Happy Travel Tuesday! I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since we returned home from Curaçao. In that short time, we’ve had three birthday celebrations, multiple work events and a gala, a few home projects as well as a doggy sitting weekend (more on that topic to come!) It’s crazy to me that I just now have time to reflect on our trip and share with you our experience at Sunscape Resort and Casino!
There were so many great elements of our trip, and some not so great. To share our experience, I’ve broken the resort out into four categories: Room and Facility, Resort Accommodations, Food and Beverage, and Entertainment. I’ll also give you our total experience score for our stay. Side note: my friends who know me all too well are probably rolling their eyes because this judging criteria comes straight from the TLC show, Four Weddings! I know, I’m shaking my head too.
Background info: We stayed at Sunscape Resort and Casino in Curaçao using my family’s timeshare. If you read my packing tips blog post, you know Nick and I picked Curaçao because the ABC islands are below the hurricane belt and we did not want to risk any extreme weather elements ruining our main vacation of the year. Curaçao looked like an island that had everything we could ask for: from adventure excursions such as snorkeling and ATVing, to relaxing next to the all-inclusive bar.
Curaçao is a Dutch Caribbean island, making it a popular destination for Europeans on holiday. While October is considered the off season and also the raining season, there were still plenty of tourists visiting from all over the world, ranging from Holland and the Netherlands, South American countries and even a few Americans like us (we were definitely in the minority in terms of country attendance at the resort.) Because the island is Dutch, but also has close proximity to South America, a majority of the Sunscape Staff spoke multiple languages including Dutch, English, Spanish and their own language, Papiamento, a mixture of Dutch, Spanish, Creole, and Portuguese.
I mentioned October is known as the rainy season on the island. This boggled Nick’s mind as their rain was so insignificant and sporadic that the radar couldn’t pick up on it. It did rain most nights we were there, starting at 10pm and clearing up by morning. The 1-2 days it did “rain” during the day was more like a mist that was actually quite refreshing from the 85+ degree heat. I would say 98% of the trip was nothing but sunshine and warm temperatures.
Sunscape Resort and Casino is located approximately 20 minutes from the airport. It’s important to know if you go to the island that taxis are a common method of transportation and a taxi ride from the airport to the South side of the island where the resorts are is roughly $45 USD. Buses are also common but not the bus you are picturing. Buses on the island are actually mid-size commercial vans that take tourists to different destinations. Bus fare for Nick and I to go into Williamstad, the nation’s capital, was $3 USD for both passengers! I’d say that’s pretty reasonable.
Now let me dive into our actual resort:
ROOM AND FACILITY: We selected our resort because it was the only all-inclusive resort available in our timeshare book. With that said, the rooms online did look spacious and clean, featuring a beautiful view of the ocean. Upon arrival, we immediately noticed the cleanliness of the resort. Even with construction happening on the far side of the island, the resort was very clean with noticeable updated features.
Once entering our room, we were pleased to see it was as spacious as the website advertised, including a large deck, a small desk/table with adorable rattan chairs and full bathroom including bathtub and shower. We were, however, greeted with a pungent smell that the bus boy couldn’t explain but insured us would be handled. I don’t think the smell ever fully went away, but instead our nose adapted to it. All rooms were also equipped with personal thermostats, which we immediately cranked down to cool the room. The only thing we were disappointed to see was our view. Opening the curtains we were greeted to an access alley for employees and workers, rather than the crystal water. But how often were we in the room to need the view. Barely ever.
At the beginning of our trip, Nick and I were a little confused about room service and the quality of service. We arrived to the resort around 3pm to learn that our room was not yet ready. We waited about an hour at the lunch restaurant until we could officially check-in. We were told we received complimentary food and beverage in our mini fridge and daily room service. Day one we got to our room at 5:30pm to see we had not yet received service. Same thing the following day when we went back after lunch to see no accommodations were made. We asked if we needed to request room service, and were told that service was slow and not all rooms were attended to. After those first two days, we had no issues with room service and amenities. We did get our first taste of service (more to come on that topic in Food and Beverage.)
