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“Overall, our best experience in the Caribbean” 5 of 5 stars
Review of The Royal Sea Aquarium Resort

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The Royal Sea Aquarium Resort
3.5 of 5 Resort   |   Bapor Kibra z/n, Willemstad, Curacao   |  
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Ranked #7 of 29 Hotels in Willemstad
Certificate of Excellence
Silver Spring, MD
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
“Overall, our best experience in the Caribbean”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 22, 2014

A Summary — with the caveat that what's "pro" and "con" for some is not so for others:

PROS:
1. Great location on the island – not too isolated but also not crowded and not noisy; not difficult to get into the main town of Willemstad or to go food shopping, either by rental car or by the free shuttles provided.
2. For marine life aficionados young and old, the proximity to and daily free access to the Sea Aquarium is a fabulous benefit. This is not comparable to a really large public aquarium or Sea World type of experience, but offers a lot in a small area – including a dolphin and sea lion show, an opportunity to feed stingrays and sharks. The staff is quite knowledgeable and provides a great educational experience. Also it's fun to watch the sea lions every day when you walk by their enclosed area near the resort.
3. For snorkelers, the small lagoon offers a sheltered area that’s safe and more than interesting enough for the beginning snorkeler.
4. For scuba divers or more adventurous snorkelers, the dive shop right across the lagoon (2-3 minute walk) has day trips to other areas.
5. If you can afford the quite high cost, the on-site mini-sub operation can provide a "full immersion" trip to the outer reefs!
6. Resort staff is extremely friendly and helpful.
7. Every room has some kind of ocean or pool + ocean view, and have good wireless internet.
8. The larger rooms (1 BR or larger suite) are quite nice, have more than adequate kitchens, and have huge, comfortable balconies.
9. Across the small lagoon/harbor are numerous waterfront/beachfront bars, cafés, restaurants and shops – in the development called “The Boulevard.” It was quite lively during our stay, partly due to a lot of World Cup soccer fans and the large TV screens the bars had set up.

CONS:
1. This is a small resort and has few activities to offer, other than the Sea Aquarium during the day. There is no nightly entertainment or night-life, other than what’s going on at the beachfront bars on the other side of the lagoon. (Fortunately that is an easy walk.)
2. No on-site fitness center, tennis courts or other athletic facilities.
3. Few options for dining; only Augusto’s on the premises (but which we liked!), and a few others across the lagoon, associated with other small resorts. In addition to the smaller cafés there are some full restaurants but it seems that they are not among the more highly-rated ones in Curacao.
4. The resort’s beach isn’t the nicest sort of sand beach, it’s a hard sand with bits of broken coral that can be a bit uncomfortable to step on. The nearby resorts across the lagoon have nicer beaches such as Mambo Beach and Cabana Beach, however they are also more crowded. (Note, you can use them for a fee. Later in the day, they seem to pay less attention to newcomers.)
5. The overall setting of this resort (and all the nearby resorts) is a bit unnatural, having all been developed along this lagoon/harbor artificially created with coral rock and dredging. Although it has distinct advantages (mainly, providing shelter from wind and waves), it might not appeal to those who want a more natural looking tropical beach setting. The “ocean view” that most all rooms have is indeed a view of the ocean, but not with a palm-lined sandy beach as part of it. That did not disappoint us, but maybe important to other people.
6. A small detail, but something I hope the resort will pay attention to: The outdoor showers, especially the one at the beach, is inadequate and offers no separate option for washing sand off your feet – especially needed at that location. Not an issue for us, but: In both the beach and pool locations, the water valve is too high for small children or shorter persons to reach.

Resort experience – Our basic story:
We did an Interval International one-week exchange, but this time extended our stay by a few days with a per-day rental added to the beginning of our stay. The daily rental was one of the small rooms, and as noted by others, they are a bit disappointing, especially because of the very limited kitchenette and small balconies. We would have been unhappy with such a room for the entire stay, but for a few days it was OK for getting oriented to the place. The one-bedroom suite we had for the full week was probably the best room we’ve ever had, comparing to a few previous Caribbean trips. The large balcony was especially appreciated. We were not quite satisfied with the unit location we were first assigned to, but the staff was amazingly helpful and flexible in trying to find us an alternative. Partly by luck I suppose, but certainly by their willingness to help, the result we got was entirely satisfactory and memorable.

