Be forewarned, this will be longwinded!
We spent 6 nights at the Avila Hotel at the beginning of April 2014. This was our first experience ever being in the Caribbean and I was just blown away at how beautiful this hotel is. Right from the lobby, up to our room. I absolutely loved nearly everything about this hotel.
We stayed in the Blues wing in room 291 and the views from this room are absolutely dynamo. This room is at the very end of the pier on the upper floor, is big, super private and has an amazing unobstructed view of the ocean. This room had a private balcony with two loungers and we spent quite a lot of time just enjoying the view. It did start to get absolutely sweltering as the sun started to crest, but that's no fault of the hotel. The room itself is somewhat dated, but still very comfortable. It features both European and North American outlets throughout the main room, but only European in the bathroom. My only issue with the room(and it's a small issue) is that the bathroom is a little dingy. It's not outright gross, but it could use a spring cleaning and retiling as there were a few broken shower tiles. This isn't enough to overrule how amazing the rest of the room is. Also, the room always felt a little bit damp and it was hard to dry our swim suits and towels.
Our first night we didn't get to the hotel until nearly 8:00pm, so we dined at the Blues Bar. I had no idea what a Pincho was, but our server was super friendly and had no qualms about answering all of my naïve questions about the local fare. Needless to say, my assorted meat Pincho was so succulent and tasty. I recommend at least one visit to this restaurant.
Our first morning we explored the hotel grounds. Colourful crabs adorn the pier behind the Blues Restaurant and it was amusing to watch them scuttle around. The grounds are well manicured, beaches are always clean. The size of the crowd at the beach ebb and flowed but we found that no matter what time we hit the beach, there was always a couple of free chairs. There are those selfish people who "hold" chairs with their towels all day, but those are the minority.
My Fiancé also surprised me with dinner on the beach on the Belle Terrace side. There was an issue with our reservation at first in which they booked us on a date that they couldn't facilitate due to a fancy Italian guest chef cooking at the restaurant that night. But, they were very helpful in accommodating us on a different night. Now, it is pricy, but so beautiful. They set out a blanket on the beach with a squat table and pillows all around it and surrounded by small potted torches. Super romantic. Our server (I really wish I could remember his name, I think he may have been the Manager??) was absolutely amazing. He explained every dish to us in detail and the chef prepared every course special for us. So delicious. You really felt like royalty being out there by yourself having so much attention paid to you and your meal. It was great.
I WOULD AVOID THE BREAKFAST BUFFET IF AT ALL POSSIBLE!!! Don't bother paying the extra to have it included with your room. It's super expensive and it was a horrible experience. The guests were super pushy and rude and it was incredibly busy. We got there about 8:00am and all that was there were scraps. The second more food was brought out, the guests were all over it like vultures. I was able to round up a croissant, bacon, and some pancake scraps...The food was just kind of "meh". What you'd expect of a crazy busy breakfast buffet. We did this once and decided that for $22 per person, we could find somewhere better to eat in the morning (Which we did, amazing cafes just down the street in Punda. Pleincafe Wilhelmina, go there!)
We felt super safe the entire stay of our trip. There was security at the front of the hotel entrance to the lobby at all hours. We went into Punda and Otrobanda every single day and we always walked everywhere. Our first few nights we took the advice of the front desk staff and took a taxi home after dark, but as we became more accustomed to the area we started to walk back to the hotel in the evening. We felt very safe even if the hotel is on a dark seaside street. The few people we met on the street were other tourists, or locals going about their own business. I'm not saying to go ahead and walk home after dark. I'm just saying that we did, and we felt ok to do so.
I really recommend getting off the hotel and going to explore. Rent a car and drive around the island to really experience the place. When we go back we will rent a car for a couple more days. Perhaps from the Airport, as our experience with the Budget Car rental at the hotel was not positive. We dealt with 2 different women on two different days and neither of them seemed like they were super keen on being there or renting us a car and we felt rushed the whole time. I don't think they work for Avila hotel, but rather for Budget, so no fault to the hotel.
We are already planning our next trip to Curacao for April 2015, and you can guarantee that we will be staying at the Avila again. We've already done the Blues wing, so I'm excited to see what the Octagon Wing has to offer as I've heard it's new and quite modern. I CAN'T WAIT!