The Curacao Marriott Beach Resort & Emerald Casino
The location of the Curacao Marriott Beach Resort & Emerald Casino is excellent. A short ride from town and located on a very nice slice of beach just down the street from the Hilton Curacao. As your arrive the view from the lobby is spectacular — the beautiful pool area in the foreground and the deep blue sea in the background. The hotel staff could not be more welcoming. Our bellman grabbed a couple of Brion beers for us on the way to our room. A great way to set the vacation mood. However, a great way to ruin the vacation mood is to offer out of date rooms with a distinctly musty odor (and a noisy air conditioning system) albeit with an excellent view of the pool and ocean (Room 261).
Needless to say my beautiful girlfriend was not impressed. An experienced traveler, she has Marriott Platinum status (achieved after staying 75 nights in Marriott hotels) and that helped us get upgraded to an ocean front room with a fantastic view (Room 288). FYI the best rooms at this hotel are the ocean front from rooms 150 – 155, 250 – 255, 350 – 355, 187 -192, 287 -292 or 387 – 392. Still room 288 was showing its age with carpeting that should have been replaced more than a few years ago. The hotel staff says they are about to upgrade the rooms but who knows. Just not what you would expect from a Marriott resort. We wound up checking out two days early and headed to the Renaissance Curacao Resort & Casino.
What I liked about the Curacao Marriott Beach Resort & Emerald Casino was the intimate scale of the physical plant. Unlike the spectacular Marriott Marco Island Resort (where the rooms are absolutely outstanding), the scale at the Curacao Marriott Beach Resort & Emerald Casino is smaller and more enjoyable. The beach is nice and we enjoyed snorkeling right in front of the hotel (they rent pretty good equipment at the towel hut — $10 for four hours). You will also want to hit happy hour at The Boardroom — the Marriott’s cool beach front bar where you can enjoy a Polar beer and watch the sunset. Fantastic! There is also an onsite dive shop, Caribbean Sea Sports Curacao, which I did not utilize because they insisted that I waste a full day with a check out shore dive ($90 plus $44 equipment rental) despite substantial dive experience (in their defense I hadn’t been diving in two years). The normal two tank boat dive costs $105 plus another $44 if you didn’t schlep your equipment.
We didn’t have a chance to try the beautiful onsite Portofino restaurant (we did walk through during the dinner hour and everything looked great). Although we loved the nearby El Gaucho steakhouse for the delicious steaks, the outstanding hilltop location and the charming wait staff. We lunched at the Marriott’s beachfront café which offers a great ocean view and typical resort fare. The food was expensive and forgettable. Lunch for two with a beer and two cocktails was $70. Try Eetcafe de Buren in Punda (near the huge CURACAO sign) for better food, reasonable prices and very friendly service.
For my money the Curacao Marriott Beach Resort & Emerald Casino is just a room upgrade away from being an outstanding hotel. It has all of the ingredients — great location, outstanding staff, decent food. However, the rooms need a little TLC to bring them up to snuff.