Frank M. Holtslag is Curaçao’s ultimate concierge and LGBT resource. In 2011, he came to the Floris Suite Hotel & Spa (Piscadera Bay, Willemstad, Tel: 1-800441-0170. www.florissuitehotel.com) to serve as general manager with a clear intent: to reposition the property as an adults-only boutique hotel. In addition to hosting Moomba Beach Club, Floris Suite Hotel & Spa is an active member of the IGLTA, Tag Approved, and the most gay-friendly hotel in the Caribbean. Since joining the Floris Suite Hotel, Holtslag has added a full-service spa and a beach club to the hotel and currently serves as president of Curaçao GayPro (www.curacaopride.com), the organization behind the annual Curaçao Pride celebrations.
Why did you choose the Floris Suite Hotel & Spa?
I fell in love with the Floris Suite Hotel the first time I saw it many years before I started working here. It is a true boutique hotel with 72 suites. My dream was to turn it into the LGBT welcoming hotel it is today. I am very grateful to the owners who gave me the trust and means to create what I had in mind after spending 15 years running boutique hotels in Miami’s South Beach.
Where are the coolest places to go for cocktails on the island? After a long day of driving to Westpunt and visiting all the highlights on the west side of the island, Karakter Beach Club at Coral Estate (Coral Estates, Tel: +599-9-864-2233. www.karaktercuraçao.com) is a great finishing point. Make sure to be there around 6 p.m. for a beautiful sunset while having your favorite cocktail. If you’re looking for a great place in the city, then I can definitely recommend Saint Tropez Ocean Club (Pietermaai 152, Tel: +599-9-4617727. www.sainttropezcuracao.com).
The modern ambiance, good-looking people, and the right music give you the South Beach feeling in the heart of the Pietermaai district. Life can’t get any better, I promise.
What are the best restaurants for a romantic dinner?
There are a lot of restaurants on the island all with their own specialties, so this is a real tough question. My personal favorite is Fishalicious (Loostraat, Willemstad, Tel: +599-9 461-8844. www.fishalicious.net), a great restaurant, good-quality food, and the best service. If your idea of a romantic dinner involves an ocean-view establishment than BijBlauw (82-84 Kaya Wilson Godett, Willemstad. Tel: +599-9-6500550. www.bijblauw.com) is a great place to go. The restaurant is situated in a gorgeous 20th-century monumental buildings right next to the Caribbean Sea. Service is good, and they have an excellent wine list.
Who serves the greatest weekend brunch in town?
Santa Barbara Golf and Beach Resort (Santaa Barbara Plantation, Porta Blancu, Nieuwpoort. Tel: +1-855-5902266. www.santabarbararesortcuraçao.com) for sure. Long tables filled with mouthwatering dishes, freshly baked breads, and the sweets are to die for. It’s a couple of miles out of town, so I would recommend combining it with another activity on that part of the island. It’s worth the ride and you will not be disappointed heading there for a great beachside brunch.
What are the hottest shows in town, and how do I get tickets?
Once every three months we organize Rainbow Lounge XL at my hotel. Our lounge is turned into a great party place with two bars, great music, and like-minded people. Once a year in September, we also organize Curaçao Pride, which is five days filled with events. If you are looking for a party, this is the time of year to come to the island. Check out www.curacaopride.com for tickets and dates. There is always a lot to do on the island, from happy hours to dancing parties deep into the night. Sometimes I sing karaoke at a small pub called Tap Maar In (Santa Rosa Weg 6, Mahaai, Tel: +599-9-562-5822. www.facebook.com/tapmaarin). Come and join me, we will make it the hottest show on the island!
What museums are a must-see for visitors Curaçao?
The Curaçao Museum (Van Leeuwen hoekstraat z/n, Willemstad, Tel: 699-9462-3873. www.thecuracaomuseum.com), located in the western part of Otrobanda, it’s housed in a colonial building and conveys an air of authenticity at the very first glance. Den Paradera (Seru Grandi, Willemstad, Tel: +599-9-767-5608. www.dinahveeris.com): In 1981 Dinah Veeris started her research for healing herbs and traditions by interviewing the older people preserve the secret knowledge of the former generations. Kura Hulanda Museum (Langestraat 8, Willemstad, Tel: 599-9434-7700. www.kurahulanda.com): The forced relocation of Africans to the Americas and the Caribbean by Europeans from the 17th to the 19th centuries changed the face of the world forever. Savonet Museum (Savonet, Banda abou, Willemstad, Tel: +599-9-462-4242. www.savonetmuseum.org) is the newest Museum of Curaçao, a unique concept located in the heart of Christoffelpark, the largest nature reserve on the island. Then there’s also the Maritime Museum (N. van den Bradhofstraat 1, Willemstad, Tel: +599-9-465-2327. www.curaçaomaritime.com). Mikve Israel Emanuel synagogue and Jewish Museum (Hanchi Snoa, WIllemnstad, Tel: +599-9461-1633. www.snoa.com): the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the Western Hemisphere.
