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“Loving my stay here!” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Occidental Grand Cartagena

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Occidental Grand Cartagena
3.5 of 5 Hotel   |   Anillo Vial Via Manzanillo del mar Km. 4, Cartagena 985, Colombia   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #60 of 116 hotels in Cartagena
Toronto, Canada
Senior Contributor
36 reviews 36 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
35 helpful votes 35 helpful votes
“Loving my stay here!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 11, 2013

I'm writing from my room at the Occidental! I've read some of the reviews on here and most of them are quite accurate. I'm not sure why some people had bad things to say....I have found almost nothing to complain about! Here is my list of pros and cons for easy reading:

Pros:

Great food! There is always something yummy to eat. I particularly like their pizzas, wraps, fruit (there is an abundance of mangos!), plantains, grilled chicken and omelettes.

Well appointed rooms - I took the deluxe/ocean view room that overlooks the entire property. The AC works well, the room is clean and modern equipped with a flat screen TV. The fridge is stocked with beverages that get replenished daily. A large glass decorative bottle awaited my upon my arrival -- nice touch...I prefer glass over plastic. The bed is comfortable -- I've been having restful nights.

Staff - are friendly and try their best to meet your needs. Every morning I had a fresh, cold coconut delivered to my breakfast table. Be jealous :p

Pools - look nice (I haven't been in any of them yet). I noticed that you don't have to fight for chairs or anything...it's not crazy like a common resort in the DR, Mexico, etc.

Transportation - A great perk for this resort is that we get free shuttle service from the hotel to town and back on a schedule. Saves you a lot of mula so you can spend it elsewhere ;)

Town-The food is amazing! Try some of the street food..it's cheap and tasty! You can find a lot of fruit here too..along with fried treats, ice cream/gelato, coconuts..mmmm coconuts

Cons:

I'd have to say that there is a weird smell coming from the taps in the washroom...kind of like water that has been sitting for a while?

English is not widely spoken here (I think it adds to the charm of the place) so if your Spanish is limited, bring a dictionary or you may have a hard time communicating what you want.

Room Tip: Higher floors have better views but rooms on the first floor have jacuzzis
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Location
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (100)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Mississauga, Canada
2 reviews
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 10, 2013

To be honest our expectations of the resort were not that high. We were looking specifically to go some place different, with some interesting things to see off the resort. It did exceed our expectations.

The resort is only about 2 years old. This was nice because the facilities are still new and in good working order. The only downside is that the palm trees are still small for shade, and the staff are still in the learning stage. You can tell that tourism is still a relatively new thing in this area because aside from the front desk staff not many spoke english. However, they are all very nice and friendly. If it was a person pouring water at dinner the extent of their English was " Water...yes?". We met a couple who had been here one year earlier and they commented on how much improvement they had noticed in the service. Approximately half the people on the resort were from Colombia or other parts of South America which may explain this.

Rooms - They were very clean with nice duvets. The air conditioning controls seemed to vary by room. In our room the highest we could set it was 20 degrees Celsius which was a bit chilly. Since we were on a ground floor we did not feel comfortable leaving our patio door open which would have been preferable as the evening temperature is nice. I would recommend getting a room on the second or third floor so you can do this as the breezes at night are nice. We had the odd geko in the room which did not bother me.

Food - The food was very good. In fact, I would say it was better than two other Occidental resorts we have stayed at. There was always a nice selection of fruits and vegetables. There was typically a rice dish at every dinner with a selection of two or more meats plus various cooked vegetables and other goodies. Fish was very common and well prepared. The food changed everyday so I did not tire of it.

Restaurants - Since the resort seemed to be half full at best we had no issue booking the restaurants. The "Grill" is an outside restaurant where you can order a selection of grilled meats like ribs, steak skewers, etc. You could not order a good North American style steak which was a bit disappointing. However, it was ok. The Italian restaurant is really not a restaurant at all. It is also an outside oven that any can walk up to and order a pizza or lasagna. Both were excellent. The last restaurant, and the only one inside, is more of a fine dining experience. The menu changes nightly. We had oriental one night and Peruvian food another night we were there. Again, it was good but not excellent. The salad bar and deserts were identical to what you could get at the buffet so where was nothing special there.

Pools - It is nice that they have two pools...a "quiet pool" and "activity pool". The quiet pool was nice and quiet. Again, since the resort was only half full getting a lounger was not a problem. The activity pool really did not have much in the way of activities. A spinning class at the edge of the pool in the morning, the odd pool exercise session for the old folks and that was it. Essentially the only real difference was that they had music going all day which ranged from Bob Marley, Spanish music or American top 40 hits sung in Spanish which was funny. There is a bar at the quiet pool but you have to get your own drinks. The pool waiter just sat with the bar tender all day and talked and never asked if you wanted anything. At the activity pool there was also no service at all. If you wanted a drink you needed to walk to the bar yourself (not far) and get it yourself. This was a good example of the staff still needing to learn North American service expectations.

