Our first floor one bedroom suite was clean smelling, spotless, slightly larger than the first time and just a good-looking. The first floor setting with a gated beachfront porch was particularly convenient for diving and beach access. We liked the horizontal floor layout and kitchen facilities.
At the same time, staff were as friendly as I remembered. Some recognized me from the last time and shared a warm welcome back greeting, even a hug. More than once newly arrived Sytze at the front desk went the extra mile to answer questions and made an evening special with restaurant recommendations and reservations.
What was exceptional at Harbour Village was the combination of the hotel’s luxury amenities, its tranquil beachfront location, PADI dive center, and efficient and friendly staff. We appreciated having the option to do as little or as much as we wanted. Onsite, there were plenty of choices for the activity minded guest such as tennis, beaching, swimming in the beach or pools, boating, diving, snorkeling, workouts and yoga lessons at the fitness center and spa treatments. The beach, though small, was comfortable, clean and attractive. The Great Adventures dive center was well staffed and offered a broad range of courses and dive excursions for all experience levels.
We thoroughly enjoyed the uncrowded dive center and expanded our diving abilities during our stay. It was particularly convenient to have access to thrice daily boat dives and unlimited shore dives, a pretty reef within swimming distance, and a dive wreck just 150 feet offshore. We enjoyed the cozy private beach and open air meals at La Balandra, the hotel’s waterfront restaurant. When we felt like exploring or dining out, we jumped in our rental car and arrived in Kralendijk, the main town on the island, in minutes.
Harbour Village is a perfect place for a tropical intimate island retreat. As we return home to our routines, Harbour Village and its understated charm and elegance remain an affectionate memory. We long to dip our toes in its white sandy beach, enjoy a barefoot meal among the iguanas at La Balandra, go for a swim in the warm turquoise waters, or snorkel and dive among colorful fish in the evanescent reef. We loved Harbour Village.
Club Manager Oscar Haack had a pleasant demeanor and accommodating attitude. Prior to running Harbour Village, he had worked at the Caracas Hilton and Concorde International Hotels. He studied at the Boston School of Modern Languages and received a degree in Tourism and Business Administration from Simon Bolivar University in Venezuela.
Connectivity Our suite included complimentary WiFi high speed Internet access with a password provided by reception by phone. Although access was prompt and efficient, the connection was “Very Low” and dropped often. Unfortunately, this made VoIP calls poor and frustrating. A computer with Internet access for guest use at reception was available between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Front Desk Manager Andreina Marcano seemed to do much more that oversee the front desk. She was knowledgeable, understanding, polite and always helpful. A native of Venezuela, she had lived the past 15 years in Bonaire. She had 20 years of experience in the hotel industry. She graduated in hotel management from the Universidad Simon Bolivar in Venezuela. Prior to working at Harbour Village she worked at Sheraton and Melia Caribe hotels.
Handicapped Access There were no special rooms or handicapped friendly facilities
Length Of Stay One week
Location Just outside of Kralendijk, the main town, and across the water from the deserted island Klein Bonaire
Owned Bonaire Harbour Village Corporation
Pets Allowed No
Size There were 30 beachfront suites and 12 rooms on the five-acre property looked after by a staff compliment of 30 plus additional contractors. The two-story hotel had five guest room buildings, four privately-owned condominium buildings and other buildings that housed the Spa, Kasa Coral lobby and administrative offices, meeting spaces and shops. To see the site plan, go to http://www.harbourvillage.com/html04/siteplan.html
Year Opened-Renovated The hotel first opened in 1990. The most recent renovation took place in 2004.
Immediately adjacent to the entrance there was a small kitchen with a sink, full size fridge with freezer, stove and convection oven. In the shelves we found cutlery and dinnerware for two. There was also a small closet with an iron and ironing board. The floor had European tiles in earth tones. Two central air conditioning vents connected to a thermostat in the suite and two ceiling fans with lights, one in each room, kept the rooms cool and well lit. Colorful framed art reproductions hung from the soft yellow walls of both rooms. Plastic plants added a touch of green to the ambiance.
Inside there were two separate areas, a living area and bedroom. French style sliding glass doors led from each room to a beach facing porch. The living area was right after the kitchen. From it a door led to the sleeping area and master bathroom.
