The 27-acre Hyatt Regency Curaçao Golf Resort, Spa & Marina has debuted, responsibly bringing rich indulgence, serious play and the island’s largest hotel meeting facilities to a rare natural preserve on its serene south coast. Backed by protected mountains and set between a natural harbor and the Caribbean, the 350-room property will inspire groups with its setting and smarts.
“Inspiration is very real in a meeting,” says GM Diego Concha. “It happens in a moment—we want to affect people.”
He has us at the lobby. The open-air Great Room opens out to the limpid blue Caribbean Sea and low-slung Mediterranean-style architecture extending along the sandy shore. Its gorgeous sandstone floor is quarried from nearby Tafelberg Mountain, complemented with replicas of native Arawak artifacts.
We drink it in as easily as the Blue Curaçao cocktails, fully relaxed because check-in here takes place at the airport with a doling out of herb-drenched towels. The deft service continues in plush waterview rooms stocked daily with gourmet hors d’oeuvres like artisanal cheeses with notes specifying their ages.
Hyatt is part of the 1,500-acre Santa Barbara Plantation (SBP), and serious eco-cred goes to the developers.
“Hyatt Hotels and Santa Barbara Plantation share a goal of preserving the environment for future generations,” Concha explains. SBP vowed to preserve their 6,000 year-old cave drawings, mangrove estuaries and the Curaçao Underwater Park, beloved by divers and marine biologists. Green initiatives include Hyatt’s Meet & Be Green program (see pg 24), high-tech energy savers like load-based a/c systems, and low-tech solutions like using 80% native plants and coral-friendly local sand.
For meeting and function space, planners have 36,000 sf to play with, including a 5,760-sf ballroom with flawless WiFi.
“We don’t need much sugar coating here, since the facts speak for themselves,” says events manager Jake Meinking, who can tailor gatherings for up to 500. Consider dedicated golf or tennis summits, 125-pax snorkeling/sunset cruises, guided kayaking trips or scuba certification lessons.
Meinking surprised us a couple nights with some of his work. During one sunset, two dancers and a drummer appeared poolside to spin and enchant us. Another night, four flamenco dancers emerged courtyard at the 200-seat MEDI restaurant, soon joined by guests who couldn’t resist the music and movements that look so easy—like everything at this resort.
For teambuilding, you must contact Eric Raphaela, owner of Eric’s ATV Adventures. We’d spent four exhilarating hours driving ATVs over sandy paths and coastal byways rimming Curaçao’s rugged east end. Raphaela lead while a colleague snapped photos as we revved around the scenic bends. We stopped at the aloe plantation, an ostrich farm, and our favorite, a prehistoric hilltop cave filled with distinctly un-scary bats.
“We let people try something new in a new environment, with ample opportunities for interaction,” says Raphaela.
Be sure to take a morning in Willemstad, the capital city 25 miles away. Built in the 17th century by homesick Dutch who added sherbet shades to traditional buildings, the baroque buildings are now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
And do see Kura Hulanda Museum, the world’s preeminent facility examining the Atlantic Rim slave trade. The anthropological outpost forces a literal confrontation with a not-so-distant history, as when we touched the iron chains and descended into the recreated hold of a slave ship. Kura Hulanda was created by a Dutch philanthropist who fell in love with Curaçao, and it seemed a powerful gift from an island embracing its past. Over 4,000 visitors pass through monthly.