person steam room, dry sauna, rain shower, a relaxation area and a fitness facility. The international cuisine-inspired Sjalotte has an open-concept kitchen and a patio for al fresco dining; it’s the place to nosh on Vietnamese spring rolls, chicken saté or shrimp tacos. Hit up the pool bar for a tropical cocktail or glass of wine, then take a dip, or take the daily shuttle to explore the shops and cafés of downtown Willemstad. The hotel’s latest perk is the Spazio Suite, a 650-square foot suite that features a personal butler, fully stocked bar and refrigerator, smart TV, Bose sound system and customized iPad. Located on an elevated platform on Moomba Beach, it offers incredible unobstructed Caribbean Sea views.
Kelly Magyarics, DWS, is a wine, spirits and lifestyle writer, and wine educator, in the Washington area. She can be reached through her website, www.kellymagyarics.com, or on Twitter and Instagram @kmagyarics.