Four-Star Oceanfront Resort in Curaçao’s Capital City
Where 56 cannons once stood inside thick stone walls to protect the Caribbean island of Curaçao against pirates, today the 19th-century Rif Fort is one of the island’s social hubs, home to high-end shops, restaurants, and the Renaissance Curacao Resort & Casino. Part of a UNESCO World Heritage site in the capital city of Willemstad, Rif Fort was later armed with machine guns to keep German submarines at bay during World War II. Today, those walking into its fortified walls find an extensive shopping complex painted in a kaleidoscopic array of colors. At the end of the shopping district sits Renaissance Curacao Resort & Casino, a AAA Four Diamond hotel that offers guests the chance to stay next to the walls of Caribbean history.
Renaissance Curacao’s four gabled buildings have colorful façades that match the historic pastel-colored townhouses sprinkled throughout Willemstad. Inside, the lobby is equally vibrant, reflecting the hotel's mix of Caribbean and European aesthetics with a crystal chandelier and rainbow-hued walls. You'll find both outdoor and indoor seating at the Nautilus Restaurant, which serves an international blend of food, ranging from salty smoked rack of pork to grilled mahi-mahi.
For a unique experience, check out the second-floor infinity beach. While many resorts have infinity pools, Renaissance Curacao takes it a step further with realistic white sand and palm trees surrounding a saltwater pool that appears to flow into the ocean behind it. There's also a beach bar and grill that specializes in creative cocktails and small plates of seafood.
Guest rooms face either the harbor or resort complex, which includes the lively Carnival casino. All rooms come with floor-to-ceiling windows, but ocean-view rooms also have a balcony to make the most of the vistas.
Willemstad, Curaçao: Historic Capital with Cultural Museums
When Dutch settlers landed on the shores of Curaçao in 1634, they established the trading settlement of Willemstad along the isle’s natural harbor. Now, the Historic Area of Willemstad, the city's downtown center, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, thanks to its colorful 17th- and 18th-century colonial architecture. Waterfront buildings painted in sorbet colors of pink, yellow, and turquoise showcase eclectic Dutch, Spanish, and Portuguese influences.
Be sure to check out the oldest part of town, Punda, which lies on the east bank of Sint Anna Bay. You’ll find several historical institutions, including a nearly 350-year-old synagogue and the Curaçao Maritime Museum, which documents the island’s nautical history from the arrival of the Spanish in 1499 to its beginnings as a 17th-century harbor to modern-day cruise ships.
The Queen Emma Bridge—supported by a string of pontoon boats—spans the bay to connect both halves of Willemstad. Across the bridge in the western side of town lies the district of Otrobanda, which translates roughly to "the other side." Nowadays, it hosts riverfront casinos and the acclaimed Kura Hulanda Museum, an anthropological museum that tells the story of the transatlantic slave trade.
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