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Reviewed August 22, 2015

We went on a day pass with the family. For 2 adults, 2 children under 12 and the parking ticket we paid 45$, just as the entrance sign says. The parking ticket of I believe 10$ is deducted when you order some food. We enjoyed the quiet and luxurious surroundings. Our kids spent almost all their time in one of the pools and had a great time. Lunch was of good poolstyle quality. During ballplay later in the afternoon our oldest daughter caught the ball on her little finger, spraining it. The care we/she received from the staff was welcome, thoughtful and much appreciated. Clearly the staff did everything they could to ease the pain as well as our daughter. Big kudos to the staff!

Date of stay: August 2015
Trip type: Travelled with family
Thank Baron0047
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed August 21, 2015

We wanted to visit the beach at Santa Barbara and enjoy the upmarket nature of the place. The entry cost $35 for the car and two sun beds. Instead of a nice beach the hotel has a strip of sand across from the marina. The entry ticket states that playing of loud music is not allowed and doing so will have you removed. No one told those on the boats who were playing thumping loud music. Nothing peaceful about this.

After a lengthy discussion with very unhelpful front desk manager we received a refund and visited a local beach costing $6 which was much more peaceful and had lovely sunset views.

Date of stay: August 2015
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Service
4  Thank Mark E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed August 18, 2015

We stayed here in last year. The santa barbara resort is truely a beautiful resort. Nice pool area and there is an awsome area to swim in the ocean which is actually part of the inlet so you can watch the boats go by when they are coming in and out of port. The food was also top notch. We went into town so that our daughter could swim with the dolphins which was way more reasonable than many of the other islands that we have went to. The golf course here was very very nice too.

Date of stay: September 2014
  • Trip type: Travelled with family
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank 934jakej
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SBCuracao, General Manager at Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, Curacao, responded to this reviewResponded August 19, 2015

Hi Jake,

Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback; we're glad you had a good stay! We appreciate your compliments on our food and property. We're glad your daughter was also able to swim with the dolphins! Come back and visit us again very soon!

Regards,

Darren Law
General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed August 16, 2015

Review of Santa Barbara Resort

My wife and I went to the Santa Barbara Golf and spa resort Aug 6th to 13th, and quite enjoyed it. As usual, here are the categories, as well as some general thoughts about travelling to the island (and around)

Location

As other reviews point out, the resort is a little out of the way, on the South-East end of the island. It’s quite a large property, in fact, it takes about 5 minutes driving to get from the gatehouse to the actual hotel. On the way in you will pass through arid desert like scrub brush, under a small and rugged mountain, past the turn offs to the marina, and around some of the golf course holes. Very pretty drive in. All very natural.

The hotel itself is a long linear affair, starting facing the sea directly, and wrapping around the channel inlet which makes its way into the marina. For the most part, with the exception of a couple of areas, the hotel points at the water. There are a couple of wings which face perpendicular to the sea.

Some people may criticize the location as being out of town, but that is personal preference. I loved the fact that it was quiet and generally dark at night. When I read other peoples reviews, in particular claims of it being out of town, I had the impression it was WAY out of town. Well, yes and no. It is all developed land from Punda/Willemstad all the way to the front gate of the resort complex. In other words, when you leave the resort, you are immediately in residential and somewhat commercial areas. There is not much by way of shopping close by, unless you want your tires changed. It might be a km to the nearest minimart, and the further you drive in towards Punda, the more you will find fast food, small restaurants, barber shops, etc.

If you are a person who wants to get off resort, it is REALLY a good idea to rent a car. The resort bus is expensive as are taxi’s, and you only need to go off resort a few days before it becomes financially a better idea to rent. We rented a car from Budget for the week we were there and it cost $199 USD. I think the bus was around $25 pp.

Rooms

These are your standard rectangular boxes. No fancy high end room shapes here, however they did a really nice job with the rooms. Most impressively is the nice floor to ceiling rich wood sliding doors and shutters which lead to a decent sized balcony. The entrance closets/fridge are also covered nicely in finished wood, giving the place a modern high end feel. Floors are marble, and the bathrooms are modern and nicely done.

The bathroom is somewhat open concept, with only the toilet itself isolated behind a pocket door. The sink and shower area can be isolated by pulling a large curtain shut.

Overall, It’s clean, polished and professional.

Beds

We opted for a king size bed. It was quite nice with a 2-3 inch pillow top. Perhaps not the best I’ve ever slept on, but far far away from the hard slab some hotels have. Pillows were nice. Modern clean white sheets. Unless you have very specific needs for sleeping comfort, you will probably be happy.

