Queen Emma Bridge is a main tourist attraction for visitors to Curacao. // © 2016 Pietermaai
Feature image (above): Airport e-gates, which allow travelers to pass through immigration in under a minute, could encourage travel to the Dutch Caribbean island. // © 2016 Curacao Tourist Board
Curacao has always been forward-thinking when it comes to tourism, whether it was successfully building up business from the U.S West Coast or putting out the welcome mat for gay travelers. Over the years, the Dutch Caribbean island has not only thought outside the box — it has kicked the box over the hill. The destination is continuing this run of fresh thinking with several new initiatives, as well as enhancements to its existing tourism products.
Modern travel can be a real pain. While complaining is easy, Curacao is actually doing something about it. Curacao International Airport has introduced six e-gates that allow travelers to pass through immigration in less than one minute. To take advantage of the e-gates, travelers must be 18 years or older and have an American, Canadian or European passport with a chip. To use the e-gates, travelers must fill out an Online Embarkations/Disembarkation (ED) Card 24 hours before arrival in Curacao. The card can be accessed and filled out at Curacao.com. In addition to the six new e-gates, there will be six traditionally manned gates processing travelers.
Last month, local Curacao tour operator AC Travel & Leisure debuted its Island Pass. With this exclusive pass in hand, clients will have easy access to the island’s top attractions and scenic locations. The pass also includes exclusive deals for excursions, shopping, dining and entrance to island museums. The pass can be bought online prior to clients’ arrival in Curacao, is valid for three months and can be purchased at IslandPassCuracao.com.
City Suites Curacao, a boutique hotel in Willemstad’s Punda neighborhood, is making it easier for guests to transfer back and forth from the airport. The hotel now provides guests with exclusive, round-trip airport transfers. Travelers can visit the hotel’s website to arrange shared or private rides through Curacao-Actief, a registered tour and transportation company. Rides range from $35 to $195, depending on the number of passengers.
A pair of restaurant openings has expanding dining choices on the island. Blue View Sunset Terrace has a cliffside location overlooking Playa Forti, a beach on the island’s west coast. Mosa Restaurant, which opened in the hip Pietermaai neighborhood, serves internationally inspired tapas in a sharing-style dining environment.
Hilton Curacao recently renovated the interior design of its meeting rooms, as well upgraded its audiovisual equipment. The resort has more than 4,000 square feet of meeting space, including an executive boardroom and six meeting rooms, that can hold up to 450 guests. Additionally, the property has updated its fitness equipment and reopened its recreation center, where guests can enjoy ping-pong, pool and foosball.
Family-friendly Acoya Hotel Suites & Villas recently launched a new partnership with Ocean Encounters Curacao. This makes it easy for clients — especially families with kids — to arrange daylong dive trips, snorkeling excursions, diving with dolphins and visits to popular dive sites such as Mushroom Forest and Klein Curacao.
Additionally, Ocean Encounters has put the finishing touches on the renovation of its dive center at Sunscape Curacao Resort, Spa & Casino. The new dive center offer Scuba Schools International (SSI) dive certifications in addition to its current PADI offerings.