Published On: Fri, May 30th, 2014

Hotel Kura Hulanda in USA Today’s “Top 10 historic hotels in the Caribbean”

WILLEMSTAD - The Caribbean boasts a wealth of heritage sites and properties, many dating back to the early days of European settlement and reflecting the architectural vernacular of the colonial past.

Of these, some have gone on to flourish as elegant hotels, with chequered histories ranging from the residence of the first governor of the Americas, through a bloodthirsty pirate’s lair, to the intimate wedding venue of England’s most famous admiral.

USA Today compiled a list of “Top 10 historic hotels in the Caribbean”, which also includes the Hotel Kura Hulanda located in the historic downtown Otrabanda, Willemstad.

Hostal-Nicolas-de-Ovando-Santo-Domingo-300x200Hostal Nicolas de Ovando, Dominican Republic
Santo Domingo’s Colonial Zone is packed with historical treasures, including the 16th-century Hostal Nicolas de Ovando, named for the property’s original resident, Governor Nicolas de Ovando, the first governor of the Americas. The Dominican Republic hotel comprises three houses with thick stone walls, hacienda shutters and sun-splashed courtyards. Choose one of the Colonial rooms for the ultimate back-in-time experience. Given the hotel’s history, it’s a surprise at how hip the ambience is, with Santo Domingo twenty-somethings enjoying an evening cocktail by the pool while a D.J. lays down tropical beats. The hotel’s Cibao Bar presents a selection of rums from 12 different Caribbean countries as well as a choice of primo Dominican cigars.

Graycliff, The Bahamas
This hotel has a storied past. The structure dates back to 1666, when it was the first Anglican Church in Nassau, The Bahamas. Graycliff-The-Bahamas-300x200The church was destroyed by the Spaniards in 1703 and then rebuilt as a garrison in the 18th century. Graycliff mansion was constructed in 1740 by the notorious Caribbean pirate, Captain John Howard Graysmith, who plundered the seas upon his ship, the Graywolf. The building’s transformation into a place of lodging came in 1844, when it became Nassau’s first inn; one of the property’s most famous guests was Winston Churchill. The 20-room hotel sports a proper English atmosphere and has antique-filled rooms, a swimming pool, the Humidor Churrascaria restaurant and is the site of the award-winning Graycliff Cigar Company.

hotel-el-convento-old-san-juan-puerto-rico-dining-top-300x200Hotel El Convento, Puerto Rico
Old San Juan is a colourful neighbourhood rich in history. Originally a 17th-century Carmelite convent that was converted into a hotel in 1959, this 58-room property exudes Old World Spanish charm, with decorative glazed tiles and details, wooden beams and antique furniture. The AAA Four Diamond property has three restaurants and a plunge pool offering views over San Juan Bay. Perhaps best of all, guests are right in the heart of Old San Juan, where a sense of history is evident with every step taken along the winding, cobblestone streets.

Admiral’s Inn, Antigua
The Admiral’s Inn commands a prime harbour position at Nelson’s Dockyard. Admiral Horatio Nelson, a major player in Antigua’s Admirals-Inn-300x190history, arrived on the island in 1784 as the captain of the HMS Boreas. The Georgian-style inn was built from the brick ballast used in ships of the era and was inaugurated in 1788 and used as the dockyard’s offices. Travellers should try to score one of the rooms with harbour views. If having a drink in the hotel bar, search out the names of 19th-century ships carved into the bar.

The-Hermitage-Nevis-300x200The Hermitage, Nevis
This hotel, dating back to approximately 1700, purports to be the oldest house on this tiny island. Originally a plantation, The Hermitage is comprised of an original main building surrounded by reconstructed cottages furnished with antiques. There’s a cap of 28 guests at any one time, making the experience of staying there akin to being in a private home. The property has a swimming pool and offers in-room massage and the option for private yoga instruction.

Montpelier Plantation Inn, Nevis
The tiny island is also the site of this restored sugar-plantation home dating back to the 1700s. Admiral Horatio Nelson married hisMontpelier-Plantation-Inn-Nevis-300x200 bride Frances Nisbet at Montpelier in 1787. The Inn has 18 guest rooms with four poster beds and views of the ocean. The 30-acre property also has 10 acres of gardens, a pool and an old mill that functions as a private dining room.

ottleys-plantation-inn-300x200Ottley’s Plantation, St. Kitts
This 17th-century sugar plantation will make guests feel as though they’ve been transported back to the past. There’s no glass in the windows – only wood jalousies that allow in gentle Caribbean breezes. Ottley’s Plantation is built in British Colonial style, with painted wooden floors and carved mahogany furniture. The property has 23 rooms and suites as well as a handful of cottages. The grounds also house the Mango Orchard Spa, surrounded by lush palms and mango trees, where an occasional vervet monkey can be espied.

Hotel-Kura-Hulanda-Curacao-300x200Hotel Kurá Hulanda, Curaçao
This unique hotel is a reconstruction of eight blocks of an actual Willemstad neighborhood dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Guest rooms have Indonesian furniture; a nod to Holland’s trading history with Indonesia. The Dutch colonial buildings comprise an 80-room boutique hotel, as well as a spa, restaurants and shops. Perhaps the most startling feature of the hotel is its Museum Kurá Hulanda, an anthropological museum showcasing Curacao’s heritage, without shying away from its intertwined history with the African slave trade.

Half Moon, A RockResort, Jamaica
A group of heavy hitters from American families with names like Firestone, Armour Half-Moon-A-RockResort-Jamaica-300x200and Reynolds joined forces with similarly powerful Brits, Canadians and Bermudians to create their own cottage colony in Montego Bay in the mid-1950s. What they all had in common was an intense love affair with Jamaica. Half Moon takes its name from its crescent-shaped beach. In no time at all, the property became a magnet for wealthy travellers, including Hollywood stars like Clark Gable and Joan Crawford; and world leaders such as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and JFK and Jackie. The sprawling 400-acre resort has a world-class spa, championship golf course, 197 guest rooms and suites, and 33 private villas.

Hotel-Nacional-de-Cuba-300x201Hotel Nacional de Cuba, Cuba
This was the number one choice of visitors during Cuba’s heyday in the 1950s, before the Cuban revolution. Former guests include cultural icons like Ernest Hemingway, Frank Sinatra and Pablo Casals. The 457-room hotel was also a regular meeting place for the mob, with crooks like Meyer Lansky and Santos Traficante settling in to plot their next move. Even more famously, the hotel was the site of Fidel Castro’s 26th July Movement and an integral part of the Cuban revolution. The hotel was officially opened in 1930 and sports a hodgepodge of architectural styles, from Moorish to neo-classical.

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