We stayed at the resort Jan 16-23. After a 25 minute bus ride from the airport we arrived to find that our rooms (about 10 other couples as well) would not be ready for at least an hour. After lunch we asked if it was ready, the answer “in half an hour”. We waited 45 minutes still no room. Each person we asked at the front desk disappeared and never came back to tell us anything. After a further wait I spoke to one of the managers with the yellow ties (they are the ones who speak English and can get things done). Our room still wasn’t ready so they switched the room. When we got to the room, surprise, it had not been made up. Hanners our bell man called the front desk and they gave us another room which he let us into with his master card. Yes it was ready to receive new guests. I had to go down to the front desk to get the key cards, one of which wouldn’t work. One other couple was still waiting for their room almost 3 hours after arrival.
We were in Building 2 facing south. The room was pleasant enough with a comfortable bed but it did smell a bit musty from the AC unit which every room we went into also did. Not unusual in the tropics from our experience. The filters need to be changed or cleaned more frequently. If you want to sit on your balcony without frying after 11 am I suggest a room in Building 1 which faces north so your balcony will be in shade. All rooms above the second floor have some ocean view but I would not pay extra for an ocean view room since it is nothing special. The 3 buildings are in a U shape open towards the ocean (west) enclosing the quiet pool. Beware of the lounge hawks who go out at 5 am to towel the shady chairs around this pool, the main pool and the ocean side tents. There are plenty of lounges however there are not many in the shade and since it is a new resort the trees aren’t big enough to give a lot of shade. Some people were observed to be reserving chairs at multiple locations with one towel over two lounges.
The food was generally pretty good with good variety from day to day. However it amazed us that pans of food freshly brought from the kitchen were not hot when put out in the heating trays. This occurred at all meals at the buffet. The food at the Mexican restaurant was hot on the two occasions we were there. Lots of fresh fruit juices (mix them together for a taste treat especially the mango and passion fruit, awesome) and fruit at all meals. Good selection of salads. The Nativo a la carte serves a series of ten international menus. We tried 4 of them and the food was very good. If you are a vegetarian you will be out of luck since we did not notice any meatless entrees on any of the 4 menus. The red and white wines are very drinkable. Don’t be fooled by the bottles they are served in since they just refill them from plastic bags in the back. In speaking to many people it did not appear that anyone was sick while we were there.
They had bottled and draft beer at the bars. The cocktails were among the best we have had at an all-inclusive. Try the caipirinhas! Large bottles of water were available at the main bar if you ran out. The wait for a drink was never long. If you are in a hurry go to the quiet pool bar, no waiting but no mixed cocktails.
The staff was very friendly and helpful and tried to speak with you with their limited English. There was always someone around who could help with communication if needed.
Go to town on the free shuttle, it is very safe and you can even come back after dark. Walk the beach either way. Even with the hot sun the sea breezes keep you cool enough to walk at midday without overheating. The breezes continue well into the night keeping things cool. Humidity is low so it does not get uncomfortable when the sun goes down. In fact women should bring a wrap for the evenings outdoors.
If you like to bird there are at least 100 species around the hotel and along the roads. There is a large pond on the main road about 2 kms from hotel that is a great spot to bird. The roads are safe and everyone you meet greets you with a friendly hello.
There are 4 computers available with free internet access along with free WiFi if you can't bear to be incommunicado.
We would have rated this resort as excellent except for a number of front desk incidents. Overall we would definitely go back and would recommend it to others. I may even take my family here after next Christmas because the weather will be very predictable and hot with lots of sun. The hotel management and staff must be commended on correcting many of the problems noted in previous reviews.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Occidental Grand Cartagena Resort***** hotel's objective is to provide luxury, all-inclusive services on the seafront on the beautiful beaches of Manzanillo Bay. It is close to the cosmopolitan city of Cartagena de Indias. It has a contemporary design and a very calm ambience, and our guests' first impression is of an idyllic resort to relax and unwind in. Have a dip in the pool, stroll around the beautiful lush gardens or enjoy the 24-hour drink and snack service. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Occidental Grand Cartagena Hotel Cartagena