Here’s how you get to Curacao the day before Thanksgiving: You use 17,500 Continental miles for each person to fly one-way on their twice-weekly flight from Newark to Curacao.
Here’s how you return from Curacao the Monday after Thanksgiving: You fly American through Miami and pay for the tickets. You use Chase Ultimate Rewards points to offset some of the cost (because they give you a 25% bonus for booking through them) — sometimes that flexibility is pretty nice.
Longtime OTR readers will recall our last trip to Curacao which lead to our children thrice vomiting (non-disgusting details here) and a post I wrote outlining what to do when your child throws up on a plane. Despite all of that, we decided to return to the Dutch island.
I didn’t bother to take any pictures on the plane, because I assume you’ve flown coach before. It was exactly like that.
The resort is beautiful. Extremely beautiful. Beyond what any (or any 2) 5-year-olds should be exposed to. The second we walked in I was wondering why the hell I brought them with us. Baoase is comprised of 9 villas, 3 of which have private pools (like ours) and 5 of which are attached to a private pool, each with its own private entrance to that pool.
The resort is set on a lagoon, so you are on the ocean, but the water is perfectly still. They’ve shipped in sand from Suriname because Curacao’s beaches tend to be rocky.
We arrived, and our room was not yet ready, so they brought us to the bar where we were treated to some sort of fruity drink and a little snack. The staff took our girls to go see a couple of turtles who live nearby and we were excited to settle in and see our villa.
The staff, though, had not yet taken us on the rather thorough tour of the place, which, while lovely, was probably not necessary, as:
a) it’s small; and
b) we’d been traveling for 9 hours and just wanted to get to our room.
Even so, the grounds are beautiful. It’s designed to look like a resort in Bali (without the 28 hour trip), and frankly I haven’t seen anything like it in the Caribbean. We could’ve used points to stay at a hotel that’s part of a chain, but we wanted a smaller, more intimate experience, which is what we’ve got. Sure, you can stay at a Hilton in Thailand (like here) and get a villa like this using points. But I don’t know too many places 4 hours from New York that offer a similar property from a chain. Baoase had a stay-3-get-2-nights-free offer going on, so we booked that and used $2,200 from last year’s Capital One Venture Card deal to offset the cost. See – you don’t always have to use miles to get free(ish) travel.
While taking us around the resort, the young gentleman leading the way repeatedly referred to the fantastic security they have, and the guardstation in the front, and how it’s staffed with 1 guard during the day and 2 at night, and how there are cameras EVERYWHERE, and don’t worry everything will be fine, and it’s quite likely you won’t be murdered in your sleep, et cetera. I found this odd, as prior to the safety briefing I had absolutely no concerns at all about my safety but I was now wondering why I decided to stay in a government yard in trenchtown. As I am writing this, however, you’ll note that I escaped unscathed.
After that, we were brought to the villa. We were not disappointed. 2 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom, with a full kitchen and our own pool, surrounded by tropical vegetation. And wi-fi. Tropical wi-fi.
One bedroom was upstairs, with a second bedroom downstairs. The lower featured an outdoor shower and bath which, while lovely, did put your dripping, naked body in full view of the myriad mosquitos on the island, making you a human buffet for the little bugs. Even so, who doesn’t love an outdoor shower? (Although rhetorical, I can answer with: my wife does not love an outdoor shower).
The girls spent a huge amount of time just hanging out in the pool in the backyard, which was great for us because one of the tradeoffs of the place was that there was no kids club. That could’ve been a gigantic bummer, but we were ridiculously lucky that they enjoyed the pool and the lagoon so much. I was actually able to read (the wonderful Art of Fielding) in between cries of “Daddy Watch Me Daddy Watch Me Daddy Watch Me Daddy Watch Me Daddy Watch Me Daddy Watch Me Daddy Watch Me Daddy Watch Me Daddy Watch Me Daddy Watch Me!”
Breakfast was part of our package and served each day out on the beach, under a canope of sorts to keep the sun out. Each morning a large assortment of breads and pastries was brought to our table, and we could then choose entrees separately (the menu didn’t change, but we actually ate less as the week went on, because how many days can you really eat a croissant, donut, roll, lox and fruit, and THEN order an main course.) Despite the bugs (it’s the tropics, get over it), it was really lovely sitting out there.*
* I have no photos of breakfast because I am an old fart and consider it either rude or weird (I can’t decide which) to take photos of your food at the table. I know that everyone seems to do it now, and every trip report includes photography of meals. And every time I go out to eat someone in the place is taking pictures of their food. While I don’t begrudge anyone their right to photograph their sandwich, I can’t do it. Hence, you’ll have to imagine what a piece of toast looks like.
And we pretty much passed our days in that manner. Breakfast, swim in the back yard, swim in the lagoon, go out to dinner. November is rainy season, and while we had a couple of drizzles, it was primarily sunny (though they must have had one helluva storm right before we got there, because there were still puddles 5 days later).
Baoase’s rooms and grounds were world-class, especially if you’re a fan of Asian-inspired design. However, even for a laid-back Caribbean resort, its service had several steps to go before I would even deem it unpolished. They’ve staffed the place primarily with interns from Dutch hotel management schools. Each was nice and sweet to the nth degree, but none of them would have passed muster at a Four Seasons. Mind you, I don’t require much, and my standards are quite low. But Baoase is not inexpensive, and I felt they missed even the minimum level of service I would expect. I’m not talking about food taking a while – it’s the Caribbean, no one is in any hurry. But some days we did not get towels changed without asking. When we left they packed us a little breakfast to go because we had an early flight. In that breakfast they included yogurt, which could not be brought through security, while neglecting to include any utensils for eating said yogurt. No one ever offered us a drink in the 5 days we were there. Remember: we were frequently the ONLY people on the beach. Again, nothing was a huge deal, and it wasn’t like they didn’t take care of us. But in high season the villas are $1600 (we were not there in high season) — at that price, a bottle of water (also not supplied) would have been appreciated. They did try hard, though, and that was endearing in its own way. Though I would’ve found it more endearing if the place was $225/night.
Finally, it’s a haven for honeymooners. Our biggest concern was that our children would torture the folks trying to enjoy their time together. That turned out not to be an issue at all. The villas have plenty of privacy and are far enough apart that you couldn’t hear our kids playing in the pool. During the day people seemed to head out on excursions, so we didn’t run into anyone then, either. They kept to themselves, we kept to ourselves, and ne’re the twain shall meet.
All-in-all, a relaxing break.