The history of Bona Vista Boutique Hotel

In 1760, where Bona Vista is now, there was only a straw hut known as "Norden". When the widow of the owner of Jan Koster Pieter, sold it in 1787 for 500 pesos, there was already a stone building. It is not clear whether this was the first part of the current mansion. The new owner, Esther Calvo, called the mansion Buena Vista (Spanish for “beautiful view”). She did not enjoy her property for long because the manor was sold in 1798 to Matthias Lulls who renamed it “Vriendenwijck”.

Matthias used the mansion as a country house because the journey from the city (Punda) by carriage or horse took at least an hour and a half and he had his activities in the city during the week. Then only the slaves lived on the estate. At that time, maize, vegetables and fruits were mainly grown for own consumption. Goats were also kept for meat and milk. The estate was, and still is, located on a very rich water source, which provided sufficient freshwater for cultivation and livestock (the current pool is still refreshed daily with water from this source). Later, water becomes the main source of income when fresh water is sold to the city (Punda), which is located on brackish water. At that time, clean drinking water was a scarce commodity and whoever has a well can earn money.

After eleven years of enjoying "Vriendenwijck" with his friends, Mr. Lulls sold the estate in 1799 to the Jewish merchant Hain Abinum de Lima, who really gave shape to the current country house and furnished it richly. He calls it “Bona Vista” (Papiamentu for “beautiful view”, but this could also be a corruption of the Portuguese “Boa Vista”). The mansion then had the entrance at the current back (the side of the current swimming pool) and the staircase was the formal entrance.

The galley (freestanding kitchen) was built by Lulls in 1798 just before he sold the Estate to De Lima (so you wonder why he sold the house after just installing a galley). It was not until 1898 that the current covered gallery between the kitchen and the house was built. Apparently it took more than 100 years before people found it necessary to be able to walk dry between home and kitchen with food during the rainy season. Next to the kitchen is a small room (now a toilet and storage space), which was used as a punishment cell for disobedient slaves.

Around 1830 a major renovation was carried out. The current front of the house is added. The difference with the old rear is clearly visible in the end facades, the new part has a graceful and curly top facade, in contrast to the more austere facades of the old part. The coach house was also built with a horse stable so that Mr and Mrs could store their carriage neatly.

Between 1787 and 1857 the house had a total of 17 owners. These formed a motley crew; including Jewish and Protestant merchants, a Jewish widow and an accountant-general Anthony Beaujon. This Beaujon was the former Secretary to the Governor of Essequebo and Demerrara (today British Guiana), a colony of the West India Company at the time. Between 1800 and 1803 he held the post of accountant-general in Curaçao. Rumor has it that an amorous affair with a beautiful slave girl led to the last owner bequeathing the estate to her and their children.

The property falls into disrepair if it is passed on through heirs to children who do not have the necessary capital to maintain it. As the number of heirs increases, it becomes practically impossible to sell the property because agreement can never be found with all descendants, one of the reasons that so many beautiful old buildings in Curaçao are still in a dilapidated state.

Country houses were always built on high ground, so it was always within sight of other country houses. In this way help could come from the other landowners in case of trouble. In the past, there were as many as 17 mansions visible from Bona Vista. Due to urbanization this is no longer the case, but with some effort the country houses Girouette, Groot Davelaar, Zeelandia, and Van Engelen are still visible.

The walls of this country house are, in contrast to other country houses built of rocks and coral stone, built from Zeeland ballast clinkers that were used in the empty West India Company ships as ballast for the journey from the Netherlands. The vowels were unloaded on Curaçao because the cargo for the return journey then provided sufficient ballast. These vowels are still visible inside and on the terraces.

At the moment the Landhuis Bona Vista is in use as a boutique hotel in Curaçao. The perfect accommodation on Curaçao to enjoy and relax. There are 6 holiday accommodations on the estate suitable for 2 or 4 people. The mansion itself now serves as a residence. This is unfortunately not for rent.