Kura Hulanda Lodge and Beach Club
Reviews of Kura Hulanda Lodge and Beach Club
Curaçao, a hurricane-free isle just off the coast of Venezuela, is making waves with the recent opening of one of the newest resorts to hit this part of the Netherlands Antilles. Nestled on the remote west coast, amid prickly cacti and skittish geckos, the Lodge Kura Hulanda and Beach Club is the island's first luxury eco-lodge.
It's the latest creation of maverick billionaire Jacob Gelt Dekker, who, only a few years ago, erected a boutique hotel out of the derelict brothel houses that once plagued the country's capital, Willemstad. For the official launch of his latest venture this spring, Dekker splurged on a grand gala. Fireworks announced the arrival of an old schooner helmed by the Dutch tycoon, who was decked out as an 18th-century sea captain. Eat your heart out, Richard Branson
Think rich Americans and the well-heeled, sun-starved Dutch. Movie stars, a U.S. senator and Miss USA are a few of the guests who have discovered the lodge's manicured wilderness.
Forty-four suites overlook the secluded Playa Kalki Beach. With the choice of a patio or balcony suite, these luxurious rooms offer sublime views of the sea and the neighbouring Mount Christoffel. All rooms are furnished with high-tech gadgets including high-speed Internet, remote-controlled air conditioner and television. With the exception of the garden-view rooms, the suites have CD/DVD players.
The rooms offer 300-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets and Lord and Mayfair bath products. For the second-floor oceanfront suites, guests have an outdoor private shower, which is perfect for catching a glimpse of the passing schools of tuna.
A winding pathway leads away from the stucco villas to an enclave of 10 octagonal eco-houses. These 30 units are furnished with kitchenettes ideal for longer stays and for families. Diehard roughing-it types can try the stand-alone tree house equipped with a steeply pitched ladder and an outdoor shower at its base. The eco-units are made from natural material and recycled wood, and have a solar-panelled roof for heating water.
Food and drink
Snack al fresco on coconut jumbo shrimp and sip some wine at the African-styled hut called the Christoffel Sunset Lounge. It's touted as the island's best spot to view the sunset. Adjacent to this conical hut is the massive open-air two-level Watamula Restaurant. Crisp white linen and decadent alabaster lamps from India adorn the tables. The dinner menu always includes the fresh catch of the day, usually swordfish, tuna or Caribbean snapper.
Things to do
Amble to the end of the lodge's path to find a staircase descending into the earth's bowels. Dubbed the Indian Caves after the island's indigenous Arawak-Taino Indians, this ancient grotto is believed to possess healing powers. You can relax in the refreshing spring waters before setting out on another eco-adventure.
A coral reef around the lodge's beachfront makes this a snorkeller's paradise, and scuba divers can register on-site for day excursions. Adventure lovers can take a jeep safari into the heart of Mount Christoffel National Park with former Mr. Curaçao Steven Adams of Yellow Tourism Solutions.
The park is 12 minutes away. ATVers can get down and dirty with Eric's ATV Adventures and zoom into nearby Shete Boka National Park.
Have a craving for shops, a spa or a museum? Then hop aboard the free daily shuttle service that takes you downtown to the lodge's sister property, Hotel Kura Hulanda.
Besides the art galleries, shops and a spa, Dekker has created the not-to-be-missed Kura Hulanda Museum. It houses a collection of rare artifacts chronicling the African slave trade and the origins of man.
Rates and rooms Top draws An air-conditioned business centre is equipped with two computers, complimentary high-speed Internet and a printer. Exercise buffs can play tennis, work out at the Wacawa Fitness Centre or swim laps in the hotel's pool. But if you prefer idling by the poolside, chaises longues are plentiful. I especially loved Relaxing in your private patio, gazing at the starry night and letting the beating surf and tropical air wash over you.
This getaway screams eco-chic, combining earthly pleasures for the most discerning crowd.