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Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, Curacao
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Reviewed November 13, 2013

Where do we begin!?
Forgive us in advance. This is going to be long!

We did our research and we were very diligent when we decided, about 9 months ago we were going to have a destination wedding.
We looked at countless islands and resorts. Having experience planning events, I wanted to make sure we did our research and chose carefully but also stayed within our small budget.
We also knew destination weddings were supposedly "cheaper" than stateside weddings and wanted to make sure we maximized our budget considering we weren't going to be having a wedding in the states. (just our courthouse ceremony months prior).
We decided we wanted to visit places we had not been before, although we are seasoned travellers. We also wanted to go somewhere culturally enriching. Having Carib roots, this was really important to me as well.
After striking out on St. Lucia, Anguilla, Antiqua and Cost Rica...due to the costs.
We decided on St. Kitts. One main reason we chose this place was for the amenities, the location, it being a well known property name brand, the cost and the golf. My husband wanted to play golf. After issues with their staff (the wedding coordinator resigning in the middle of our planning) we decided, we were not going to move forward. Just too much.
So, it was back to the drawing board. We began to put a few places out there and even places we had already visited. But were settling on going back there because they were "cheap".

Curacao has ALWAYS been a place I wanted to visit. My husband didn't know much about it, except it was near Aruba and they had a shared history with The Netherlands.
We looked at several properties on the island and came across Sta Barbara Beach and Golf Resort.
It was like the skies opened up and God shined His light down on it and it was perfect.
We DID look at other properties on Curacao. Thank GOD we did not go with any of them!
From the start, we just really loved everything about this location, even though it was off the beaten path and far from almost everything. We also knew the resort was a prior Hyatt brand. I LOVE their properties, but heard some weird things since Benchmark had taken over the SBR from Hyatt as a managing agent. So, we looked at the other Benchmark brands and knew SBR had to have a certain level or panache.
After reading countless reviews, scrutinizing the website and other travel sites where we could find it, we became more and more excited about the thought of Curacao and SBR.
I reached out to the events and planning staff via the site and had not heard anything back for a about 2 days. So, I then called long distance and spoke with someone. I realized they were multilingual (very attractive) and were pleasant. So, I was transferred to Anjali Jethmalani's voicemail. I left a message and the next day received a pleasant email from her, copying Gianni Hermans and Mirza Tyong.
The information helped us get a broad picture of the costs, the location, the resort, the amenities, etc. The resort is beautiful. Its clean. Its huge! The plantation in general is huge. It takes 10 mins to get from the security gate to the actual property! Can we say "exclusive"?
We were blown away at the cost of the resort rooms, the photos, etc. It certainly was an issue with planning wondering if we were going to have to worry about Hurricanes or tropical storms.
The weather was a major factor for that time of year. Considering Curacao falls outside of the Hurricane belt, it was a WIN WIN! (in our books)
Anjali and Gianni were AMAZING at helping us plan. It began to get expensive, more expensive than our budget, so my husband and I were beginning to back out.
About a week and a half went by and I had not reached out to Gianni. She then reached out to me. I was the bearer of the bad news that we were not going to move forward. We just could not break our budget. WE were sad, but it was our reality at the time.
Well, she was more than understanding. However, she and Anjali both came back in an email and "promised" us they would work within our budget and keep things budget friendly, but still beautiful. If there is anything I cannot stand, its cheap and chinzy! I refused to come on vacation/have a wedding/plan an event and it look like we shopped at the 99cents store!
The icing on the cake came when a friend of ours from NY as well went for a wedding in August at SBR (how coincidental) and RAVED about it. She KNOWS how I am and said we were making the BEST choice to have our wedding there. She even said the locals even say its the best place on the island for a wedding or event! *SCORE* That HELPED calm my nerves, just a bit.