Which guided tours do you recommend most often to your guests?
PeterTrips (Tel: +599-9-465-2703. www.petertrips.com) is a well-known tour business on Curaçao. In big and small busses (12-30 pers.) they provide professional trips around Curaçao. They also gives lots of island information and make sure you get to know Curaçao in style. Peter Trip’s organizes Island trips, East and West Trips, and the Peter Trips Special. These trips give you the chance to have your experience in Curaçao by visiting, among others, the Blue Curaçao distillery, Herbal Garden, sightseeing downtown, and visits to several beaches, depending on the tour. ATV or Buggy Tour: provide the opportunity to discover the most beautiful parts of Curaçao in a fun, safe, wild, and adventurous way. Pelican Boat Trips (Bapor Kibra z/n Willemstad, Tel: +599-9-527-0747. www.pelicanboattrips.com) offers various boat trips combined with other activities along the coastline of Curaçao, in the harbor, as well as sunset trips.
What annual events should we add to our must-see list?
Curaçao Pride (Tel: +599-9-462-6111. www.curacaopride.com) is an annual event held each year at the end of September where the island celebrates the pride of diversity and inclusion of the LGBT community in Curaçao. This is a long weekend filled with plenty of parties and activities where everybody is welcome. Carnival! Curaçao (www.curacaocarnival.info) is one of the largest and longest-running Carnival spectacles of the Caribbean, and one of the best times to visit the island. Carnival began as a Catholic rite to represent the Christian practice of “Carne Levale,” or giving up meat for Lent. In the 19th century, Curaçao continued the tradition by organizing masquerade parties and marches in private clubs. It wasn’t until 1969 that Curaçao Carnival! started to gain the popularity it enjoys today. Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival (Piscadera Bay. www.curaçaonorthseajazz.com/nl) has quickly become the marquee musical event of the Caribbean, drawing thousands of fans to Curaçao for the biggest party of the year. Past performers have included Prince, Rod Stewart, Juan Luis Guerra, Mana, Stevie Wonder, Sting, Carlos Santana, Alicia Keys, John Legend, India Arie, Juanes, Chaka Khan, Ruben Blades, as well as some of the island’s best homegrown talent.
If someone is looking for a full-service spa, where do you send them?
Our own Water Club Spa and fitness center is the best. Located at Floris Suite Hotel. It features treatment rooms, a steam room, hot tub, dry sauna, and a fitness center. It’s located just off the pool area for perfect relaxation. The Water Club is free for Floris Suite Hotel guests. Other visitors can buy a day pass. The Water Club is open seven days a week from 8 A.M.-midnight.
How about shopping? Specifically designer labels for less—do you have any suggestions for the smart shopper?
There is great shopping to be done at The Renaissance Mall & RIF Fort (Gouverneur van Slobbeweg, Willemstad, Tel: +599-9-434-8200. www.shoprenaissancevuraçao.com). Here, you will find great brand name stores offering some of the best prices.
What are the best gay and lesbian bars in the city?
The pool bar at The Water Club at Floris Suite Hotel for happy hour. The G-lounge (Keukenplein 8, Willemstad) in Punda, for late-night drinks. Curaçao is very gay-friendly so everyone is welcome in most any café or bar.
Where can someone go at 3 A.M. for a good meal?
A food truck. There are several on the island, but one that makes you come back over and over is Koki riba Bloki (St. Rosaweg, Willemstad, Tel: +599-9-6866836. www.facebook.com/kokirbabloki).
What is the iconic tourist souvenir, and where will we find it?
Chichis at Serena’s Art Factory (Jan Louis 87a Willemstad, Tel: +599-9-7380648. www.chichi-curacao.com) located on east side of Curaçao in the vibrant city center of Punda. You can treat yourself to a great variety of colorful, handmade Chichi and other souvenirs or paint your own Chichi during a lively and pleasurable workshop.
Please finish this sentence: Don’t leave the island without…
A day trip to Klein Curaçao. Divers, snorkelers, and sun lovers who have always dreamed about being marooned on an uninhabited, desert-island will really enjoy the dive operators and boat charters offers. The tiny, rugged, desolate island of volcanic rock is located off the southeast coast of Curaçao, about one-and-a-half hours by boat.