More about Habitat Curacao Resort
needs lots of help
We stayed at Habitat Curacao in Nov 2004 Unfortunately it rained alot. Which no one can predict. But that is not were the problem was. Chairs in the dining room were uncomfortable (too hard). The food was below average. We always looked else where to eat and the food was 100 % better outside the resort. There is mold in the salt & pepper shakers. The meal of the day was always King fish. Stray cats which left poop by the pool everyday and no one cleaned it unless they were told by a guest to do so. Mold in the pool lounge chair cushions. No one ever took care of the pool beside vacuuming it. The maid service was poor. They never cleaned the patios or gave you the appropriate towels back. if you had 4 towels you only would get 1 back. We had a flood in our friends room. We went to town for a couple of hours so they can clean & fix it. They never did. We had to clean it up. There is entertainment only 1 night for 2 hours for the hole week. Finally the only excellant thing I can say is the diving was spectacular and the dive staff was the best I have ever been diving with.
Great for Diving, Nothing else
We stayed at Habitat Curacao for 8 nights in January. The unlimited shore diving is great. Be sure to do some night dives as we jaw very active octopus. The diving in general is very good. Many species of small eels as well as the larger green morays. Good variety of fish and coral. Nice sponges. Mostly macro diving. Do not expect large stuff.
The resort is more accurately described as a diving dive. Do NOT stay here if you are not a diver. If you are a diving enthusiast and will spend most of your time under water, definitely stay here. If you only plan to dive a few times, stay somewhere else.
The pool area is very small, smaller than it looks in the pictures. Nice warm water thought. The lounge chairs get taken up quickly. I swear there was one woman who kept her stuff there overnight to "reserve" her spot. Annoying. The lack of a beach is a big minus for me. I think their beach got swept away by the last hurricane here several years back.
As for the food, it was ok at best. Overpriced considering what you got. The service was universally terrible. For dehydrated divers at a DIVING RESORT, one would think that they would be more attentive at getting you water - wrong. You MUST rent a car to eat out at night and get groceries and see the rest of the island. Go get stuff for sandwiches at a grocery store and get fresh fruit at the market. I went with high expectations, and I must say that I was somewhat disappointed at the other restaurants Curacao had to offer. Some were pretty good, but none were outstanding. Inconsistancy was the biggest problem w/ most restaurants. Good entree but terrible vegetables. Or good dish for one diner and terrible for another. We had a party of 4 each time so had a good sampling of the menu. Some recs:
Hotel Kura Hulanda - all their restaurants. They also had the best service by FAR. Go to their Asian restaurant for Thurs night buffet - reservations required to get in.
The Wine Cellar - The fillet of Venison was very good.
Fort Nassau - don't bother w/ dinner. Go at lunch to see the great views and to look around the historic Fort.
Louis Danniels - pretty good. Very close to Habitat Curacao so a plus.
If you go to the lobby at the Hotel Kura Hulanda, they have a good free restaurant guide book that might help you decide.
a great dive resort
My husband and I spent a week at Habitat Curacao and enjoyed our stay very much. As new divers, we were very happy with diving the house reef and how easy it was to navigate. And the huge amount and variety of fish was amazing. The dive staff was friendly and helpful and the rental equipment new and in good condition. THe restaurant at the resort was very reasonably priced I thought, especially the lunch and snack offerings. One night we ordered a simple dinner of grilled fish sandwiches which we took back to eat on our wonderful, large balcony with a nice bottle of wine enjoying the sunset. The pool was refreshing, and the lounge chairs very nice, and other than one afternoon, we could usually find some un-occupied ones. The room itself was simple, clean, comfortable and the mini kitchen was nice to have for cooking a simple breakfast or lunch. We were in building 6 which overlooked the pool and the ocean. We had a rental truck so we drove into town a few days for shopping and a couple of dinners. Towards the end of the week, we were content to stay at the resort, and not drive the 25-30 minutes for dinner. We did eat at Daniel's, much closer, and had wonderful food. We never used the spa facilities or services, I don't think many people did the week we were there. But we were told the resort was only half full, which made for a very quiet week, fine with us. We have no problems reccomending this resort.
