The Avila Beach Hotel is known for its personal touch. It is not the beautiful beach or that comfortable hotel room that makes the Avila Beach Hotel, the Avila Beach Hotel, it is our employees. Together we are forming the Avila family. All employees are dear to our heart, and some of them have amazing stories to tell, so please allow us to highlight a few of them.
The hotel's original building, the Belle Alliance (now the main entrance and lobby), was built around 1780. The Belle Alliance was named after “Auberge de la Belle Alliance,” the alliance against Napoleon.
The Belle Alliance served as a country residence for English Governors. The English started calling the house “The Pen” after an enclosed part of the garden which belonged to the villa.
Following the initial Venezuelan revolt's failure, Simon Bolívar sought refuge in Curacao. Arriving with his sisters, they depended on the kindness of local friends. Mordechai Ricardo, a lawyer, and merchant, provided lodging in two homes. Bolívar studied and worked on a hill overlooking Willemstad's bustling harbor while his sisters resided in the Octagon by the sea.
The first Dutch Governor-General, Albert Kikkert, set foot ashore in 1816 and lived in “The Pen” until he died in 1819. After that, the Belle Alliance was a country retreat and residence by English and Dutch governors.
The Belle Alliance again served as a Governor’s house for Governor Cantz’laar from Surinam.
The Belle Alliance was in such a bad state of repair that an attempt to sell it at a public auction that year failed. The government sold the villa in a private transaction shortly after, and it has had several different owners and purposes since.
The house was sold to Pieter Hendrik Maal, father of Dr. Pieter Hendrik (Gungu) Maal. This owner later left the Belle Alliance to Mr. Antoine J. Pijpers, who founded a boarding school for boys at the beginning of the 20th century. This private school was well known abroad due to its solid reputation. Most pupils came from Venezuela, Colombia, and Panama. In 1920 after the death of Mr. Antoine J. Pijpers, the school was closed down.
When old Pieter Hendrik Maal died in 1929, his daughter Mary Maal inherited the Belle Alliance. From then on, several Curacao families lived in one or other parts of the house, split up into different apartments.
Mary Maal sold the villa to her brother Pieter Hendrik (Gungu) Maal. This many-talented physician reorganized the Belle Alliance to become a private hospital and named it after his only daughter Thelma. During the last years of World War II, the doctor lent the house to the General Military Commander, Baron van Asbeck, and his staff. Soon after, Dr. Maal converted the villa into what became the original Avila Beach Hotel.
Gungu Maal left an indelible impression of the hotel with the qualities of personal attention, order, and respectability that have remained untouched by the many changes later on. “Hotel Avila” (named after the medieval town in Spain where the doctor spent his holidays and held such dear memories) opened its doors on February 1, 1949, and had only 18 beds. Soon, that number was increased to 60 beds divided over 45 rooms.
Right from the outset, Maureen (Poppy) Zalm-Pieters, Melva Pieters, and Gladys (Mimi) Pieters stood as pillars of strength beside Dr. Gungu Maal. Dr. Maal had ushered Maureen (Poppy) Zalm-Pieters into the world within those very walls during a time when the mansion house served as a hospital.
Most foreign visitors to the hotel were businessmen or people who stayed here because of their social position. Also, many ministers from Aruba would stay at the Avila Beach Hotel. Most guests came from the United States, Canada, and Venezuela. The friendly and clean atmosphere given by its first loyal employees, Papi, Mario, Melva, Poppy, and Mimi, never changed.
Gungu Maal created a beach and a massive pier to protect the beach from the destructive powers of the sea. In March 1959, the beach was opened, and since then, Hotel Avila has been called the Avila Beach Hotel. The famous “Schooner Bar” (boat-shaped beach bar) was another of Maal’s ideas. Dr. Maal introduced the familiar Avila lantern as well.
The Octagon became the Octagon Museum by the Government of Curacao and S.E.L. Maduro & Sons. The Octagon Museum houses the Bolívar exhibit in memory of the Curacao connection to Simón Bolívar (1783-1830).
Four years after Dr. Gungu Maal passed away, his heirs sold the hotel to Mrs. Trijntje van der Plas. Under the new owner’s management, European guests grew steadily.
Mrs. Van der Plas sold the hotel to the Danish Mr. Finn Nicolaj (Nic) Møller, under whom the Avila Beach Hotel has been renovated and extended drastically. The atmosphere of order, cleanliness, and personal attention remained unchanged.
After graduating in Copenhagen in 1960, Mr. Nic Møller relocated to Curacao. After seventeen years at Spritzer & Fuhrmann, he purchased the Avila Beach Hotel. Despite lacking hotel experience, he found joy in people-oriented work and service. He extensively renovated and expanded the hotel alongside Mrs. Birte Jensen, his partner. As a piano teacher's son, he integrated music into his life and the Avila Beach Hotel. As a singer and musician, he earned renown and performed at lobby coffee concerts, the foundation of Art in Avila.
After ten years of studying and gaining experience abroad, daughter Tone Møller returned to Curacao to accept the position of General Manager. Tone was responsible for the day-to-day business at the hotel.
After extensive renovations, Avila Beach Hotel unveiled its new wing - the La Belle Alliance. This colonial-style addition features classical modern Deluxe rooms with private balconies, ocean views, and ten suites. The hotel also introduced amenities like a tennis court, a sea terrace, and a new sandy beach. The old pier with its lanterns was restored to its original state, and Blues Restaurant was built at the far end of the pier.
The second hotel wing of the Avila Beach Hotel was built. The wooden Oceanfront Blues wing rooms are part of an all-wood structure built on a pier off our private beach. They offer balconies and terraces with spectacular views of the blue Caribbean Sea and the coastline of Curacao.
The Avila Beach Hotel restored the Octagon Museum. The house on the hill where Simon Bolivar lived no longer exists, but the ‘Octagon’ at the seaside is part of the Curacao Monument Foundation and the Octagon Foundation.
Celebration of 50 years Avila Beach Hotel. Dutch Michelin Chef Cas Spijkers was introduced during a culinary event. This event started a tradition of culinary events with Dutch Michelin Chefs at the Avila Beach Hotel.
Paul Kok returned to Curacao as Director of Operations, following his earlier role as Resident Manager (1995-1999). Guided by new management including Nic Møller, Birte Møller-Jensen, and Tone Møller, preparations began for the Octagon Wing's construction. The hotel reverted to the name Avila Hotel, accompanied by a fresh logo. This transition emphasized a fusion of historic charm and modern amenities. Concurrently, a contemporary third wing with modern facilities was erected. In 2006, Paul Kok became the General Manager.
With the completion of the newest Octagon wing (after demolishing the old wing behind the mansion wing), the hotel gained 68 rooms decorated in sophisticated neutrals with splashes of Caribbean colors. Besides this, the hotel opened a new and state-of-the-art fitness center, Conference & Banqueting center, infinity pool & pool bar, and renewed the Octagon Plaza, offering a shopping area and a brand-new square ideal for organizing concerts, large events, and weddings.
The celebration of 65 years of Avila Beach Hotel kicked off with the first Papiamento poem sung by owner Nic Møller, followed by music from local classical pianist Wim Statius Muller (a dear friend of Nic Møller) and the famous local jazz pianist Randal Corsen.
On March 6, the birthday of Tone Møller, Nic Møller passed away right after completing and seeing the documentary “A Viking in the Tropics” that was made about his life by Dutch filmmakers Marie Lou Schoenmakers and Biba Krklec. Nic Møller was the most substantial reason for the development of the Avila Beach Hotel. He had a passion for the hotel from 1949 until his final days. His love for design, music, and arts ultimately created the hotel's identity. His passion & drive have made Avila, Avila.
Despite his passing, the hotel continued evolving. In July, extensive beach renovation of the private beaches commenced. Additionally, all apartments underwent renovation. In December, the hotel was sold to the Dutch Vogels family, shareholders of nearby Lions Dive & Beach Resort, as Paul Kok and Tone Møller stepped down from management after 17 and 25 years, respectively. The Avila Beach Hotel remains one of the few family-owned hotels on the island.
Following a substantial beach upgrade and to honor tradition, Avila Hotel rebranded as Avila Beach Hotel. It's still lovingly known as Avila Beach by locals and regulars. The rebranding also introduced a fresh logo in January, coinciding with Robbin Vogels, son of owner Will Vogels, assuming the General Manager role in June 2016.
Avila's newest addition, the Beachfront apartments, built during the Corona era, includes four spacious 2-bedroom and 3-bedroom options. Nestled next to the La Belle Alliance wing on the east side, they boast large, covered patios for direct Caribbean Sea views. The ground-floor unit provides beach access, ideal for families, friends, or travelers seeking luxury by the sea.