Sheraton Curacao opens after major refit

Supplements and custom publishing editor Jane Jamison visited the redone, renamed Sheraton Curacao Resort. Her report follows:

WILLEMSTAD, Curacao -- The recent reopening of the Sheraton Curacao Resort (formerly the Curacao Casino Resort), after a two-year face-lift, gave a boost to the island's tourism infrastructure by bringing back its 197 fully renovated guest rooms.

In addition to the guest rooms, the $8 million project touched every aspect of the property, from recreational facilities and layout to landscaping.

What won me over was the resort's oceanfront location, with two beaches and swimming pool areas, offering a bounty of private nooks, crannies and seating areas with panoramic views.

As part of the project, an exterior wall was removed to provide dramatic vistas of the sea and pool from the lobby, restaurant and bar areas.

Another striking improvement was the redesign of guest-room balconies. White wrought-iron railings replaced the concrete porthole balcony walls of old.

Tropical greens, yellows and blues accent the air-conditioned rooms, which include a a king-size or two double beds, a direct-dial telephone, a clock radio, a television, an in-room safe, an iron and ironing board, a coffeemaker and a hair dryer.

Rooms on the executive floor are equipped with fax machines and data ports.

Guests have a variety of dining options.

Calypso Terrace, near the lobby, has marble floors and cane and rattan furniture.

Its main attraction is its open, wall-less setting, affording more of those drop-dead views.

Daily themed buffets as well as a la carte items are offered at breakfast and dinner.

We chose the buffet each night because the food was good and the variety extensive. A la carte service, while pleasant, tended to be slow.

My sister and I had several lunches at the waterfront Piscadera Beach Bar & Grill. We fast became addicted to the grilled bacon and brie sandwiches, washed down by a pina colada or a beer, brewed at the resort's microbrewery.

The Sheraton has two other restaurants: Pirates, which specializes in seafood dishes, and La Piazzetta, which features Italian specialties.

Guests who overdo on the culinary offerings can burn off excess calories at Sheraton's full-service spa and fitness center, which will open this summer.

Treatment rooms, fitness facilities, a steam bath, a sauna and a juice bar will occupy a separate building, just beyond the 6,000-square-foot infinity pool above the beach.

A second, smaller pool with water slides is sure to appeal to families with small children.

A children's club is in the works as are family packages.

The Sheraton also has two tennis courts, lighted for night play; miniature golf, and water sports at two PADI dive centers.

Live musical entertainment is offered almost every night near Bligh's Bar, which, by the way, serves a Bloody Mary that is as memorable as the sunset view from its patio.

Another after-dark entertainment option is Sheraton's casino, which is high on comfort and low on glitz.

Along with 207 slot machines, the facility has 12 gaming tables for blackjack, Caribbean stud poker, baccarat and roulette.

Snacks and beverages are available at the Casino Bar.

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