We stayed at the Habitat Curacao for 2 weeks (September, 27th till October, 11th) and had no Carribean experience whatsoever. Coming from Germany we usually prefer the Mediterranean, but this year we wanted "the holiday of our life time".
Well, it was okay, but just okay.
Our first impression of the Habitat was that a very colourful and set in nature hotel. It was terrific to watch all these animals like humming-birds, lizards, and iguanas right in front of you. But to see this poor wonderful parrot in a cage on the premisis nearly broke my heart. This is not really an attraction for hotel guests!!!!
We had a villa, which was nice. Our bedroom (king-size bed) was clean, the air-condition did a very good job and the bathroom had a wonderful shower. The other room, which we just used to store our luggage smelled of mould,especially after I turned off the air-condition. After some days our impression changed a bit. Everything had a touch of neglect. There were only 2 sun-shades on the pool-site and after a little storm one of them was torn apart, but nobody cared to exchange or mend it. Some of the sun-chairs were broken and on the "beach" (go to Porto Mari, if you want to have a BEACH!!!!!!!!) there lay a wooden ladder next to more broken chairs. Not really a nice sight.
The restaurant service was simply a joke. The staff might be friendly, but this is defintely not enough to run a restaurant. We ordered two beers which our waitress forgot. After our meal we were offered coffee and deserts, so my husband ordered an espresso which the lady forgot again. The bill however was presented in speed of sound. So we went back to our roots and cocked our own dinner. This was cheaper anyway.
I liked Curacao a lot, but to be honest: I would never stay at the Habitat again. It is not worth the money you have to pay. For Europeans it is very expensive to go to the Carribean and the next time I would like to get what I paid for.
Nice hotel, great diving
Spent a week at Habitat Curacao in February 2005. Booked a garden view room, which was cheaper than ocean room, but was pleasantly surprised to find it also had an ocean view. Room had 2 queen beds, a kitchenette which included plates and cutlery. The nearest supermarket we found was about 20 minutes away on the main road to Willemstad. Room also contains a safe ($6 a week) and a large balcony (for all the dive gear). The villa rooms are across the road and up a big hill. Do not choose these unless you fancy climbing lots of steps every day.
The restaurant and bar are pleasant. The bar has a happy hour every day, with half price drinks (usually $3 a beer). Restaurant meals are reasonable: $10 per person for a buffet breakfast; $4 for snacks (chicken wings/toasted sandwich) and $10-$30 for dinner. Staff are very friendly. Have to open separate tabs at the restaurant/bar and the hotel.
Diving is as easy as it gets. Tanks are available 24 hours a day and it's a simple giant stride into the ocean. A rope runs to the reef. This is a great place for new divers as you can take things at your own pace and with the rope you can't get lost. Boat dives are also available every day. There are lockers available so take a lock. This is a hotel primarily for divers. For non divers there is a pool and a spa but not much else. There is no beach, just coral. There are nice sandy beaches at Port Marie ($4 entry fee) and Daaibooibaai close to the hotel. Barbara beach, which was recommended by our guide book, is now closed as they are building a water treatment plant there.
A rental car is a must if you stay at this hotel. It is about 30 minutes from Willemstad (highly recommend Jaipur restaurant in Otrabanda for Indian and Thai food). The east part of the island is more built up and residential then the west. Buy a road map before you go as we didn't get one with the rental car. Many of the roads, especailly ones down to the beaches, are just dirt roads, so a 4x4 is not a bad idea. Christoffel national park is a nice place to go for a morning. They have driving and hiking paths. The hike to the top of Christoffelberg moutain takes about an hour each way. It's quite a difficult hike and you'll need sturdy hiking boots, or at least some good sneakers/trainers, and plenty of water.
US dollars are accepted throughout the island but expect to get guilders in return. Most locals speak English and Dutch aswell as the native Papiamento language. Great hotel for divers. Reasonbly priced. Friendly people. One final thing - take insect repellent, you'll need it!
