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November 14, 2014

Business Travel to Curacao: What You Need to Know

Floris Suite Hotel’s private and gay-friendly Pirate Bay Beach Club and Restaurant offers guests a chance to relax in solitude.
Floris Suite Hotel’s private and gay-friendly Pirate Bay Beach Club and Restaurant offers guests a chance to relax in solitude.

Known for its unique architecture, 60-plus dive sites, adventure opportunities and year-round warm weather, Curaçao is a top destination for seasoned Caribbean clients looking for something different in the region. And now, with new nonstop flights from New York launching soon, the island is poised to become an option even for the first-time Caribbean visitor. This should improve the already rosy tourism outlook for Curaçao, which hosted 440,044 overnight visitors in 2013—a 4.9 percent increase over 2012.

A Game-Changer

JetBlue Airways announced in July its new nonstop flights from New York to Curaçao. Beginning December 2, JetBlue will become the only airline to offer such service to the island. Flights will operate twice weekly, on Tuesdays and Saturdays, between New York’s JFK International Airport and Curacao International Airport. They will depart JFK at 9 a.m. and arrive on the island at 2:30 p.m. Return flights will depart at 3:30 p.m. and arrive in New York at 7:14 p.m.

Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort’s Premier Water View King Room uses natural wood and earth-toned colors.
Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort’s Premier Water View King Room uses natural wood and earth-toned colors.

Top Hotels

Designed for adults only, the Floris Suite Hotel already handles large-scale events as the host hotel for Caribbean Pride Week. The boutique all-suite, property has plenty of open spaces, and small meetings for up to 45 people can be held in the hotel's “White Room.” Agents should reach out to Jurandy Regina (011-5999-462-6111), sales and marketing manager, with any inquiries.

Sonesta Kura Hulanda Village & Spa is located in a boutique village in the capital, Willemstad, in a restored neighborhood with intricate Dutch architecture. On the west end, Kura Hulanda Lodge & Beach Club is a quaint resort featuring a world-class reef off its shore and views of the sunset. For business functions, the Conference Center Kura Hulanda is comprised of three buildings that can be linked through closed-circuit TV. Each building may be rented individually. The Tula Room, which can accommodate 160 people seated theater-style, is one of the largest options for a presentation. For details, agents should contact Jody DeLeon (954-635-7678), director of sales.

The Tula Room at the Sonesta Kura Hulanda Village & Spa

The Avila Hotel was built around the onetime Governor’s mansion and retains a historic vibe. It offers several indoor and outdoor spaces for formal and informal functions. Agents should direct any questions to Farley Hollander (800-747-8162), sales and marketing manager.

The Awawak Ballroom at Santa Barbara Resort

On the east side of the island, the Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort is an exclusive “island within an island.” The hotel is home to what we hear is the island’s largest ballroom, covering 5,760 square feet of meeting space. The Arawak Ballroom can accommodate a formal banquet and entertainment for more than 250 guests or a reception for more than 500. The ballroom can also be divided into as many as five sections, making it flexible for groups of varying sizes and needs. Guests can also use the adjacent Arawak pre-function area and terrace. The smaller Lokono Ballroom can accommodate more than 250 guests in a theater set-up. Planners can also divide the ballroom into three sections, using two for breakout meetings in a U-shape format for 20 and the other for a luncheon. For formal evening functions, the room will seat up to 120 dinner guests with room for dancing and entertainment. For more information, agents should get in touch with John MacMullen (786-507-8335), director of sales and marketing.

Avila Hotel’s Octagon Superior rooms have a balcony with garden or ocean views.
Avila Hotel’s Octagon Superior rooms have a balcony with garden or ocean views.

Other notable hotels include the Hilton Curacao, Papagayo Beach & Design Hotel, Curacao Marriott Beach Resort & Emerald Casino, Baoase Luxury Resort, Renaissance Curacao Resort & Casino and Blue Bay Curacao Golf & Beach ResortIn other accommodation news, Choice Hotels International’s Ascend Hotel Collection recently announced the addition of Acoya Hotel Suites & Villas in Willemstad near Mambo Beach. Acoya surrounds a natural lake, affording water views from its spacious studios, suites and villas. (Ascend is an international portfolio of independent hotels.) 

For Foodies

Clients with a love for gastronomy will have plenty to explore in Curaçao. The Floating Market in Punda is not to be missed. Venezuelan vendors sell their fresh produce along the waterfront, directly off their small fishermen’s boats, which double as living quarters between trips to and from the island. The color and variety of fruits and vegetables is a delicious photo opportunity.

Also, Marsche Bieuw in downtown Willemstad offers truly authentic local meals. Individually operated stands offer a range of local favorites prepared onsite, such as stoba (stew), funchi (similar to polenta), kabritu (stewed goat), fresh fish like Red Snapper and a favorite: pumpkin pancakes. Politicians, shop owners, area residents and tourists gather at rows of tables and benches to enjoy their afternoon meal side by side.

Truk’i Pans, the original food trucks found throughout the island, serve late-night eats from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. to satisfy the post-party craving. A few popular ones include: Nancy’s, The Griller, El Pinguino de Oro, Makamba’s Grill and Naoki’s.

Gay-Friendly Island

There are still some Caribbean islands that are not onboard with the acceptance of LGBT vacationers, but Curaçao is certainly not one of them. The island’s European influence and the open, friendly nature of its people, along with events such as Gay Pride Week and South Caribbean Pride Week, have put the island on the frontline of LGBT tourism in the Caribbean.

Getting There

Curaçao International Airport is the island’s main airport. In addition to the aforementioned JetBlue service, there are daily flights on American Airlines and Insel Air from Miami, as well as weekly flights on Insel from Charlotte, NC. Beginning in January 2015, Air Canada will offer weekly flights from Toronto and Montreal, and there will be seasonal service from Toronto on WestJet and Sunwing Airline. Charter flights are also available.

Tax Information

Good to know: Meetings in Curaçao are tax-exempt for U.S.-based planners. The United States and Curaçao tax information exchange agreement apply new standards for US taxpayers’ concerning business and convention expenses based in Curaçao, allowing US taxpayers to claim a tax deduction for expenses associated with a convention held in Curaçao to the same extent as a convention held in the United States. (There are limitations applicable to deductions for expenses associated with foreign conventions; however, with the implementation of this TIEA, the five islands of the Netherlands Antilles are considered part of the North American area. Therefore, expenses incurred while attending conventions, business meetings and seminars in Curaçao are allowed deductions according to the same regulations as if it were a U.S. territory.)

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About the Author: Joe Pike

About the Author: Jena Tesse Fox

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