Have no fear Insel Air in here, and on time, we traveled to Bonaire in just one hour and thirty minutes going, did not even deplane, and returned with the same efficiency, disembarking in Curacao, taking a trip around the terminal, back to the tarmac, then on board the same plane, one hour and thirty minutes. Kudos.
The airline which earned the Cancel Air reputation is back on track, having adjusted its vision to serve the region well, instead of serving the world badly!
We stayed at the new Marriott Courtyard, which is adorable. Two rows of colorful buildings with colonial-inspired architecture, and lagoon water views. The rooms are spacious and beautifully appointed, and the beds are heavenly. We slept like babies on crisp linens and fluffy pillows.
We were pleasantly surprised by the restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch & dinner, overlooking the infinity pool. Chef Dhanesh de Kok, is a fantastic local talent, with roots in Curacao. He is being assisted by Dior Marchena, the son of Airel Marchena and Monique Bouwer, yes, his Aruban roots are visible. Dutchman Merijn Koops rounds up the culinary team. Maxime in the dining room and Diane at the front desk were personable and helpful!
It was Restaurant Week in Bonaire and we enjoyed a fine dining selection: Marinated pumpkin three ways on a bed of red and black quinoa as a starter and their take on Caribbean Bouillabaisse. Perfection. Then a farm-raised chicken dish with Moroccan spices. The desserts were fantastic: A fluffy, lemony Awa di Lamunchi, a triple chocolate Ganache cake and a nuts and toffee parfait. Fine dining at a Marriott Courtyard? You bet.
My friends Paul Maduro refreshed my memory. In the early 80s, an unholy trio, a Venezuelan developer, an Italian contractor and a Venezuelan bank, Banco de los Trajadores, converged in Bonaire to start the lagoon project. They were welcomed by controversial politician, Rudi Ellis, who was the omnipotent in charge of the economy and the government.
They came with a plan to dynamite a 13 channel lagoon, and give Bonaire more ocean front. In retrospect, Bonaire indeed has more areas with water views now, thanks to that ambitious plan. But in reality they used dynamite to blast the waterway, shaking neighboring buildings to the foundation, terrifying residents and tourists, sending sludge into the coral reef, and acting in total disrespect to nature and Man. Imagine digging thirteen waterways which allow the ocean to go inland, blast after blast. Could they get away with it in today’s political climate? They did at the time.
Thankfully the bank went bankrupt when the Bolivar tanked, around 1982. The project was abandoned for more than 30 years.
While Bonaire has a great environmental record and did many things right, it also has a history in which developers get their way, in spite of negative consequences for the island population.
The Eden Beach Resort was developed on a favorite local beach. The residents of Nikiboko, Antriol, Playa Pariba and Salina had to do without. Then when SABADECO was constructed the Dutch developer was granted the ocean front and all others have to drive around the enclave, as the gorgeous coastal public road was handed over to private hands to exploit.
Anyway, water under the bridge. Bonaire’s tourism enjoys the lagoon, with many luxury residences and hotels developments, and we loved everything we saw!