Some highs, a few lows
We had a party of 4 that went to Habitat Curacao in Feb., 2005. Overall, the resort was very nice. We stayed in the Lanai Villas area and we found them to be very comfortable and clean. The staff was very helpful, friendly and courteous.
While I have heard mixed reviews about the food at HC, we found it to be good (not great, but good). Make sure you check your bill after each meal. First of all, the staff was prone to making mistakes on the charges. Secondly, they tack on a service charge ("tip") of 10%. So, if you tip 15%, you've given your server a 25% tip.
The dive staff was very nice. We were given a dive briefing upon arrival which was very thorough. The dive staff there takes a "hands-off" approach to divers -- divers there are free to check out tanks and go diving 24/7. The shore diving at HC is exquisite. There is a reef straight out from shore that is one o the best that I have seen. It is an easy swim (about 100 yds.?) and the coral is magnificent. On virtually every shore dive we saw Puffer Fishes, Peacock Flounders and Morays. We even saw a number of Scorpion Fishes, an octopus and some squid. We also viewed a pod of whales while traveling between dive sites. Every dive site that we went to had very little current. This made the diving very relaxing. Additionally, the visibility was excellent -- 80-100' by my estimation. Water temp. was about 79 degrees Farenheit, 26 degrees Centigrade.
The boat crews were nice, but not particularly helpful. While people were suiting up to get in the water, the crew members did very little, if anything, to assist. This was compounded by the fact that the boats were truly "cattle boats", having up to 24 divers on board. That, in my opinion, is a bit too close for comfort. This is a minor complaint only, as everyone on the boats got along quite well and worked together.
HC is a long way away from the town of Willemstad (about 30 minutes) so, if you plan on going there, be prepared to spend a lot of time on the resort. We went to Willemstad a couple of times while there. It is a nice city with a beautiful, clean harbor. We just didn't find much to see or do there, unfortunately. We are used to places like Cozumel where there are many lively bars and restaurants to experience. Ultimately, we found Willemstad to be nice, but not very lively.
If you plan on eating-in and drinking a few beers while there, it may behoove you to rent a car. We went to a grocery store north of Willemstad and bought beer, sodas, food and snacks. What we paid for the car was far less than what we would have paid had we eaten three meals a day at the HC restaurant and bought beers at the bar. The grocery store there was excellent -- every bit as well-stocked as any American supermarket. For beer, try Amstel Bright. It's brewed on the island and is quite good. The 9-oz. bottles are pretty small, so order 2 at a time if you're thirsty. Also, buy some cheese also at the supermarket -- the gouda and edam cheeses were excellent.
I would recommend HC to anyone who is looking for some world-class diving.
Very nice...but at a price
We stayed in Curaco for 2 weeks in February (1 week at Limestone Holiday on the east end of the island and then 1 week at Habitat). Habitat was nice- by far the nicest of the "quiet" hotels that we saw (not nearly as busy as the ones downtown: Hilton, Floris, Lion's Dive, Seaquarium). We were looking for a nice place that was out of the way and close to beaches- this was it!
Neither of us are divers, but the lovely, quiet landscaped grounds and the nifty infinity pool and deck area were enough for us. The nearby Porto Mari beach is a MUST VISIT. It is the nicest beach on the island- great swimming and snorkeling/diving. Of course, get there early to stake out shade as it gets very hot mid-day. There is a small entrance fee and a fee to use chairs or to rent gear- well worth it for a great day at the beach. There are also hiking trails for any land-lubbers.
Overall, we very much enjoyed our visit to Habitat. As others have mentioned, the food at the restaurant was ok, but the view made up for the lackluster gastronomic performance. The included breakfast buffet made for a good start to each day. I would recommend searching out reservations online instead of going directly through the resort if you want to save some money. Also note that their rooms are priced per PERSON not per room.
Great diving - but not much else!