Food

We did not opt for the all-inclusive plan. To do so would have doubled the approximately $1100 pp CDN we paid for this trip and I don’t think the value was quite there. That said, the food was quite good. We ate on resort three nights. The buffet was very good (for a buffet). Nothing super exciting, but the pizza was fresh and thin crust. The meat good quality. A good salad bar, and the pre-fab dishes ranged from “good enough” to “yummy”. Lunch buffet was ~25pp and dinner was ~32pp. Drinks extra.

We ate at Shore restaurant once (which is only open certain days of the week). It had a high end menu with a similar price. I think app’s, mains and deserts with drink came to a little over $110. The apps were very small for the price and my first app came out tasting off so I sent it back. They took it away and replaced it without any fuss, however forgot to take it off the bill. When we pointed this out, they corrected the bill and offered us a couple of free drinks. I point all of this out to give you a feel for the place. Nice menu. Good food and service. But not quite worth the price. Certainly nice for a splurge as long as you are not overly concerned about paying $20 pp more than you probably should.

There was a unused sushi bar in the main room (probably used in high season), and a tuck-shop/gelato/Italian fast food restaurant as well. We tried the gelato, and it was okay, but we have very high standards for gelato 

I bought a can of coke one time and it was $3.50 to give you an idea of pricing.

I'm not a big drinker, but the few drinks I had where top notch as were the bartenders.

Pools

There are two pools and a splash pad for the kids. The pools and deck area were very nice, but nothing exceptional. Clean, well done, and max 1.3 meters deep. Just nothing to make you go WOW. A built in hot tub or lazy river or ??? would have made it exceptional.

Service

No real issues with service. In general, they were friendly, quick, and helpful. Need towels? Right away. Need help with off-site reservations. No problem.

I will say that the friendliness was not over the top, as some resorts seem to beat into their staff. i.e. some resorts in Mexico, you cannot walk from your room to the beach without saying hello to 15 smiling staff members.

As a side note about all inclusive. I asked what I would get if I upgraded to AI, and was told food and drinks. You do not get kayaks, or mountain bikes, or day beds. They are always extra cost unfortunately.

Beach

The beach is “nice enough”. You will not see miles of white sand, with waves rolling in from the sea. The beach area is maybe 200 feet long, and it is actually on the inlet, rather than the open sea. It is nice white sand, shallow for about 25 feet, then dipping off fairly quickly into deeper water.

To keep the beach safe from the inlet, which a fair amount of boat traffic uses, they have a floating dock the entire length of the beach. You feel safe, but you do not quite feel you are in the open water.

Fish like to congregate around the dock, in particular the eastern end. You will see the usual typical tropical fish, but I also saw a small family of squid and (I think) a barracuda. Snorkelling is worthwhile, but not life changing.

The water was around 80 degrees.

The land side of the beach was partially treed, with a small bar, umbrellas, faux wicker recliners, and a decent amount of space should you wish to sun bathe.

Throw in a few semi-wild kittens, lots of birds, the occasion hummingbird, and a few iguanas which they will let you feed fruit, it was a nice place to hang out.

WIFI / Tech

WIFI was not free in the rooms. I think it was $15 a day. I did not opt for that as, well, I think WIFI should be free or at least cheap at a 5 star hotel. For those with laptops who might be thinking of plugging into the Ethernet port in the room, it was not free either (as is sometimes the case).

The main hall had good WIFI, and most nights you would see people sitting around chatting, and getting caught up with the connected world. I tried YouTube once, and it was buffering a bit, so you cannot expect the Netflix.

I like to bring an iPad and watch a TV series in the evenings, and the TV’s are partially locked down. You cannot plug into a spare port on the TV and simple change the source. Instead, you have to unplug the cable box to watch your own content via HDMI1. This is only slightly annoying, and I was in Iceland once where they literally would not let you plug anything in.

There was a decent set of channels from the UK, US and Canada.

Overall

Overall, this is a really nice trade-off for a generally expensive island. There are $800 a night hotels on this island which would blow this place away. That said, we paid a fraction of that. It’s clean, professional, good quality across the board. The service is good, the rooms are very nice, the grounds are very pretty, the beach is nice, etc. I cannot complain about anything (other than maybe WIFI). At the same time, I cannot claim a stunning once in a lifetime experience. This might not be fair to the resort, as I have been lucky enough in the past to find my way into near- “Oprah Winfrey” class places. Odds are you will like this place.

Curacao

Now, if this is the first time you have been to this island, a few observations from someone who rented a car, drove around most days, scuba dove, and spent some time in the duty free zones.

