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“Albert and Nydia from Canada. Great Design, Great Facilities, Great Gardens, Great Staff, Great Food, Great Temperature”

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Occidental Cartagena
Ranked #47 of 152 Hotels in Cartagena
Calgary, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Albert and Nydia from Canada. Great Design, Great Facilities, Great Gardens, Great Staff, Great Food, Great Temperature”
Reviewed January 23, 2014

We stayed for 2 weeks in the hotel in January 2014. The location of the hotel is excellent because you are in Cartagena but without the noise and parties of Cartagena. The size of the hotel is excellent for seniors, families and kids and even for wheel chair access. The walking distance from the buildings to the swiming pools, the dining room, the bar and the beach is very confortable and not extremely long. The design, decoration and space of the hotel is relaxing, down to earth, simple, very tropical and without any extravaganza. The gardens and flowers are beatiful and are kept in very good shape. Entrance, reception, pathways, dining rooms, bar, hallways, bathrooms, elevators, swiming pools, the beach (chairs included) are extremely clean as well as our room. The beach is sandy and light brownish, excellent and shoes are not needed to get into the water. Sea water is warm and clean. Food is very good, abundant all the time with a variety of dishes depending on the time of the day. All the staff (management, reception, waitress, cleaning, security, pool, nurse, towels, drivers) are great. They are always friendly. They are there to make your stay enjoyable. If you need something, they try their best to help you. All the services are very professional. Dining rooms and bars are served friendly and with elegance. We stayed in a standard room with two double beds. The size of the room was good. The beds are firm and comfortable as well as the pillows. The best is that each room has a quite air conditioning. There are two things to be aware of: One, the hotel is far from shopping malls and does not have any exchange for pesos, nor a banking machine. Therefore, it is very important to bring some Colombian pesos with you. Also, bring some repellent for mosquitos just in case your blood is their type (mine was, Albert's was not) and, since you will be in the Caibbean sea, please do not forget the sun screen. The shuttle bus to Cartagena is great!!!!! The hotel is great!!!!!! The staff is great!!!!!!! The food is great!!!!!! The design and surroundings are great!!!!!

Room Tip: If you travel from Canada, you will see "green" from any room, especially on the first and...
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  • Stayed January 2014, traveled with family
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    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
11 Thank Nydia J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (148)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Norwegian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
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English first
Belleville, Canada
Level Contributor
10 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
Reviewed January 20, 2014

Overall a positive experience. The weather was amazing, the food was very good (especially the Nativo a la carte), and the vibe was fun. We enjoyed the free shuttle into the Old Cartagena (absolute must-do) and a tour into a fishing village down from the resort. The rooms were clean, however our room was late being ready upon our arrival to the resort. We also found the staff/people who worked at the resort were very limited in their English which proved a bit difficult for us. The pool (s) are nice, the bar staff are great, and the beach was generally ok. We would return to this destination.

Room Tip: Rooms higher up provide a better view of the ocean.
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  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
5 Thank Jennipher-FP
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tampa
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed January 20, 2014

We found this beachfront complex a great place to relax and have fun. Lock up your ID and wallet...they give you a wristband when you check in...you might find that your shoes are optional too! It is REALLY all inclusive. The food in short of 5 star but has so many options from the buffet to menu choices if you make a reservation for the full service restaurant. The bar help are fast and generous to keep you smiling! The wait staff is super helpful and many speak English. There is a bus shuttle service for free transportation to the city and back...but don't be late...they keep to the schedule! The beach is far enough from the city that there are virtually no vendors to interrupt your peace. The rooms are a adequate and all have a view! I recommend this for everyone...couples, families with kids and retired folks. Dont forget by the end of your stay to tip your favorite service personnel...they deserve it!