The Habitat, which is a 30 min taxi ride from the airport, is totally wrapped around the diving centre (which is excellent), so unless you're a 24-7 diving nut and happy to sleep off the 'inbetweens' beside the pool or turn in early - then you'll need to hire a car and travel further afield for a real flavour of the island and better holiday experience.
The hotel is typical of many found in the less commercially exploited carribean islands - with a slightly faded 80's look and feel and in danger of being stuck in a rut. Rooms are 2 storey staggered units - with the top floor having a spacious - albeit not very private balcony, with table and chairs. Try and get a seaview. Combined with the inclusion of a small open plan 'kitchen' in the room - this means you can readily avoid the dreadful food on offer (which even out of season, wasn't acceptable for the hotel price). Overcooked, overflavoured fried food was the order of the day - the coffee was undrinkable and the breakfasts were tired and unappealing. There's a large supermarket on the outskirts of Willemstadt (first right past the airport turning towards Bullenbaai) with all you'll need.
Internal decor, and especially bathrooms could benefit from an overhaul - but the advantage is you feel less guilty about bringing your diving suits and sandy beach wear indoors!
The pool was a gem - small, but perfectly formed infinity pool which was kept very clean. There was also a small tree-covered decking area on the beach below the hotel. The beach itself is small and full of coral rubble - so not for sun-worshippers or swimmers. Snorkelling is good however.
The grounds are also pleasant - although again very dated. If you want 'formulaic' modern city hotel glitz, and somehwere with entertainment for the kids or young at heart - the Habitat is not for you.
The jewel in the crown is the diving centre, whose branding - 'diving freedom' - is very apt. For 25$ per day ( with additional charge for equipment) and production of PADI certification, we got unlimited shore diving, whenever we wished - which was exceptional. On the way to the hotel jetty, you simply pick up your tank, and less than 20m offshore is a very well preserved/maintained reef, shelving gradually to 30m. If you're not so experienced, theres a rope guide to 30m - so all you do is swim left or right to 50% air and return to the rope! Sea visibility was generally good, with plenty of tube sponges, fan, soft, brain corals etc, and a full carribean complement of small fish (no big ones seen at all), morays, lobster/crab. It was a real treat to be able to dive when you felt like it on such an interesting and visually appealing site. The hotel has 2 excellent dive boats, operating morning and afternoon dives for 50 $ per trip. The dive masters were helpful, friendly and knowledgeable - organising daily 2 site dives at 60 min each. We were shown seahorses - and another trip saw wild dolphins (rare I understand). Kit hire is expensive - so take your own if you can.
The hotel is on the Coral Reef resort - which is a security protected upmarket holiday residential area. Apart from the Habitat - there's nothing else - so use the free hotel shuttle service to get you into lively Willemstadt. Taxis are 25-35$.
We hired a car from Dersie (6663303) - a small family run company who were delightfully friendly and helpful. The car was hammered - but so are the roads. The aircon was functional and it was 38US$ per day incl tax with free pick up/collection from the hotel. The owners gave us a full history of the island and great tips on where to go.
Best nearby beach = Daaibooi - v quiet when we went. Facilities and shade. Snorkelling good. Next along = Playa Portomarie, which was the best we went to. An eco-beach with full facilities and small restaurant (with the best iced tea), and very good snorkelling - with many trumpet fish in the shallows. Take your diving kit from the hotel...
Further up is San Jaun - a bit of a trek, but very unspoiled. Big lobsters in the bay and many shoals. No facilities but tree shade. Again, one to take your diving kit to.
Beaches in the NW area are favoured by the locals at the weekend and get very crowded e.g. Groot/Kelin Knip, Playa Jeremi! Great fun, but hard to find shade. Playa Kaliki is small but perfectly formed - and ideal during the morning when the dive boats are out from the attached centre. Not far from this beach is possibly the best local eating place on the island = Jaanchies. A real experience not to be missed! You will be offered Iguana and share your table with the little yellow and black birds called Bananquits!
Boca Tabla cave and reserve in the North was disappointing, and I'm secptical you'd ever see turtles nesting - but the coastline was wildly rugged. There are wild Flamingos about 10 mins drive from the hotel.
