Don’t get me wrong, I love a good vacay as much as the next basic, self-tanned bitch on a mission for a real tan, but spring travel should come with a disclaimer. No, seriously. Resorts are crawling with horny, drunk teenagers desperate for their first taste of an ~adult~ spring break—which is precisely why I found my single ass traveling to one of the ABC Islands to sip Dirty Bananas at a cozy couples resort instead. Though, to be fair, the 45-year-olds were still pretty horny and drunk.
Here’s the good news: Curacao was completely devoid of spring breakers, while still promising a similar (*cough, cough* better) stay than that of your Cabo and Cancun counterparts. At least this time of year. Think: good booze, great food, and superior beaches.
We Thrived At The All-New Sandals Royal Curaçao
I’m not here to talk shit about all-inclusive resorts—the opposite, really, just let me get there. Sometimes they are a disappointment. You know what I’m talking about. The food can be meh and the drinks can be weak. Luckily, that wasn’t even ~sort of~ the case for the newly-opened Sandals Royal Curaçao resort.
The hospitality group opened its latest venture (ahem, their 16th destination in total) just last year on the Dutch-inspired island, and basically, it has everything you could need—a luxe spa, crystal clear waters on a pristine beach, the infinity pool, swim-up bar, you name it. Now here’s the real selling point, ladies and gents: the resort not only boasts eight on-site restaurants (Butch’s, Zuka, Strand, Kanaal, Solos, Gatsu Gatsu, Pietra, and Vincent), but also includes a $250 credit at restaurants outside of the property, too.
Let me say that louder for the folks in the back: you get free dinners at local restaurants in addition to the resort all-inclusive. It’s actually the only program to offer such a perk. The only caveat? The $250 voucher is available only for 7+ paid nights in a butler suite or 7+ paid nights in any room category for Diamond Level and above Sandals Select Rewards members.
Where To Eat Inside And Outside The Resort
Oh, so you thought I was going to say the food was good and leave it at that? LOL. You don’t know me at all, dear readers. The food was damn good and now I’m going to rant about it for a hot min. Buckle up.
To say the resort food exceeded my expectations is an understatement—like I would actually pay to eat at every restaurant we visited inside Sandals. Especially Gatsu Gatsu, where we dined night one and I proceeded to gorge myself on sushi. The crispy rice? Elite. The sashimi? Fresh as hell. The dragon eel roll? I wish I had gone back for more.
I snacked on a beachside Shrimp Caesar Wrap at Strand Seafood House for lunch (someone at Sandals must be on that side of TikTok), went HAM on the surf & turf at Butch’s, and had ceviche nearly every other meal, including a dinner stop at Zuka.
Now, remember, the beauty of this trip is that you didn’t need to eat at the resort the entire time—even if I was tempted to spend every meal at Gatsu Gatsu. We also visited island inclusive partner restaurant Nultwintig, which was equal parts cool vibes and good food. The Dutch restaurant concept, which was located right on the water, gave us stunning views as an appetizer to our actual appetizers (oysters, a grilled peach and burrata salad, and yep, more ceviche). The innovative menu features Goat Cheese Crème Brûlée, Smoked Local Fish Cannoli, and Frenched Pork Chops, among other crowd-favorites.
Other partner restaurants include Kome, BKLYN, SOI95, Mosa/Caña Bar & Kitchen, Sal The Kitchen, The Wine Cellar, and Number Ten.
Think About A Bike Tour Around Willemstad
While the resort was a ways away from the heart of Willemstad, we took a Sandals shuttle to town for a guided bike tour with Island Routes. We covered serious ground too (thanks to the e-bike and not my leg strength), exploring the art culture and historic stops throughout downtown. The tour, which will run you about $87 a person, starts at a natural harbor called Waaigat. We zoomed through Scharloo and caught photos of the iconic “wedding cake house.” You’ll learn! You’ll explore! And guess what Insta hoes, it’s a great opportunity for photo ops.
Try Your Hand At A Cooking Class
Nope, still not done talking about the food. Surprise! For a more interactive eating experience, stop by a cooking class with Helmi Smeulders, a Dutch-born, Curaçao resident and chef that took us through an entire how-to on Caribbean cooking. While the menu is ever-changing, Chef Smeulders had us prep a massive spread featuring some of the Island’s most iconic ingredients and flavors. The two-hour course, which costs $110 per person, finishes with a decadent lunch on the porch, complete with overflowing wine and dessert.
Where Else To Stay
So Sandals isn’t your jam? Fine, cool. We’ll admit there were *a lot* of couples. The Marriott boasts a similarly luxe beach resort experience in Willemstad too, while the Baoase Luxury Resort is one of the more opulent options (read: pricey but worth it).
Featured image courtesy of Getty Images.