Well, we worked it all out and were amazed at the way the staff worked with us. This is for 9 months!! Constant feedback and money was never a huge thing. It was just understood that we were working to keep things right! Nothing uneasy about it. From mailing items to Curacao ahead of time, to working with the packages and room blocks, to staying in constant communication, to never seeming bothered with the countless questions. We also wanted to do something special. We live streamed our wedding over the internet. They helped us get it done!! We KNEW many of our "friends and family" were not going to be able to attend. We carefully selected the number of guests we wanted to attend and had a maximum number of people we could afford. Gianni and Anjali worked hard to keep us close to this number, managing the costs for rooms, adding in meals, creating a personal web page for our guests, etc. Planning a wedding from afar can be unnerving. The events team was just amazing from start to finish. As someone who is detail oriented and who has planned a few events for others...I knew going in, there was a level of elegance I wanted to deliver.
Working with the preferred vendors- the photographer (Wow Weddings- Claudia and Miguel- the best on the island), the florist (Jeanine from Bonsai- although is hard to communicate with via email- is a doll when you meet her and helped me design an awesome centerpiece- in budget),helping to schedule Franceen Denbow, the really sweet make up artist, to the baker of our Cake- Marielle - also the best on Curacao, who just amazed us with her constant contact, her ability to deliver what we wanted and her amazing attitude. The pastor was even awesome! Pastor Humphreys! The DJ was Ok. We even had a performance by a local group and they helped us manage that with Willy B and DanzArte, who by the way are amazing and are doing wonderful things with the youth!! To making sure the food tasting was nice, our guests were comfortable, our hotel transfers were taken care of, our rehearsal lunch was beautiful, making sure we stayed on schedule...all things you think they are already supposed to do right? But the way people handle things goes a long way. Just passing along information is one thing. Following up and making proper introductions is another. They did it with a smile! That is what was done in our case and it was appreciated!
They also showered us with little gifts and amenities and also upgraded our room, which was an amazingly pleasant surprise. We are beyond thankful for all of the blessings we received and the understanding that before and after the wedding are just as important as the wedding day!

So, of course there are some pros and cons...
Pros
The location is beautiful, child friendly, couple friendly, and its also a great place to ride solo! Although its a bit off the beaten path, but worth it for your sanity and cleanliness. Exclusive!
Calm, clean (man made) beach
Big pool
Beautiful spa
NEWEST resort on the island- comes with all the bells and whistles
You can rent a car at the resort
I LOVE how the resort is NOT in the middle of everything in town, although its a bit far from town 30 mins- you feel safe and its quiet.

Cons
Although not everything can be super perfect, we know these may just be temporary issues...but I think any place to improve is a place for growth:
My real issue is with the taxes paid. Over 20%. Please factor this in with your purchases. Its really ridiculous. The fees too.
Unsure whether to tip or not. Its not clear anywhere.
The service in SHOR and MEDI is really SLOW! It is the most unreal, unacceptable kind of slow I have ever experienced. THIS MUST BE corrected ASAP! Its not bad service, JUST SLOW service. Slow to get your order taken, slow to get your food, slow to get your check, slow, slow, slow. Not sure if this was systematic issues or what. Good food...slow service.
The cost of wifi- Boo! Its $15 p/24hr pd or get it for free in the lobby. They need another free space for it too, like the pool area, the pavillion and the beach. That would be optimal if you were going to charge for wifi, give more than one free area of access.
The walk to the rooms from the main lobby area...can be long. Make sure if you have limitations, you talk about where your room can be situated...this is NOT an issue for SBR.:-)
Taxis are not that cheap- must factor this in.
Concierge is a bit lax, but if you know what you want to do BEFORE you arrive, that would be helpful. WE did not get to tour the island however. WE did get to Willemstad, but that was for an afternoon. They do need Tours or a Tour desk to schedule that for you. Its not clear!
Choose your room carefully. Some views are not optimal. Just a FYI.
Only ONE shuttle going into town. Need to accommodate guests with at least another van and the cost should be minimized as well. $15.90 per trip and its on a schedule. FYI.
Need more places to shop on the resort. Really really need this!
Need MORE activities daily for guests to partake in and there should not be a fee associated with them. One could get bored.
Need to have golf carts to take people to their rooms who have limitations.
They need a bar or lounge on the property where there can be live music or a DJ (till at least 2 am) and a small dance floor. This would keep people ON the resort and money spent at the resort.
**Not the resorts issue- but they need a ferry that visits Bonaire and Aruba for day trips and tours! If SBR really wanted to turn up the attraction factor, they might want to see how they can invest in this part of tourism. Its needed on the island BADLY! Right now, you can only visit neighboring islands- 20 mins away via plane! Thats kind of ridiculous. Sadly, we never made it to Aruba. Just my thoughts as a business woman!

