It was one of the weirdest replies I’d ever seen on a rather simple Instagram post. Showing Curaçao a little midweek love not so long ago, I mentioned in the caption that there was a lot of buzz for this Dutch Caribbean paradise. I wasn’t lying, having received far more email interest in the C of the ABC Islands in recent weeks, as if there was some sort of major news story I’d been missing.
But this comment stood out: “Why now?”
At first it rubbed me the wrong way. What an unusually blunt thing to ask about such a beautiful place. And it lingered in my mind as I rescheduled (and rescheduled… and rescheduled again) my own trip to Curaçao. “Who wouldn’t be excited about visiting,” I asked myself almost daily, more rattled by this one comment than so many others in years of working in social media. But then, as I finally prepared to make my long-delayed visit, a good friend explained it to me: “We don’t want anyone to know about Curaçao.”
There are very few “best-kept secrets” remaining in the Caribbean, but Curaçao is still one of them. Few destinations in this region offer the total package when it comes to sun, fun, beaches, wonderful people, rich culture, amazing food, and outstanding resorts, yet this one checks every box. And when it comes to that last one, there might not be any property more outstanding than Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort.
Allow this Resort to Reintroduce Itself
Over the last two years, a lot of hotels and resorts around the world have put milestone events on pause. Grand openings, anniversaries, renovations, new restaurants and amenities—there was plenty to celebrate, but there were few, if any, festivities. Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort should have cut a giant ribbon at the end of 2019, but things changed. Plans changed. The entire world changed.
In the big picture, everyone at this property knows what truly matters. But still, when guests lay eyes on the changes that have been made at this bigger, better, more beautiful resort, it’s understandable why the staff has such an indescribable energetic and enthusiastic desire to point out every last detail, from the minimalistic-yet-beautiful décor of the rooms to the new offerings at the Salty Iguana.
More than $40 million was invested in this rejuvenation, increasing the accommodations to 328 rooms and eight suites, which have been overhauled with subtle tropical tones that are ideally soothing for those moments when guests need a break in between touring the city and exploring the oceanside caves. New, absurdly good dining options have been added, and perhaps the cherry on top—something that we don’t often consider because we’re so vacation-focused—is the multipurpose space that can be used for larger events, like the best company retreat a boss could ever plan. Two ballrooms offer a combined 8,000-sq. ft., while the botanical garden and oceanfront areas provide one of the most romantic settings in the Caribbean. “Find a resort that can do both,” we often joke, but this time we truly found it.
Of course, when it comes to brand names, few are more universally recognizable than Marriott. Consistency, comfort, and quality are terms that come to mind—and those are great things, obviously—but what makes this property so unique is that it breaks from the norm and creatively uses the best elements of Curaçao to enhance the vacation experience. Guests will marvel at the Dutch architecture in the sprawling open-air lobby, before taking the mandatory selfies with the large Chichi doll to the side of the entrance. They’ll enjoy fascinatingly curious spins on local cuisine at Zala while being distracted by the bevy of handcrafted light fixtures.
With all that has been invested into this effort, both financially and creatively, Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort is not a typical Caribbean property. It is now the bar, the standard bearer, and we have barely scratched the surface.
Bring a Generous Appetite
Curaçao’s food scene is a story in and of itself, as entire vacations can be focused on the island’s culinary delights, and one week wouldn’t even be enough to cover the exploding scene here. So, that creates quite the dilemma for resorts. Obviously, the management wants guests to explore the island, fall in love, and come back again and again. But when it comes to food and drink, a property needs to provide on-site dining that is as memorable as that first, second, and third visit to the BBQ Express Caracasbaai truk’i pan.
With the two new offerings of Zala Gastro Bar and çspice, Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort has cemented itself as a must-visit location on any island food tour map. Zala especially stands out with its next-level bar food and the wildly fun cocktails, so much so that vans packed with guests from other resorts are constantly pulling through the dropoff area. But only guests staying here will truly enjoy the spoils, as breakfast at çspice is one of the best ways to start the day, while dinner is an event unto itself.
A recurring theme within Curaçao’s culinary community is the desire to keep improving, and that’s certainly the case at çspice. What sets it apart is the pride the staff has in showcasing the combination of their own talent and the island’s rich flavors. The menu as it stands blows most resort restaurants away, but there is a special craft cocktail menu in the works and more dishes being conceived by the minute, or at least that’s what I selfishly hope.
And It’s Easy to Walk It Off
Great resorts aim to make it so that guests never want to leave, but on an island like Curaçao that would rob everyone of myriad amazing experiences. Fortunately, Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort uses location to its advantage and assists guests in getting the best of the destination. Not a minute should be wasted here, and the concierge and on-site Curaçao Activities reps make it so simple to get to the heart of the action.
A five-minute van ride will drop guests at the iconic Curaçao letters in the heart of Willemstad for selfies galore, before they can wander in almost any direction to tour the city’s incredible street art scene. Before they know it, visitors will reach the floating bridge and have their choice of any of the city’s marvelous restaurants—but the trip won’t be complete without authentic keshi yena, and that makes Gouverneur de Rouville a perfect choice.
From the Chobolobo Liquor Factory to any of the island’s plantations, museums, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, there is no shortage of activities and adventures on Curaçao, so each day’s itinerary can and should be loaded. The urge to relax by either of the resort’s two pools will be strong, but it’s also a fitting reward for all the time spent enjoying every square inch of this magnificent destination.
So, consider this really bad news for everyone who has been keeping Curaçao a secret from the rest of the world. I am letting the cat out of the bag. I am shouting it from the mountain tops and sending Morse code to every corner of the Earth. And then, when I am done, I will grab a chair at the Salty Iguana and order another caipirinha, because I have a feeling this spectacular resort is about to be really crowded.