logo Old Reviews - Sunset Waters Resort - Santa Martha Bay
Sunset Waters Resort
Katherine 

November 2007
Arrival:
I traveled with SCUBA diving group from NYC Wednesday 11/21 thru Sunday 11/25. What a disappointment the hotel was. I travel a lot for dive trips various Caribbean islands and Asia & the diving in Curacao was great but the hotel at Sunset Waters was just gross. I couldn't believe it when we checked in. Cheesy weed covered miniature golf course by front desk check in. Cinderblock 1 story building far away from dive shop (not pictured in mktg materials) was where they put us in room 147. We shared a porch with a stranger who could have entered our room at any time b/c the sliding glass door didn't lock...
Rooms:
Just gross! The room flooded when it rained, glass sliding doors didn't meet at top so roaches & mosquitoes got in at night, no hot water the entire 4 nights stay so you could never get clean, no extra toilet paper so when you ran out you were in trouble, beach towel avail at front desk inconvenient to the pool & beach (also stained), low-class cheese ball General Manager, Jim Hunter, bragged about being married to girl 20 years younger than him & referred to former employer, Fairmont Hotel, in San Francisco as being on "snob hill". Another girl in our group's toilet exploded and they wanted to charge her $100 more per night to move. I think there are no phones in the room because they don't want guests to call for repairs or help. Oh- and no deadbolt lock or safe in the room. Stained towels, stained sheets & bedspread, no phone in the rooms- totally unacceptable. It was worse than camping... No wireless internet (to say the least).
Restaurants:
Only one restaurant option so no variety of scenery at all for 4 days was tiring. Bland food of low quality. Even the fish they served daily was frozen... Drinks were low quality. Light beer was $1 extra per drink though the resort was supposed to be all inclusive. Only one choice for red wine & one choice for white. No fresh or real juices in the morning- only orange drink. Good Columbian coffee was the only positive about breakfast. They make omelets to order but watch out for the bacon. It has a strange taste.
Drinks:
Drinks were low quality, low shelf liquor options. Light beer was $1 extra per drink though the resort was supposed to be all inclusive. Only one choice for red wine & one choice for white.
Beach & Pools:
Beach was nice, pretty, clean but not a lot of coverage besides one tent and two thatch umbrellas. I thought the nude beach was very tacky. There were no service or attendants at the beach so you could not order any drinks, towels, etc. Pool was okay with swim up bar but only one bartender who was very overworked who could not service people quickly. WAY outnumbered. Popcorn was fresh at the pool so that was nice in the afternoon. No attendants at the pool for towel or any other amenities...
Grounds:
Arid desert like with weeds for grass. Pretty bougainvillea flowers. The gym is a total joke with a treadmill from 1970. They really have no gym and should not include that in marketing materials. I wish I'd known so I wouldn't have wasted space in my suitcase for workout clothes. The room was a good 10-15 minute walk from the rest of the "resort"- beach, office, scuba, restaurant that I got my exercise that way.
Activities:
Diving is separate company & was phenomenal. House reef was almost as good as any of the 6 boat dives we did. Best dive site is Watamula (aka "water money" b/c they charge more to go there for an inexplicable reason).
Tours:
Did not go into town but several friends from my group said it was too far & all the goods sold there were exactly what you'd find in any tourist trap Caribbean stop: duty free watches, sunglasses, junk with Curacao stamped on it. It's a far a trip 45 minutes to town so it's a real commitment. The shuttles from the hotel are too infrequent so that's why I didn't make the investment.
Conclusion:
I loved the diving shop- especially the employees there (unaffiliated business relationship with the hotel) but I would never recommend the hotel to anybody. I will definitely never go there again. It was an awful investment. I can't believe they get away charging what they do for nightly rate. One site shows they charge $300 a night- what a total and complete rip-off. I wish I'd been warned about this hotel...
Sunset Waters Resort
Joan 
Lethbridge, Alberta
April 2005
We were looking for a Caribbean location that fit our needs and was a change from Latin America., A major requirement is good snorkelling from the beach, and months of research narrowed it down to Sunset Waters. We also like smaller resorts, having done some previously, as well as AI's at larger resorts in places such as Dominican Republic and Mayan Riviera, and although we loved them all, wanted someplace a bit more quiet, secluded, and intimate We found it all here ! Another attraction to Curacao was the Dutch history, architecture and a different culture from Latin American.
Resort
A bit out of the way, on Santa Marta Bay, 70 rooms at various prices, depending on choice of accommodation. Not fancy, no marble or fountains, not a lot of lush landscaping - this is an arrid island. But there were some colorful bougainvillea near the entrance, and interesting cacti and succulents throughout the resort property, including many flowering century plants, which looked like huge stalks of asparagus. Among these desert plants roamed all sizes and colors of lizards, from the tiniest gecko to large iguanas. We also saw many birds, including green parrots, tropials, hummingbirds.

