Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort
What We Love
- Curacao’s only championship resort golf course, an 18-hole Pete Dye beauty that looks out on the water
- The resort has an on-site diving company for snorkeling and scuba excursions
- Beautiful water views from Shore, the on-site seafood restaurant
- Create your own scrub from indigenous sea salts and oils at the Salt Bar in the spa
- All 350 guestrooms have balconies
What To Know
- The hotel is a 25-minute taxi ride from Willemstad; it's 10- to 15-minute drive from downtown Jan Thiel, which has a casino and some nightlife options
- The beach is private and reserved for resort guests; drinks and meals are served on the beach
- An 25.19 percent hotel service charge will be collected at the Jetsetter checkout
- Golf Course
- Handicap Accessible
- Kids Club
- Parking On Site
- Room Service
Part of the ABC islands (along with Aruba and Bonaire), Curaçao is situated between Bonaire and Aruba in some of the Caribbean’s clearest waters. Popular year-round, the island has a balmy climate and some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean. The Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort has an enviable setting along the Caribbean and the calm ripples of Spanish Water Bay. Curaçao’s colorful capital, Willemstad — with its pastel Dutch colonial buildings — is about 25 minutes away and well worth visiting. If you’re going to Curaçao for a private beach and water activities, this hotel should be at the top of your list.
Bed & Bath
All 350 guestrooms have balconies and flat-screen TVs, and most have water views (which are frankly far more compelling than anything available in HD). The natural tones of Curaçao’s arid interior carry through in the earthy color scheme of the guestrooms, where a variety of tans and browns are accented by bursts of color.
Scuba divers and snorkelers are big business in Curaçao, and both are catered to at the on-site water sports shop, Ocean Encounters, where guests can also rent gear, kayaks and Hobie Cats. Golfers get a serious challenge at the property’s championship Old Quarry course, designed by Pete Dye, where several holes sit right on the water. There are also well-maintained tennis courts, jogging trails and volleyball courts. Three on-site restaurants offer a decent amount of diversity. Hit Medi for wood-fired meats and pizzas, and save Shore for when you’re craving local seafood in an upscale waterfront setting. An outdoor bar serves lighter meals throughout the day and is prime for cocktails. Nothing quite says Caribbean like a poolside daiquiri, after all.
In the Area
Explore on land and sea. There’s a lot to see in Curaçao’s World Heritage Site capital, Willemstad, where 17th- and 18th-century Dutch colonial architecture abounds, while the Curaçao Underwater Park just offshore from the hotel offers the chance to snorkel and see a plethora of tropical fish. History buffs should hire a guide to explore the Hato Caves to see petroglyphs dating back 1,500 years or visit the Kura Hulanda Museum for a lesson on the island’s past.
How to Get There
This is a challenging review as I need to be clear that my expectations are different than someone else. I have done extensive traveling and have stayed in everything from crap rooms that don’t deserve ratings to five-star resort all over the globe.
In my opinion (that’s all these reviews ever are) The Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort is high three star resort that wants to do better, but doesn’t know how. Here are some main points:
This was one of the few times I planned a trip using Travelocity for air and hotel. I usually have a travel agent manage most of my travel. When I arrived I realized this wasn’t an all-inclusive, but did have all-inclusive options which I thought I would add on at arrival. I was stunned to find they wanted $165 per person per day for their all-inclusive food/beverage plan. There is no option for food only. We opted for the $20 per day per person breakfast package. Since it included tax and tip it was basically a $15 buffet and was a reasonable price. Without the package it comes to about $29 per day per person.
If the resort was smart they would make the meal plan more reasonable and more folks would stay on the resort. The majority of folks I met went offsite for dinner.
1) Smoking everywhere. This is a European resort with no restrictions on smoking. Smoke is offensive to me and I don’t want to deal with it at all, much less when trying to relax and/or eat.
2) Too many kids. My wife and I were not looking for a playground, we wanted to relax. Screaming, splashing kids are not my thing. Inconsiderate parents who don’t care what their kids do are even more undesirable. This resort had plenty of both, mostly Friday-Sunday. Monday through Thursday was mostly kid free.
3) Rooms were nicely appointed, clean and comfortable. My only complaint would be the noise from people above. It was not excessive, but when they moved a chair, we heard it (loudly). The sound reverberates through the ceiling and was frustrating at times.
