Forty miles north of the northern coast of Venezuela and 50 miles east of the popular tourism destination of Aruba, Curaçao is a thin island of some 25 miles in length. Together with an uninhabited island off its southeastern coast, Klein Curaçao ("Small Curaçao"), Curaçao is best known for its attractive capital Willemstad, and especially that small city's colorful, Amsterdam-in-the-Caribbean-style waterfront houses and plentiful Curaçao MICE venues. The Dutch have been there since the early 17th century and invested a great deal of money in the early decades of the 20th when oil was discovered off its southern coast; close to Willemstad is the huge refinery of Isla.
Not far from anywhere on the island, Hato International Airport (CUR; also known as Curaçao International Airport) has service to Miami on two airlines and seasonally to Toronto on another two airlines.
Although not a dedicated convention facility, the 540,000-square-foot World Trade Center Curaçao in Piscadera Bay has 18 meeting and function rooms, including the Exhibition Hall that can host 1,200 persons (although up to 2,000 persons can convene throughout). Connected to the center is the 98-room Clarion Hotel International & Suites Curaçao. Other MICE venues in Curaçao able to host events include the 350-room Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, which has an 18-hole golf course designed by Pete Dye and three event spaces, including two ballrooms, the largest able to host 500 persons; the 341-room Sunscape Curaçao Resort, Spa & Casino, which has space for meetings of up 350 persons and banquets of 220; the 247-room Marriott Curaçao Beach Resort & Emerald Casino, which has 3,000 square feet of meeting space, including the Queens Ballroom for 1,000 persons, and the 196-room Hilton Curaçao, which has space for 450 persons. A wonderful choice in the middle of Willemstad is the 80-room Kura Hulanda Hotel, which occupies a village-like setting with a conference center and a museum.
In Willemstad, among special event venues are Curaçao Maritime Museum, a grand building with a bar, restaurant, meeting room and terrace; Octagon Square, at the trendy, 150-room Avila Hotel, which can be sectioned off and contains a museum in memory of South American liberator Simon Bolívar; and Curaçao Sea Aquarium, which has all manner of watery creatures, conservation efforts, pretty surroundings and space for events that can coordinate dolphin swims and even rides in mini aqua-subs; Landhuis Bloemhof, an artistic center with colonial architecture, light gallery space and gardens, and, in the far northwest of the island, the sister property to the Kura Hulanda, the Kura Hulanda Lodge & Beach Club, which has a restaurant, lots of space, a beach and scuba diving.
Restaurants for groups in Curaçao include the Restaurant & Cafe Gouverneur Rouville, which is in a colonial Willemstad building, has a large first-floor terrace and is one of the few remaining places that prepares the island specialty of keshi yena (cheese rind stuffed with chicken and prunes), which is more delicious than it might sound; Pampus, which overlooks Willemstad's harbor and has an atmospheric, outdoor bar; The Wine Cellar, which has been serving French-Caribbean cuisine for more than 30 years; Boathouse Food & Marina, which is farther to the east, and Landhuis Daniel Curaçao, which is in the sparse but beautiful northern region and has fine dining and eight guest rooms.