The staff was awesome...where do I begin? Who can I start with..........EVERYONE!
The events team...A++
Anjali, Gianni, Mirza, Cherise, (ALL ARE THE BEST EVENT TEAM EVER), Seen (purchasing)
Banquets
Mark (always something wonderful to say to ya), Edmund (Aiming to please), Zuslin, Jureska, Alan (the best attitude EVER) at MEDI and Jacklyn (Ms. Bling) at MEDI, and the man who makes the best omelettes in the Netherlands Antilles at MEDI in the AM! He waited on ALL of our guests with a smile!

Front Office
Eloi (CHARMING), Mistica (AWESOME), Nina (AMAZING), Xiandra (SWEET), Mr. Lennox (LOVE HIM), Vladimir (Great Smiles), Rubiela and the Jamaican lady who cleaned our suite from Housekeeping. I never got her name, but she was always saying a prayer for us! Sweet!

Sadly, no one could control the weather. Typical with the Caribbean, but also typical from what I understood at this time of year, there was rain...and also on our wedding day. We were REALLY upset and did not really want the option of Plan B. Well, when Plan B had to be orchestrated, the events staff changed EVERYTHING for us! WORRY FREE and SWIFTLY! Even some of our guests were baffled at how fast they reset the terrace up for us since the rain came at the hour of our ceremony. It was awesome. They really worked to accommodate us! It rained a few times while we stayed for our 6 day trip actually. They say rain a blessing...I guess we are blessed then, because it poured! Sad for our Carib wedding vision, but glad we weren't soaked and miserable!

Ok, so if by now you have not decided whether to visit or spend your time here...
I cannot brag more about our trip and our experience at SBR. If Curacao is your next stop, SBR should be too!

We plan to return soon! Thanks SBR! You delivered exceptionally well!

  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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2  Thank Tanda3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SBR_Curacao_GM, General Manager at Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, Curacao, responded to this reviewResponded November 20, 2013

Wow! I am humbled by your feedback and that you recognized so many of our team members by name. They work very hard to exceed guest expectations and I can't wait to recognize the people that made your wedding day and stay 'amazing'! I am very proud of our team!

Congratulations on your wedding and thank you for sharing your special day with us! Although I am partial, I think Curaçao is a great island to visit. It's laid back and has activities to fit any taste. I truly hope we can welcome you back on your anniversaries in years to come.

I noticed your feedback expressed some confusion about tipping at the resort and the taxes that I would like to clarify. The island's sales tax is 9%. In addition, there is a 15% service charge. The service charge is shared between all the team members. If you choose to leave an additional tip, that money goes directly to the team member that served you.

Again, I am very grateful for your feedback and am already looking forward to seeing you again soon.

Sincerely,
Philippe Eversdijk

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 6, 2013

As others have mentioned, this hotel is far ff the beaten path - quite a drive to get there from town, the airport, or the best beaches on Westpunt. However, the hotel offers a lot - beautiful, clean rooms, great ocean views, nice and reasonable restaurants (breakfast buffet is nice!), a drink at check-in, hospitable and welcoming staff, two nice pools, a beautiful if unexciting beachfront on the Spanish waters, a dive shop, car rental (easy parking), etc. We LOVED a boat trip to Klein Curacao (through Bounty Adventures) which we booked through the on-site dive shop. Our car rental through Just Drive was easy and convenient and meant that we didn't have to rely on a shuttle or taxi to get to and from the hotel (a GPS is a MUST on the island). The hotel really feels like paradise overall and based on what other hotels and resorts looked like on the island, I would definitely recommend staying at this one first! We booked through CheapCaribbean.com, which I highly recommend.

Room Tip: Loved the third floor premium water view!
  • Stayed: November 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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1  Thank RebL1231
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SBR_Curacao_GM, General Manager at Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, Curacao, responded to this reviewResponded November 8, 2013

Dear RebL1231,

I love your pictures! Thank you travelling down from Wisconsin to visit Curaçao and stay at our beautiful resort! Yes, our property is about 35 minutes from Willemstad and is surrounded only by beautiful blue water, mountains and natural vegetation. It is truly a pure Caribbean paradise!

I hope your travels bring you back to Curaçao again soon!
Philippe Eversdijk

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 6, 2013 via mobile

We stayed here for 6 nights, 7 days the first week of November (today is actually our last day before we depart). We have traveled in the Caribbean extensively and really enjoyed our stay.

Rooms: very clean, quiet, well represented by hotel website. Large flat screen tv, modern decor and fixtures, nice balcony overlooking the water. My only complaint is the bed - it was pretty firm and somewhat uncomfortable.