We enjoyed the first floor location and the adjacent porch. Although there was less privacy than in second story suites, the added advantages outweighed the occasional fishbowl feeling. Being on the first floor afforded us fast and convenient access to the walkway leading to the restaurant, beach, pool and dive area. The extra large porch was well furnished with a table and chairs, lounge chairs and a rolled up hammock we quickly unfolded. There was ample space for us to have lunch, place dripping dive gear and lounge with a direct view of the beach.
The living area housed a sofa, two tables, an armchair, a second especially cushy armchair (a favorite) with a footrest and a large remote controlled television discreetly tucked inside a cabinet with drawers for extra storage space.
To the left, double doors led to the bedroom filled with matching handcrafted teak wood furniture. A four poster king bed had a romantic mosquito screen. The bed, matching night tables and lamps on each side occupied the center of the room. There was a GPX radio/CD player alarm clock on a night table. Across from the bed there was an armoire built into the wall in the middle and a small desk, chair and mirror on one side where we placed a laptop computer. The armoire housed a 15” remote controlled Sony television and several drawers. On one corner of the room there was a closet for hanging and folded clothes and an electronic safe. Two armchairs with footrests occupied the corner facing the porch. Double curtains provided protection from early morning light and privacy at night.
The restaurant was open during classic meal times: 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Between those times it was possible to order room service and dine offsite. We ordered room service several times during our stay for lunch and dinner. Our meals always arrived promptly and hot. The cheeseburger with bacon was one of our favorite items. During the day, it was possible to purchase snacks at a shop just outside the property gate.
Beach A 100 meter long beach was the property’s gathering place during the day. Narrow at the ends and wider in the middle, the beach offered shade under the tall palm trees and sunlight near to the shore in various places. There were many comfortable lounge chairs peppered on the beach. Guests brought beach towels and refreshments from their rooms. The beach was cleaned daily during the week by an early morning crew which sometimes went in the water to remove excess pebbles. Although there were broken pieces of coral and shells in the sand, with care or rubber booties it was easy to get in. There was plenty of space to swim. A colorful world of tropical fish appeared when we went snorkeling and diving right in front of the hotel.
Facilities There was a full-service dive and water sports center (PADI Gold Palm Resort), spa and beauty salon, two pools, fitness center, four tennis courts with night lighting, 100 meter beach, two marina front restaurants (operated by third parties), gift shop (operated by a third party), meeting and conference facilities, and a 60-slip full-service marina (run by Harbour Village Marina).
Fitness Center And Spa The fitness center was about 1,200 square feet (120m2) in size and the spa had 17,000 square feet of space although some areas were closed when I visited the property. Workout equipment included: Two Cybex treadmills 700T, one Precor 7.4 Step Machine, two Freeclimber 4400CL Stairmaster, two Lifecycle 9100 stationary bikes, one Concept II Rowing Machine, one Paramount Sports Trainer (Universal Gym) with 9 stations and accessories, one Paramount Abdominal Machine Mod. PL3200, 1 Nordic Track Machine, free weights from 3 lbs. to 35 lbs. each, two Paramount Reclined Benches, one with foot rests, one bench (no bar) for free weight or other workout.
Spa treatments were by appointment. It was necessary to book spa treatments two hours or more in advance. Remembering an excellent treatment experience with Andrea Talsan, the spa therapist during my previous visit, I was eager to return to the spa. In between our busy dive schedule and short forays to explore the island I managed to squeeze in a massage late one afternoon. Although I agreed to a last minute request to arrive early because the therapist had an event to attend, the treatment felt hurried and lasted less than an hour. After allowing me a moment to disrobe she began, without a word about sensitive areas, or my massage and essential oil preferences. That massage was the only disappointing experience we had at the hotel during our visit.
Pool There were two pools: Kasa Coral terrace which was 39 feet long and 19 feet wide with an average depth of 4 feet; and Cascade Pool at the spa which was 25 wide, 20 feet with an average depth of 3 feet. The Kasa Coral pool was open during the day (closed at 5 p.m.). No food or beverages were allowed in the pool areas.
Other Harbour Village, was Holland’s reigning monarch, Queen Beatrix, choice of accommodations when she last visited the island. The property, named 2005 and 2006 “Bonaire’s Leading Hotel” at the World Travel Awards, recently became the only hotel on the island to join the 400 member Small Luxury Hotels of the World.
There were 41 television channel choices on the list in my room, including stations in Papiamento, the language of the Dutch Antilles, Dutch, Spanish and English.
Date Of Review May 2007
ReviewersArticle by Elena del Valle
Photos by Gary Cox
Would You Stay There Again? Yes
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