Getting Around:
The resort offers a free shuttle to downtown Willemstad, and a local supermarket “Vreugdenhil” offers a free shuttle to their nearest location – both are great extras, but of course you must be ready to follow their limited schedule. We decided to rent a car at the lowest rate we could find, and that turned out to be more than satisfactory. The super-econo-size was, for 2 people, just fine for our needs. Surely saved money vs. the rather expensive taxi rates here. We used it to visit Christoffel National Park, several beaches along the southwest coast, and some restaurants outside the immediate resort neighborhood. This leads to a few important comments about driving in Curacao. In a word: Challenging! Overall, road condition is fair to very good and although some roads are narrow, they’re still much better than we experienced on some other islands. The problem is signage. You may have a very good map, but excepting a few of the most important routes such as to downtown or to the airport you will have trouble finding road signs to verify what route you’re on. Signs seem to be, oddly, much more common for unimportant side streets than for main routes. Even when you see signs, the often very long Dutch names may not register easily in your memory, unless you know that language pattern well. This is where having a GPS (dedicated or as part of a smartphone) will help a lot. [iPhone/iPad note: Google maps has lots of detail for Curacao; Apple maps is nearly useless.] But don’t expect that to solve all your driving challenges. I wouldn’t recommend too much dependence on automatic directions generated by Google maps on phone or laptop, due to the fact that you will often not see a road or street sign for the turn your directions call for. It’s likely that with some destinations you will just have to periodically stop and re-verify your location and direction. And of course, asking the friendly locals is a backup option. Most people seems to speak English, Dutch, and Spanish as well as their native patois “Papiamentu.” (Say “danki” for “thank you.”) In general my approach was to drive more slowly and to frequently move over to let local and more confident drivers pass.

Snorkeling/Diving:
This trip was a bit of a diver’s homecoming for me. I was first in the Netherlands Antilles 34 years ago when my cousin and I, traveling in budget-backpacker mode, traveled from Venezuela to Curacao and then Bonaire. It was Bonaire where I had the best scuba diving of my life. Both islands have excellent water clarity and extensive reefs that in many places are not far from shore. On this trip, because my wife is not a scuba diver, we decided to stay with basic snorkeling and only in places accessible from the beaches. Although you don’t experience the greatest water clarity or most natural reef formations this way, it is still not disappointing. The variety of fish and other life is a real delight. In the lagoon/harbor near this resort, and the larger lagoon in front of the other resorts near Mambo Beach, the best water clarity is out near the breakwater. Wherever there’s an opening in the rocks and fresh seawater is washing in, the water is more clear. Although this breakwater all around the resort area is man-made of dynamited coral rock, one can see patches of natural coral (mostly “brain coral”) beginning to develop on the rock surfaces. We also snorkeled from some other beaches including Playa Knip, Playa PortoMari, Playa Daaibooibay, and Blue Bay Beach. The latter one is an excellent choice for a combination of a nicely developed resort beach area plus good snorkeling, and actually had the clearest water we experienced. Just beyond the resort’s pier is a dramatic and beautiful drop-off to much greater depths of intense blue. A most memorable snorkeling observation was seeing a school of 12 young squid of identical size, somewhat leisurely “on the prowl” as they moved in unison from one part of the coral to another. I wondered if they might be siblings.

Room Tip: If you can get it, 3rd floor will see more of the ocean. 1st floor might be preferred for families w...
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  • Stayed June 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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329 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (67)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Regina, Canada
Senior Contributor
40 reviews 40 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
34 helpful votes 34 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 10, 2014

This is a small resort a little offthe beaten track. Assuch it has minimal resort like facilities. However, it also has poor room facilities as well. We exchanged a Studio Suite at the Westin in Maui through Interval International ,for what we assumed would be a similar studio in Curacao. Interval rates this as being in their highest category ( Premier Resort) but this is by far the worst exchange we have had through them. We were extremely disappointed with both the facilities ( in the room not the resort---- we knew about those beforehand---- and the condition of the room.

