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You Say Curacao, I Say CuraWOW: A Destination on the Rise!



I recently spent four days in Curaçao and WOW... I was BLOWN away!


Not only is CURAÇAO tough to spell, it’s a mystery as to where it’s located.

Allow me to explain.


CURAÇAO is just east of Aruba and north of Venezuela. It's a Dutch island in The Caribbean — and one-third of the ABC Islands — Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao.

It’s beneath the hurricane line so the weather is almost always awesome! Landing in CURAÇAO was GREEN, HILLY, and EXPANSIVE. The island is spacious and there are private beaches everywhere!


After chatting with locals, I learned some fun facts:


-- It's obligatory to learn these four languages in school — Dutch, English, Spanish, and Papiamento (a Creole language mixed of Portuguese and Spanish).


-- There's a locally brewed beer, in the neighborhood, Montaña Rey, called Montana Blonde Beer. It tasted very similar to Amstel light — and was delish.


-- Sundays are for the beach. People bring a cooler of Montana, or beer of choice, and relax on one of the many private beaches. These beaches are tiny with clear water and when I say "relaaaaxxxxx", I mean chill at the max form of chilling possible. Sorta like my previous article on REST!


Go for the picture, stay for the experience...

Some of the beaches we toured were:

-- Papagayo Beach (just in front of the Papagayo Beach Resort)

Some attractions we saw were: The floating bridge that takes you to the Governor’s Palace — We clocked it at three minutes and 30 seconds to walk across the bridge. The Governor’s Palace is in an area called Punda where you’ll find great restaurants, bars, shops, coffee shops, all which are housed in multi-colored Dutch buildings.

The open-air food market had the best pumpkin pancake I’ve ever had in my life — no gluten intolerance symptoms and just the right size for a midday snack.

Zanzibar Beach Club: This is a fun spot for a daytime activity — drinks, laying out, mingling with locals and tourists, lots of shops and bars in this area. Many of the places were new and had an upscale vibe. We didn’t “chill” while we were there as we were on a site inspection but I very much had 'chill envy' as I watched the tourists/locals relax.

Hotels: Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort just reopened in 2019 — and is gorgeous. Indoor outdoor vibe, Portuguese design influences, and not one bad meal. It's great for groups up to 500 people!


Zoetry: This is a part of Hyatt’s new All Inclusive collection and WOW WOW WOW was this an experience. The word Zoetry means (life and art) and that’s exactly what they did. All inclusive ultra high-end experience with 70 suites. The dining was off the hook here, and I can see many high-end incentives, customer events and executive board retreats here. The design aesthetic made me feel as though I was walking through the best of an “Anthropology” store.



Hot Of the Press: starting in May 2024 — they’ve added 52 Sea Front Villas — each villa is stand alone and looks like a slick, eco hard walled shipping container — think tiny house meets Italian villa with a 180 degree ocean view, private beach club, private check in and front facing reflections of the sunset.


These will be what you see in all the travel mags in 2024 because of the relevant design, ultra privacy, small space and eco friendly experience.


Dreams Curaçao Resort, Spa & Casino: Next to Zoetry — A 197 room all inclusive property with endless activities, pools, and lush landscaping. Great for groups up to 300 and lots of activities for the kids.


Papagayo Beach Resort: I would move in if they’d let me. Can someone say “next writing retreat?” I mean if L. Frank Baum can write The Wizard of Oz at the Hotel Del Coronado, why can’t I write my next masterpiece at this posh beachfront resort?

-Modern design

- Breezes for days

-Multiple food and beverage outlets

-Beachfront location.


This 73 room hotel is perfect to be in the action and for a higher end lifestyle experience.


We didn't see the Renaissance Hotel while on the island and heard there is a new Courtyard and Autograph collection hotel opening by 2026. Marriott is really making their way on this island. Which reminds me of the construction... There were SO MANY cranes. It reminded me of Nashville circa 2017 when the joke was “the construction crane is the city bird mascot”. It felt the same here.


The construction was not intrusive and was a pleasant reminder of the growth of the city and the energetic vibe of what is yet to come!


Remember This!

Prediction: By 2026 CURAÇAO will be THE place to do a meeting, vacation and have new experiences.


For now American, Delta and United have direct flights from Charlotte and Miami. The airlift isn’t as robust as many other cities but if you plan for it, it’s not that bad. Rumor has it more airlines and more direct flights will be coming in the future years.


We interacted with a stellar Destination Management Company called Tourism Management Curaçao. Not only did they deeply know the destination, they deeply cared about our experience while there. They wanted us to be in the know, feel safe and leave feeling welcomed into their country. It was a soft pillow of welcoming goodness that I wish all DMCs would embrace in their respective cities. Their tours were expansive, their fleet of vehicles were plenty and she had endless ideas of how our group can feel local and enjoy the scenery.


The people in general were nice, educated, friendly, interesting, funny and were really happy we were there. I’d highly recommend Curaçao to anyone for personal and professional travel.


If you have a sales kick off, president club, incentive trip, awards trip or customer advisory event coming up and need help with CURAÇAO or any global destination, reach out to me anytime. I'm happy to help :)

Mandi Graziano is a 20+ year hospitality veteran, Vice President of Global Accounts for HPN Global and a thought leader in the conference and hospitality business. She helps her clients find hotels and venues all over the world for events of 10 – 10,000. She is an instructor of Contract Negotiation and Site Selection for the events and meetings program at San Diego State University and is a Board Director for the California Hotel & Lodging Association Hospitality Foundation. Her passion for travel, meetings, events and conferences is deep and she is a secret weapon to all clients that use her. If you need help with your next meeting reach out to Mandi anytime here!


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