The New Jewel of Curaçao
A new jewel has debuted in the Caribbean. JAX FAX
had the pleasure of attending the Grand Opening celebrations of the newest Sandals resort… Sandals Royal Curaçao. Sandals Executive Chairman Adam Stewart presided over the opening festivities that were headlined by the Blue Man Group.
This is the 16th Sandals property and their first in the Dutch Caribbean. The resort is located in Curaçao’s southernmost region on the expansive, 3,000 acre, Santa Barbara estate. Formerly the Santa Barbara Resort, Sandals has reinvigorated the property with reimagined accommodations, landscaping and amenities while expanding the number of rooms and suites to 351. Accommodations range from the Melemele Walkout Suites to the Sunchi Beachfront Suites (meaning kiss).Locally inspired accommodations include entirely new room categories, such as the Kurason Island Poolside Butler Bungalows and Awa Seaside Butler Bungalows, which overlook private lagoons and the Curaçaon coast. Luxury amenities and furnishings range from hardwood floors to vaulted ceilings, custom crafted king-size beds, with Sandals’ Signature Butler Elite service, airport transfers and 24/7 room service for select suites. The top-level suites even include a complimentary convertible MINI Cooper to drive around the island, creating opportunities for guests to enjoy the rich Dutch/Caribbean culture of Curaçao.
Island Inclusive Dining Experience
To further enhance the local island experience, Sandals Royal Curaçao offers the brand’s first-ever off-site dining program, Island Inclusive, which expands its all-inclusive dining options to eight partner restaurants around the destination. Valid on seven-night minimum stays, the program is available exclusively to guests who are booked in Butler suites, as well as Sandals Select Rewards Members (Diamond, Pearl, Ambassadors Club), offering one $250 USD voucher to dine out at one of the eight partner restaurants. Off-site roundtrip transportation is included. The expertly curated restaurant selection varies from chic gastro-bars to international fusion restaurants to more classic establishments serving elegant cuisine paired with ocean views.
As with all Sandals, an expansive selection of restaurants and bars are on hand. Sandals Royal Curaçao boasts eleven culinary concepts, including eight restaurants – seven of which are new to the brand and only available at this resort, along with 13 bars. A sampling of all-new concepts include Aolos, home to an open-air Mediterranean dining experience; Vincent, an homage to the famous Dutch painter. A resort experience unique to Sandals Royal Curaçao are the three beachside gourmet food trucks providing a unique casual sea view experience.
For those looking for the ultimate swim up bar, at Sandals Royal Curaçao couples can swim and play under the sun at the brand’s first ever bi-level Dos Awa Infinity Pool, with views overlooking the clear Caribbean sea and the rugged mountain landscape beyond. There is nothing better than a swim-up bar with view!
A Bit about Curaçao
As the host country for this newest Sandals, Curaçao offers visitors a truly unique island experience. Curaçao was formerly part of the Curaçao and Dependencies colony from 1815 to 1954, the Netherlands Antilles from 1954 to 2010, and is now a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Curaçao is made up of two main islands, Curaçao with a population of about 155,000 people and uninhabited Klein (little) Curaçao.
Originally colonized by the Spanish in 1499, during 1634 the island was captured by Admiral Johann van Walbeeck and shortly after the city of Willemstad, with its natural harbor, was founded. The historic center of the city consists of four quarters: the Punda and Otrobanda, which are separated by the Sint Anna Bay, an inlet that leads into the large natural harbour called the Schottegat, as well as the Scharloo and Pietermaai Smal quarters, which are across from each other on the smaller Waaigat harbor. Willemstad is also home to the oldest continuously operated synagogue the Americas. The city center, with its unique architecture and harbor entry, has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Punda and Otrobanda districts are connected by two famous bridges, the Queen Emma Bridge, a pontoon swing bridge and the the Queen Juliana Bridge built in 1967.
The Queen Emma Bridge was originally constructed in 1888 and is hinged to enable the passage of oceangoing vessels. A fairly common type of bridge in 1888, it is now one of only a handful still in operation. The Queen Juliana Bridge also holds the distinction of being the highest bridge in the Caribbean at a maximum height of 185 feet.
In addition to the city of Willemstad, Curaçao is famous for its nature activities which include hiking, ATV off roading, beaches, snorkeling, scuba diving and its turquoise blue waters. The sea shelf sharp drop-off known as the “Blue Edge” is a favorite among scuba divers, while the coral reefs around both Curaçao and Klein Curaçao draw the attention of snorkelers.
The best way for guests to explore Curaçao and book the perfect adventure is simply to stop by the resort’s Island Routes desk. Whether it’s a sunset catamaran cruise, an ATV adventure, a day trip into Willemstad, a day-long open air bus tour around the island or a snorkel tour to Klein Curaçao, this is where guests can find the perfect excursion for them.
No article on Sandals is complete without a mention of their efforts to give back to the Caribbean community through their Sandals Foundation. With the development of Sandals Royal Curaçao, the foundation joined forces with the Netherlands’ AFC Ajax team to launch Future Goals – a program that turns fishing nets, sourced “ghost” nets which are fishing nets lost at sea and recycled plastic waste into soccer goals for children. The program is one of the many projects underway on the island of Curaçao for the Sandals Foundation, which includes beach cleanups that have helped rid the planet of over 880,000 pounds of trash to date, and the development of a digital hiking app in partnership with IVN Tiny Forest the Netherlands to make the magic of the island’s natural resources more accessible to visitors and locals.
Sandals Royal Curaçao is a spectacular addition to the Sandals family of resorts, yet Executive Chairman Adam Stewart made it clear that Sandals’ post COVID-19 expansion is just getting started. Currently under development is Sandals’ return to Dunn River in Jamaica, with a new from the ground up property, as well as a Beaches Resort in Saint Vincent. www.sandals.com