We stayed in a Superior Oceanview room on the edge of the cliff , overlooking the sea. Our rooms had patio doors which opened, with a latticework barrier halfway up the opening, but no balcony. Rooms had ceiling fans and AC, both worked very well.

The first night we chose to sleep with the doors open with the ceiling fan on, no AC, so we could hear the sound of the sea and the tinkle of coral rolling in the waves Was lovely for an hour or two, but sound became somewhat annoying after a while, and although an arrid island, humidity became uncomfortable. After that, it was doors closed and AC on low every night !

Rooms were large, with large dresser with three drawers. Large space for hanging clothes. We always take hangers with us as we always take too many clothes, but there were several supplied . Each room had a loveseat, huge ottoman, small table & two chairs. Lighting wasn't bad, but could have been a bit better in room. Bathroom lighting was fantastic, once you got onto the knack of hitting the switch ju-u-st the right way. No phone in our rooms, but T.V., with major U.S. networks available.

There are several building housing rooms on the property. The ones in the area our rooms were in could use a make-over on the exterior - kinda resembled a barracks, and had me wondering at first view. But not a biggie - who spends that much time looking at the building?

We asked to see other rooms for future reference. The Standard Garden rooms were across the dirt parking lot from our building ,and you wouldn't have a view from there. However, the rooms were nice, fairly large - smaller bathroom that we had, but certainly adequate for two people; vaulted timber ceiling, That building was more attractive than ours, with louvered windows, ornate wooden doors, archways. If having an ocean view isn't a big issue, I wouldn't hesitate to book one of these rooms.

The Deluxe Suite we saw was nice, with a balcony, but not a lot better than what we had, in my opinion. Again, the exterior of the building housing these rooms was more attractive than ours.

The pool is centrally located, with a swim-up bar, comfortable loungers, a few tables & chairs. Its small, but it was never crowded. You can use the pool at any hour of the day, and is well lit after dark if you chose to take a dip before bed.

Because there is a dive shop at the resort, there can be groups of divers staying here, from small to large. we never found it crowded. Local people book in on weekends, but again, the resort was never crowded.
Food
The food was fantastic! A nice change for an AI to have only two or three buffets during a week, the rest of the meals are a la carte, with from two to four choices of entrees, as well as appetizers, soups, special salads, and a small salad bar. The menu varies daily. I don't believe I had the same entree twice in two weeks, unless it was my choice. Fresh fish is on every menu, as well as chicken, steak, prime rib, pork, prepared in different ways. Kudos to the chefs, the best meals I've had anywhere !

Lunches were also a la carte, with a salad bar. Again, soups, pastas, fish, other meat dishes, as well as hamburgers, hot dogs, club sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches, fries, and on and on. Be sure to try the pumpkin soup - delicious!

Desserts left a bit to be desired - mainly cakes of various kinds, but this may not be a bad thing!

Breakfasts were buffet with an omelette bar, cereals, fruit, yogurt, french toast, pancakes, waffles, bacon, sausage, etc.

Once a week they do a lunch of local dishes giving you an opportunity to try goat stew, plantains, Keshi Yena - a dish of chicken, beans, raisins, cheese , and other local delicacies.

The buffets are at the Beach Restaurant (Savage Turtle) and are a BBQ and a Seafood Buffet. There is generally entertainment on these evenings.

