A piece of paradise
The island of Curacao sits approximately 40 miles north of the Venezuelan coast in the southern Caribbean Sea. This former Dutch colony is known for its beautiful beaches tucked into coves and its expansive coral reefs rich with marine life. Among its many fine hotels is the award-winning Royal Sea Aquarium Resort, founded in 2001, on a man-made, private island on Curacao’s southwestern shore.
According to Estela Villanueva, the resort’s General Manager, the Royal Sea Aquarium Resort was modeled after a Royal Resort that its developer saw while visiting Mexico. It was erected next door to Curacao’s Sea Aquarium, which was also built on man-made land on a shallow basin near the coast line, and now is home to one of Curacao’s most popular tourist attractions.
The Royal Sea Aquarium Resort is made up of 30, two-bedroom villas, all of which can be closed off to make one-bedroom suites and studios. Approximately 70 percent of its villas are owned by timeshare members, most of whom are residents of the U.S. and Canada. The rest of the rooms are rented to occasional guests. One of the perks of owning or renting at the Royal Sea Aquarium Resort is free, unlimited access to the Aquarium. “One of our buildings faces the dolphin show,” says Villanueva,” and the guests in that building can see it three or four times a day.” In addition, all of the resort’s units have a sea view.
The resort has two swimming pools, a kid’s pool, a Jacuzzi, a secluded, private beach, and a restaurant for waterfront dining and sunset cocktails. All villas are air conditioned with fully equipped kitchens and flat-screen satellite TV and wireless internet service. Snorkeling gear and kayaks are available at no charge for members and AquaChi Yoga, an exclusive and original activity, was recently created for the resort’s members and guests.
The Ocean Encounters Dive Center is just across the bridge from the resort and the island’s pristine waters are home to the world-famous Curacao Underwater Marine Park. The island’s capital, Willemstad, a UNESCO – World Heritage City, is just ten minutes away via the resort’s free shuttle service, and the Curacao International Airport, with service to the Caribbean, South America, North America, and Europe, is within a 30-minute drive.
But, perhaps most important to the resort’s success and a major contributor to its 85 percent occupancy rate, is the fact that the Sea Aquarium Resort hews to the same company culture that imbues all of the hotels and resorts in the Royal Resort family: “Our guests are number one, our employees are number two, and the company is in third place,” Villanueva states.
Guest Services and Reception Supervisor, Alejandra Gonzalez, agrees. “There are two main aspects that we focus on,” she says. “We treat our guests with respect and create a bond with them; this is their home away from home. And we have built a relationship of openness, trust, and honesty with our team.” Regarding their guests, Gonzalez explains that several weeks prior to their arrival, they are contacted in order to find out if they have any special requests, or if they are on their honeymoon, or celebrating a birthday or other special occasion. “Then we make sure we create an agenda for them,” she says. Regarding the resort staff, Gonzalez says that many of its 25 employees have been on board for many years.
The Royal Sea Aquarium Resort was recognized in 2013 and 2014, by Expedia’s Insiders’ Select rankings as consistently delivering superior services and value and was one of only 650 winners, worldwide. As in previous years, in 2015, it was awarded the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, honoring its consistent praise and recognition by travelers. Gonzalez sums up the experience of staying at the Royal Sea Aquarium Resort in one concise statement: “This is a piece of paradise,” she exclaims.