OCCIDENTAL GRAND CARTAGENA
Our Trip: March 8 – 15/13
This is a very well appointed all inclusive facility, especially for this area of the world. Considering the newness of this property, the mostly inexperienced management staff and the predominantly ‘On the Job’ training mode of serving and hotel staff, that ANY form of quality expectations can be derived at all.
In discussions with upper management on site, it quickly became apparent that they were aware of the varying deficiencies from the travel packages being advertised and the actual package being provided (based on the tools, staffing and supplies they had available at a particular time or day) But, that they would do the best that they could do and to please just ask for anything and they would try.
And asked (unfortunately without much success), regardless of the issues the staff really engaged themselves. It got to the point that some humour had to prevail, the Resort Reservations Manager; Rafael Uribe – there was nothing that he did not do to try and assist the resort guests, whither it was under his responsibility or not – Kudos and thank you very much Rafael.
The front desk 4 Amigos; Ronny, Jefferson, Francesco and William and their amiga Jennifer, all of you always managed to remain calm with the guests (despite the volatility of the moment) and offer them the best applicable advise – thank you all for your assistance
The bar staff, who try very hard to serve all the different cultural requests with enthusiasm, they are only just beginning to understand signature drinks, even when they do they are too shy to tell the customer. Omar, often at the pool or beach bar, developed a refreshing drink with a twist - Omar’s Blue Kiss. Once some guests (waiting to order drinks) heard a request for his drink and sampled a taste, it was almost the only drink ordered for the next hour – Smooth Omar; I’ll make some here in Canada
My family and I have been to many resorts through Cuba, the Caribbean and Mexico from 3 to mostly 4-5 star resorts for over 20 years, including the Occidental in the Dominican Republic and the Occidental Grand Xcaret in Mexico (it’s FANTASTIC). Though Occidental Hotels web site for the ‘Occidental Experience’ has a lot of verbiage - the Organization obviously missed the boat here.
Nolitours’ brochure infers the quality of a 4.5 star rating, but cannot provide any info about the property other than what is in their brochure or possibly the Occidental web site not even the room styles, amenities or positioning (for adjourning rooms, though when we arrived we found out probably 50% of the units were adjourned) and when we returned it was yada- yada – send us a letter with your concerns – and we’re not even looking for compensation.
Really, there is not much the staff can change when Nolitours; http://www.nolitours.com/en/Cartagena/Occidental-Grand-Cartagena?ID=22155&tmpl=DO and Occidental Hotels; http://en.occidentalhotels.com/grand/Cartagena.asp offers levels of quality that do not exist.
- A Kids Club: ????? - If that’s what you call it, I don’t think so.
- Restaurants: Whither its 4 or 5 restaurants – 1 adjacent to the kitchen, the buffet area at the bottom of the stairs and 2 adjacent patios that change their names at different points of the day – in my book it only works out to maybe 2-3 restaurants and additional patio areas, at best.
- Currency Exchange: It is indicated that the resort has a Currency Exchange – NO, NONE AT ALL, in fact the staff are reluctant to even make change for Colombian Pesos.
- Resort Information: Easily available information about themes, dinners or activities can only be accessed by asking hotel area staff (if your Spanish is up to par) who only second guess, but your supposed to be all smiles when you discover your Columbian Theme dinner reservation advisement is now quasi North American and no one has any idea what the selections will END UP being (inconvenient, especially if someone does not eat fish).
- Note: I’ve never been to a rated hotel that did not have some type of convenience or tuck shop selling whatever, local handicrafts and/or tobacco – NOT HERE.
- Note: It only continues to hurt when even the Nolitour rep (who tried to the best of his source info) cannot provide simple basic and accurate cultural information on banking, shopping or services available at the airport.
In a nutshell (in my opinion) the infrastructure for this resort could be a 4-5 star category, but with the amenities and services currently available would only generate a 2 star rating.
Would we go back ?
YES, it’s a beautiful country with very friendly people and potentially a great resort , but Now – reservedly, OR we could just wait and see what develops in the future.
There is no point in an on-going tirade; the issues are well represented in the other postings under this resort. I am sure the experienced Hotel Operators, Tour Organization Operators and Travellers are aware of the issues and deficiencies for this resort property – but then why do they allow their reputations to be tarnished by the unhappy customers - profit??
I hope not, as that would be short sighted. There is a whole new generation who are now travelling and will only deal with reputable travel professional that provide the engaged service with extras. And then there are the BABY BOOMERS who seldom provide a second opportunity for much of anything when it has already generated negative results – THEY JUST FIND A MORE RELIABLE OPPORTUNITY WITH ANOTHER TOUR COMPANY AND/OR HOTEL – RESORT CORPORATION.
Hopefully someone finds this helpful or at least informative.
(To the corporations; if only just an acknowledgement; or if you don’t talk to me now – you won’t talk to me later . . . )
- 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
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Orbitz, Barcelo, Expedia, Hotels.com, Travelocity, Cancelon, TripOnline SA, Agoda, Hotwire and HotelQuickly so you can book your Occidental Cartagena reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Occidental Grand Cartagena Hotel Cartagena