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A 35-minute drive from the Curaçao airport, the Santa Barbara resort (formerly the Hyatt Regency) boasts a substantial perk: the splendid seaside 18-hole Old Quarry Golf Course, designed by Pete Dye and completed in 2010. Playing golf on this course gives you a good feel for Curaçao’s breezy desert terrain, a landscape so dry the Dutch colonials referred to it as "the useless island" before they recognized its strategic importance. The full-service resort stretches over 2,000 landscaped acres, rimmed by the 1,500-foot-long sandy St. Barbara Beach, its calm, lagoon-like waters protected in part by a long pier. Amenities include a spa, a sprawling pool complex, gift shops and clothing boutiques, and an on-site dive operator, Ocean Encounters, which can arrange dive, snorkel, sail, or kayak expeditions.

Dining choices are varied, from a seafood grill to a Mediterrranean tapas restaurant to a sushi bar. The plentiful amenities almost make up for the uninspired rooms, which, while clean and comfortable, are fairly generic in décor and feel (and some, like the Sea Traditions bungalows, are a good distance from the main pool area—a boon to those who prefer quiet and privacy). All have private furnished balconies or terraces, however, and many boast wonderful sea views. The hotel runs twice-daily shuttles to downtown Willemstad, a 20- to 30-minute ride away.