My overall score for room and facility experience is a SEVEN.
RESORT ACCOMMODATIONS: Nick and I are adventure people. Our idea of a vacation is not sitting on the beach reading and relaxing. At least not for 7 days. We’d rather spend our days in the water or on land exploring the island through day trips and excisions. What we were most excited for at the resort were the activities that were already included in our stay. That included snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding, arrow shooting, axe throwing, a rock wall, a harnessed trampoline, plus the entertainment team’s sporting activities such as water aerobics, volleyball, bocce ball and soccer. All activities and courts were set up daily and easily accessible to guests. Snorkeling at the resort was our favorite daily activity. You were given snorkeling equipment for one hour, and we took advantage of that hour every morning. The beach is closed off by a rock structure and you would never guess the fish and sea creatures you would find under water just 50 yards out from the main beach of the resort!
I will say the beach area is narrow but long, and initially, snorkelers and kayakers are likely to be disappointed by their designated area of the water. Looking from shore to the rock wall barrier, you assume that you can walk out the rock wall and that this is just a sand bar. Wrong. Our first day snorkeling we realized the sandbar dropped off after 15 yards. Snorkelers were able to then look down 20-30 yards and see schools of fish and other aquatic life. My advice to any future tourists: don’t judge the beach just by first impressions and what you can see. There’s so much under the water to explore that is incredible!
The resort was also equipped with multiple pools, one with a swim up bar, a hot tub and spa (a little too expensive for my taste!) Other fun outdoor activities included a giant checker board and shuffleboard court. Kids were able to go to a Kids Club area to play and do activities, giving parents peace and quiet.
The resort also featured an on-site casino that included slot machines and table games. It was nice having the casino as an entertainment option when nothing was going on at the resort. It is important to know that the casino is open to anyone on the island, not just resort guests, which can get a little sketchy.
Overall score of the resort accommodations was a TEN.
FOOD AND BEVERAGE: Unfortunately, food and beverage does not get a five star review, or in this instance a perfect ten. This was my least favorite part of the trip and the element that actually left me worried in the beginning that we were going to need to venture off site for our meals (which would have been unfortunate considering we paid for all-inclusive amenities!)
The resort featured five restaurants, and a coffee bar. Here’s a glimpse at each restaurant:
World Cafe: Only facility to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner at the resort. It was a buffet style meal serving a variety of foods from around the world. Remember that this is a Dutch island, and there was definitely a European influence on the food served. Breakfast was not bad – I got a MTO omelette each morning as well as the most delicious cinnamon rice milk (pudding!) For all other meals, the foods lacked freshness and were noticeably mass produced.
DA MARIO: This Italian restaurant was our worst dining experience of the trip, and of course happened to be our first night there. The restaurant opened at 6:30 and we arrived just before 7pm. Luckily we were seated inside. I kid you not, it took over 30 minutes for drinks to be served, nearly an hour for salads and appetizers and we were famished by 8:45pm when our dinner finally arrived. The table next to us got up and left as they had young kids who couldn’t wait that long. The food quality here was poor. Nick order a steak that looked like a burned hamburger and I ordered a chicken that was dry and not very flavorful. The wait followed by poor food at this restaurant definitely left us worrying day one about the food quality at the resort. I will happily say the staff was cheerful and compassionate towards guests. It was just clear we were on island time and there weren’t enough cooks in this kitchen.
BLUEWATER GRILLE: This steakhouse was our absolute favorite restaurant and one we kept going back to. This was the other lunch option serving burgers, chicken sandwiches and steak sandwiches but dinner was where they shined. The appetizers included seasoned chicken drumsticks, a few antipasto salads and calamari. For dinner, Nick and I both ordered sirloins with fresh chimmichurri sauce, with sides of vegetables and potatoes. This meal was fresh and well prepared. The tables were also set right on the water, giving us a beautiful view.