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
8 Thank ChillOutInTampa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
187 reviews
111 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 103 helpful votes
Reviewed January 15, 2014

Hotel and staff were wonderful.Food and bar service very good.
The native or Alacart rest was worth reserving when you tire of the buffet.
Some days there was a sewer smell coming from the bathroom but shutting the bathroom door and airing out the room fixed that.
We did not bother to upgrade our room maybe we should have.The bed was confortable that is what is important to me.
There was no mosquito issue that we had read about in previous reviews.Did get some bites at the beach from the sand fleas.
My only complaint is not being able to change money at the hotel and no bank machine close by either.Also front desk never had change for tipping,and the staff deserved to be tipped.
We rented a car online and drove around without trouble.But the hotel did have regular shuttles to the city.
This hotel is very close to Cartegena we drove in quite often to change money and shop.
Lots of birds all around the resort if that is your interest.Columbian people were very welcoming.Even the police helped us pull a uturn once in the city when we took a busy road the wrong way.
The beach was very good on calmer days.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
8 Thank welltravelled019
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
toronto
Level Contributor
103 reviews
45 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 100 helpful votes
Reviewed January 4, 2014

Just returned from the resort and most of the reviews that I read cover location etc., so I won't repeat those. We generally travel to all inclusives' in December as that is the only time of year that we are all together as a family and the all inclusive package really has a cost advantage especially when traveling with two twenty somethings who enjoy pina colades, daicquariis, mojitos throughout the day. I therefore will do this as a pro and con review.

Pros:-

The resort is well laid out with three options for swimming which is great as we all had different priorities.

I spent a lot of time at the adult quiet pool located near the three 5 storey accommodation towers as i enjoy peace and diet and love to read. The pool staff were just great and accommodating my request for shade by getting additional umbrellas. The bar in this area does not have power, so blended drinks are not available. Fransisco, the pool attendant made the best Mojitos in the resort even though he is not a barman per se. The pool is crystal clear with enjoyable temperature to cool off from the intense sun.

The "active" pool area actually has three distinct pools with constant activity including spinning and aqua-arobics with enthusiastic staff and this area was really enjoyed by the rest of the family mainly in the mornings. Located nearby are adequate gym facilities as well as a sauna, steam room and spa for massage. Grouped nearby are the four dining options and the main bar.

The beach (volcanic sand) is about 200 meters from this location and the sea is relatively calm with the sand stretching way out making it safe for swimming. Lots of awnings providing shade, however the plastic beach chairs were hard on the tush. Again there is a bar without power, so limited drink choices. Generally, we met there as a family in the afternoon. Long stretch of sand for walking and jogging with a view of Cartegna in the distance. Water temperature was warm, but refreshing. The sea is grey and not clear.

A big pro was a the ability to make bookings for the restaurants every day and not be limited to the number of times one could eat at them. The restaurant staff were most attentive, however English is limited as the resort caters mostly to Spanish guests which made up about 70% of the guest contingency(Air Transat) and Toronto (CanJet) . Very few Americans and Europeans.

Another big pro was a free bus shuttle into the City as it's a good 30 minute drive or $25 cab ride away and well worth visiting both the historic walled a new parts. There is a Hop-On bus that does a 90 minute circuit with an included walking tour of the walled City once a day. Well worth it, but the guides dialogue is in Spanish with a smattering of english. Out of a group of forty, only three of us were english speaking.

Staff at the Front desk was always courteous.

Cons:

The rooms (not the suites) are really small and all contain two immovable "queen" size beds which are basically a mattress on a masonry plinth, however all have a wide balcony. Bathroom area has a single sink, with a separate toilet and large shower (no bath). Our shower dripped all night - chinese water torture. Lots of hot water, and great water pressure though. The rooms were clean, however on one occasion the room was not done until 5 in the afternoon. This was rectified by leaving a generous tip on the understanding that the room would be made up by noon at the latest.

Visits by geckos and other local inhabitants! The air-conditioning thermostat did not work and we had to turn it off at night as it banged erratically notwithstanding that we complained three times and they were quick to send someone to"fix" it every time to no avail.

This is the only vacation that I have been on that I lost weight. While there is a reasonable variety of hot food at the buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I found the food to be sub-standard with the fruit (excellent) and salads being the same every day. The Pizza Bar was really the best option and we would often order a pizza after a meal at one of the restaurants. The grill (booking for dinner) was sub par and the indoor Nativo restaurant offered a different menu every night with four or five entrees ( all sub-standard). Salads and desserts were self serve and the same choices as the buffet.

Hot soup offered for breakfast! Reasonable egg station, with bacon offered only once during the week. Mostly South American selections such as Arepas etc., catering to the South Americans.

