The best large resort in Curaçao
By Guy Britton
Some resorts are more than resorts. They deserve a better description.
They are so distinct, so complete or so removed from the expected that they become destinations themselves. They become places. The Santa Barbara Beach and Golf Resort on the southern shore of Curacao is one of these places.
Santa Barbara Plantation is a real estate and golfing community, a full service resort, a tennis club and a marina with built-in privacy defined by the location. You don’t just happen-by or stop-in at Santa Barbara Plantation. It’s far from the Curaçao you know and when you come here, you come for a reason.
The rugged coast and dramatic setting makes playing golf here an adventure of the senses. The golf course is world class, well-maintained and managed. Named Old Quarry because it’s actually built in and around what was left of an ancient phosphorous quarry and, more recently, a 19th century quarry operation.
What the quarrying left behind has become dramatically beautiful. So much so that when Pete Dye first arrived and set about designing the golf course he remarked about not having to do too much. He said all the needed to do was move a few obstacles, bushes and trees — and the land became the perfect setting for a golf course.
The quality of the actual golfing here is superb, with a beautiful clubhouse and pro shop. Several holes are lined along the ocean with dramatic level changes and amazing views. The sea breezes can make several holes a challenge but the Tafelberg Mountain and the Spanish Water sides of the course are more forgiving. Even the hole-markers and stone benches come from the quarry.
Many things come out of a quarry. In this case, it was a complete resort.
Like the land, the property itself is dramatic and designed to fit into the land already here. Parts of the resort are hewn into the hillside. The lobby is actually the top floor and the rooms are built below and into the side of the hill. This affords wonderful views from the rooms without imposing on the land and a dramatic appearance from the beach.
The Santa Barbara is attainable luxury, without pretense or exorbitance. The 350 rooms and suites are all well appointed.
The private Sea Traditions Suite, above, is one of the best on the property, and offers complete privacy, access to the pool, waterfront views and right on the golf course. A little luxury goes a long way.
The resort is sprawling and gorgeous, but if you only explore the inside you will miss the much larger picture. Part of the experience here is of the drama of the wildlife, landscapes and the raw beauty of the southern tip of the Caribbean.
It’s helpful to know what you are looking for before you get to any place. This is especially true at the Santa Barbara Beach and Golf Resort.
At the end of the day, this is a very good place to be.