Pros.
Location, location, location. The view from our unit was magnificent, with both the pool and the Caribbean in sight. This was one of the things that saved our vacation after the disappointment of seeing the room , along with an attitude of not letting the room spoil things. We spent as little time on the resort as possible.
The Aquarium was nearby and it was nice walking past the sealions each day.
There are a variety of restaurants within easy walking distance.
Curacao was wonderful. Another reason that saved the vacation.
The restaurant , Augustos, is pleasant but has a limited menu, that is pasta heavy ( it is after all Italian). You wouldn't want to eat there every night, as you may well run out of choices quickly. That said the food we had was good and reasonably priced, as was the wine we thought.

Cons
We had a very small unit, which like the previous poster noted, has no kitchenette but merely a microwave, tiny fridge and a kettle. Not even a sink. As such it is really just a hotel room with a microwave and not a Studio or equivalent. After all many hotel rooms have mini fridges these days. The size was equivalent to an average N American hotel room.
It had cups/ silverware for 2, yet had 2 double beds so presumably potentially sleeps 4.

Both cups were chipped, cracked and the cracks were stained ( so weren't new) , which speaks to the level of maintainance and attention to detail here.
The unit was in poor repair overall . Mold stains on the bathmat, holes in the marble floor, torn window screens etc. That said it was clean otherwise.
The decor seemed like old 1980's in style and condition, yet apparently the facility is much newer. We overheard many owners in the pool complaining about a lack of updates/ maintainance in the past and it seems, from their words at least,that this may be turning around, but it didn't show in our unit.
The staff were not unfriendly when approached but were certainly far from welcoming ( we noticed this more perhaps after a recent stay in St Lucia where everybody in that hotel made you feel welcome ).
You will likely need a car , as it is far from the town, where there is a bigger choice of restaurants etc. Not a problem but advice to potential guests before booking. There is a shuttle ( charged for) but this has a limited schedule and limited space. You can get taxis or local publictransport from the entrance ( several hundred yards walk away but where the parking is too).

Unless you have a 1 bedroom unit you will have no iron ( but one is available on request) . No hairdryers are in the units either but these are also available on request with a $25 refundable deposit. What hotel room doesn't have these as standard these days?

Overall it isn't somewhere I'd say avoidat all costs but certainly be aware of the limitations and make your own choice. If all you do is sleep there you may well be okay.

It wasn't a washout and we had a great time in Curacao. However, we probably wouldn't stay here again. The lack of investment in what has the potential to be a fantastic facility really shows. Interval International rates this as one of their highest category hotels, which is mind boggling to me and I would rate it as 3 star only.

  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gerardo G, Online Reputation Manager at The Royal Sea Aquarium Resort, responded to this review, June 13, 2014
Dear Guest,

Thank you very much for sharing your comments with us and the community. Your opinion is vital for us and gives us the opportunity to learn from what you didn't like and maintain those things you loved.

We feel glad that you enjoyed our location as well as our food and entertainment options near the resort. The Augusto's restaurant is a great place for dining and the Sea Aquarium is the perfect spot for family entertainment.

In reference to the cons that you found in our resort they brought to the attention of our managers and we are taking action in every one of them. As you pointed correctly we are in the process of a huge renovation that includes the refurbishment of all our junior suites, suites and villas. Right now the kitchens of our units are being renovated to give a better experience, and even our decor will have major changes during this year.

We truly apologize if we couldn't be able to give you the time you deserve in our resort, the entire team will be working very hard in order to improve their performance in every area of our service and we really hope that you can give us another chance to serve you in the future.

Kind regards from sunny Curacao,
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Folsom, California
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 8, 2014

We loved the front desk people!

We paid the 'going rate' for this time of year. We were quoted a 'kitchenette' we didn't even have a kitchen sink. So, we had to do dishes in the bathroom sink. The kitchenette had a coffee pot, but you needed to go get your own coffee. There wasn't a small stove top.. Just a microwave and small refrigerator.
The balcony was so tiny, two of us barely fit.
This place was a lot of money, and the normal perks were not offered. Not a 4 star place!!!
We took a drive to Marriott's and would wish we had stayed there.

  • Stayed June 2014
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 3, 2014

We own a one week timeshare here and love it! The weather is always perfect, staff friendly, service excellent. It is beautiful. There are only 30 rooms so we are like a big family. Augustos restaurant on site is terrific and highly recommended.