The bars did not mix the same drink, the same way twice and even though it appeared that they poured sufficient alcohol into the glass, it was difficult to get inebriated to any extent with mixed drinks.

In conclusion and to be fair, we usually stay at five star resorts and this is billed as a 3+ facility and we did pay 3+ prices. Perhaps my expectations were just too high. They put on a beach bash with entertainment for new Year and they did try with a stage dancing (mostly salsa) and entertainment. I do appreciate getting the flavor of the country I am in, but not once during the week was any entertainment geared to North American guests.

This resort does have potential, but has a long way to go to achieve 4* status.

As a side we were happy to get out of Toronto after the Ice Storm and being out of power for 72 hours. Our CanJet flight ( a "wet" lease from TuiFly) did leave the gate on time, but was no 24 in-line for deicing and at position 14 returned to the terminal for an electrical problem - we did leave two hours late, but the German crew kept us informed as to the status. Nevertheless it was a good charter flight save for the problem,

Room Tip: If you don't want a small room chose a suite if available as an option. Sea view rooms are in th...
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
12 Thank montfleurToronto
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Barrie, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed January 4, 2014

We were there for one week and enjoyed it throughly. A few observations

A. The weather was the best we have ever had for a Christmas vacation. No rain. Over 30C daily and warm tropical breezes after lunch. Evenings were warm and dry. We have travelled each Christmas for 10+ years and this was the best for guaranteed warmth

B. This is not a location for first time travellers. There are less services than many might expect in a typical all inclusive in Mexico ( or other locations). If you want quiet and peace this place works. Very little entertainment at night, no retail store on site, motorized sports weren't offered, no snorkelling and limited organized day trips.... Perfect place to relax... As long as you don't expect more

C. Colombian guests were important to the staff. This nationalism was evident whenever the staff had to choose who to serve next. There were a lot of columbians at the resort. The more Spanish you speak the better.... It helped

D. We picked the location to see Cartagena , which didn't disappoint. Make the trip into the old city to see the old world charm.... The Juan Valdez cafe was a great spot to stop and watch the rhythm of the city

E. No bugs. Clean rooms, we had a great suite suitable for our family, clean beach, relaxed dress code... Makes for a relaxing, memorable trip

Room Tip: We upgraded to a suite upon arrival. Not too expensive and the size was wonderful
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
9 Thank TravelOften2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kitchener, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed January 3, 2014

We just came home yesterday. The hotel is about 35 minutes from the airport, but the scenery is very interesting. There is no way that this resort is only 3 years old, more like 20. We felt safe going by free shuttle to the old city. Walking on the beach past the resort can be uncomfortable as one couple on our plane had the locals yelling, "Yankee go home." Most of the guests were from the region and many made us feel very welcome.
Our room was on the 2nd floor in Building 3. There was a horrible musty smell from the a/c. We were offered another room in this building but it also smelled. Keeping the outside door and patio door open helped create a cross breeze and it was quite private as we were at the end of the building. Our room was very small with 2 "queen" beds. The bathroom was so small that you practically had to back out. The room was reasonably clean but the drain in the shower was partially blocked so I flooded the room on the last day. We had lizards and frogs in the room but they were small and cute. The balcony was larger than most. The walls are paper thin so your conversation can be heard in the next room.
The buffet food was ok. Swimsuits during the day were acceptable. The one a-la carte served an excellent meal and there were no limits on bookings. Shorts and tshirts were allowed in the restaurant in the evening. The staff was friendly but mostly Spanish speaking so sometimes communicating was hard.
It was always possible to get a chair at the beach or at any of the pools. Beach towels were always available and there was always room to eat wherever you wanted or to have a drink at the main bar. The beach was clean, but the water was brown. I still really enjoyed swimming at the beach.
It does get windy later in the day through out the resort so a wrap or light jacket is a good idea. The best part of the resort is that there are two adorable cats that live on the premises and dogs at the beach looking for a loving pet. I would go back, but I would definitely take some room freshener and learn a little more Spanish before I left.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank BAinKitchener
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Occidental Cartagena

Property: 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
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:
#14 Spa Hotel in Cartagena
#15 On the Beach Hotel in Cartagena
#21 Family Hotel in Cartagena
#37 Romantic Hotel in Cartagena
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
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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