Driving: Yeah, to Canadian eyes, it’s a little chaotic to drive. But not the worst I have seen. Drivers generally fall into two categories (over generalizing, I know). 1) Those that want to drive 30-40km/hr. 2) Those that want to drive 80-90km/hr. You will encounter a lot of extreme tailgating, a lot of random sudden turning off the road, almost no signalling, random stopping to let people in and cars that look like they have already been in an accident two or three times. The island is not THAT hard to drive on, but you should be a confident driver. I will say that the drivers are sloppy by Canadian standards (over steering, poor lane holding, no signalling, etc), but not overly aggressive (which is often the most important factor in driving in a foreign country).

Diving: I dove two days with The Dive Bus. The diving is definitely very good. While I have done much better dives, every dive was VERY enjoyable, and no complaints. Certainly better than most other dive locations. And as you may have heard, almost all diving is shore diving. If you have your own dive buddy with you, you can rent tanks many places and just dive on your own.

Distances: To go from the Santa Barbara to the west most point (Westpont), takes a little over an hour driving fairly aggressively. Airport to the Santa Barbara is 30-40 minutes. Santa Barbara to Punda/Willemstad is around 30 minutes. Santa Barbara to the Dive Bus is around 15-20 minutes.

Scenery: Curacao in August is a desert. Kinda like Cabo san Lucas. It’s really quite pretty, assuming you like desert type scenery. Lots of thorny thickets, cactus, sand, stones, etc. Near the water, and in some inner areas, there are more lush trees, palms, etc. It is generally flat, however there are probably around 10 moderate volcanic structures.

Interestingly, the center of the island near Willemstad is the “Island Refinery”. This used to be royal Shell ~70 years ago and is/has been the largest source of jobs on the island. So, after you get off your plane, and are getting to your hotel envisioning palm trees, you will pass a very large grimy refinery. A little shocking at first. When you are close to it, and on certain days, you will smell a bit of Sulphur, and one night we could see the “fires of Mordor” burning on the horizon from the hotel. It will not ruin or impact your vacation, but I wanted to point it out as most of the other Caribbean islands do not have industry, and it is interesting to see that there is more happening there than just tourism.

The west part of the island, or as the locals call it, the “boonies” is only lightly developed, and with Christofell park (mountain), it’s the most scenic and raw. I would recommend a drive through this area. If you wish to climb the mountain, expect to be in decent shape, and YES YOU WILL NEED TO CLIMB IN THE MORNING. I tried it around 11am and was totally out of water and heading towards heat stroke around the 75% point. It’s hot and there is almost no shade. But very pretty and raw. A few locals were talking to me saying that they would never again try to climb it late in the day.

Duty free shopping: I was disappointed in the quality of the duty free shopping. The airport had almost nothing of interest. Certainly no “great discounts on high end goods” and almost no selection. We were told that if you were looking for even better savings on bulk goods, that we should go to the Free Zone. Do not waste your time. While the idea is great, it is a failure. On one side of the inner harbor is a container farm, which they set up to allow goods to be sold more or less right off the boat. So you are driving around a large number of warehouses which have put store fronts on the ends to sell at fantastic discounts. Sounds like a good idea? Well, it seemed that less than half of the stores are occupied and all that is being sold is what I would call “overly printed generic Caribbean women’s clothing”. Oh, there was also a place to buy shower curtains. If you are into that. You need to provide your passport to get in here, but 99% of you will be wasting your time.

The real shopping area is in Punda/Willenstad. Again, mostly clothing, but there are some jewelry stores with some decent prices (cheaper than eBay). Watches were 20-40% off retail for decent brands. The area itself is quite nice (only a little run down). Old buildings, some restaurants (particularly around the edge of the shopping area), some historical areas, a good view of the high bridge. There is also a fruit market and a flea market. Definitely worth a day of walking around.

Date of stay: August 2015
7  Thank Larrabee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SBCuracao, General Manager at Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, Curacao, responded to this reviewResponded August 17, 2015

Thanks for leaving your detailed feedback! We appreciate and utilize visitor's feedback to always improve our guest experience. We're glad you enjoyed our resort and the island as a whole. We hope to see you again on your next visit to Curacao!

Regards,

Darren Law
General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed August 15, 2015 via mobile

We stayed at the resort for one week. The people working here are super friendly, always with a smile on their face. However, the food is horrible. Breakfast is standard. You have eggs, pancakes, Danishes and croissants. Breakfast starts off good but the rest of the meals are horrible. Lunch at splash is just awful. We ordered the hamburger well done, it came out practically raw. We also ordered the chicken sate.. I couldn't eat more than one piece. For dinner we went to shore. Another disappointment. The bill came out to 150$. What a waste. The Santa Barbara needs to do something about the food.
We stayed in a standard room. However we weren't expecting the sheets to have tears on them, and the mattress pad was completely ripped. This resort gets 5 stars for friendliest.. Rooms a 3 star and food is about a 2 ( would give it a 1 star but the breakfast is ok).

Date of stay: August 2015
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
1  Thank eg4567
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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