4) The grounds were a mixed bag. They were very nice, typical island landscaping. However if you looked close you could find an occasional bottle top, used floss holder, plastic cup, broken glass, sugar packets, etc in various nooks and crannies of the resort. Please don’t take this as the resort being dirty, it was not. It’s simply the difference between a 3-star and 5-star resort. Those items that escape the ground maintenance crews, but are easily visible to guests, many of which were there for the entire week, so it wasn’t a timing issue with when I saw the items. Another interesting item was a project they were undertaking. A small area near the main restaurant (Medi). Next to a path was a area landscaped in large rocks (2-6 inch white rocks). On Tuesday workers removed the rocks from a small section, about 8 X 20 and raked it to the earth. The next day the workers laid gravel, small white pebbles and leveled it out. The next day they laid a roll of AstroTurf over the gravel. That roll was there until we left on Sunday. So I have no idea what they were doing, but they did a day’s worth of work in 6 days and whatever they are doing remained undone. Again, the difference between a 3 and 5 star resort.
5) Dining was a very mixed bag. The burgers at the pool (Splash) were decent, consistent and worth $13. Keep in mind that includes tax and gratuity. They came with fries, were rather large and always cooked to perfection. Daily breakfast at Medi was typical Caribbean buffet fare. Made to order eggs/omelets, yogurt, fruit, pastries, etc, etc, etc. There were a few times when getting seated was a challenge. Their process was not well organized. They needed staff to bus tables and not have waiters and hostess personnel handle it. Most of the staff in Medi seemed to care less about the guests and could use training in customer service. One hostess, Indira, was excellent. She truly cared, always wanted to do the right thing, but seemed frustrated with the way some of the stfff performed. The Italian spot (Bella Italia) is not owned by Santa Barbara. We ate there once for dinner. The pizza is a thin cracker style. If you’re expectations are low, you’ll be fine. We had two meals and they were of reasonable size, taste and price. We had their gelato daily as it was excellent and reasonably priced. We had a $30pp buffet ate Medi on the evening of an island wide power outage that lasted for 16 hours. The resort had back-up generators for their food supplies and emergency lighting. The power outage was NOT the fault of the resort. They did the best they could and put out a 6pm buffet with BBQ meats (chicken and steak). The problem was, they took roast beef or an eye round, slice it, grilled it and served it as BBQ beef. It was inedible. Couldn’t cut it, couldn’t chew it. You can’t cook a beef roast that way and an executive chef should have known that. No one ate the beef. So we paid $30 for a salad and chicken buffet. Three times, when asked how is everything, I mentioned that beef was too tough to cut or eat and no one ever had a response. They can say “great” when all is well, but they can’t respond when something is off. Due to this we ate outside the resort for all other meals, which is unfortunate.
6) Staff was generally blah, nothing horrible and nothing exceptional, except previously mentioned Indira. At any good resort the guest comes first, that’s not the case here. It’s a mindset that is not instilled in the staff. I can’t tell you how many times, a staff member cut me off while walking. It’s the little things that will keep this resort from reaching a higher potential.
7) Activities, nightlife, etc. Non-existent. This was the biggest surprise. The only music we heard was when their was a wedding on the beach and we got to listen to their music. There’s nothing to do after dinner. There are no beach activities, no pool activities, nothing.
They have two pools which were clean and comfortable. The beach is across from their pier so you don't get the ocean view experience. There is a beach area with that view but it is unusable for going in and out of the water.
The pier allows public docking which became an issue one evening when a boat was blasting undesirable music which was loud from our room, though it didn't go on too late into the night.
Jaymy, our bartender, made our vacation time at Santa Barbara most enjoyable. He went above and beyond!! Thank you my friend❤️
Santa Barbara Resort is beautiful with the views, 2 pools, restaurants and relaxing atmosphere! Our excursion to Willemstad was fun as well and very colorful and the moving bridge was interesting.
We also had a day where we visited some local beaches and the National Park. Very fun day!!
Thank you Curaçao for a wonderful vacation!
We stayed here for a week- November 2nd to 10th. Right from the moment we arrived we were treated amazingly well. Daan at the front desk told us we'd received an upgraded room with beach access- wow, did this deliver!
Chilled prosecco, dessert and a killer view awaited.
We enjoyed the property was so expansive and gave us lots to explore. Yes, you might want to rent a car to see the sights but this is easy to do as the hotel has a car rental agency.
The one sour note would be the food. It's not made in house and relies on processed packaged foods. I detailed the dinner visits to The Medi elsewhere.
We considered going to Shore but decided the lack of gourmet prepared local prices didn't justify the price. At home I can pay $48 CDN at a Michelin star restaurant, and know it will be top notch. Alas, this is why I can't give 5 stars overall.