|Kura Hulanda Lodge|
|Kura Hulanda Lodge
February 10-17 2006
|Previous trips in the Carribean:|
|Dominican Republic - Punta Cana - Bavaro Beach Resort & Casino(Barcelo) - 1992
Cuba - Varadero - Melia Varadero - 1994
Dominican Republic - Sosua - LTI Sol de Plata(now Breezes Puerto Plata) - 1996
Mexico - Cancun - Oasis Cancun - 1998
Sint Maarten - Philipsburg - Great Bay Hotel - 1999
Cuba - Cayo Largo - Pelicano - 2000
Cuba - Cayo Coco - Tryp - 2000
Dominican Republic - Punta Cana - Natura Park -2001
Cuba - Holguin - Brisas Guardalavaca - 2001
Mexico - Riviera Maya - Bahia Principe Tulum - 2002
Mexico - Cancun - Gran Melia - 2003
Turks & Caicos - Providenciales - Allegro - 2004
Mexico - Akumal - Akumal Beach Resort - 2004
Mexico - Puerto Vallarta - Solare Vallarta - 2005
Mexico - Riviera Maya - Iberostar Paraiso Beach - 2005
Finally took time to make my report after a wonderful trip to Curacao. It is long and detailed, just like the ones I like to consult on the web, so here we go... We booked the whole trip, that is, the flight portion with the accomodation(all inclusive but no transport to the hotel included) through expedia.ca and everything went smoothly. Flew in from Montreal(6:12am) with a stopover in Miami with American Airlines. Basic service on the airline with food for purchase but relatively good leg room and efficient/ontime flying. Arrived in Curacao(2:45pm Atlantic time) and went quickly through customs and then to the car rental counter(AVIS) within the airport. Got a Toyota Corolla in good shape, packed the suitcases,( three in the trunk and one on the backseat) and the four of us. Shortly after we were on the roads of Curacao heading out to the Kura Hulanda Lodge. We had bought two excellent maps(www.berndston.com and Carribean Cartographics) that really served us well throughout the week. The Lodge is located in Westpunt, a small village in the northwest end of the island. This is about a 35 minutes drive from the airport and about 45 minutes to the capital city of Willemstad. When we decided on Curacao for our winter vacation, the main purpose of the trip was snorkel and this guided us to book the Lodge instead of other resorts. We almost booked the Sunset Waters but we liked the Lodge, being remote and the rooms seemed to be newer and better equipped. It was also closer to the numerous snorkeling beaches giving access right from the shore.
Arriving at the Lodge, we were greeted with cocktails as they were expecting us. Staff was very nice and we were in our room within 15 minutes. We drove the car right to the door of our room as each ocean front room had a parking space. We booked a oceanfront studio(all inclusive) and we were extremely pleased with the room, as it is very spacious with two double beds covered with a feathered bedspread, nice wooden furniture and plenty of storage room. This room was also equipped with a kitchen table with four chairs with a "kitchenette" close by, fully equipped with refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, counter top stove, glasses, plates, ustensils, but no pots and pans that you may rent from the reception. The room opens up with French doors onto a covered sitdown area with loveseat, table and chair, and this area continues to a patio areas equipped with table, umbrella, 4 chairs and 2 lounge chairs. Our unit had lots of vegetation surrounding the patio area so we didn't have a clear view of the sea. Most of the other ground level units as ours had a better view of the sea and the magnificient sunsets but we didn't bother as this vegetation made for more privacy. The room had a huge bathroom , well equipped with plenty of towels and linen. Everything was spotless(just built in August 2005). Maid service was excellent, as every morning they would come out and open the patio umbrella, and everything night, they would undo our beds , leaving a chocolate and a "card thought" . Very classy! There were ice machine all around the grounds, air conditioning was excellent with minimal noise and the room offers complimentary high speed internet access. The Lodge is a small scale hotel accomodation when we compare with other places we have been. It has around 75 rooms and we had rooms 120, a oceanfront studio, located in a four unit building running along a cliff. The couple of friends that were with us, had booked an eco room, but were upgraded to a one bedroom suite on the second level of the first unit beside the restaurant and reception area. They could not believe their luck. They thought it was to good to be true! On the second level, you get a much smaller patio, but a much better view of the ocean. We did get a short power outage of about 2 hours at the end of one afternoon.
