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“Another wonderful trip!”

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The Royal Sea Aquarium Resort
Ranked #11 of 32 Hotels in Willemstad
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed July 20, 2014

We just returned from a fabulous trip to Curacao and stayed at the Royal Sea Aquarium Resort. We did an exchange through Interval International for a 2 bedroom unit. We contacted them right before we arrived and requested a certain location and they bent over backwards to accommodate us. We were thrilled! This was our second stay at this resort.
We received one of the recently renovated units and it was lovely. The kitchen was all new with granite counters and stainless steel sink and appliances. The bed linens have all been updated too and were great. The bed was so comfortable in the master suite….we slept like babies the whole time. The maid service was great too. They changed our towels each day and took out the garbage and on the mid-week cleaning she was there for a very long time cleaning everything! We always had plenty of clean towels without asking.
We had such a good experience here, the staff were so friendly and helpful. The A/C worked perfect, no bugs anywhere, the balcony is one of the best you will ever find at any timeshare resort. The view was to die for! There were quite a few children this time around but it wasn’t too bad. We ate at Augusto’s one night and it was fine, nothing great. The eggplant parmesan I had was so strange! It was just a pile of minced up eggplant and vegetables with sauce. My husband’s grouper was good. Reasonable prices.
There are quite a few large iguanas here around the pool so be prepared if they freak you out! They are quite friendly. There were a few fun activities at the resort, there was a pool party one night with contests and vendors there. Another day they had a lunch time hot dog BBQ with more prizes. Every day they had happy hour at the pool with $3 drinks. Can’t beat that! No pressure to attend a timeshare meeting.
We snorkeled right in the lagoon at the resort and were pleasantly surprised. The water was crystal clear and calm and we saw everything from squid, parrot fish, French grunts, large schools of blue tang, 3 small barracuda, and lots of others. We snorkeled east under the bridge and saw the sharks through the netting at the aquarium. We went all the way to the inlet but the waves were too big there to go out and see the coral forest that is supposed to be there.
We had a rental car and shopped at a variety of stores. We went to Best Buy which had good prices and also at Vreugdenhil which is a very nice store. They are both 5 minutes away by car. We did a lot of self catering so we bought a lot of groceries.
The only comment we have for the resort is that it would be great if you installed gas barbeques instead of the charcoal ones that are there. We used them 3 nights and they were terrible. After an hour and a half we had to put our chicken in the oven to finish it off. The embers from the charcoal flew all over our feet and burned us because of the wind.
We had good weather the whole time we were there, no rain at all. For more details of our activities, see my trip report on the forum.
We had a wonderful trip and loved our stay at the Royal Sea Aquarium Resort!

  • Stayed: July 2014, traveled with family
    • Sleep Quality
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3  Thank californiadeb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 17, 2014

This was a great place to spend family vacation. We had a 1 bedroom unit and it was perfect for four. You are no more than 25 yards from the ocean and every view is ocean view. Do not be scared off by any poor reviews, we have been all over the Caribbean and this place stands tall. The only issue we did have was with air conditioning. We waited two days for it to be fixed in the Master bedroom. The kids loved the Lagoon for swimming. Zuly, the activities director, was great and the kids loved her. She was always friendly and helpful. Great scuba diving right off resort. The free passes for the Sea Aquarium made it even more cost efficient!

Room Tip: All rooms good.
  • Stayed: July 2014, traveled with family
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3  Thank Cdolphin2001
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 6, 2014

Property is not well maintained! Check-in was NOT professional, friendly or informative. This is a timeshare. Its made clear it is a non-profit resort and not a hotel. No amenities, except badly maintained pool. Had various maintenance issues - never resolved. Has a restaurant on property that would allow charges to room. Only thing going for this property is the location. Such a same - could be a gem.

  • Stayed: June 2014, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank cosmicsole
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 22, 2014

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

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.

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.

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...
  • Stayed: June 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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20  Thank sparisoma
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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.

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.

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
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2  Thank Fizzer59
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 reviewResponded 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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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
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1  Thank mhomelvig
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
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Thank Susan K
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 reviewResponded 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.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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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
Beach Business Center with Internet Access Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#5 Top resorts Hotel in Willemstad
#9 On the Beach Hotel in Willemstad
Price Range: $123 - $247 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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