There is a Dutch proverb that says “Keep your finger on your wrist” (“De vinger aan de pols houden”), which refers to the constant checking of vital signs through the heartbeat. This is possibly the motto of the management of the Avila Beach, the oldest hotel in Curacao.
Near the historic Punda district, Avila‘s first building dates back to 1780, and is now the reception area. What we have as a four-star hotel today, previously served as the residence of English rulers until the mid-1800s, hosted the revolutionary Simón Bolívar and his sisters after the failure of the first stage of the revolt in Venezuela in 1812, was a private hospital at the end of World War II and, from the 1950s, became a favorite hotspot for tourists of high social status. It is where, for example, Dutch royalty have always stayed, having recently welcomed King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima (current monarchs) as guests in 2018.
Understanding and serving the context of each decade to never lose its vital signs is the finger on the wrist that Avila maintains. One can be sure of this, now in 2021, when entering any of its 157 accommodations (131 rooms and 26 apartments) and being surprised by very modern facilities. Outside, centuries-old architecture, inside, the future.
Another well-known tradition of Avila is its hospitality to the LGBTQIA+ community, following the positioning of Curaçao, which sells itself as “the most friendly island in the Caribbean”. On its website, the hotel reinforces: “Our inclusive policy reflects the fact that we are the first hotel in Curaçao to become a member of IGLTA (International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association). Our staff is prepared to make no distinctions and we are highly sought after to perform wedding ceremonies for gay and lesbian guests on our premises. Whether your shower, commitment ceremony, romantic dinner, or honeymoon, our reservations and events departments will be happy to help you plan the details of your special day”. And, indeed, there a couple of lesbians kisses quietly on the beach of the Avila Hotel without being the subject of any crooked glances, neither by the staff nor by the guests.
About the staff, the team is spontaneously helpful and careful, to the point of remembering your place on the beach to bring your predicted drink and even receive a personal welcome from the general manager, the very nice Germaine.
TWO BEACHES 🏖️
While most major hotels in Curaçao offer a private beach, the Avila offers two. Both are calm, protected from the big waves by a small rock wall. It is possible to borrow from the hotel a stand up paddle board and/or a snorkel to enjoy the beautiful reefs.
On the sand are available parasols, kiosks, sun loungers, and a bar that serves drinks and snacks. Another gentle detail of Avila is putting dispensers, such as those of alcohol gel, but with sunscreen of the brand Raw Elements.
There is also very a photogenic infinity edge pool overlooking the sea near the “Octagon Museum”.
Still rescuing part history, the hotel has turned into a museum the two-story octogonal building where Simón Bolívar stayed before gathering the armed forces to end Spanish colonial rule in South America. Named “Octagon Museum”, the place is open for visitation on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 am to 12 pm. In addition to the museum, various pieces of art, such as sculptures, are also strategically distributed throughout the hotel.
In 2007, a wing was built next to this museum. Also called “Octagon”, the contemporary complex houses a convenience store, beauty salon, souvenir shop and 68 rooms, including the Bolívar Suite, the hotel’s most luxurious and beloved accommodation. A patio was made there, also in front of this complex, for weddings, concerts, fairs, and various events.
ROOMS APARTMENTS 🏨
Other wings besides the Contemporary Octagon were built after 1780, obviously. The “La Belle Alliance”, a reference to the battle of the same name held in 1815 against Napoleon Bonaparte, features several formats: rooms (Deluxe and Oceanfront), apartments (one or two bedrooms) and the Penthouse, which has 160 m².
As stated earlier, the facilities are quite modern. In the “La Belle Alliance Apartment 1 bedroom”, for example, the 75 m² include a large balcony with a four-seater table and a sun lounger, a fully equipped American kitchen (including even a dishwasher), a very spacious living room, a toilet at the entrance with shower and a suite with bathroom equipped with double sink and an impressive walk-in closet.
CARIBBEAN KITCHEN 👨🍳
Besides the pool bar and the “Schooner Bar”, the oldest beach bar in Curacao, there are two restaurants: “The Pen”, which runs all day and also serves dinner, and the “Blues”, which opens only for dinner and is so popular that reservations are necessary.
The Blues Restaurant has good prices and a very attractive menu for seafood lovers. As a starter, there is an option that deserves attention, the “Local Must Try Sopi Marisko”, which looks like a luxurious reinterpretation of the appetizing beach soups from the Brazilian northeast. The options with the typical fish of the island, the “Red Snapper”, should also be strongly considered and, at Blues, there is even ceviche with cioba.
ROMANCE, SPA, GYM AND SUSTAINABILITY
For lovers, the hotel offers as a service to prepare a candlelit dinner on the sand. As stated earlier, the Avila boasts of hosting many LGBT+ wedding ceremonies.
It is also possible to find at the Avila the spa service with massage and gym. To avoid crowding, it is necessary to reserve a time to go to the gym.
Another important point to report is the hotel’s socio-environmental responsibility, which makes it clear that it acts in six ways: collaborating with local schools, planting trees in Haiti, hiring employees born and raised in Curacao, encouraging the Pack for a Purpose program, helping collaborators with studies at Cornell University and, of course, recycling. The recycling measures won two awards in 2013: “Travelife Gold Award” and the “Sustainable Innovation Award”.