Food: We loved Shor (excellent seafood), and the sushi bar I'm the lobby (WONDERFUL sushi - recommend Rainbow roll and Spicy Tuna roll). The mojitos were excellent at the lobby bar. We didn't care as much for the Medi restaurant. Food was average if not slightly better. We probably wouldn't have eaten there had Shor not been closed on Mondays & Tuesdays. My biggest and really only complaint with the restaurants was the lack of choice for breakfast. The breakfast buffet is $22/person. This was pretty steep in my opinion for what they offered. Plus, who really wants to pay $55/day for two people to eat breakfast (after taxes and the 15% included tip)? I believe some rates online offer breakfast included - unless you plan to bring food of your own (pack in suitcase or purchase at grocery on island), this is probably a good idea.
On that note, if you planned to eat three meals a day, and you drink alcohol, the all inclusive plan could be a good deal. If you don't drink, as many drinks are $10+, it'd probably be cheaper to not so the all inclusive.

Golf: great course. Beautiful, well-kept, good course overall.

Activities: overall the resort is very laid back. There's plenty of activities: beach volleyball court, pools, beach, gym, spa, and watersports.

Beach: the beach here overlooks the channel to the Spanish Waters. It is calm and turquoise, what you'd expect when coming to the Caribbean. When boats go thru the channel (particularly on the weekend), the waves do come in - just a heads up for those with little ones.
We visited many of the public beaches throughout the island. Gorgeous! Not as pretty as those on other islands (St John USVI, Barbados, Cayman, BVI to name a few), but still amazing.

Rental car: unless you plan to leave the resort more than once, I'd advise against it. However you can rent thru the resort with Hertz. We found this out afterwards. We booked thru Avis at the airport - for 7 days plus liability coverage it was roughly $350.

Overall, we really really enjoyed our stay here! Would we come back - absolutely! We are actually planning a return visit in the next 3-4 months with our 2 young children :)

Feel free to email me with any questions: julieatillman@gmail.com.

Stayed: November 2013, traveled as a couple
1  Thank JTillman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SBR_Curacao_GM, General Manager at Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, Curacao, responded to this reviewResponded November 8, 2013

Dear JTillman,

Thank you so much for your great review. You have some great feedback for guests looking to come to Curaçao!

I, too, love the spicy tuna roll from Jun's! I apologize for your experience with our breakfast buffet. We do have over 50 items available on the buffet -it's quite a feast. However, you can always order off the a la carte menu which will be less expensive than the full buffet.

I love your pictures of the beach and water around the resort. The water is just beautiful!

I am so glad you enjoyed your stay and look forward to welcoming you back again soon!
Philippe Eversdijk

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Reviewed October 28, 2013

My husband and I chose to have our wedding at SBB&GR after visiting the resort back in September of 2012. After meeting with the wedding coordinator, Anjali, we knew this was the best choice. Anajli made the planning so easy and enjoyable. We had our wedding on September 21st, 2013. We were able to plan three days of events for our guests, all of which went perfectly. It is a little nerve racking planning a wedding in another country but Anjali and Gianni made it very simple. All of my questions and concerns were answered promptly via email. Any time I had an idea for the wedding I simply emailed Anjali a picture and sure enough she had everything just the way I wanted it the day of the wedding. All of our guests were impressed with the food, the service and the overall experience they had on the resort. The wedding day itself was absolultely perfect. I have never seen a wedding go so smoothly. As the bride, I did not have to worry about anything at all and was able to completely relax right up until the wedding itself. The food, music, decor, and fireworks were above and beyond all expectations that we had. Anjali, Gianni and every member of the staff were so amazing, words can't express how grateful we were. Everyone said it was the best wedding they had ever attended! All of our guests loved the resort and island. All of our guests expressed the want to return again after having such a wonderful experience. We had such a wonderful vacation and wedding without the stress that weddings can bring! Thank you again for giving all of our friends and family such a memorable vacation!

  • Stayed: September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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1  Thank Lizz J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SBR_Curacao_GM, General Manager at Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, Curacao, responded to this reviewResponded November 4, 2013

Dear Lizz J,
I am thrilled that we could share your special day with you and that Anjali and Gianni made your day 'worry free'! I can't wait to share you feedback with them!

I hope that we see you back again very soon. I'd love to welcome you back for your 1st Anniversary!