  • Stayed May 2014
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gerardo G, Online Reputation Manager at The Royal Sea Aquarium Resort, responded to this review, June 4, 2014
Dear Susan,

We felt more than happy when we saw your comment. Our members are the reason of our business and it was a nice surprise found your review. As you may know, we are in a continuos search of excellence and as you pointed correctly we are a big Family!

Thank you so much for being a part of The Royal Sea Aquarium Resort.

Kind regards from sunny Curacao.
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Cleveland, Ohio
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 1, 2014

I admit I was a little nervous about booking this resort from reading some of the reviews, but I can honestly say it was the absolute best choice for the area!!! We rented the 2 bedroom villa, which is a suite room and a hotel style room adjoining. There was plenty of space for the 5 of us, (4 adults, one teen). Now, I do have to say, from online pics I was confused on how big the beds were, in the basic unit ( the one like a standard hotel room) the beds are more like the size of a full bed. Two kids could sleep comfortably on one bed, but not two adults. So just keep that in mind when your choosing your accommodations. The Suite has a nice King size bed. As far as scenery,...you are basically are on the ocean anywhere on the resort and so you will have fantastic views from any room in the resort. The rooms are not overly luxurious but there are decorated nicely and very comfortable ... and come on it is the Caribbean what do you want to stay in the room for!
This is a timeshare resort. Don't let that scare you away, it actually means great benefits to you! There are many activities and events, for the owners they are free but for guests they give them to you at very cheap prices. An example is Happy Fun, which is like a happy hour. Drinks were about $3 for guests and they were Great!!! They will ask by letter if you would like a Timeshare tour, if you do the tour you can get some great little perks to use on your vacation. If not there is NO pressure. The timeshare staff were genuinely nice and helpful.

Pros:
1.Staff was fantastic.
~ A huge THANK YOU to The Activity Coordinators Zuly and Nyda ( probably spelled wrong..sorry) they made us feel welcome and kept us busy with plenty of fun and activities throughout our stay.
~Front desk staff was always helpful. They helped coordinate transportation, activities, directions, etc. You name it they were willing to help.
~Housekeeping was great. We have stayed in other rental units and timeshares before and NO housekeeping, so this was a HUGE bonus for me. They came daily to make beds and change towels, if necessary. Twice a week for full clean.
~The free shuttle to town and the grocery store was a great benefit. They pick you up and drop you off right in front of the hotel.
~Did I mention you get free unlimited access to Sea Aquarium next door!
~Private Beach. This is not a natural beach,so water shoes are advised, we did find broken glass on the beach a couple times. What is nice is that you have access to the water way and free beach chairs. ANYWHERE else on the island if you want a beach chair you will have to pay. Pay attention to signs when posted- we did get stung by small jellyfish a couple times.
~ Augustos Restaurant - Is right on the property. Good food and drinks. We ate breakfast there almost every morning and dinner a couple times. Servings sizes were very generous and good.

Cons
Not to many but use this list more or less as a " what to bring or buy at store" and maybe what the resort could improve on.
~ Kitchen- We did a lot of our own cooking. However the kitchen is lacking some items. We had only 1 steak knife in the kitchen. The few larger knives in the room were very dull, the butter knives cut better. No measuring spoons. No plastic containers or dishes. So bring plastic water bottles or cups for the beach and pool. Make sure you bring or buy saran wrap, baggies, foil or storage containers to store opened food in. There were no paper towels or napkins. We were able to buy those from the grocery store.
~ This is not really a con, several posts had stated that there was no soap. They do provide dish soap, dishwasher soap and hand liquid soap. There is also liquid soap in the showers. We just brought our own toiletries.

Overall this was a great trip and can't wait to go back!!!

Room Tip: We stayed in the unit on the 3rd floor facing the pool. We had great view of the ocean and wonderfu...
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  • Stayed May 2014, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gerardo G, Online Reputation Manager at The Royal Sea Aquarium Resort, responded to this review, June 4, 2014
Dear Guest,

Thank you for sharing your comments with us and the community. It has been a pleasure serving you during your last trip to Curacao. The growth we’ve experienced over the years is because of guests like you, who faithfully support our business.

We found gratifying that you had a great stay in our resort. As you pointed correctly we are a timeshare resort and a very special one. Our goal is to give you the relax and fun you deserve over a year of hard work. Our activities involve all the family and we are always preparing surprises for our beloved guests and members. Also, we feel very glad that you were comfortable in our villas, nonetheless, they will get better soon. So be prepare for a totally renewed villa in the next year.