We tried many different restaurants in our search for simple, well-cooked fresh seafood - but with little success. Everything was fried, and served with fries, rice and beans and plantain. The best offers were De Octopus at St Michiel (altough we were hassled by car-minders!), Seaside Terrace (next to Surf and Turf near Sea Aquarium beach), the local indoor canteen just along from the floating market in Willemstadt (go early lunchtime),
Steak and Seafood (in the new shopping mall on the seafront by the stadium). And for a more european flavour - La Bahia was excellent for meat and seafood.
You can pay US$ everywhere, but expect local currency back in small change.
One word of advice - don't expect to find local crafts of quality to take back as gifts. I've never seen so much junk in my life! The dive centre at Habitat had good quality branded clothing.
All in all - Habitat makes a great holiday centre if you're a diver/sightseer, but you'd miss a lot if you only stayed on site.
Do Not Stay At Habitat. You Have Been Warned
Having spent five nights at the wonderful Hotel Kura Hulanda, we were looking forward to our four nights at Habitat, were we could do lots of diving and relaxing. IF ONLY.
Arriving at an empty hotel is one thing, but when that also includes no staff you get a little worried. The handy man took our bags to our block/compound, and entering our room was a real kick in the groin. It smelt, was unlived in for many months, was dirty, with gum on the tiles, the bathroom was something from a homeless shelter, and there was a closet that led to a concrete wall and pipes. Our pool view was a vacent restaurant view.
Deciding to ask for a room change was no good as I was told all other blocks were closed for "renovation". 10 minutes sitting on our grim beds helped us make up our mind to leave. Having already paid through expedia, I asked to speak to the reservations manager. The receptionist went into a back office and I heard a conversation, where the manager told the guy to give us a sea view; she did not even come out of her office and ask our problem. We declined on the sea view and returned to Kura Hulanda. Now there is a Good Hotel, the best in Curacao and one of the best anywhere. PS We since learnt from locals that Habitat is soon to close. PPS Cant comment on ther Spa facilities, but can guess.
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
PPPS. SUNSET WATERS is as bad.
Only plus. Nice diving. (but safety not the issue here).
The Habitat is a very relaxed and relaxing hotel. The hotel staff is always very friendly and helpful. We stayed there for ten days late August/early September and whenever we asked for/about something we got a friendly smile and help without fail.
The hotel is not brand new anymore but well kept. We choose to stay in one of the lanai villas. They have no seaview but are more spacious and have an outdoor kitchenette and a rather pleasant sitting area. There is only a small beach, coral rubble mostly. The pool is small but simply fantastic with a breathtaking view. Go there when the sun sets. You will not forget this view for a long time.
The food is nothing to write home about which is not really a surprise as Curacao is a Dutch island after all. If you want Haute Cuisine go to the French islands like Martinique or Guadeloupe. On Curacao cooking follows a very strict rule: If it is not deep fried it is not worth eating.
The Habitat diving centre is said to be the best on the island. It is certainly the best I've ever seen. They rent and sell whatever a diver might need. Their two dive boats visit more fantastic dive spots than we could see in ten days. For safety there is always a dive master in the water with you. They all know their business, they never bother you with unwanted help but they are there when you need them. I had a problem with my regulator while on the boat, and before I even started to look for the dive master he was already there and fixed the problem in sixty seconds flat.
The house reef is excellent. The diving centre offers unlimited shore diving 24 hours a day so you just grab a tank whenever you feel like it. The reef starts some 20m offshore and there is a rope to guide you out and back again. It's mostly small fish but a lot of them, sponges, corals, good visibility, no currents to speak of. We saw snake eels, seahorses, turtle, dolphins.
There is a free hotel shuttle service to get you into Willemstadt but you'll need a car for the rest of the island. Curacao is not among the most spectacular of the Caribbean islands. There is no rain forest, there are no waterfalls, there are more cacti than flowers. But the diving is great and what's really fantastic on Curacao is the friendliness of the people.
All in all: Wonderful holidays. We'll be back someday soon.