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“Very bad welcome... will not consider this hotel”

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Occidental Cartagena
Ranked #49 of 157 Hotels in Cartagena
Reviewed August 9, 2013

Was staying in Cartagena at the Santa Clara Hotel (excellent). We were trying to pick a location to do our year end family gathering (+25 pax). Heard from friends about this estelar hotel and went there to check the hotel. The front desk sent us with the "tour guide" to visit the hotel. The tour was awfull.. the guy was disrespectfull answering the questions and ask my wife to hurry-up while she and my daughter were asking for the beach facilities. By the way.. he didnt allow us to visit the hotel beach. We ask to see a room and he said NO. I asked the front desk and they opened a suite for us to check the accomodations but another time our "tour guide" was very unpolite and didn't answered our questions. Back in the car my family made a fast decision... We will not consider this hotel for our meetings. We have visited really nice properties in Europe and US and never had a such arrogant and bad attitude.

Stayed: August 2013, traveled with family
1  Thank mauricio o
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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187 - 193 of 1,236 reviews

Reviewed July 26, 2013

The complex offers variety of activities for children and adults according to their choice. Food was excellent, the variety of each menu makes each meal an enjoyable experience. Rooms were always clean, comfortable, and there is no noise at all. The concept of having a pool for adults provides relaxation for them without restricting the kids´ fun. Gym is well equipped. Staff are friendly, and evening activities are appealing to all kinds of audiences. Will definitely come back!

Stayed: August 2012, traveled with family
3  Thank Luis C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 12, 2013

The personnel was great and attempted, The food was excellent The beach and the pools were excellent to. We all had a great time Hope to go back someday. The all-inclusive was great too. This hotel is far from the city But the hotel provided transportation to and from.

Stayed: June 2013, traveled as a couple
4  Thank Rachel P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 5, 2013

The hotel and service are great, food is delicious, this is a city where the party never ends, there are lots to do every day, it is a beautiful colonial city. The night live is like anything ever been to, is a nonstop. Salsa, merengue, cumbia, ballenato is heard everywere and clubs are everywere. The beaches in Cartagena are not white sand like cancun but I went to Rosario Island which is 20 minutes on a boat and this island has the whites sand beaches and full of people from all over the world, it is a party island with lots to do and a club. I am going back.

  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled with family
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4  Thank Alex7756003
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 4, 2013 via mobile

The resort was overall very clean and the staff were really nice. The location is not convenient really, but the shuttle makes up for it. Food was ok. Rooms were clean. Wifi everywhere (I'm writing this review from a lounge chair inside of a pool). It was nice to be here on the off season as its not crowded.

  • Stayed: June 2013
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5  Thank KKwebster4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 10, 2013

The 3 swimming pools are wonderful, the beach less so.
The building is new, the rooms are modest with a wish for a modern look.
ALL the rooms are poorly sound proof so, against your will, you are instantly included in other people life.
The service is AMAZING.
The hotel is far from everything but if you are tired, looking for a farniente kind of vacation it's a good place to relax and be taken care of. The hotel has a very good shuttle service.
As most 'all inclusive' this is also a paradise for alcohol enthusiasts.
Huge choice of buffet food well prepared but somehow bland, the grill is outstanding, the restaurant is very good and you can make reservations every evening. The fruits are AWESOME.

Room Tip: The rooms with "ocean view" are not worth the extra price as they are as far from the ocea...
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  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with family
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4  Thank Corina R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 29, 2013


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

To Note:

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 . . . )

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with family
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12  Thank GoodTimeTravelers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Occidental Cartagena

Address: Anillo Vial Via Manzanillo del mar Km. 4 | No. 9-85, Cartagena 985, Colombia (Formerly Estelar Grand Playa Manzanillo)
Phone Number:
Location: Colombia > Bolivar Department > Cartagena District > Cartagena
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:
#15 On the Beach Hotel in Cartagena
#17 Spa Hotel in Cartagena
#21 Family Hotel in Cartagena
#37 Romantic Hotel in Cartagena
Price Range: $160 - $323 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Occidental Cartagena 3.5*
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 
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Also Known As:
Occidental Grand Cartagena Hotel Cartagena

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