The pros listed are a result of team work and hard work in our proceses so we will extend your comments to all our staff. In regards to the cons we are more than grateful to receive them due to they are a vital part of our growth. They brought the attention of our managers so will work on them one by one in order to give the best vacation at The Royal Sea Aquarium Resort.

We appreciate your trust, and we’ll do our best to continue to give you the kind of service you deserve.

Kind regards from sunny Curacao.
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Lake Forest, California
Top Contributor
167 reviews 167 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 44 cities Reviews in 44 cities
76 helpful votes 76 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 26, 2014

Our room was pretty basic, but the view was outstanding. We ate breakfast on our balcony watching the bananaquits in the palm tree while looking down at the pool and out into the endless sea. Housekeeping did a nice job, and I can't say enough about the staff. The office staff (especially Gabriel) helped us out on more than one occasion. They had activities by the pool many evenings including happy hour, where they mixed some unique drinks and games with gift certificates to local restaurants and more as prizes. The shuttles to Punda and the super market was a nice perk. It was very convenient to walk to several restaurants and shops. We had a good meal at their on-site restaurant, Augustos. The lagoon is pretty, unfortunately, when we were there, jellyfish were there too, and yes we did get stung. The sea aquarium is a cute diversion, but if you live in the states, you'll notice that it pales in comparison. Although people did seem to be having a good time at Dolphin Academy. Overall this is a clean, attractive, convenient and fun place to stay.

  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Gerardo G, Online Reputation Manager at The Royal Sea Aquarium Resort, responded to this review, June 4, 2014
Dear Guest,

Thank you for taking the time to share your comments with us and the community. I want you to know that we truly enjoyed serving you and we feel honoured to have been your chosen resort in Curacao.

This year we are starting a renovation process of our units so you can enjoy the amazing views of Curacao you experienced this time in a brand new villa. We invite you to visit us in your next trip to the island.

Also, we would like to take the opportunity to let you know that our most valuable resource is our staff and we feel very glad to hear such kind words for them. We will still working in our continuos search of excellence to give you the vacation you deserve.

Thanks again for your comments, that are a vital part of our growth.

Kind regards from sunny Curacao
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Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 15, 2014

You won't be disappointed. Private beach. Aquarium right next door. How can you go wrong?! Front desk so helpful. Housekeeping super! Restaurant was ok. The Sea Lions will welcome you home every time! Very close to williamsted and some amazing restaurants

Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
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Gerardo G, Online Reputation Manager at The Royal Sea Aquarium Resort, responded to this review, May 16, 2014
Dear Heidi,

Thank you for sharing your kind comments with us and the community. We feel very honoured to read that you had such an amazing experience in Curacao. Your comments inspire us to find new ways to impress our guests and deliver and a top quality service.

We look forward to see you soon in the near future.

Kind regards from sunny Curacao.
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Additional Information about The Royal Sea Aquarium Resort

Address: Bapor Kibra z/n, Willemstad, Curacao
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Curacao > Willemstad
Amenities:
Beach Business Center with Internet Access Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#4 Top resorts Hotel in Willemstad
#6 On the Beach Hotel in Willemstad
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — The Royal Sea Aquarium Resort 3.5*
Number of rooms: 30
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Royal Sea Aquarium Resort is the perfect spot for a relaxing getaway or for a family vacation. The friendly staff will make you feel right at home and take care of your every need. Whether you decide to relax on the beach or by the pool, join in the fun activity program, try your hand at water sports, visit the world-famous Sea Aquarium right next door to the resort or explore the island, you are sure to enjoy yourselves.The resort has 30 fully furnished Caribbean Ocean View Two Bedroom Master Suites (sleeping six) which can be divided into 30 Ocean View One Bedroom Suites (sleeping four) and 30 Ocean View Junior Suites (sleeping two). We will do everything we can to help you and your family get the most out of your stay on Curacao and we hope that you find the resort information and sightseeing ideas featured here useful. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Royal Sea Aquarium Hotel
Royal Sea Aquarium Curaçao
Sea Aquarium Resort Curacao
The Royal Sea Aquarium Resort Curacao/Willemstad

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