The Caribbean: Curaçao

Up and coming

A Colonial Surprise
It's a pity the Dutch island of Curaçao is still little-known to American travelers—especially because of the Avila Beach Hotel, a lovely 200-year-old mansion on the edge of charming Willemstad. The Avila has two styles: the traditional Belle Alliance wing with a Palm Beach look, and our preference, the Blues wing, which has private balconies and a more relaxed decor of exposed rafters, terra-cotta floors, and rattan furniture. The beach, with surf gentle enough for children, has full service, a bar and restaurant, and a shade pavilion. Rooms, $242-$500. At 130 Penstraat; 800-747-8162; 599-9-461-4377;

Hotel rates range from the lowest-priced double to the highest-priced suite in high season. In most cases VAT is not included.