Tory Burch wedges (on sale!) // J.Crew tortoise earrings // YSL lipstick in “tropical pink”
We stayed at Santa Barbara Resort in Curaçao, and like I’ve said before, if you’ve never heard of Curaçao, please google it! It’s located near Aruba in the Caribbean and has some of the prettiest water and beaches I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
Food: There are three different restaurants on the property: Splash pool bar, Shore and Medi. Splash Pool Bar is (obviously) located next to the pool and serves a variety of lunch items. I appreciated that they served healthy items (like salads) while also serving grilled items (like hamburgers and quesadillas), depending on what you were in the mood for. They stay open until 7 p.m. so we ate an early dinner there a few nights. Medi is a casual restaurant where breakfast as served, as well as dinner. And Shore you have already seen in this blog post! It’s Santa Barbara Resort’s fine dining restaurant, so everything is top notch here. The entire restaurant is open air, and you have a great view of the ocean from wherever you’re sitting. Room service is also available at all hours of the day. My mom and I were guilty of ordering room service several times on the trip… sometimes you just want to eat in your room in pajamas!
Beach: The beach at Santa Barbara Resort was simply amazing. I said this before, but I have never in my life seen clearer water than in Curaçao. It was clear in some places, and bright turquoise in others. The resort has a pretty good sized swimming lagoon right in front (it is “roped off” by a dock that goes around the lagoon). We loved this – there weren’t any huge waves, and you could swim or snorkel around the lagoon without feeling like you were in open seawater. They offered kayaks and paddle boards at no cost, and you could choose to take them out of the lagoon if you wanted. The waitresses from Splash Pool Bar also served the beach, so you could order drinks right to your spot on the beach. Our favorite day in Curaçao was the day we relaxed by the lagoon all day! We both agreed it had the best beach/swimming of anywhere we’ve been.
Pools: There are two large pools at Santa Barbara Resort. They are beautiful pools, but we honestly didn’t spend much time there – we were too enamored with the beach area and lagoon!
Activities: Perhaps the best thing about Santa Barbara is that there are tons of activities offered every day – we were so busy that we came back to our rooms exhausted every night! (Of course, if you’d rather have a relaxing vacation you don’t have to sign up for any activities.) They offer a mountain bike tour, hiking, pilates, yoga on the beach, beach volleyball, bingo, beach tennis, a scuba clinic, sand castle building class, bocce ball, beach soccer, coconut bowling, and even an iguana feeding. There is a huge, incredibly nice golf course on Santa Barbara’s plantation for anyone who loves to golf. My mom and I love boat rides so we booked an excursion to Klein Curaçao one day – it was an all-day excursion with a lot of great snorkeling. They also offer a “lunch cruise” that is a shorter boat ride and still offers some great snorkeling.
Spa: The spa at Santa Barbara Resort, named Atabei, is phenomenal. It is very different than other spas I’ve been to before because it is more private and less rushed. What I mean by that is, there are no women’s locker rooms or changing rooms. Instead, when it is time for your treatment, you are taken back to a huge room with a a bathroom, outdoor shower and patio. You can change and leave all your belongings in the bathroom, and then your treatment takes place in the same room, so you never have to worry about your belongings. After the treatment, they give you 20 minutes of alone time. You can shower in the outdoor shower, relax on the patio with a book, or whatever you want. I always feel rushed after a spa appointment (like they are kicking me out), so this was something I really appreciated. Atabei uses a local herbalist that lives on the island to create all of the treatments. I received the Stemps Massage while I was there, which is very similar to a hot stone massage, except the masseuse uses sachets of locally grown herbs dipped in warm organic oil.
Transportation: One thing I love about Curaçao is that there are direct flights from Charlotte (and also NYC). It was so, so nice to have a direct flight on the way home – we were tired and ready to be in our own beds! (Most other tropical destinations require several connecting flights.) Once you land in the airport, Santa Barbara Resort is approximately a 45 minute drive away – it’s not a bad drive, and you really get to take in all of Curaçao on the way in. We didn’t rent a car while we were there, since most everything you’d want or need is at the resort. However, I definitely recommend going into town one day (or even two) because the downtown area is a must-see (you can ask the hotel to arrange a taxi). Which brings me to my next point!
Downtown: The downtown area is separated into two parts by a floating bridge – one side is called “Punda” and the other is “Otrobanda” which literally means, “the other side.” On both sides you’ll find amazing restaurants, colorful buildings and cool shops, and you really have to explore them both. If you google Curaçao you will most likely see photos of the colorful buildings downtown – they are beautiful. We went into town for lunch and ate at the Gouverneur de Rouville, a wonderful restaurant – we felt like we were getting a taste of real Curaçao cuisine. I highly recommend the Cuban banana soup! It was very hot the day we went into town, so we had to stop every half hour to get something cold to eat or drink. We sat at the Iguana bar and had coconut ice cream and watched the boats come in and out of the harbor, every time a boat comes, the floating bridge has to move out of the way. It’s really cool to watch!
Cost: The rooms are very reasonably priced, especially considering the amazing tropical location. I was surprised at how reasonable they are! Like most resorts, the food and drinks can be pricey, and there was a service charge already included in the bill. Right now Santa Barbara Resort is offering a really great deal for readers, but you have to book by the end of July! The deal includes a fourth night free when you book three nights, a $100 resort credit, complimentary room upgrade and daily breakfast. You really can’t beat the cost when you consider all the resort offers and how insanely beautiful it is.
Downsides: The only downsides I could think of were that there wasn’t much going on at night. This resort was really quiet and relaxing, so if you want to “party” at night, you won’t find that on the resort (I’m guessing you would have to go into town). It is perfect for honeymooning couples or couples that just want to relax on vacation, though!
In conclusion, I would highly recommend Santa Barbara Resort as a place to vacation – I simply fell in love with Curaçao upon arrival. One thing that is definitely worth mentioning is how amazing the staff is. No matter who we talked to, the staff was always positive, upbeat, friendly and some of them were even hilarious. That’s important to us! If you’d like to book using the exclusive offer, or just want to check out room rates, click here. xoxo
(P.S. I did this same exact review format for St. Lucia! If you want to check out my other review, click here!)