The South Caribbean island Curaçao resumed its in-person events in September, starting with five “Pride 2021” gatherings. The country sells itself as “the most friendly destination in the Caribbean” where Brazilian LGBTs tourists are very welcome upon proof of vaccination (against covid and yellow fever) and a PCR test with negative result performed 48 hours before boarding.
For this season, the big hotel novelty is the return of the Hilton Network on the island through the Mangrove Beach Corendon, an “all inclusive” resort opened in 2020 near the historic Otrobanda neighborhood. Reinforcing its positioning and the country’s commitment to diversity, this large 5-star complex greeted visitors with a rainbow flag flying at the main entrance.
At check-in, which starts at 4pm, guests are usually freshly graced with a glass of a creative sparkling drink made of Sprite and mint essence, whose recipe is kept under secret by the hostess. Even though they do not reveal the recipe of the sophisticated drink cited, the staff is positively helpful and humorous; a great indication that the management of the enterprise has been truly effective with human resources. This social care is also seen in the environmental sphere, where managers make a point of explaining that the hotel was built from “scratch”, installing solar energy panels throughout the resort, preserving the surrounding mangrove forest and aligning their responsibilities with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Still on the staff, all mangrove employees speak fluent English, Dutch, Spanish and Papiamentu; something natural among Curacaoans: these four languages are seriously taught in elementary school, as the TV host Carlton J. Jansen explained in an informal chat.
And yes, the rainbow flag is not just from the door out at the resort, you can notice LGBTs on staff at Mangrove in various sectors.
LIKE A KING 👑
In any of the 399 rooms at Mangrove Beach Corendon Curacao Resort one is bound to find at the very least a king size bed, private balcony and a unique aroma, literally, that was specially developed with Dutch and Arabic essences for the resort. The olfactory notes of the “Mangrove Beach Corendon” give the feeling of power, luxury and the relaxing freshness of a spa. The fragrance is also pleasantly present in amenities such as soap and shampoo.
There is also a 42-inch smartTV in every room with a personalized welcome message on the home screen, also informing the weather forecast and the account statement. The outlets are 220v, with the exception of one 110v in the bathroom. Some also have a USB port to charge your cell phone.
For the workaholics tourists, the desktop unit has tea and coffee making facilities. Smoking is not allowed in the rooms, but there is an ashtray on the private balcony.
The bathroom is spacious and, besides the amenities already mentioned above, has a hairdryer and makeup mirror. It is possible to choose a room with shower or bathtub.
In all, four swimming pools are part of this newly opened resort in Willemstad. Two of them are called “silent”: one is on the left and other on the right of the complex. They are not very frequented, and are excellent for hangovers or meditation days.
In the center of the resort are the two main pools, both quite photogenic: the first has an infinite edge and the other, large, with a wet bar in the background, the “Coco Pool Bar”. The large pool is spacious enough that it is never crowded. In this pool there are also very shallow parts specially made to house sun loungers.
Another way to get wet under the Caribbean sun is to frequent the resort’s exclusive water park, which is open from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. In “Aqua Park” are six slides that should not be underestimated; the biggest one, nicknamed “King Cobra”, and the one that provides a free fall in the dark are the highlights.
Going a little further on is the hotel’s private beach, the “Mangrove Beach”, where the turquoise sea water is calm, protected by rocks, and warm. There is the “Flamingo Beach Bar” on the sand of this beach, saving the guest from going to the pool bar to get a drink.
THE MENU, PLEASE 👨🍳
The drinks menu is varied to the point of being in doubt in what to order. The Bloody Mary has a “Corendon” spice and is worth tasting. It is also a good opportunity to try the drinks with the “Blue Curacao”, the blue liqueur made with oranges from the island. The bar staff is not afraid to serve: they work hard on the portions, decorate the glasses, and prepare the cocktails very quickly without being careless with the recipe measurements.
Between the wet bar and the beach, there is a “Food Street” that runs from 11am to 5pm serving pizzas, burgers, snacks, cut fruits, treats and ice cream. And it really does look like a street, like those warm ones in Tiradentes in Minas Gerais. There is live music at night on some days. There, the shawarma is quite tasty – for those who do not recognize it by this name, it is similar to the smelly “Greek barbecue” popularly sold in downtown São Paulo, but made of chicken. Thin slices are baked on a vertical skewer and seasoned with oriental ingredients. The tip is not to overindulge in these appetizers and save your hunger for meals in one of the five restaurants of the complex.
The “Breeze” is the main restaurant, where the three meals a day are served in buffet format. The breakfast is so diverse and vast that you could call it brunch. Including, because it is open until 11am. There are countless varieties of cold cuts (cheese alone has at least 12 options), plenty of breads and dairy products, and dishes that respect the culture of all continents. Lunch and dinner can surpass the plurality of the breakfast, and it is even difficult to describe everything there is. Even banana flavored soft drinks are served.
The other four restaurants are à la carte and open for dinner only. They all follow the salad- starter-dessert-dish pattern and it is necessary to reserve a table in advance at the reception from 10am to 4pm.
The “Dushi Sushi” has teriyaki fish or chicken as main course and pecan pie with ice cream topped with miso caramel. For smokers, it is a tip to digest on the terrace of the restaurant and visit “The Don Cigar Lounge”. There is a good selection of cigars (which are not included in the consumption, see the price list) to be enjoyed with dozens of whisky brands.
For meat lovers, “Cor & Don’s BBQ Restaurant” prepares an Argentinian steak to serve at outdoor tables. As a starter there is a cold cuts board and three types of salads. There is dessert, but you are likely to be satisfied during the main course.
The “Tavern Seafood Restaurant” is in a hut next to the beach, with the sea breeze and the moon shining in the sky. For the main course, choose the “red fish”, which is the typical fish of the island.
For lovers, the “Ristorante Siciliano” is on the edge of the hotel’s private beach and has pizzas and pasta on the menu. It is the most romantic of all.
And for those who like to raid the fridge in the early morning, they will have a great time with the “Pera Lobby Bar & Patisserie”, open 24 hours a day with a display case full of pies, cakes and small sandwiches. All drinks served in the other bars are also available there.
In addition to a gym with brand new equipment, Mangrove offers a daily schedule of activities such as morning aqua aerobics, dancing, beach volleyball and diving. The Groove Diving, a service apart from the hotel, offers classes and water activities such as snorkeling and diving. You can even rent a kayak or stand paddle for a guided tour in the surrounding mangrove waters.
Since the resort is close to the historic center of Willemstad, it’s worth renting an electric scooter (USD 35) at the reception desk to enjoy the Dutch architecture of Otrobanda and Punda, neighborhoods listed as UNESCO World Heritage. The famous “Queen Emma” bridge, which appears on postcards of the city, is located in this region, it is the bridge that separates the respective neighborhoods.
Massages for various purposes can be booked at the “Cabanas Spa”situated on the left side of the private beach. A small beauty salon next to the “Breeze” restaurant offers haircuts, nails, and waxing, as well as a hair moisturizing service especially designed for the last day of the trip.
There is a laundry service, which also offers dry cleaning.
In addition, there are three stores in the reception are: a convenience store, a souvenir store, and a beachwear store where you can book island trips to Klein Curaçao.
MANGROVE BEACH CORENDON BY HILTON
Pater Euwensweg 31
Willemstad – Curacao