By Joe Pike
The former Hotel Kura Hulanda in Curacao will be operating under a new name when it reopens September 1 after being closed down for roughly one year for extensive renovations and the sale of the property.
However, the area of Kura Hulanda was never fully closed, said Arjen van der Meulen, one of the owners.
It remained open for walk through tours and foot traffic where it was deemed safe, while extensive renovations were taking place. The hotel operations stopped about one year ago. The Slavery Museum located on the Kura Hulanda property also remained operational.
Now, the newly named Kura Botanica Hotel “will be centered around a lush garden, hence the name Botanica and location in Otrabanda neighborhood. We are aiming to connect with the community and the neighborhood in order to give back to those living in the area,” founder Edward Suares told Caribbean Journal Invest (CJI).
“Our idea is to have some urban gardens, and ponds to grow fish and crayfish throughout the property,” he said. “Our hope is to be able to donate some of this to help those in the village and surrounding neighborhood.”
Areas in the property have been sectioned to create several key spaces: a boutique hotel, mid-to-long-term residences, restaurants, offices and shops, said van der Meulen.
In addition, the owners have created the Kura Hulanda Village Square, which is the central space for community gathering and social activities.
Currently, a hotel operator is in the process of renovating the hotel area, Kura Botanica and will aim to offer the best city hotel oasis in the historic and picturesque Willemstad city, said van der Meulen.
“The biggest change in the re-imagining of KH Otrobanda is in re-integrating the KH property into the broader Otrobanda community,” said van der Meulen. “The current owners will not use all spaces to operate a large-scale hotel, but instead have invited interested parties to live their business ideas in the KH property.”
The Slavery Museum will also continue operating in Kura Hulanda in memoriam to Dekker and the light he shone on the terrible history and legacy of the slave trade in Curacao and the Americas.
“In the coming months, the first businesses are opening up, our first residents have been living in KH for 2 months now,” said van der Meulen. “September 1st 2022 is the goal to have all renovations completed.”
Kura Hulanda was previously owned by Jacob Gelt Dekker, who acquired the first building of the historic neighborhood in the early ‘90’s, said van der Meulen.
KH hotel went into receivership in 2013 after which Dekker and his team searched for suitable interested buyers. Unfortunately, Dekker passed away in 2019 before a sale could be concluded, said van der Meulen.
In 2021, some local entrepreneurs, BMG Management, came together to successfully bid for the KH Otrobanda property. BMG comprises of local entrepreneurs across multiple areas of Curacao commerce, but most notably in ICT and HORECA industries. The BMG group was successfully awarded the property in June 2021.