Dutch Treat

Lodge Kura Hulanda and Beach Club is Curacao’s newest deluxe digs

By: Janice Mucalov

Apersistent iguana waits at my feet for another morsel of my lunch as I watch a group of scuba divers on the beach. Marine life is the big draw here at Curacao’s newest luxury hotel the Lodge Kura Hulanda and Beach Club but I enjoy the begging iguanas almost as much.

Perched on low, rugged cliffs overlooking a white coral-and-sand beach on the island’s secluded west side, the 74-suite property officially opened in April. It’s the second resort on the island by Dutch entrepreneur Jacob Dekker, who also built the boutique Hotel Kura Hulanda (a member of the “Leading Small Hotels of the World”) in Curacao’s sophisticated colonial capital of Willemstad.

While the Lodge appeals to beach-loving honeymooners, families and gay couples seeking a casual quiet retreat, clients who love snorkeling and scuba diving will be particularly happy. Ocean Encounters West, the on-property PADI dive shop, offers several daily dive and snorkel boat trips, as well as four-day “learn to dive” certification programs. The reef fronting the hotel’s beach is also popular with snorkelers.

I signed up for a boat dive to the Mushroom Forest. Considered a “World’s Best Dive” by Sport Diver magazine, the site is named for the star coral that have grown into tall mushroom-shaped domes. In between these giant coral clumps, I swam with squid, rainbow-colored parrotfish and a school of silvery barracuda I even spied a “hairy crab” hiding in a crevice.

Stylish Suites

Divers often bed down in basic dwellings. Not here, though, where chic well-appointed units are nestled along the oceanfront cliffs and in the desert garden.

The oceanfront units are two-storey duplexes painted the mint green, baby blue and peach colors characteristic of Curacao’s gingerbread architecture. Serene ground-floor studios (my personal favorite) have French doors opening onto a covered porch with cushioned rattan furniture, and beyond that, another patio with lounge chairs set amid yellow hibiscus. Tucked away behind Euro-style cabinets is a compact kitchenette complete with microwave, fridge, two-burner hot plate and everything else needed to make a light meal. Two double beds with Egyptian linens, a hide-a-bed sofa, dining table and four chairs, spacious bathroom and showpiece Asian art round out the stylish space.

I was also impressed by the outdoor kitchen and living-dining room of the one-bedroom suites in the eco-desert huts spread out among the cactuses and thorn bushes.

Other facilities include a beach bar and grill, swimming pool with shade cabanas, large fitness room and the open-air, thatched-roof Watamula Restaurant. And at one end of the property, wooden stairs descend to a prehistoric collection of grottos known as the “Indian Cave.”

Curacao RisingThe opening of the Lodge Kura Hulanda and Beach Club follows in the wake of the island’s recent interest in attracting tourists.

“Curacao is expecting a big development push,” said Enrico Lindenhahn, the Lodge’s general manager.

The airport is currently undergoing a huge expansion, and new Hyatt and Renaissance hotels are about to be constructed.

“In three to four years, the island will be on the known tourism map,” Lindenhahn added.

In the meantime, the Lodge and its sister hotel offer clients new options in deluxe digs on a classy Caribbean island with a Dutch influence. Island prices are currently very reasonable too restaurant dinner entrees average $15; a guided Willemstad walking tour costs $15 per person.

Now, before Curacao is really discovered, is a good time to visit.


The Lodge Kula Hulanda and Beach Club

Until Dec. 21, nightly oceanfront studio rates are $225 per double; $235 for the one-bedroom eco-desert hut. All-inclusive and combo packages with the Hotel Kura Hulanda are available.
Commission is 10 percent.

Clients can fly from the West Coast and connect in Miami with the late afternoon American Airlines flight to Curacao, arriving at 7:57 p.m. the same day.