If one of your New Year's resolutions is to finally take that Caribbean vacation, the island of Curaçao has a deal for you: a fourth night free at some of the country's best hotels.
Named by our experts as the number 2 island in the region for 2010, now the world's newest country October 10, 2010 marked the country's autonomous independence from the island territories of the Netherlands Antilles, like its sister island Aruba and as gay-friendly as they come in an often difficult region, deals like this make us pine for its cerulean waters, sandy coves, rugged ATV-ready terrain and arid climate that keeps ostrich and aloe farms happy with mid-80s temperatures practically year round. For travelers who want a little more to their vacation than resort-constricted beach time, thanks to its focus on oil-refinery and financial services industries (tourism ranks third in its economy) the island offers a sophisticated scene surrounding UNESCO World Heritage-designated Willemstad, the only Caribbean city outside Havanna to be so ranked. Highlights include digging your toes into the sand floor of the 350-year-old Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue, sampling the wares at the Senor of Curaçao original Blue Curaçao liqueur factory, strolling past the famous multi-colored Dutch colonial buildings fronting the harbor on your way to the swinging Queen Emma pontoon bridge, and trying your luck at the Renaissance Casino.
The Beat the Winter Blues must be booked by January 8, 2011 and is good for travel through April 8. Participating hotels include the gay-owned Hotel Kurá Hurlanda Spa & Casino, a spectacularly unique eight-block collection of colonial buildings that feels like its own small jazz-influenced town, its more luxe, resort-like sister property Kurá Hulanda and Beach Club, the Hyatt Regency Curaçao Gold Resort, and the Balinese-tinted Baoase Luxury Resort that practically melts with romance on its private lagoon, as well as 15 other properties. Airlines are also getting into the game, specifically Continental who started non-stop service from Newark (EWR) on December 18. Call 800-328-7222 or visit Curacao.com/winter for more information or to book.
For LGBT travel info check out GayCuracao.com, the only country-wide outreach in the region. Although there is no proper gay bar, savvy locals and hep euros congregate nightly in the gay-owned Mundo Bizarro (MundoBizarroCuracao.com), a hopping Latin-influenced bar, resto and live music joint that's a nugget of style in the gentrifying Pietermaai Smal. Local pride org Gay Plasa also organizes monthly parties worth scheduling around.
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