The casino hotel—it’s an old concept, especially in Curacao’s capital of Willemstad where gambling and accommodations are almost always a package deal. But the newest resort in town offers clients an upgrade on traditional casino hotel offerings. From its modern, colorful public spaces, to its engineering marvel of a “beach,” to, yes, its state-of-the-art casino, the Renaissance Curaçao Resort & Casino has brought innovative approaches to a dated model.
Indeed, the casino is a huge draw to the resort for both clients and locals. Spanning 15,000 sq. ft., its flashy slot machines and table games like blackjack and three-card poker are some of the island’s newest, and its clean, bright ambiance stands in stark contrast to some of the other casinos in Willemstad.
location, location, location But, in fact, the Renaissance Curaçao has a lot more going for it, says Rebecca Verschoor, director of marketing for Renaissance’s properties in both Curaçao and Aruba. But if she had to pick one thing, “The location is the most unique selling point.” The resort is situated in a near-perfect area of Willemstad, connected to the historic Rif Fort that now houses shops, restaurants and scenic waterfront bars. Sitting between the resort and Willemstad’s downtown, the fort acts as a barrier that disconnects the resort from the activity of the center of town. Clients who want to chill out and relax in a typically laid-back Caribbean setting, can do just that while on property. And when they’re done, they can take a short walk through the fort and up the street—or across Willemstad’s famous Queen Juliana Bridge that swings back and forth across the channel that runs through its core, oftentimes moving while pedestrians are walking across it. Either way, they’ll have access to duty-free boutiques, street markets, restaurants, sightseeing attractions and more—all within walking distance of their hotel room. When it comes to selling this resort, Verschoor says, “Talking about the location is the best way to talk about the property.”
The only times that the resort is extremely active are on those days when cruise ships pull into town. The path from the port to downtown Willemstad passes directly in front of the Renaissance—something the designers capitalized on by building the Renaissance Mall on the ground floor of the complex, where dozens of boutiques selling the likes of Max Mara, Tiffany & Co., Guess, and Diesel compete for shoppers’ business. The Renaissance Mall is also home to Renaissance Cinemas, with six screens showing recent film releases—the perfect way to spend the occasional bad weather day, or just to settle in out of the sun for a couple of hours.
That open-air walking mall is another attraction for prospective clients, but it comes with a downside—crowds of cruise passengers passing through into town in the morning and back again as the ship prepares to leave. But the designers of the Renaissance factored that traffic into the design of the resort, creating the Infinity Beach Club, one of the resort’s most impressive attractions. Set on the second floor of the resort, the club is a recreation of an idyllic Caribbean beach, complete with palm trees, sand and even seawater. The first of its kind in the world, the saltwater pool is authentic enough to support species like starfish and crabs living in the water, which is pumped into the pool from the ocean below. The adjacent beach bar serves up island delicacies like frozen drinks and Amstel Bright, a beer brewed exclusively for the islands of the Dutch West Indies. A freshwater swimming pool and jacuzzi sit off to the side of the saltwater “ocean.” And the infinity edge of the saltwater pool, melding seamlessly into the view out to the real Caribbean sea, completes the illusion of being on a beach created by nature, rather than by man. The Infinity Beach Club is open to guests of the Renaissance exclusively, and its setting above the cruise traffic ensures a relaxing experience on the beach no matter what’s happening on the street below.
attractions & assets The Infinity Beach Club is just the first of several surprises clients will find as they explore the property. Another uncommon attraction—particularly for groups traveling together—is the third floor atrium. The design of the building left a large open area near the resort’s meeting spaces. But rather than turn that space into another ballroom (the resort already has a 2,700-sq.-ft. ballroom), the designers added benches, streetlamps and greenery to the room. “The atrium area is more of a patio, a get-together area,” explains Verschoor. “We have our meeting services and facilities, boardrooms and breakout boardrooms. But the atrium is for small gatherings, maybe cocktail parties, with a more casual atmosphere.” A scenic space for wedding receptions (or backup receptions in case of rain at the Infinity Beach Club), the atrium is a group space unlike anything we’ve ever seen at a resort.