We used TripAdvisor to help us decide on our honeymoon location and hotel, so we thought it only fair to write a full review for those who came after us. We include plenty of pro's and con's so that you can be the judge, based on what your top vacation priorities are:
-Beautiful weather -- never rained; sunny and around 85 degrees every day. Just what we were hoping for, coming from an East Coast (US) winter.
-Hotel lobby, pool, and general landscaping -- when you pull up to the hotel, a calm breeze hits you and you see a great view of the pool and ocean. The lobby is all open-air with big fans and couches to relax on. The pool is big and clean, with a swim-up bar and lots of seating. Never felt over-crowded, and made for good photos. This hotel takes great pride in their "curb appeal" so you'll see people trimming the bushes and keeping things nice each day.
-Free upgrades -- because it was our honeymoon (and my husband is a Platinum Marriott Rewards member), we asked for a room upgrade (from resort view to ocean view) and were able to get one the 2nd day. They also gave us free champagne on ice because it was our honeymoon! Don't forget to mention this when you check in!
-All-Inclusive Option -- we narrowed down our own honeymoon hotel choices based on who would allow us to use Marriott points for an All-Inclusive food & drink option. I really can't imagine a true relaxing vacation without doing this. All of our meals and drinks any time of day were free. We had to pay tips at each one, but for 8 days this only ended up being less than $100 total - not too bad. The food and drink would have been QUITE pricey (we are a couple who is used to spending $20 on a typical meal for two, not $70!), so this put us at ease. Go for this option if you can, even just to spare yourself any unnecessary stress.
-Breakfast & Dinner at Portofino --lots of options, an attentive staff, more formal atmosphere
-Lunch & Dinner on the deck at Seabreeze -- if you can get a table up on the deck, you get a nice breeze and eat overlooking the ocean; the picturesque sunset dinner on an island vacation.
-Tiki huts on the beach -- Marriott provides all of the chaise lounges on the beach and there are a number of tiki huts you can sit at for shade and somewhere to put your drink. Get out on the beach early to claim one (by putting your stuff there) or try for one later in the afternoon. You don't reserve them formally, but they are definitely hot commodities.
-Proximity to ocean -- this hotel is RIGHT on the water. Couldn't be closer - just what we wanted!
-Free shuttle to downtown Willemstad twice a day -- good for 3-or-4-hour excursions into the city.
-Theme Buffet Nights -- every night but Saturday, the hotel has a Theme Night for dinner. We were skeptical of this at first, but it turned out to be great! Monday was Italian at Portofino, Tuesday was American (steak) night at Seabreeze, Wednesday was Mexican Night at Portofino, Thursday was Mongolian Stir Fry at Seabreeze, Friday was Secrets of the Sea at Portofino, and Sunday was Local Fare at Portofino. These dinners started at 6, and we were usually one of the first ones there. As a side note -- you need reservations for dinner at Portofino and Seabreeze if you want one of the best tables (see Seabreeze sunset on the deck comment above, ha). I think the busier dinner times are after 7pm, so we were pretty much always taken care of getting there at 6, but it's a good precaution to take. Food was great and it was fun trying new things!
-Snorkeling - there is snorkeling equipment available at a business run off to the side of the hotel, and this also came free with our All-Inclusive package. You can snorkel right in the water off the beach at the hotel; this was an easy and fun way for us to try snorkeling for the first time!
-Boardroom Beach Bar -- there is a bar right on the beach that serves food and drink from 11am to 7pm. Super easy and very convenient when we were out reading under our Tiki Hut.
-Language - English is one of the 4 primary languages of Curacao, so that was great. But you also had tourists and staff from all over the world there, so it was neat getting to hear other languages and learn about other cultures vicariously. Watch out for foreign men in speedos though :)
-Emerald Lounge -- right off the hotel lobby, this restaurant got it all wrong: the service was unbearably slow and the food wasn't great. They served me undercooked chicken the first lunch we had there. I sent it back and the second was fine, but even the pizza we had there was sub-par. I'd skip this one for anything but a quick drink sitting at the bar or going there to listen to music on the weekends.
-Hit-or-miss service -- We had some very nice, attentive staff in Curacao. We also had some slow, rude, or "huh? didn't we call for those towels like 45 minutes ago?" moments. As typical Americans, I'd say if we didn't care about super-fast service at meals or in our room, this would be a non-issue, but we did get a little annoyed at times. If you're in a rush to eat, don't go anywhere but Portofino -- they are the quickest. Everyone else seems to be on island time. For a husband who has to take insulin shots for diabetes 15 minutes max before eating...we had a couple of touch-and-go moments where if his food didn't arrive when it did he might have passed out. Just a precaution, especially if you have any health issues yourself.
-Very average room -- for as beautiful as the hotel lobby, pool, and grounds are, when you enter the hotel rooms (even Ocean View like ours), you can't help but be a little disappointed. They look like outdated Marriott rooms you'd find anywhere in the country. Small, a little musty, old AC units, and tiny bathroom. I was expecting something a little more "Wow" from a RESORT's rooms, but if you didn't look outside your window, you might have never known the difference between Curacao and Tennessee.
-Casino -- the casino was also very average -- smokey and not completely updated; the staff there was also a bit hover-y and/or rude, depending on the person. Not the best vibe there. But they did give us some free money to play with (you pay $10, they give you an extra $2.50) and we ended up winning some! We're not big casino people, but I still can't imagine this would be considered one of the best on anyone's list.
-Internet isn't free -- again, I'd expect for the price people pay to stay at a resort, the internet use should be free. It is in Charleston and other cities we've stayed at. But here you had to pay $5 for 25 minutes of use. Not ideal.
-Tourist trips not offered every day/consistently -- there is a Yellow tourist station right in the lobby which is great, but the trips they list aren't always offered, which left us disappointed when we wanted to go see the dolphins at the aquarium and they weren't even offering the trip on its scheduled day because they didn't have a driver. Bummer.
-Airport experience -- the airport itself was quaint and just fine. But having never traveled internationally, we weren't sure what to expect. Customs never looked at our bags coming into the country, which we felt weird about, and all they were really concerned about was that you filled out this survey about your reasons for coming there and how you liked your trip and gave it back before leaving the island. When we were returning to the US, we bought a water bottle at the airport AFTER security, but they had ANOTHER security check point as we boarded the planes. They frisked everyone (awkward) and took our water bottle - even though it was sealed and we bought it there! This wasn't like a US airport and I thought that was a bit odd.
Overall, our trip was great. If you're going for RELAXATION and pretty beaches/scenery - Curacao is great. If you're looking for a hotel room you never want to leave, then the Marriott isn't your best pick. They have more food options than the normal hotel, but I would say go for the All-Inclusive package so you're not thinking about what you would have been spending. Weather was ideal, we got to try a few new things and explore. I would recommend it, but we'll probably never return because there are so many other places we'd like to travel around the world! Maybe we'll go back once we're retired :)
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Curacao Marriott Beach Resort & Emerald Bay Casino are located directly on a private beach in Willemstad, Curacao. Spend your days basking in the sun at our resort pool or beach, or experiencing all history and adventure Curacao has to offer through our on site Tour and Car Rental desk. Once the sunsets, you will experience amazing dining by sea at our beachfront restaurant Seabreeze. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Curacao Marriott Beach Resort & Emerald Hotel Willemstad
- Curacao Marriott Beach Resort And Emerald Casino
- Marriott Willemstad
- Curacao Marriott Beach Hotel Emerald
- Marriott Curacao
- Willemstad Marriott
- Curacao Marriott Beach Resort & Emerald Casino Willemstad