Our biggest expectation for this trip was to enjoy the incredible historical aspects of this amazing city, the walled city! It is truly a gem! I never tired of walking through those gorgeous cobblestone streets and gazing up at those flower laden balconies, churches, squares. It is truly magical, day or night! As such, the free shuttle was an economical and convenient option. It is 20-25 minutes away. We once went into the city twice in the same day.
If you want to have a typical resort vacation, you will be sorely disappointed because as many have already stated on this forum, the beach is very wide, but not a fine white sand and it does not have blue translucent water. I used the beach to walk on for my morning exercise and took a dip for a few minutes, once only. Also the entertainment was very lacking, but in all fairness participation was very low. The only show that looked worthwhile was the Folklore one as we were walking in but we couldn't really enjoy it because we wanted to access the buffet before it was closed. The weather was FANTASTIC! Warm moderate mornings, progressing to hot into the afternoon. Breezy late afternoons and evenings.
The rooms were small but modern and clean. Water pressure could have been better when you're trying to rinse shampoo from long hair, but really you can't take notice to all these trivial things when you're on vacation. We're getting extremely spoiled aren't we?? Listening to all these people go on and on about the suites makes me wonder it may have been worth it to spend a little more, but in all reality, we hit the city every chance we got. Didn't spend a lot of time in the room. The night life in the city was amazing! We danced many nights away and if we got carried away and missed the shuttle, it cost us 20-25$ US to return to the hotel. It is not cheap in town though. Prices for drinks and dinner in moderate to fancy clubs are comparable to fancy upscale places in North America. We had one typical Colombian lunch in a working class place in Bocagrande that was 8-9$ and I'm sure that's because they realized we were tourists. After clubbing one night, we also ventured to Bocagrande for great stuffed Arepas at a fast food Arepa place which was very cheap. Lunch in Getsemani (which felt like I was in New Orleans, just outside the walled city-a must) was amazing, offering upscale Colombian Cuisine, affordable, but not cheap. Anything in the walled city is pricey. Had amazing ice cream in tropical flavours that was to die for. Wish I kept the name to give this place a plug because most of the fancy ice cream places are Gelati types and carry mostly European flavours, whereas, this one had the tropical fruit flavours, Coco, Marañon, Mamey, Zapote, Tamarindo, delicious!!
The food in the resort was very good if you are open to trying some of the local fare, otherwise you will find it limited. A delicious soup at every meal, even breakfast (the hangover soup in keeping with Latin customs, hahaha). Ceviche every lunch and dinner, excellent salads and a good variety of tropical fruit. Lovely breads and baked goods, cakes etc. I really enjoyed the food but it is not an expansive buffet because it is a smaller resort and many people seem to leave the premises to venture out. In my opinion, the buffet provides more than adequate variety and quality of food.The a-la-cartes were just ok for me, nothing special at all. Almost the same food as the buffet just fancier presentation. Self serve salad bar and dessert bar. There was a snack bar that provided the typical hamburgers, hot dogs and fries, as well as, Colombian Empanadas, Buñuelos, but the fresh made to order Pizzas and Calzones were the best to go foods!
I would go back for sure, but the attraction to this destination for me, is Cartagena!
- 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