Safe Travels,
Philippe Eversdijk
General Manager

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Reviewed October 21, 2013

We spent 8 days at the SB Beach and Golf Resort in mid-September and thought it was a truly spectacular property. The physical plant is gorgeous and the rooms are comfortably appointed. We were able to get a rate at the last minute that included breakfast for two each morning and purportedly made us eligible for an automatic upgrade. Unfortunately the woman at the front desk seemed flabbergasted that we should ever ask for an upgrade, despite having the print-out from my reservation. Well, despite the resort being at less than 20% capacity, we did not get an upgrade--but our room was nice, nonetheless. The breakfast buffet was quite good each day--and it was really lucky that I did get this rate, since there are no other restaurants within a 20-minute drive of the resort.

There were things that perturbed me a little about the stay: I found the bed amazingly uncomfortable--I slept the first night because I was tired from the flights & I slept the last of eight nights because I had not slept well at all the previous ones! The housekeeping was not stellar and we had to keep leaving notes for things such as lotion or shampoo because one day or another they were simply omitted. I try to tip housekeepers well, so I was really surprised by the inconsistencies day after day.

The beach they have constructed is very nice, but faces a channel to Spanish Bay--not the sea. There is no snorkeling on the property--but there are some nice places within a good 15-20 minute drive. They do have a marina there and we did go out on a couple catamaran tours which were very pleasant.

The drive to the resort from the airport is long and confusing, despite being such a small island. We used intuition and guessed at landmarks once we arrived, since the signage on Curacao is so dismal. There are many forks in the road where we simply had to guess as to where to go. Street-name signs were almost non-existent... we were shocked at how primitive the driving conditions could be. Certainly in Willemsted itself it was a bit better, but not entirely. After a couple days of exploring (and getting lost repeatedly) we did get the lay of the land and it did not bother us as much. Despite learning the way, it still took between 25 and 30 minutes to get from Willemsted to the resort--even though it is only three or so miles away ("as the crow flies"). Traffic is often heavy and people drive chaotically, though I must admit I don't remember ever seeing an accident--oddly enough. Once you enter the security gate at the entrance to the resort itself, it is still a three-mile (roughly 5 km) drive to the hotel through beautiful desert terrain that was reminiscent of the Tucson area (eg Ventana Canyon).

Probably the low point of our trip was on our fourth day when our rental car had its windows smashed in and the few little things we had on the floor hidden were stolen. We knew to remove everything from the car, but we did thoughtless leave a few hidden things in the vehicle. We let our guard down when we stepped out of the car for literally eight minutes to take a few pictures near Caracasbaai. As we had been told to do if there were any problems, we called 911 and there was no answer. We raced to the hotel and they called for us and there was still no answer. The staff at the hotel said someone had likely been following us for some time--that such things are fairly commonplace.

Eventually we were told about a police precinct nearby in Montana--where we went promptly, but we sat in the waiting area for an hour before we were told no one was present who could take our report. I returned the next AM and it took 2-1/2 hours for someone to get the information from us and issue a (useless) report in Dutch. Long story short, we were told the local Hertz franchisee was in the habit of "scr#wing" customers who had a break-in so I was encouraged to try to get it fixed on my own. (Note that the deductible for their insurance--had I taken it--was $500.) It took literally two more full days (including hours of waiting) to get that accomplished--but fortunately AutoCity was able to do it for $200.

Our last day was open and we explored more of the small resorts north of Willemsted--none of which could remotely compare to Santa Barbara. Unfortunately, despite the good snorkeling we did have on the far northwest tip of the island we have no reason to return to Curacao. I had such high hopes for what I expected to be a great vacation--the beauty of the resort did not have the power to ameliorate our other experiences.

Room Tip: Go for the west wing so that you look over the inlet and beach.
  • Stayed: September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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6  Thank Daveinatl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SBR_Curacao_GM, General Manager at Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, Curacao, responded to this reviewResponded November 4, 2013

I am certainly disappointed to learn about your trip. I am an avid traveler as well and sympathize with your frustrations. Typically, Curaçao is known as a safe Caribbean island where you can explore more than 35 beaches and many attractions.

Additionally, thank you for your feedback about the resort. I am glad you liked the property and will personally address your concerns with my team. We strive to provide the best customer experience possible and take all feedback very seriously.

Please accept my apology for your experience while on the island. I hope that you will allow us another chance to show you our beautiful island.

Safe Travels,
Philippe Eversdijk

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