OCEANA RESTAURANT: Oceana was the seafood restaurant on the island, with the only non fish option being a simple grilled chicken breast (that Nick loved and devoured.) Other items on the menu included mahi mahi and a whole locally caught Red Snapper. Once again, our hopes were lifted at this restaurant as the quality of the food was fresh and well prepared. Dessert was also incredible, featuring cheesecake, brownies with ice cream and tiramisu. I asked for one of everything!
HIMITSU: Himitsu was the only restaurant at the resort you needed reservations for. This hibachi style restaurant featured four cooking stations that seated 12. Like a typical hibachi restaurant, your food was prepared in front of you and course included a seafood salad, miso soup, authentic fried rice and then chicken, beef and tuna (with the baby making sauce as they call it!) Behind Blue Grillehouse, this restaurant was my second favorite because of the quality of food. I wish we had it more than once!
Overall, when eating at this restaurant you need to know and expect the following things:
1. Get to dinner at 6:30pm to be seated promptly. Being late results in you being seated at the next “phase” of dinners close to 8pm.
2. Understand that we aren’t in America anymore and portion sizes are a lot smaller. Many nights Nick and I were hungry after dinner, but the restaurants close at 10:30pm, leaving us nibbling on snacks or going off the resort for food.
Overall I was disappointed with the quality of food and the times food was available. I think their dining experience mirrored the European model rather than the American all-you-can-eat-all-the-time model that we are used to. Some days I just really wanted chips and salsa or French fries to soak up the alcohol at 3pm or 3am!
Speaking of alcohol, the open bars were great. The unlimited alcohol was where we got the most value of our all inclusive package, at least for me. Please note, beer drinkers will not be happy. Nick was forced to drink a local on tap beer that he compares to a Miller Lite and a Natty Ice. Not like the craft beers he was used to. I, on the other hand, had a blast trying multiple drinks – frozen mojitos, piña coladas, and drinks with their local liquor, Blue Curaçao. Pro tip: when going to an all inclusive resort, bring your own tumblers or insulated drink mugs for them to fill with alcohol, rather than the small plastic cups.
Overall food and beverage experience is a FIVE.
ENTERTAINMENT: I cannot say enough about the amazing entertainment staff. I believe these individuals can make or break the trip and definitely set the mood. As I mentioned earlier, Nick and I are not the sit and relax type of people. We’re always on the go, go, go looking for something to do and always open to making friends on our trip. From day one, the Sunscape entertainment crew had us out of our beach chairs and playing soccer, volleyball, ping pong, and crazy games by the pool. If you want to really get involved, dive into the pool during their foam party and dance/swim any troubles away (but let’s be honest, you shouldn’t have troubles…. you’re on vacation!) If you’re not into sports, the entertainment team also offers activities such as bingo, water aerobics and cultural lessons by the pool. At night, the pool area is turned into a show room where daily performances happen, including a Cultural Dance, Family Feud Night and Battle of the Sexes to name a few! Fun fact: Nick and I actually competed in the Battle of the Sexes competition in front of the resort. Those pictures will never appear on this blog! The last night on the island, they held a fire show on the beach that left everyone in awe. Huge shout out to Gio, Prince, Fritzgerald, Nina and Candy Man for an amazing week in Curaçao. By the end of the trip, it was sad to say goodbye to our new friends. I promise you that this crew will make going to Sunscape Resort worth it!
Overall entertainment score is a TEN!
Nick and I give Sunscape Resort and Casino a total experience score of EIGHT. Our trip left us relaxed and rejuvenated. Besides the food situation, this resort did exceed many of our expectations and offered incredible, reasonably priced excursions and experiences that enhanced our vacation. I believe if we were stuck at the resort everyday we would have been bored. The resort is not small by any means, but also not large enough to get lost if you catch my drift. Having key amenities and entertainment onsite was great and kept us engaged, but I will say it was the hospitality and enthusiasm of the entertainment team and staff that will have us return to the island and resort one day.
I’m planning on writing a blog post for next week’s Travel Tuesday that highlights our excursions on the island including snorkeling, ATVing and exploring their beautiful and historic capital. If you have any questions about the resort, please do not hesitate to reach out!