Beach - The water is about 150 meters from the resort. A very short walk down. It is a darker sand so it does get hot. There are no trees down by the beach at all. They have these small shelters built that you can lay under and they work fine. The water is not clear because there is a river not far that empties into the Caribbean, and constant waves which clouds the water. The water is a great temperature. It was windy every day by the beach which was a bit annoying. One evening it was really windy and the water came close to the resort and washed away many of the shelters they had set up. Another day there was a farmer who was moving his cattle from one pasture to another and I guess the beach was the quickest way to get them there. All of a sudden there was cattle everywhere but they moved on quickly. That was interesting and a testament that the area is still being built up for tourism. There is also a small fishing village about a 10 minute walk down the beach. Not much to see really but very local.

Cartagena (Old City) - This is likely one of the main reasons why you would choose this destination. The tour company offers a half day tour of the new and old city which I highly recommend. They show you around and you see Fort Catagena, the Monastery and a walking tour of the walled city (old Cartagena). It is well worth it and gives you a chance to scope out things to come back to during your stay. The hotel has a shuttle bus that goes back and forth from the resort to the Old City from 8am to 12:30am each day which makes things so easy. However, you need to book the shuttle in advance. A cab is only about $20 USD if you want. The Old City is very safe and beautiful architecture. We walked for hours, did a few museums (Historical Museun and Inquisition Museum), visited the various squares, walked on top of the wall that surrounds the city, shopped and ate. The food is one of the best parts. There are many great restaurants and the prices are reasonable. I can honestly say it was perhaps some of the best food I have ever eaten. You can eat like a king and have a bottle of very nice wine for $30 to $50 per person.

In the city of Cartagena itself most shop staff spoke no English (which makes bartering a challenge). The street vendors and restaurant staff spoke enough to get by with you. Even in the museums very little was in English so you can pay for an English guide who will give you the museum tour in English. Emeralds are the big thing here as they are mined close by. There are A LOT of emerald jewelry stores but know your prices before you go. Everything is on a barter system so you have to know something about emeralds and their costs to know if you are getting a good deal or not. Just remember that everything you buy outside of a restaurant is negotiable (clothing, tour guides, jewelry, taxi, etc). If you know basic numbers in Spanish it is a big help.

Other Tours - We did not do any but we spoke to people who did. The general consensus was that they were not worth taking. Mud bath at the volcano (Colombian men in the mud bath with you offering to give you a "massage", and women when you get out wanting to help wash the mud off you...all for money...disturbing was the consensus. There is a boat trip to an island with a "white sandy beach and coal reef". The people said the beach was not white and there was very little see in the water. The shopping trip to four towns seemed to be a big disappointment for everyone. It was 12 hours on a bus and the stuff being sold in every town was exactly the same...hammocks and bags. There was a bit of history and they said the lunch was very good...but not worth the money and 12 hours of travel. This tours is the one thing they really need to work on at this destination. However, the Old City makes up for a lot and you can go there a few times before you are bored. This is really the main attraction.

Overall, my wife and I enjoyed ourselves but would likely not go back. It is really a 3 star resort and I think our expectations where in line with what we paid. Once you have seen the Old City there is really no reason to go back unless you are ok with hanging out on the resort all day. We had a good time, met some really nice people, ate well and learned a great deal about a real gem of a city.

Room Tip: Get a room on the second or third floor so you can enjoy the night breezes.
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Ontario
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
59 helpful votes 59 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 25, 2013

Colombia, Cartagena, such a beautiful city and this resort compliments it so well. My wife and I stayed here Jan. 5, - Jan 11, 2013, after spending 2 weeks in Bogota. We managed to get the all-inclusive package from Nolitours and we travelled with Canjet. This resort is a great value for your money. It is only about 1 or 2 years old, so it's very well kept, clean, and the layout of it, and is very modern, yet tropical. Let's start with the room. Very spacious, and clean, the beds, which is something very important for us, are excellent! We slept really well. The room has it's own free security box, a/c, LCD screen, minibar, and an outside balcony. We stayed right behind the adult's only swimming pool so this was great because it was not loud at all. The service is great. There are 3 restaurants, the buffet, the grill, and "el nativo". Stay away from El Nativo, it was not very good. We ate there twice and both times we were let down. Once for the Peruvian night, and the other for the Spaniard night. It's just that they don't give you enough authenticity and when it comes to seafood, they are very frugal. But, the grill and the buffet were excellent so don't let this bother you. They also have another restaurant, right beside the buffet where they make pizzas: La Trattoria, but it's just right outside the buffet, so basically it's the same restaurant, but great pizzas. There are bars in every pool area (2) and one bar on the beach, so this is good. The quality of the drinks is excellent, so no complaints there. The beach, omg, so beautiful, and perfect for long walks. If you like surfing, this is the kind of oceanfront you want, great waves! What else can I say, I give this resort 8/10. I only wish I could go back. If you want more information, feel free to contact me and I will get back to you.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Martintown
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 25, 2013

