So I had my first Cinemark Curaçao experience last weekend. I went to see Jurassic World. I had wanted go check out the D-Box experience but found that it was sold out. So I settled for the 3D show with a good friend and 6 kids in tow. And an experience it was. I was pleasantly surprised by the plastic wrapped, clean(!) 3D glasses. The screen was very bright and the sound was awesome. The leather chairs are very comfortable adding to the very pleasant overall ambience.

What did take getting used to was the assigned seats, a new wrinkle in the local movie scene. Our group of eight did not exactly pay attention while taking our assigned seats and we were asked in a very friendly manner to fix that. So the grownups moved from one side of 6 kids to the other to solve the issue. To our great surprise we were asked to move again by another friendly cinemagoer on the other side. He was part of a group of 4 and only 3 seats were left between my friend and the edge of row G. My friend checked and confirmed he was sitting on the right spot, Turns out the man's tickets were for seats 19 through 22. But row G has only 21 seats. . .

The anecdote illustrates that Cinemark Curaçao is still ironing out some minor kinks. But they're definitely getting their act together. After all Cinemark is an internationally acclaimed movie theater circuit. Wikipedia provides the following information as of December 31, 2013:

  • The Cinemark circuit is the third largest in the United States
  • Manages 495 theatres and 4,457 screens in 40 states.
  • The most geographically diverse circuit in Latin America
  • Manages 148 theatres and 1,106 screens in 12 LA countries; the largest chain in Brazil.

So, I decided to visit the place today. Our latest and - undeniably - greatest shopping center. First impressions. Big but not gigantic. Classy atmosphere. Comparable to Miami offerings. An impressive food court - unique for Curaçao - that would be a great venue to watch soccer and other sports. But also a lot of (too many even) "coming soon" signs on unopened units. Again these are all first impressions. As is the lack of apparent true diversity I seemed to notice when looking at the mix of stores.

Is Sambil good for Curaçao? I think it is. In these economic times multi million dollar investment are few and far apart. Very few locals invest this kind of money in our community and we must open our arms for any and all overseas investors that do.

Is Sambil a threat for Curaçao? Well the store owners in Punda and Otrabanda won't be happy campers right now. Sambil offers a fully air-conditioned shopping atmosphere while the shoppers in town are exposed to the elements.

Sambil offers free parking while the shoppers in town have to pay one guilder an hour for the privilege of being shoppers. Except of course in the Renaissance Mall where everyday free parking is part of the deal. Not that the one guilder is a steep price to pay. And yes there is more parking available now than ever before. But the thought of the meter running out makes for quick getaways lest the car get a clamp and a hefty fine from the parking authority.