Working in the same vicinity or side by side with a spouse can seem daunting for some, but not for these amazing couples. They bring their love for each other to work every day in their roles as general managers and owners in the flourishing hotel industry in Curaçao. That’s the secret sauce of the hospitality business: make the guests feel welcomed and cared for through the LOVE of what you do and who you are as a couple and the rest takes care of itself. Behind the scenes are some extraordinary people making sure visitors get what they came for, that is, a vacation that is exactly what they had dreamed it would be, customized and attentive to details, and understanding of the wishes of their guests. by Sheila Botton
Sirena Bay Estate Elegance
It wasn’t planned and they never expected it to happen, but Curaçao stole their hearts.
Mr. and Mrs Schanze visited the island for the first time in 1993 when it was a mere dot on the map dwarfed by other Caribbean islands. Back in Chicago they spent the next several years thinking about starting a new life on the island they fell in love with.
Mr. Schanze explains: “When we returned, we called a realtor and said there was a landhuis on Penstraat for sale that we wanted to see. He said there was no listing about that house but as we drove up the street and turned the corner… there it was!”
Mrs. Schanze continues: “We bought the historic 18th-century Sirena Bay Landhuis and showed it some love, gradually transforming the oceanfront property into a luxurious guesthouse. It is the perfect setting for vacationers: swaying palms, white sand, rhythmic waves and ocean spray with a private swimming pool and tropical gardens.
Our guests find that the estate offers a convenient and central location from which to explore all Curaçao has to offer. For privacy, we rent the entire property for exclusive use. We work to make each stay at Sirena Bay special by being available for concierge services to make sure everyone has a wonderful holiday to remember.”
“Another reason we came to Curaçao, was the perfect weather, no language barrier and the fact that I could continue my charity work. I was the president of the board for a community foundation and I contributed to making it grow financially. I was fortunate to work for a company at the time that gave me the time off to do this sort of thing. We raised a lot of money and gave back a lot to social causes, similar to the social programs we had for improving the quality of life were I am from. There were exactly the same social issues here in Curaçao, but the difference here is that with 1000 USD you can see the difference were as in Chicago with 1000 USD, you’re lucky if you get a thank you card! Being more of a philanthropist, I go a step further and give more diligence to where the funding goes.
I took art classes many years ago but quickly recognized that I didn’t have talent as an artist, but I did have the eye and appreciation to recognize talented artists. I began to promote their work. Since I believe people should find their talents, use them and share them I started to invest in various artists and became an art collector.
I decided that I could use my passion as a collector, and the knowledge I had acquired exploring the art world to bring something different to Curaçao. Once you invest in something you love, it becomes a part of who you are.”
When asked how they keep it together as couple in paradise, they laughed and replied in unison: “The secret is we don’t spend that much time together. We are quite independent and we have a mutual respect, keeping our hobbies and passions separate. It makes it that much more exciting when we talk over dinner or go out on a lunch date.
Mrs. Schanze adds: “He loves to hear my stories and I love to hear his stories. We still have fun.” Mr.Schanze agrees and smiles.