Exploring Hotel Kura Hulanda, Curacao
Hotel Kura Hulanda Spa & Casino is a dream-come-true hotel for anyone who wants an authentic, lively place to stay with a community feel; and, of course, all the luxury of a five-star hotel with four-diamond-rated dining. The hotel's unique character comes from its long history as a Curacao neighborhood, as well as the keen eye of Netherlands native Jacob Gelt Dekker, who bought up the neighborhood house by house, established the hotel and to this day curates its glamorous decor and amenities, as well as the artwork both in and out of the extensive Kura Hulanda Museum.
Kura Hulanda is enchantingly appointed with antiques, art and astronomy artifacts from all over the world, increasing its elite, opulent allure and aura of adventure. Dekker, an author, explorer, philanthropist and world-traveler, has created a timeless village here, just steps away from the world-famous floating bridge and central Willemstad. His on-site museum (literally his private collection, gathered piece by piece on his travels) houses the largest collection of African artifacts and anthropological exhibits in the Caribbean and has an extensive exhibit chronicling Curacao's dark history as a major slave trade hub. Dekker also owns two adjacent buildings which are used as medical centers for the local community and for what he hopes will one day become a well-known medical tourism industry. He visits the hotel frequently and maintains his own private quarters on the property.
I recently had the pleasure of staying at Hotel Kura Hulanda and exploring its unusual grounds with my camera. Below is a photo tour of this fabulous, Small Luxury Hotels of the World member hotel, including the vibrant and regal bridal suite, decked with furniture from a palace in India. Hotel Kura Hulanda has been open since 2001 (the museum opened in 1999), and you're not likely to find a more fascinating place to stay on the small island of Curacao. The Marriott is wonderful, and the Hyatt is well-beloved, but Kura Hulanda is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, full of scenic delights and old-world charm at every turn.
For those who prefer the beach to the village, there is also the Kura Hulanda Lodge (also five stars), a quieter Kura Hulanda just 45 minutes away on a private beach in the West End of Curacao. You can head there for snorkeling or scuba diving -- a dynamic, healthy natural reef sits just a quick, crystalline swim from the shore -- and stay the night or take one of the free shuttles back to Hotel Kura Hulanda Spa & Casino. Hotel Kura Hulanda Spa & Casino also offers a free shuttle throughout the day to Blue Bay, an exquisite private beach nearby with similar amenities.
Rates for a standard room start at $270 per night, but through December you can take advantage of a $145 promotional rate. Worth it!
My stay at Kura Hulanda was sponsored by Kura Hulanda, but the ideas and opinions expressed in this article are 100 percent my own.