Not located near a beach (though shuttle available to beachfront sister property)
Some rooms lack windows and are dark
Some areas could use freshening up
This 82-room upscale resort is more than hotel – it is an entire restored 18th-century village, complete with cobblestone alleyways and courtyards peppered with sculptures. The beautiful European and colonial architecture allows guests to feel like they've stepped back in time. It’s conveniently located in downtown Willemstad, an area with lots of dining and shopping that also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The hotel offers two lovely pools, two restaurants, a spa and an excellent museum. Art lovers, culture hounds, and history buffs will appreciate this property, though note that no beach is on the premises or even close by; for that, consider the similarly priced Kura Hulanda Lodge & Beach Club.
A restored 18th-century Dutch colonial village that feels like a living piece of history
Kura Hulanda is not just a hotel, or a resort, but an entire village. The 65 refurbished buildings over eight blocks that make up the village are from the 18th and 19th centuries, crafted in the Dutch colonial style that Curacao’s capital of Willemstad has come to be known for. In fact, the entire downtown area, including the hotel, was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996. The charming village that comprises the hotel is reminiscent of a small town in the south of France, with many cobblestone streets and courtyards containing fountains, peppered with stone sculptures and other works of art. The words “Kura Hulanda” in Papiamentu, which is Curacao's native tongue, mean Dutch courtyard.
One of the highlights of the property is the popular Kura Hulanda Museum and sculpture garden, which tell the powerful story of the African slave trade and the history of Curacao, and also highlight local artists and sculptors. But in actuality, the whole hotel is a museum and sculpture garden in and of itself. There are sculptures everywhere -- lining the courtyards and alleyways, and in every nook and cranny. The property is well-suited to guests seeking local art, history, and culture.
The restoration began in the late '90s with the museum, and then continued to the rest of the property where 82 rooms and suites now occupy the historic buildings. The buildings, painted in fresh colors of yellow and terra cotta, are arranged along cobblestone alleyways with arches and ironwork lanterns, which add to the feeling of being lost in time. The lobby of the hotel features antique furniture, including classic gold-leaf covered pieces, marble sculptures, and vases.
The overall style of the hotel blends the classic and historic with modern touches, such as flat-screen TVs and jetted tubs. The hotel sees many international and local business travelers -- in fact, more than half of the guests are business travelers, on average. There are board rooms and other business facilities available. The atmosphere of the hotel is definitely polished and European in aesthetic, but with a mix of Caribbean elements and that relaxed island feel.
In Otrobanda, an area of Willemstad that's full of dining and shopping, but not near a beach
The Sonesta Kura Hulanda Village & Spa is located in a neighborhood of Willemstad known as Otrobanda, which literally translates to “other side.” This refers to the other side of St. Anna Bay, as this neighborhood sits across the harbor from the popular downtown area known as Punda. The two sides of town are connected by the picturesque Queen Emma bridge. It is just a few minutes’ walk from the hotel to reach the bridge or to get to Punda. There is lots of shopping, dining, historical sites, and markets within walking distance of the hotel. For example, the 18th-century Rif Fort, which has now been transformed into a shopping and dining center, is just a five-minute walk away.
The large property is on the southwest side of the island, part of the UNESCO World Heritage designated capital of Curacao. The main drawback is that it is not located near any beach. Guests can get a rental car or taxi to access the sand, or they can utilize the free shuttle offered by the hotel, which goes to its sister property on the north side of the island, about 45 minutes away. It’s about a 15-minute ride from the hotel to reach the airport.
Rooms are uniquely decorated with antique furniture, but some are dark and could use updates.
The hotel offers 68 rooms and 14 suites. The rooms combine contemporary amenities, such as modern bedding and flat-screen TVs, with antique furniture and ornate, colonial-style details. All rooms have clock radios or CD players, mini-fridges, and coffee and tea facilities. Bright, marble bathrooms feature elaborately designed mirrors with frosted leaf details. Antique pottery from China is seen throughout the hotel. Most rooms have an outdoor patio or deck area with seating. Although, while the attention to history and colonial style makes the hotel feel unique and thoughtful, not all parts of the hotel are fully updated to today’s luxury standards, and some of the furniture and fabrics could be freshened up. Also, some rooms don’t have windows and are quite dark.
Some of the specialty rooms at the Kura Hulanda have notable extras. For example, the extravagant Bridal Suite is fit for royalty, with its marble floors, elaborate carved metal furniture, and blue velvet thrones. Yes, thrones -- complete with arms of the chair carved in the shape of lions. The Spa Loft suites have large living rooms as well as cozy bedroom on the second floor. The spacious, all-marble bathrooms in the suites have elegant claw-foot tubs as well as separate jetted tubs.
Two tranquil pools and two restaurants -- but the museum is the main attraction
A main feature of the hotel is the Museum Kura Hulanda, which occupies a restored mansion and former shipyard. The main exhibition follows the sad but important story of the European slave trade from Africa to the Caribbean. Other exhibits look at West African empires and other groups significant to the history and culture of Curacao. There is also an excellent sculpture garden featuring local artists and pieces that mix social commentary and history.
There are two pools within the hotel’s walls -- the first one, off of the main courtyard, is called the Eco Pool. It’s a tiered lagoon-style pool with a large waterfall on one side that guests can walk under. The Bolivar Pool is in a quiet courtyard dotted with sculptures and palm trees. Both pools are well shaded and have a good amount of lounge chairs and tables to relax around. There is a lovely spa on-site with a variety of treatments and a decent fitness center with Cybex equipment, though the machines appear to be a little old.
There are two restaurants on the property. Jacob’s Bar and Terrace in the main courtyard serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and has happy hour specials and live music in the evenings, a few times a week. The Museum Café sits in a lovely garden next to the museum entrance, serving coffee, lunch and snacks during the day. There are a conference center and several meeting rooms available. The meeting rooms follow the hotel’s classical style, featuring antique wood furniture, elaborate chandeliers, and Renaissance-inspired art. The hotel offers a shuttle to its sister property, the Kura Hulanda Lodge, which sits on a picturesque beach on the north side of the island.
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