A New Pete Dye Course Will Have You Searching for the Island
Asked to find Curaçao on a map, most Americans would be hard pressed to even find its neighborhood. In the Caribbean’s Netherlands Antilles, 40 miles off the coast of Venezuela, Curaçao is overshadowed by neighboring Aruba and Bonaire, which, quite frankly, is a good thing. Curaçao retains an out-of-the-way, unspoiled air that makes it attractive to travelers seeking a respite from the masses and an abundance of activities like golf, diving and gambling.
The Destination // Already popular with Europeans, particularly from the Netherlands, Curaçao’s repositioning as a haven for discriminating travelers took a major step forward in 2010 with the opening of the 350-room Hyatt Regency Curaçao Golf Resort, Spa & Marina. The expansive resort sits on a bay known as Spanish Water. Within its luxurious palm-laced confines, guests experience the best of island living with sweeping ocean vistas, a private beach, world-class amenities and a Pete Dye course. For the adventurous, there are sailing excursions and dive outings to Curaçao’s highly regarded sites.
The Golf // In the past, Curaçao, with just one non-descript course on the island, has not been a golf destination. But the Old Quarry course is worth the trip since Pete Dye has created a course framed by the sea not unlike his more famous Teeth of the Dog at Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic. The course moves from open linksy holes into a desert-like countryside with colors and cactus reminiscent of Arizona courses, then upward around imposing Tafelburg Mountain with its raw 900-foot escarpment from which the massive boulders tumbled that now frame the fairways.
Dye offers a what-you-see-is-what-you-get approach without many gimmicks, though, as always, he plays visual tricks that force strategic assessment. To wit, the gorgeous eighth hole – a half-moon par 5 with water along the left that tempts a long carry that can prove disastrous. And as is standard on a Dye creation, there are a couple of “what-the-hell” holes.
Why Go? // For American travelers, the new Hyatt resort offers expected comfort and features. Curaçao is a remarkably unassuming place with a promising future as a getaway destination – it’s easily accessible from the United States with direct flights from Miami, Atlanta and Newark, with a mild, sunny climate that averages 82 degrees with year-round ocean temperatures in the low 80s. It’s also outside the hurricane zone.
– Gary Carter
History tells uS THE SPANISH DISCOVERED CuraCaO IN 1499, though the island’s earliest inhabitants, Arawak Indians, migrated from Venezuela 6,000 years ago. The Dutch West India Company took over Curaçao in 1642 and transformed it into a shipping and commerce center, capitalizing on its deep-water bay. Under Dutch influence, the island evolved into a banking center. An oil refinery, built in 1915, continues to fuel the economy. Interestingly, Jewish families from the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe began emigrating in the early 1700s to escape persecution, founding a synagogue in 1732 that still houses the oldest active Jewish congregation in the western hemisphere. Today, the 400-square-mile island is a melting pot of approximately 170,000 residents.