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“Nice different place to go!” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Estelar Grand Playa Manzanillo by Occidental Hotels & Resorts

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Estelar Grand Playa Manzanillo by Occidental Hotels & Resorts
5.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Anillo Vial Via Manzanillo del mar Km. 4 | No. 9-85, Cartagena 985, Colombia   |  
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Ranked #33 of 142 Hotels in Cartagena
Certificate of Excellence
Chelsea, Canada
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Nice different place to go!”
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
Helpful?
5 Thank Lapuce_20_35
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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958 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
  • Location
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (131)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 14, 2013

The rooms were great. We had two adjoining and interconnected rooms because we were a family and it was great. I loved this place. I was looking to relax with two small children and I was able to do that. The rooms are great particularly the one with jacuzzi. The resort has great pools and a very relaxing atmosphere. I thought it was great that the hotel had transport to the old city if you wanted to spend a couple of hours there. The food was good. What I liked the most is the mojitos that were prepared by the barman at night- they were amazing. Best ones I had tasted. This a very worthwhile experience. I really did not want to leave.

  • Stayed December 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
6 Thank diana s
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stra, Italy
Level Contributor
9 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 10, 2013

Spent 7 days April 2012- had a great time- as it was the end of the season the hotel was not too busy which i really enjoyed. Our room was quiet faced on the pool. We took the mini bus into Cartagena a number of times, went on a city excursion( very busy as was Easter week end) but the music from the churches was wonderful and went on a boat trip to one of the small islands. the emerald dealers in Cartagena were pretty pushy so be prepared for that. I found the staff fine but again the hotel was not too busy. The hotel really needs a small store to buy personal items that a person might require. as it is a new hotel the landscaping is still new and small but overall i have no complaints. I have travelled a fair bit and dont expect things to go perfectly so dont get too bent out of shape when i have to wait at check ins etc,

Room Tip: We were on the top floor of our building so had a nice view- over pool well as could look out towar...
See more room tips
  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Mary Lynn P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
200 reviews
152 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 422 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 5, 2013

My wife and I stayed here for 2 weeks over Christmas and New Years. We came as part of an all inclusive plan. Our main goal was to have easy access to the old town of Cartagena. We found that the price we paid for this all-inclusive was a much better deal than booking a hotel in the old town and flight separately. Overall we were happy with our stay but we also quickly realized that the daytour options for a 2 week stay were limited by the distances involved to various places we would have liked to visit. We enjoyed exploring the old town of Cartagena and the very unique tour to the mud volcano. We skipped the Rosario islands as we had heard and read unflattering reports of that excursion. We spent much more than usual time around the pool than we are used to doing. The first week was very quiet around the resort as it was running at less than 40% occupancy. The tranquility around the premises was actually kind of nice. The second week saw many Colombians arrive to celebrate New Years and things got a whole lot busier. We met some interesting people and had a good time. Now for the positive and negatives:

Positives:

1) the resort has a mainly Colombian clientele (at least while we were there)
2) the free shuttle to the old town worked for us but book a day ahead as the bus does get full
3) the food is generally good and varied
4) our room was great (we had a jacuzzi ground level floor room); definitely more spacious than the regular rooms
5) Miguel, at the buffet restaurant, was so helpful and cheerful- every server should strive to reach his level of service
6) the drinks were of good quality and definitely not watered down (delicious beer)
7) excellent bartenders and poolside waiters/lifeguards
8) management seemed genuinely interested in guests' feedback and experience
9) staff, although not fluent in English, were accomodating and respectful

Negatives:

1) being near water, the resort should offer more grilled fish and seafood dishes
2) after a while, the buffet became repetitive (emphasis on meats and heavy sauces)
3) the a la carte restaurants just serve the same things at the buffet restaurant
4) the reception needs to be a little more attentive and, well, receptive ( a simple request for water in our room took 3 calls before someone arrived)
5) on our last day, we had to cancel a restaurant reservation in town because the shuttle was full even though we were giving them 24 hrs notice of our intention to go to town; more spaces on the bus would be nice
6) pushy people who don't know the ettiquette of queuing
7) very average grey sand beach not tempting to swim but nice to stroll on
8) no sea views from the restaurants
9) no gift shop
10) tired of hearing Gangnam style; bring in more local talent to give feeling of place

Overall, we had a good time but if you like to stay active like we do, I'd say a week is enough to enjoy the resort and see the nearby attractions. Our rating of this resort is just in comparison to the many others we have been to in the area of the Caribbean. But for Colombia we are sure this is one of the best. After conversations with other tourists about their hotels, the Occidental Grand Cartagena seemed to us the right choice

Room Tip: suites are worth the extra living space with or without jacuzzi
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
11 Thank travelglobe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sorocaba, Brazil
Level Contributor
24 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 23, 2012