|as mentionned before is located along a cliff in Westpunt. The reception is relatively small but clean with great service, and a little shop where you van buy basic commodities. The reception area extends onto the restaurants and bars. There is two restaurants, the Watamula(covered) and the Christoffel(open air). The Watamula is used for the buffet breakfasts, and à la carte luch and dinner. The Christoffel is a open air area on the edge of the cliff and has a different menu than the Watamula, but the same kitchen and staff were doing the service. Close by is the Sports Bar with big flat screen tv for viewing and a covered sitdown area with chairs and cushions. All this overlooking the ocean. A very nice spot at Sunset. At the beach , there is a bar and restaurant. The restaurant is à la carte, with a deck and ample tables ti sit down. If you preferred, the staff could bring your lunch to you on the beach. Food was, in general, very good to excellent. Served in the Watamula restaurant, breakfast was a buffet with fresh fruits, different breads, croissants, muffins, yogurts, cereals, juices, sausages, bacon and made to order eggs or omelette. Not extravagant but very good with excellent service . We usually had lunch at the beach restaurant which offered hamburgers, (no hot-dogs), quesadillas, chicken satay, hot chicken wings, differents sea food salads, french fries . The only item we didn't like was the "Bitterballen" a dutch specialty. Not for us!( The waiter had quite a laugh when he asked us if we liked it. He knew the answer....) The Christoffel restaurant had a different menu for lunch. I think we ate there only once and had pizza. For diner(supper) we ate five times at Watamula and once at Christoffel. Menu for diner was more elaborated with a selection of entrés(i.e. shrimp cocktails, salads, soups) followed by the main course offering a choice of steaks, fish dishes, rack of lamb, pasta with a selection of desserts. Filet Mignon and Lobster were at surcharge but my wife had lobster complimentary of the house. There were two bars: one adjacent to the restaurants and at the beach. They had a selection of beers(Amstel, Amstel Bright, Heneiken etc..) and cocktails, usually serve in "real" glasses. They used plactic glasses if you asked for it. Cocktails were very good and always with a little personal touch from the bartender. All the waiters and staff at the different restaurants were extremely nice, always eager to please and usually could speak fluently 4 or 5 languages(english, spanish, dutch, german and papamientu). Tipping for service was not expected at all. Service when ordering meals was a bit slow, as it usually is in the caribbean. Although we had the all inclusive plan(and the traditional bracelet), the staff always had to get you to sign the bill for administrative purpose and it was a little annoying. (They are new at this all inclusive business, so they will probably get rid of that over time)
On the ground of the Lodge, we also appreciated the gym facilities, (well equippped with recent exercising machine, each with it's television screen!) and the tennis court(lighted at night for an extra fee). There was also a room with 2 computers with high speed internet access for use by the guests of the Hotel. Very practical for communicating with family and friends at home or to have a more precise outlook on the weather or to get info on things to do on the island.... There is no animation of any kind on the grounds, and very little noise or even music. Makes for a very quiet environment and we liked it very much. There is a nice pool beside the restaurants and bar, but we never used it. There is also a kids playground.
