Recently stayed at the Marriott Curacao for over 16 days.
I have some tips / tricks for you fellow Platinum travelers...
First of all, don't expect a room upgrade when using points. I have never gotten a room upgrade in over 2+ years of travelling exclusively with Marriott and using points for vacations. Forget about it and enjoy your garden room.
Secondly, none of the resort hotels (none) offer any type of concierge level. Don't expect the same level of treatment you're used to seeing at other non-resort Marriott properties. You're using points - thanks for playing - you're a nobody now that you're here.
Well, ALMOST a nobody...You WILL get your complimentary arrival gift - so at least that's a perk for staying over 75 nights/year at the Marriott paying premium prices.
The Marriott Curacao has also figured out every way to nickel and dime travelers to death over any type of communication with the outside world. No free internet (not even in the lobby), no free local calls (another Platinum benefit gone). I went to the local grocery store to buy a 'Tilin' calling card to contact the United States. Guess what??!?!?! Marriott's phone system doesn't honor them there either!!!
You can get 20 minutes of internet access in the business lounge for $5, 40 minutes for $10, and an hour or 2 for $20 (I'm remembering this from memory - but these are pretty close). You can also pay $14.95 per day for 24 hours of internet access - but its WIRED.
Local calls are either $0.75 or $0.95 PER MINUTE - so be careful when dialing out to any restaurants/scheduling activities.
So eventually my wife and I decided to walk (about a 10 min nice beachside walk) to the HILTON next door where we could use the calling cards no problem. The front desk people even helped us to DIAL THE PHONE numbers themselves!!!
I would recommend going to the CENTRUM SUPERMARKET for any type of snacks, liquor, or beer. It's going to be MUCH cheaper than buying them through the Marriott. For example, the Marriott did sell full fifths of Absolut vodka for about $35, in the CENTRUM SUPERMARKET they were around $15-$18 each. A cab ride to the CENTRUM SUPERMARKET is about $15 one way, $30 roundtrip - WELL WORTH IT - do yourself a favor and save some serious $$$.
For outside communication with the world, I would recommend going downtown to Punda and going to the DIGICEL store (or any other electronics store). If you have a GSM phone (either AT&T or TMobile service), and it is unlocked, you can buy a SIM card for use while you're on the island. For about $30-$40, you can get set up w/ your own phone number and about 30 minutes of calling time to the States. You can add $$$/minutes to your SIM card over the phone or on the internet. Then you can make calls from anywhere. I wish I would've done this first, but the calling cards were a little cheaper, but had I known that Marriott had tried to corner the market on every communication angle, I would've gone with the DIGICEL cards instead.
Every other night or so, there is some type of buffett (American, Carribean, etc) with music. If you stay in a poolside room, expect the LOUD music to start at about 7pm and last until 10pm. Good luck if you want to sleep during those periods - forget about it.
The breakfast buffet at the Marriott 'Portofino' was pretty good. The waitstaff there was the most friendlist and the most "on the ball". Second was the snack shop (I think it was called "Voila"), we didn't really go to any other hotel restaurants there - we went out to town to eat.
Another item: every meal item from every restaurant will include a 12% SERVICE CHARGE. In addition to the service charge, there is a Gratuity/Tip line. We asked the front desk what this 12% was for, and who got it, etc. It was explained to us that this 12% gets "pooled" and distributed to the employees 2X per year. I don't know if the waitstaff splits this with the housekeeping staff, or poolstaff, or whatever. Just FYI - the front desk explained to us that the servers are happy receiving ANYTHING in the Gratuity/Tip line. I really hate this 12% stuff (if anyone reading this has travelled to the Carribean like I have - you know its prevalent everywhere - and ANNOYING). My reccomendation to the Marriott is to let free markets ring and if a server deserves 15% (like the States) - then let the service receivor decide the amount.
For those looking to work out in the gym and were expecting gym equipment of good quality, forget about it. The only thing that was anywhere decent were the treadmills. The stairmaster machine and bicycles were throwbacks from the early eighties (and looked like they hadn't been repaired since then either). Also, this hotel actually sells memberships to locals to use their gym. At times, I saw a lot of locals in there and hotel members walking away because it was so crowded (the "gym" is probably only 20 feet by 50 feet). I didn't use the locker facilities there - but they looked ok.
Overall my experience with the stay was a 7 out of 10. I had to complain to management about no room upgrades - so they "comp'd" me breakfast for 3 days - this was a chore that I really didn't need to do on my vacation... I had to complain to management about the telecommunication charges - they eventually credited me back those also.
All in all - too much complaining for Platinum members to do to get minimal benefits. Some of you may argue, "well - you got to stay for free - so shut up and take it!" This is true, however my stay when compared with other frequent travelers was sub-par for the number of nights I've stayed pon business (over 100 last year alone). I talked with several Hilton guests who were "executive level" or something like that at the neighboring Curacao Hilton. Every night they had free happy hour cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, every morning free coffee and continental breakfast. Makes me wonder...
Well enough of my rant - I'd love to hear anyone else's experience with the Curacao Marriott !!!
We went to the Marriott in Cuacao about two years ago. We loved it. Now let me say we never called anyone. If my phone or Blackberry had been turned on it might have worked,but then I would have thrown it in to the ocean.
We loved the beach and had a hard time leaving the resort. We loved the small feel and the non high-rise property. the staff called and made out reervations for us when we went to town.
The prerks were not terrific but it was ok for me. We also spent 3 days at the high rise marriott when in Aruba on that trip and missed the Curacao marriott's convenience. Aruba was too busy. But the beach restraunt "simply fish is outstanding. You know the food was good when you remember what you ate two years latter.
My suggestion is to loose the phones, laptops and blackberry and go on vacation or honeymoon.