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Spotlight on the Caribbean: Hotel Kura Hulanda in Curacao

This is the second article in my new series on Caribbean destinations. Every Wednesday for the next several weeks, I will be sharing a new facet of this glimmering jewel to our south - Click here for the first article. Today's article highlights the historic Kura Hulanda Hotel on the charming island of Curacao, in the Netherlands Antilles.

Far less developed and explored by tourists as many other Caribbean islands, Curaçao's charm lies in its history, its authentic experience, its culture which doesn't strive to present a picture-perfect (read: generic) postcard to its visitors, but rather wraps them in a warm and welcoming embrace.

The old town center of Willemstad greets you with its colorful 17th and 18th century Dutch architecture, perched above the clear turquoise waters of the Caribbean. And if you are as enchanted with this as I was, the unique and magical Hotel Kura Hulanda is a treasure awaiting your discovery.

Kura Hulanda is much more than a hotel - it's an entire village, created as a historic and environmental preservation project out of existing, meticulously restored 17th and 18th century Dutch buildings. The entire eight-block area is a UNESCO World Heritage site that includes two pools, multiple restaurants and bars, shops, a world-class museum, spa, casino, courtyards, gardens and cobblestone pathways that wind through the intricate Dutch architecture.

Hotel Kura Hulanda boasts 80 guest rooms and suites, no two of which are alike.  Every accommodation features hand carved mahogany and teak furnishings, antiques and art, and walls hand-painted by local artists. Some feature Indian marble bathrooms with sunken bathtubs and others, old-fashioned clawfoot soaking tubs.

The on-site facilities are so plentiful as to be almost overwhelming. First is The Mansion - once the residence of hotel owner Jacob Gelt Dekker, and now an executive lounge where guests can be comfortable in the living room watching a movie, partake of beverages and snacks always made available, or use one of the computers while you enjoy the exquisite collection of furniture, books and artwork.

The Village Square is the heart of the village, an outdoor cobblestone courtyard with Wi-Fi access to enjoy a drink or coffee and the morning paper. Restaurants include Jaipur's Indian and Asian fusion, Astrolab Observatory with its amazing collection of antique astronomy instruments, the Museum Cafe, Sculpture Garden Restaurant and Jacob's Bar and Terrace for tapas and drinks.

Refresh yourself in the traditional Bolivar swimming and kiddie pools, or the gorgeous Eco Pond Pool, grotto style on several levels with a waterfall. The Beach Club is a 20 minute ride away (complimentary transportation available), with its sandy beach meeting the crystal clear sea. Rejuvenate yourself at the Kura Hulanda Spa, attached to a fully equipped fitness center.

But the real story of Hotel Kura Hulanda are the treasures of art, architectural artifacts, and surprises that await your discovery at every turn. You will definitely want to take some time to simply stroll the grounds and see what is tucked away in every nook and cranny.

Owner Jacob Gelt Dekker is truly a modern-day Indiana Jones, who delights in traveling the world and bringing many of his amazing finds back to Kura Hulanda. In this courtyard you find an intricately carved, antique Thai covered bench. In another, you stumble upon an open room full of Cotton Club and Harlem Jazz Age memorabilia. Yet another turn reveals incredible stone and marble sculptures, from which you step through a doorway to enter an amazing photographic and print art gallery.

Dekker also felt a vital importance for honoring the traumatic history and legacy that the island and its people have with the slave trade. The moving Museum Kura Hulanda is a powerful testament to this history; at places it becomes alive in disturbing ways that touch the soul how it should, such as the haunting recreation of the hold of a slave ship that you can step down into.

Hotel Kura Hulanda is a historic treasure - come discover it for yourself.

Details:

Contact tel: +5999 434 7700, Toll Free from USA 877-264-3106, fax: +5999 434 7701, e-mail: hotel@kurahulanda.com. Rates from $130 to $1300.

Hotel Kura Hulanda Website

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