The hotel is very new and clean, but the staff is not really prepare. The most part don´t speak english and don´t make any effort to understand even portuguese. The recepcionists are slow and confused. We made a reservation for a tour in Isla del Rosario in the hotel, to Playa del Sol. I made sure if the island and the tour had structure for my baby (she was 14 months) and the concierge (if I can call her that) told me that I could take my baby for sure. They told us that the tour cost 100.000 colombian pesos each person, and we arranged to take the hotel´s bus the next day at 8h00, because the tour included lunch and they would bring us back to the hotel.
At 8h00 we took the bus and when we arrive at the bus stop the driver asked us for the voucher of the tour, but nobody gave us any voucher. He let us with Miguel and said that Miguel would take us to the tour. Big mistake. Miguel charged us 100.000 pesos each to go to Playa Blanca (the price to Playa Blanca was 50.000 each - we discovery later). We had to pay 25.000 pesos to go into the water, than 1.000 pesos to use the bathroom, and 10.000 pesos to use the tent. And the boak broak in the way back. We arrived in the pier and we didn´t know where to to to catch the bus back to the hotel, so we spent more 50.000 pesos for the taxi. I complained to Willian and he told me that somebody would call me to see what happened, but I didn´t get any call or any apologize. I was so desappointed and felt like a idiot. All because the concierge didn´t give us the voucher and the driver of the hotel let us with this guy that made us stupid. And the hotel doesn´t have any structure for babies or kids, doesn´t have a playground or any place to warm a bottle.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 2 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Lari25
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
São Paulo, SP
Level Contributor
27 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 22, 2012

We were staying in this hotel for four days. Since the arrival until the moment we left all the staff were friendly and extramente ready to help in any preciso.A only restriction is how much the lack of mastery of the English language.

The rooms are big, clean, with comfortable beds and views of pool and partial beach. Avoid staying in rooms on the ground floor, where you lose all sight.

The food was excellent restaurants of every day. The breakfast was varied, with lots of fruits, juices, yogurt, bread and grill for preparing all kinds of eggs. The meal served at lunch and dinner was delicious and with great variety to please everyone. The Italian restaurant is delicious with all kinds of pizza. The a la carte resturante need reservation one day in advance.

Transportation to the Walled City works very well, but reservations required. It saves you spend about $ 1000.00 to get to and from the city. The journey takes around 30 minutes.

The beach is long and always empty. But with all the infrastructure of the hotel and its pools delicious, I confess that I was the beach one day.

In short, everything you look for a resort, you'll find at Starfire. Great for families with children and couples seeking a little tranquility.

Room Tip: Avoid staying in rooms on the ground floor, where you lose all sight.
See more room tips
  • Stayed November 2012, 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
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank AleteiaBofelli
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto
Level Contributor
28 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 92 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 8, 2012

Spent two weeks here in January 2012. Got an excellent deal as hotel had only recently opened and seem to cater to Canadians. We were in the building at the back in an end room and had partial view of the ocean from our room.

Food
The buffet was excellent and everyday had a nice selection of local food along with other fare. I was horrified the first few days we were there as they had no proper means to keep hot foods hot or the proper refrigeration to keep cold foods cold. There was also a serious lack of protection of food from people birds and the elements. I am pleased to say that each day brought improvements to this and I certainly raised my concerns with those whose English permitted a serious conversation.

The al la cart restaurants were good and the grill was also excellent.

As previously mentioned the main bar was always a challenge to either get a drink or Cappachino.

The beach was beautiful and made for lovely walks either way. I saw local fisherman several times during our stay working their nets and boat. I also saw fisherman that waded in the waters and cast their nets.

We swam in the ocean everyday and the water was always warm. The pool was also clean and warm. Getting loungers either at. The each or pool were a challenge unless you enjoy getting up at 5 am and throwing a towel on them.

The staff that danced every afternoon were a lot of fun.

As others have mentioned the walls are paper thin and fortunately for us we were only bothered one night where the people next door may as well have been in our room. Luckily they only stayed one night.

I took the shuttle down to the walled City several times and really enjoyed the shopping. Amazingly there are still many things for sale that are made in Columbia.

I also did the snorkelling trip to Rosario and had a great day. Another worth while trip is to the volcano and mud bath,a very different experience.

I also discovered on our second week that if we tipped the cleaners they got an urn of coffee going for us beforeearly birds before the restaurant opened. Very much appreciated.

I loved the location and the beach and if the price was right would definitely go again.

  • Stayed January 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
7 Thank ufo_10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Estelar Grand Playa Manzanillo by Occidental Hotels & Resorts

Property: Estelar Grand Playa Manzanillo by Occidental Hotels & Resorts
Address: Anillo Vial Via Manzanillo del mar Km. 4 | No. 9-85, Cartagena 985, Colombia
Phone Number:
Location: Colombia > Bolivar Department > Cartagena District > Cartagena
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#11 Spa Hotel in Cartagena
#11 On the Beach Hotel in Cartagena
#17 Luxury Hotel in Cartagena
#21 Family Hotel in Cartagena
#37 Romantic Hotel in Cartagena
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:5 star — Estelar Grand Playa Manzanillo by Occidental Hotels & Resorts 5*
Number of rooms: 190
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 
Also Known As:
Occidental Grand Cartagena Hotel Cartagena

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