Drinks were good, alcohol and soft. . Any blender drink was available, all you had to do was ask. I was surprised to see Canadian Club rye whiskey on the liquor shelf ! Several brands of beer, including the local Amstel.
Staff
Everyone on staff at Sunset Waters goes out of their way to make you feel at home and are accommodating above and beyond regular service! You soon feel like you are staying with friends, not just "another tourist". The friendlness of the staff made a large part of the enjoyment of our holiday.

The resort provides a free scheduled shuttle service to Willemstad daily, except Sunday. You can arrange transportation to other areas such as the Seaquarium , golf course, or local grocery store for a fee of $5.00 return. Just ask, and they'll do their best to accommodate you.
Beach
I have to admit, I had a moment of doubt about our choice on our first visit to the beach just after arriving. There is nothing wrong with it, but we've been on many prettier beaches. And the fact that there is 3 - 4 feet of dead coral to walk through to get into the water , meaning aqua shoes were imperative, didn't help, even tho' I knew all this from our researching. However, after a day or two, it was fine, and the initial doubts faded. We finished the holiday loving "our" beach. The beach is on a man-made lagoon, and at no point is the lagoon much more than waist-deep. There is abundant sea life in there, and one can be content snorkeling in the calm lagoon waters and see many fish and sea creatures. It can become murky from winds or people churning it up.

There are palapas and large canvas canopies for shade, loungers with foam pads for relaxing. The pads can double as floaters in the lagoon. There are beach "toys" - pedal boats and tricycle, kayaks, snorkel gear for guest use.

We did have wind the first week, and at times got "sand-blasted" on the beach, but it wasn't constant. . The wind also made swimming outside the lagoon a bit rough, with choppy waves. But the second week we had just enough breeze to keep us cool, and the sea was perfectly calm. Paradise!

There is a walk down a hill to access the beach, but Iwe all have bad knees to various degrees, and didn't find it a problem. You also walk the hill to get to the beach buffets.

The beach bar & restaurant were colsed (low season) while we were there, but Sandra or Diane made trips throughout the day with drink orders. There was cold water available at the beach shack all the time. We take insulated mugs with us for this purpose - saves making trips & keep water cold and sand & bug free.

There is a nude area of the beach, separated by a stone wall from the main beach.

There are washrooms and showers on the beach, and these are kept relatively clean, considering the conditions they're used under. Towels for beach use are available at the front desk .

The resort does have a social director and activities are scheduled throughout the day. However, while we were there, there was little participation because of low numbers of guests.
Entertainment
There is entertainement some evenings, during some dinners, and some lunches. No stage shows or big productions, just small local groups playing guitar, maracas, harmonica, and singing and interacting with the guests. Lots of fun ! Karoke was offered on other evenings, but again, little participation during our stay.
Snorkelling
In 25 + years of travel, mostly to many islands in the Caribbean, the best I've ever experienced ! The lagoon offered a fair selection of sea creatures, but beyond the breakwater it was like floating in a well-stocked aquarium ! Moray and other eels, all kinds and sizes of parrotfish, trunkfish, porcupine fish, peacock flounders, angels, tangs, squirrelfish, scorpion fish - a huge school of fish undulating like a lava lamp - all any snorkeller could ask for ! There were also patches of beautiful corals sporting Christmas tree worms, anemones, and harbouring huge schools of yellowtails. An underwater paradise ! I expected the snorkelling to be good - it exceeded my expectations by 200%. Once the winds died down, it was an easy swim to all areas of the reef , with no currents or undertows.

Brenda (previous review) has covered our day trip around the island and our visit to Seaquarium. Do try the snorkel or dive encounter - made my trip to aquarium ! Great experience to hand-feed sharks, turtles and especially the puffer ! Watch out for the thieving pelicans!
Shopping
We made two trips into Willemstad for sightseeing and shopping. I was impressed with the Dutch architecture, pontoon bridge, Queen Juliana bridge, and the maze of narrow streets.
The shopping varied from duty free items - the usual jewellery, electronics, perfumes to stall hawking handcrafted items. The floating market was interesting to see, but not quite what I'd expected. A lot of the shops carried the same tourist stuff, at roughly the same prices everywhere.

