Avila Hotel in a Nutshell:
One of three Netherlands Antilles islands off the coast of Venezuela, Curaçao
displays a stark, cactus-dry beauty rather than a typical Caribbean tropical look. With two private beaches at the Avila Hotel, located just on the edge of the capital Willemstad, guests may seldom wish to leave the island’s oldest operating hotel. The hotel’s original structure dates back to 1776, and before liberating South America from the Spanish, Simón Bolívar lived with his sisters in an octagonal house that today is an on-site museum and wedding location.
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Avila Hotel Guest Rooms:
Three wings were added to the Avila in recent years. All rooms come with a spacious walk-in shower and amenities such as Frette robes. Desk space is ample and most rooms have kitchenettes. The firm king and full beds in the Octagon wing sport white bedspreads accented with a blue striped bed scarf
and its balconies are especially spacious. The all-wood Blues wing is built on a pier with a secluded observation deck and it is perhaps the most romantic area; all rooms have ocean-facing balconies. The resort's Bolívar Suites are adults-only. All rooms have free ethernet internet connections.
Dining at the Avila Hotel:
Located in a center patio, the Avila Café does its own baking on premises. The outdoor Belle Terrace restaurant serves swordfish saltimbocca wrapped in Parma ham, or guests can sample the unusual and rich local dish Keshi Yená—Edam cheese stuffed with chicken. At the end of the central pier, the Blues restaurant hovers over the water. Couples can sit in a private booth and enjoy burgers to lobsters while live bands perform on Thursday and Saturday jazz nights. The Pool and Schooner bars both have sandwich menus for in-between nibbles. Couples can also reserve on-site private beach dinners.
Destination Weddings at the Avila Hotel:
Avila wedding planners help with applications and stringent Curaçao legal documents. For a dramatic arrival, couples can choose to be driven to their ceremony in the Avila’s 1926 convertible Rolls-Royce. Three locations are used for wedding ceremonies: the Octagon Museum, the pergola on the Sea Terrace, and beach areas. Each wedding package provides seating for up to nine guests. White chair covers, carnation centerpieces and a red carpet for the couple are included. The wedding cake comes in a choice of shapes and colors, while kiwi fruit punch or coconut juice, and a bottle of champagne are served at reception.
Honeymoons and Romance at the Avila Hotel:
You’ll find rose petals on the bed as well as a bottle of Moët Chandon waiting for you as part of the Avila’s Forever Lovers honeymoon package along with decorative candles and fresh flowers. The hotel can arrange a mimosa breakfast in bed, and a torch-light dinner on the beach (with the option of a photo shoot and a trio playing love songs). A private couples massage can be had in your room or on your balcony. Couples can also be driven through downtown Willemstad in the resort’s Rolls-Royce convertible.
Activities at the Avila Hotel:
The Avila’s East beach is the wavier of the two resort strands. The West beach is wind-protected and calmer. The infinity pool is small enough to relax in without noisome swimmers making waves. Ultra-modern equipment and personal trainers are available in the gym, which also boasts a superb second-floor ocean view. Couples can often find privacy in the gym’s seldom-used balcony hot tub. The Santai Spa offers couples massages on the beach, as well as therapy packages that include a pre-wedding manicure/pedicure. Culture-loving couples make their way to the domed Octagon Museum, which also hosts readings and concerts.
Nearby the Avila Hotel:
Scuba diving, swimming with dolphins, and ocean kayaking are all within minutes of the Avila, as is terrestrial fun like golf and gambling. Want to explore the coral reefs without getting wet? The Substation at the aquarium is a two-person deep sea submarine. For cultural experiences, the private Kura Hulanda Museum is a showcase for African art. The 1732 Mikveh Israel Emanuel Synagogue, built in exquisite mahogany with a sand floor interior, is the oldest synagogue in the New World. To escape other people, book a short sailboat excursion to Klein Curaçao, an uninhabited island with an abandoned lighthouse.
What to Watch Out for at the Avila Hotel:
In the newer Octagon wing, the flatscreen TV is set on the wall at an uncomfortable ninety-degree angle to the bed. Air conditioning is strong but blows slightly unevenly, and tile floors can get slippery in the humid air. Voices in the hallways echo slightly. Kids are most likely to be encountered in the infinity pool off the Octagon wing.
Vibe at the Avila Hotel:
Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands makes her home at the Avila when visiting the former Dutch colony. A Eurocentric crowd visits, yet you will hear the lovely Papiamento creole language spoken by local guests (and staff). Families are welcome. However, the entire Blues wing is kept available for more adult seclusion. The property is also LGBT friendly. Several times a year the hotel hosts cultural events, like the Art in Avila concert series which brings in international chamber musicians to perform in the Belle Alliance wing.
Avila Hotel Info and Reservations:
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As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodation and meals for the purpose of reviewing those services. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy .