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» Featured Columnists | By Scott Kauffman | June 18, 2010 8:30 AM ET

Hyatt Regency Curacao Golf Resort Now Open

(WILLEMSTAD, CURACAO) -- Hyatt Regency Curaçao Golf Resort, Spa and Marina recently bid "bon bini," or welcome in Papiamento, to its first guests on this Dutch-influenced Caribbean destination.

The new resort, situated along a natural harbor known as Spanish Water, 25 minutes from Curaçao's capital city of Willemstad, marks a new level of luxury and service to this island destination. Part of the much larger 1,500-acre Santa Barbara Plantation resort community, the 350-room beachfront Hyatt resort features Old Quarry by Pete Dye, the island's only 18-hole championship resort golf course, Atabei Spa, an eco-friendly holistic retreat inspired by the island's ancient traditions and rituals, and a full-service, six-slip marina.

The resort was designed to immerse guests in Curaçao's rich culture and heritage through a variety of activities highlighting the island's distinctive local flavor. From Camp Arawak, where children age 12 and under have the chance to explore the natural surroundings during cave hikes and iguana feedings, to the Lama Salt Bar which allows spa goers to create customized body scrubs from a selection of indigenous sea salts, herbs and aromatic oils, to an extensive farm to table dining program, guests will walk away with a true taste and feel of Curaçao.

"Curaçao is a vibrant and captivating destination, and we are thrilled to bring Hyatt's authentic brand of hospitality and extraordinary service to the island," said resort general manager Diego Concha. "We've worked diligently to capture Curaçao's colorful culture and undeniable charm throughout the resort, and we look forward to sharing this with our guests."

The resort's other amenities include three outdoor pools with ocean views, palm lined sundeck, StayFit@Hyatt fitness center, jogging trail, tennis and volleyball courts and more than 38,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and banquet space. There are three globally inspired dining options, including MEDI, specializing in Mediterranean cuisine with an exhibition kitchen,  SWIM, a poolside restaurant offering Pan Latino influenced dishes, and SHOR, a specialty seafood restaurant.

All 350 guestrooms, ranging from doubles, kings and junior suites to VIP, executive and presidential suites, feature natural sandstone flooring, Hyatt Grand Beds, flat screen plasma televisions, deluxe bath amenities and scenic views of either Spanish Water Bay or the Caribbean Sea. Three beach bungalows in a private enclave are also available.

Located in the southwestern Caribbean, Curaçao offers an eclectic mix of history and culture. With a Dutch influence and European flair, the island is known for its sophistication, eco-tourism and pristine diving conditions. In addition to offering sun, sand, sea and diving, Curaçao also provides many cultural, historical and ecological points of interest that appeal to the discerning visitor.

Chicago-based Hyatt Hotels Corporation is a leading global hospitality company with a variety of brands, including Hyatt Vacation Ownership, Inc., a Hyatt Hotels Corporation subsidiary that develops and operates vacation ownership properties under the Hyatt Vacation Club name.  As of December 31, 2009, the Hyatt Hotels' worldwide portfolio consisted of 424 properties in 45 countries.

Huizenga Sells Private Floridian Golf & Yacht Club

(PALM CITY, FL) -- Wayne Huizenga is no longer in the golf business. The South Florida billionaire recently sold his private Floridian Golf & Yacht Club for a reported $25.6 million to a Texas entrepreneur who plans to add more amenities to the property and maintain a local residence in the area.

The swanky core golf course, which straddles Martin and St. Lucie counties, sold to Texas-based Floridian Golf Resort, a subsidiary of the Crane Capital Group, whose chairman and chief executive is James R. Crane.

"I think Wayne was ready to sell, that was pretty much public," Crane told a local Treasure Coast reporter. "I decided it was a beautiful place, and I am a golfer and have been a member of the club for a year and a half. ... It's a great purchase."

Crane, based in Houston, said he plans to build more cottages for the ultra-exclusive club and a new fitness center for members.

"We'll keep the staff intact and probably add more jobs so it will be a positive for the community," Crane said. "I am still working with architects and developers to ... figure out what our strategy will be."

Crane ran Houston-based EGL Inc., a global transportation and supply chain management company, before it sold to supply chain management company CEVA Logistics in 2007.

Fort Lauderdale-based Huizenga Holdings said the sale was a "private transaction" and declined to comment.

"I've met (Huizenga) numerous times, played some golf with him but we've never done business together, other than this deal," Crane said. "He's a great guy. I guess he thought it was time to turn it over to someone to move it forward. It's a deal that worked for him and worked for me."

According to published reports, Huizenga once extended free golf club privileges to some 200 friends, relatives and business associates, including actors Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones and retired General Electric Corp. Chairman Jack Welch. 

Spread over 300 acres, the 6,916-yard, par-72 layout golf course boasts two helicopter landing pads, four guest cottages, a deepwater marina, a sprawling four-story clubhouse and lush landscaping. The 18-hole Floridian Yacht & Golf Club opened in 1996 and was designed by Hall of Fame golfer Gary Player.

Huizenga, under his company Stuart Property Holdings Ltd., started amassing property connected to the golf course in 1982, according to public records. The deed includes 12 properties in Martin County, which previously sold for $2.6 million collectively, and four in St. Lucie County, which together had a price tag of $5 million, according to local reports.

According to Martin County's Assistant Property Appraiser Mike Fribourg , Huizenga still owns two vacant parcels and a home at the Rivers End subdivision on Wiregrass Court. Additionally, Huizenga owns the AA Marina on the Indian River in Jensen Beach.

Last October, Huizenga Holdings sold two Martin County parcels, including the former Holiday Inn, to Jensen Beach LLC, a subsidiary of Delray Beach-based Ocean Properties Ltd., owned by Mark, Michael and William Walsh, for $6 million.

"He still owns property and owns a home there (in Martin County)," Crane was quoted as saying As far as my knowledge, he told me he would continue to be a member and spend time there," "We're happy to have him around."

In March, Huizenga ranked No. 463 on Forbes magazine's list of "The World's Billionaires" with a net worth of $2.1 billion.

Huizenga, 72, turned a small trash-hauling operation into waste-management juggernaut WMX Technologies, resigned in 1984 and shifted to movies. He bought the 19-store video rental chain Blockbuster in 1987, expanded it and sold the business to Viacom seven years later for $8.4 billion, according to Forbes. He sold the Miami Dolphins for $1.1 billion last year, but still owns 5 percent of the team.

Huizenga and wife Marti, who recently celebrated their 38th wedding anniversary in April with a large fireworks show at the club, are two of the area's largest philanthropists having given millions to local charities over the years. More than 200 guests attending the anniversary bash, including former Dolphins quarterbacks Dan Marino and Bob Griese, talk-show host Rush Limbaugh and Welch.

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