We did make a couple of trips to the local supermarket, Centrum. We always find this fun to do, seeing what items are available and at what cost compared to home. Good place to purchase liquor, spices and seasonings, Dutch chocolate and other Dutch goodies at very reasonable prices. Fun to look at the local produce and try to figure out what some of it is !

Overall, we left loving Sunset Waters, and would not hesitate to return or recommend this resort.
Sunset Waters Resort
Brenda 
Lethbride, AB
April 2005
I felt I had to write a review of the Sunset Waters Resort on Curacao. We just returned from a wonderful 2 weeks there and would go back in a flash if we could.

The resort is not fancy, don’t let the 2-3 star rating fool you. All it means is that there aren’t multiple restaurants, shops galore, etc. The resort makes up for this with their location and their staff. Sunset Waters is one of only two AI’s on Curacao, the other being Breezes. On an Island Tour, we stopped at Breezes, Marriott, Hilton, Chogogo, Floris Suites and a couple of others, and though the flowers were maybe prettier at the other resorts we felt we had made the right decision in staying where we were, out of the city. Breezes was right next to Seaquarium and the congestion of tourists involved with that. The beach, ocean, roads, etc all appeared to be way too hectic and busy for us.

Sunset Waters is an older resort that has gone through some growing pains. Current ownership is based in Chicago and they have been and are currently attempting to make large improvements to the resort. Their efforts are noticeable. While I would like to see a few more minor improvements, I wouldn’t want to see this resort become any bigger. At 70 rooms, it is comfortable enough that the staff all know you and you get to know all the other guests. The atmosphere is most decidedly casual. This is a dive resort, but we are not divers and felt perfectly welcome there by both staff and divers.
Food
there are a couple of buffets per week, one is seafood and the other is BBQ. Another night each week they serve prime rib. The rest of the meals are ordered off a menu, with enough choices to please mostly anyone. The meals were all excellent as we found nothing to complain about. Lunches are also gourmet – pork tenderloin offered one day. Breakfasts are a little repetitive, but there is enough choice to switch around if you want. And the kitchen will often honour special requests. There are a few entrees that they charge a surcharge for (eg. Lobster). In talking with other guests, the general consensus was that they would rather have these entrees served in smaller portions with no surcharge. Drinks were also included…all times of the day, and top shelf liquor used.