The beach is at the bottom of the cliff. You access the beach with about 30 steps made into the rock of the cliff. The beach is not big( about 300 feet) with nice white sand but lots of coral upon entry into the water. But you know what? We liked it a lot. Because corals and rocks makes it great for snorkeling. Remember I told you at the beginning that we decided to go to Curacao for snorkeling. Well, the snorkeling was fabulous. We would swim out from shore about 200 feet and then swim parralel to shore for about 1 or 2 km(yes) along the cliff, following the reef fallout and then swim back to the beach. The variety of fish life is amazing and spectacular. If you don't like snorkeling and just want to swim in the sea, please bring water shoes.
|Weather on Curacao is great. The average temperature is 28-29C yearlong and that is exactly what we got. It is also very comfortable as it's pretty windy all the time, at least where we were. It also makes for less humidity and there is not a lot of lush vegetation. Lots of cactus and shrubs. We did get 2 or 3 showers that would last 10-15 minutes. Most of the beaches are located on the southwest coast of the island, and they usually are not big beaches. Small gems between long stretches of rocks and cliffs. We visited Daaibooi beach and snorkeled along the cliffs. Then we got to Porto Marie, a privately owned beach with a fee of 5$us per person(for beach use and chair), but well worth it. Excellent snorkeling with a trail, restaurant and bar. We also visited Playa Lagun, Playa Jeremi, Grote Knip, but didn't snorkel as the waves were too strong. We went by car to Willemstad twice. The first time in the evening. It makes for nice views along each sides of the canal between the Otrabanda and Punda, but all the shops, museums and stores are closed. Also, the floating bridge, that I was so anxious to see is under repair for some time. In the meantime they have increase the frequency of the ferry service which is free for everyone to use. One morning when it was pretty cloudy, we headed out again in Willemstad and wandered through the streets, visiting the floating market(Venezuelians anchoring their boats to sell their production of vegetables, fruits, and lots of fresh fishes). Quite spectacular. In the daytime, there is plenty of shopping to do. Jewelry, tableclothes, embroideries, and the usual T-Shirt shops with pretty good prices. There are also numerous museums. We visited the Kura Hulanda Slave Museum, a must if you like history and museum. Very well done in the middle of the city, adjacent to the Kura Hulanda Hotel. We also visited the Mikve Israel Emmanuel Synagogue, the oldest synagogue this side of the Atlantic. Had lunch in the Riffort, at the entrance of the harbour and did drive around the "Ring" , the main route around the city, the bay and the oil refinery. The first time we drove into Willemstad, we couldn't help noticing the numerous tall chimneys of the oil refinery area, spitting flames and smoke. We were worried that everything would be dirty and smelling like rotten eggs. It was not the case. In fact the island is very clean and neat. They do have a recycling program for household garbage. When you are in the city, you do not see the refinery as it is located well into the bay. We visited Christoffel Park, drove around in the park where we almost ran into a white tailed deer, visited Arawak ruins, stopped at some impressive view points of the old plantation, to finally climb at the top of Mount Christoffel. It's about a one hour hike along a very steep trail at times, but with good walking shoes, you are rewarded with a magnificient view of the northwest end of the island. Along the hiking trail, you can see a lot of wild orchids growing into trees. A must for anyone in relatively good physical shape. One another outing, we visited the Shete Boka National Park or Boca Tabla. This park covers an area of the north coast of the island, which has a very special landscape, almost lunar like. This side of the island is hit by crashing waves with steady winds, so there is just about nothing but rocks inside this park they have installed observation platforms along a hiking trail where you can see up close these waves hitting the coast line and get into a cave to observe the same phenomenon. Very impressive. We did not visit the southeast part of the island.
|We have been around in the Caribbeans and this trip was one of the best. The Lodge is a very nice resort with attentive staff, excellent rooms, nice grounds, excellent restaurants and bars where there is no feeling of crowds or waiting lines with a very relaxing low noise environment. The resort beach offers excellent snorkeling and there are many close by beaches you can visit. Renting a car is a must, and try to get it at the airport, it's so much easier upon arrival and departure. Driving around the island was a breeze as the roads are in very good condition, relatively well indicated and driving is not "hectic" even in the city at rush hour. This island is also quite interesting with a historical capital city(Willemstad) with plenty of things to do and visit. There are also outdoor outings available at the National Parks. If you are looking for a place to party or brings your teenagers, you may not like it. This place is remote. But for anyone who wants a quiet getaway with possible outdoor activities, the package is great. We will be back....