My wife and I spent a week at this resort and enjoyed ourselves immensely. We booked a jacuzzi suite which was very spacious, comfortable and clean. It is not located in the city of Cartagena but about a 15 minute shuttle bus ride away (bus provided by the resort). There are a number of pools on site with one designated a "quiet" pool for those who want to spend a more sedate time pool-side. There is also a vast ocean-side beach which is quite pleasant. There are four restaurants on site with a great selection to suit all tastes and the meals were excellent.
The staff is extremely pleasant and helpful. We would definitely spend another vacation here.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, Canada
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 23, 2013

we just returned from a one week stay at this hotel. Great location and distance from both the airport and the city.
Weather was unbeatable. Hot everyday..and windy in the afternoons...thank goodness!! If planning water activities in the ocean would recommend morning hours!!
Staff were friendly and helpful. There is a definite language barrier at times but from past reviews this is improving...and remember we can try to learn their language as well.
Activities through the day at one pool and R&R at the quiet pool. Water aerobics were tough but fun. Spin classes pool side!
Food was OK with lots lots of variety. They would run out on the buffet and were not quick to replenish but that just meant it was fresher and not sitting somewhere waiting!
A la carte dining was good, always a themed night with good variety and we had no troubles booking the time we desired
Rooms were average but clean, but really we were there for warmth and sunshine so we did not upgrade to a suite which were much larger. Beds are firm but comfortable.
staff friendly and helpful..not over bearing. we fell in love with Richard at the beach bar..whom works all day and attends night school every evening! Good for him!! Jackie and Adi at the activity pool kept us entertained and made everyone feel special! Honestly, all staff were great though!

Free shuttles ran on time to the city, however book ahead at front desk because they fill up!
we did a Segway tour of the old city which was very fun, and walked up the beach to a small town for drinks/ Always felt safe, but were also smart about when we went and what we did.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 12, 2013

We spent a very pleasant week at this resort interrupted by a medical situation for two days. The management of the hotel came out in the middle of the night with staff and had me transferred from the emergency clinic to a full service clinic geared to visitors. The costs were covered initially by the hotel until our out of country medical insurance was activated. The general manager arranged taxis and English speaking care for us and went far beyond any normal duty of care. The resort is enjoyable with no crowds of rowdy drunks and our accommodation was apartment sized with a jacuzzi on the patio. The food and drinks were excellent and my little Spanish helped with the staff. The managemant have programs for their staff to improve their English. Cartagena is excellent for tourists, safety is absolute with armed police and soldiers very visible. The free shuttle bus from the hotel to the old walled city is a big plus. Would I visit again? Yes.

Room Tip: Pay the little extra for the jacuzzi suites.
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chelsea, Canada
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 26, 2013

Once you've been to Cuba / Dominicain Republic /Mexico.... and you are looking for a different area to spend your winter vacation... Well the occidental Grand Cartagena, is a great place to go! The food was good, buffet different from day to day, the Nativo à la Carte restaurant was just GREAT! (one weird thing... some people got sick, but all were womens.... and I was part of them! but still I would go back to this hotel!) Personnel at the hotel is mostly friendly! your rrom gets cleaned in the morning! Really great you don't have to wait as we sometime had to in various holidays! The room were also well cleaned, not only quickly! The gym is also really wel organized! you have free access to the sauna and truck bath, witch was fun to try ! Small resort, so good for traveling with other people you bumped into each other often! You can pick the "noisy" or the "quiet" pool depending on your preference... althought the noisy one the animation people are not too mutch! if you are not interested, they leave you alone! if you want to play with them, there are available! A place where your choice will be respected!

Was there for 1 week (Januaray 18-25, 2013) with my husband in my in-laws. Don't think you will get the nice white sand and clear blue wather, but the sea is just GREAT, lots of waveand it donesn't get deep quickly! so fun times! you can walk on the beach for quite a lot! you can even go visit a little village by that beach route and come back!

The shuttle is th BEST option offered by this hotel! As you would not travel to Colombia for a first trip probably, and you may want to explore more, well they offer a free shuttle that you can reserve the day before to go downtown Cartagena ! and come back! that would probably be a 25$ cab ride... for free! Lots of time option (one every 1h30 in the morning - a little less in the afternoon) and back is the same thing... so you can go in town for shopping exploring, visit museum, at your choice, but even if you want to go every day of your trip, you can!

I recommend this place to not first time travelers to the winter south vacation!

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Occidental Grand Cartagena

Address: Anillo Vial Via Manzanillo del mar Km. 4, Cartagena 985, Colombia
Location: Colombia > Bolivar Department > Cartagena District > Cartagena
Amenities:
Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#16 On the Beach Hotel in Cartagena
#23 Family Hotel in Cartagena
#39 Romantic Hotel in Cartagena
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Occidental Grand Cartagena 3.5*
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Also Known As:
Occidental Grand Cartagena Hotel Cartagena

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