There are conflicting reports about the presence of a casino. The casino exists and still sits there with some of the machines inside, but the casino is shut down and has not been used for 3-4 years.
Rooms
we stayed in a Superior Oceanview Room. Yes, we had a full view of the ocean, since the rooms literally sit at the top of a cliff overlooking the ocean. And believe me, the hotel is appropriately named! The Superior Oceanview Room was standard in terms of furnishings, but was quite a bit larger than most hotel rooms. We also asked to see the Gardenview Rooms. They were beautiful with vaulted ceilings lined with timber, but were a little smaller and of course, lacked the view. We also saw a Junior Suite and it was beautiful. Also overlooking the ocean, it was fitted with a king sized bed, sofa and chair, full-sized table, walk-in shower, 2 balcony doors and large balcony. Our only complaint about our Superior Oceanview was that there was no balcony. A pity when the view was so gorgeous. It would also be nice to see them spiff up the exterior to these rooms.
Location
the resort is located about 25 minutes west and north of Willemstad just adjacent to Santa Martha Bay. The advantage to that is you are out of the city and can enjoy nature and a private and quiet resort. The resort offers daily (except Sunday) complimentary shuttle rides into town. The policy is that if you request a shuttle ride off their schedule, they charge $5 per person, and if you request shuttle ride after hours, they charge $35 per person. We found that if we just asked the shuttle driver when a good time would be to do a certain thing, it was easily worked out and we were not charged. Note that taxi fare into town is $40 each way, so the shuttle is a good deal.
Snorkelling
was simply phenomenal. My travel mates have been many places in the Caribbean, South Pacific and Southeast Asia and say that this was the best snorkelling by far. There was enough to keep me out there for 4-5 hours mostly every day. Barracudas, moray eels (you know you have good snorkelling when you start saying “yeah, another moray”!), octopus, lobster, huge parrotfish, scorpionfish, porcupine fish, balloonfish, sand divers, filefish, cowfish, trunkfish, flounders, cuttlefish, gar, and always the ubiquitous tang, grunts, etc. With amazing coral formations with in a few feet of shore, we felt no need to go anywhere else to snorkel. The resort has a marked snorkel trail, but it’s recommended only strong swimmers do the trail. The water is deep along the trail and may be unnerving to greenhorns.
Beach
the beach is gorgeous. At first it didn’t seem like there were enough palapas, but then we realized that divers are out most of the day and that we nearly had the beach to ourselves. What IS a little tricky is water entry. I have tender feet and didn’t even attempt to enter without aqua shoes. The first several feet of ocean is covered in coral rocks, though there is a large sandy area in the lagoon once you get there. However, another reason for not going into the lagoon barefoot (and trust me because we snorkelled every inch) was the abundance of fireworms, scorpionfish, broken pipes (what are those and why don’t they take them out?), and tiny crabs. Another bothersome feature of the water entry, albeit unavoidable, were some very large potholes dug out by the fish, making it easy to lose your footing. The lagoon itself is very shallow, only waist height until you get to the mouth, between the breakwaters. It would be nice to see them clean up the entry to the water, though it was rather fun to watch new people go traipsing in, in bare feet! The beach bar was not in use while we were there (except for the buffet nights), but there is staff to take drink orders and bring them to you on the beach.
Management
management is most decidedly visual here with the managers spending much time in the restaurants with the guests.
Entertainment
is provided 5X per week. From individual singer to a couple of different bands including a steel drum band. The performers are all very good. Our only complaint was that it was slightly repetitive in the second week.
Seaquarium
for the most part our group enjoyed attending this. Two of us did the animal encounter snorkel and it was most definitely worth it. The fee was $34 US which included the $15 entry fee to the aquarium. For the extra $19 we were able to snorkel inside an enclosure with many very large fish (puffers, tarpon, jacks, stingrays, giant grouper named Herbie) and were able to feed sharks (nurse and lemon) and turtles through a plexiglass fence. We were given a bucket of bait fish to feed to whatever fishes we wanted. Snorkel gear is included if you don’t bring your own. The aquarium itself was a little disappointing and could use some upgrades. The dolphin program (dolphin swims are in the neighbourhood of $170) has won awards for being the second best in the Caribbean. I highly recommend the animal encounters program.
Island tour
we took the East/West Island tour. Can’t remember the name of the company, but Ronnie runs most of the tours. It is a full day tour at a cost of $40 + $5 for hotel pick-up (otherwise you have to make your way into Otrabanda). We were picked up at our hotel at 7:30am and returned about 4pm. The tour includes a lunch stop at the well-known Jaanchie’s (YAN-chees). You can either purchase your lunch there, with a few choices of entrees at $13-16 or what we would recommend would be to bring a box lunch (Sunset Waters made up box lunches upon request). The meals were good, but we didn’t think they were worth the price of $15-18 not including drinks, after tax. The tour was worthwhile as you learn more about the history of the island and why things are the way they are. Our favourite stops were Boca Tabla and Groot Knip. Tour guides speak Dutch, English and Spanish.
Language
Curacaoans speak Papiamento, which is a combo of Portuguese, Dutch, French and Spanish and different enough from each of those that it is considered to be a true language. When kids start going to school they learn Dutch. Most kids are also encouraged to learn English. And most also speak Spanish (speaking 6-7 languages is not unusual for a Curacaoan!). We didn’t find any problems with language on the island or at the resort. Many of the workers at the resort are from Colombia and speak Spanish, but understood enough English to take food and drink orders, etc.

All in all, I highly recommend this wonderful, friendly island. And if you want an unassuming, friendly, quiet, yet very comfortable resort with excellent snorkelling, then Sunset Waters may be for you.

You can see pictures of my trip on my photo page http://community.webshots.com/album/334021721UVGFbd