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Estelar Playa Manzanillo
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Reviews (1,322)
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Reviewed 19 March 2012

Hola,

We stayed at this resort between March 8-15th. After travelling to places like Dominican 3x, a change was much needed and we have no regrets for travelling to Colombia.

We choose to stay at the Occidental Grand as it was close to the Old City. There was another resort about 2 hours away, however getting into the city would have been a all day excursion as opposed to a 30 minute shuttle bus from the resort (free I might add). We loved learning about the history and our 8 year old ate up all the details from the 1600's, piracy, slavery and torture and that our local tour guide "Henry" offered up. Suggestion...as the days are hot (+30), if you have little ones, I would recommend having a 2-3 hour tour of the city in the late afternoon (3pm and on when the winds seem to pick up a bit and cool things off).

The Resort:
The resort is fairly new and we were pleased with the condition of the room. The beds are comfortable and for the first time in a 4+ star in the south we actually had comfy duvet covers and the rooms were kept nice and cool with the AC. No sleep issues for anyone during this trip. Tip, if you can get a room in Building #1 as it does not get the sun during the afternoon and you can sit out on the balcony. While we were relaxing on our balcony at 4pm, we noticed that there was nobody out in building #2 or #3.
Internet is free (wi-fi or in the business centre). The mini-bar is stocked every other day and if you have a request for something other than regular coke (ie: diet coke), you can leave a note and they will typically accomodate.


The pools are nice. We spent most of our time by the main pool where the activities were each day (waterpolo etc.) and only went for walks along the beach. The sand on the beach reminds me of Wasaga Beach as it is more of a grey sand. If you like to spend most of your time at the beach and desire white sand beaches, I would recommend that you go to the resort on Baru about 2 hours away. My husband went for a drive trip that way and the water is more of a turquoise and you get the white sand beaches.

Food: No issues with getting sick from any food or water consumed (ahhh). There was a good choice of food for each meal. Recommendation...have the thin crust pizza and pasta dishes from the Italian a la carte. Our son basically lived off the pizza for the entire week during dinner. My only wish is that they offered it during lunch.

Service: For the most part, there were no issues with service. But...when the resort filled up for March Break, we noticed that there were not enough servers/bartenders for the volume and at times we waited quite a while to place an order. All the servers, bartenders worked very hard to please the resort guests and tried very hard to understand English. If you do not know much Spanish, I would suggest that you bring a cheat sheet of some common phrases to assist in ordering and directions. It will go a long way not just at the resort, but within town and any excursions you decide to take.

Overall, we had a great time and met lots of very nice friendly people (some we hope to keep in touch with). The resort is small enough that you see the same faces over and over again. Most of the vacationers were from Canada and a handful were visiting from other cities in Colombia or nearby countries such as Peru.

Overall, for the cost of this trip and the quality of the hotel and overall experience, I would not hesitate to recommend this resort as a destination for others contemplating visiting Colombia and wanting to stay close to the "Old City" of Cartagena.

Room Tip: Building #1 Learn some basic conversational Spanish
  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled with family
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6  Thank Live4VacationsBarrie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 March 2012

Stayed at the Occidental Grande for 1 week in March. The hotel is nice, everyone was friendly, food was good. If you want music and entertainment, you can hang around the main pool. If you are looking for a quieter day, you can go to the quiet pool in the courtyard between the buildings. It tends to get quite windy in the afternoons and evenings, so some of the umbrellas by the quiet pool have fallen over or ripped; lack of shade can be an issue. We also saw the umbrella hogs, who would claim chairs by both pools, then leave them vacant for half the day. What can you do - there are rude people everywhere.

We stayed in a suite. We had plenty of room for 3 of us. Our daughter used the futon in the living room. The beds and the futon were quite comfortable. We were on the main floor and found that the maid would leave the sliding doors unlocked after she had cleaned the rooms. We just made sure that we went back and locked them ourselves. The fridges are restocked every second day, by someone other than the maid.

The beach is pretty rough. We did not spend a lot of time in the water. You can take a nice walk along the beach to where another resort is being built. It is about 4 km round trip.

Food was good and plentiful, with lots of amazing fresh fruit daily. You have to make reservations for the restaurant - sittings are at 6:30 and 8:30.

We had booked JJ for a tour of the city. He was fabulous and we would highly recommend him.

We did the snorkeling tour through Nolitours. The excursion takes the whole day, as it takes about an hour to get to the islands. Lunch is included, and is delicious. I would recommend it.

We also did the excursion to the craft market, which included going to the botanical gardens, seeing traditional dancers, touring a small museum with artifacts that are 4000 years old, and lunch. We actually spent very little of the excursion time in the craft market.

We enjoyed Cartagena, and felt safe in the city, the resort and along the beach.

Would we recommend this resort -absolutely! Would we go back - in a perfect world, yes. But in reality, probably not, but only because there are so many places to go in the world, and limited time and money.

Room Tip: Recommend a suite.
  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled with family
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8  Thank miss12345
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 March 2012

My husband and I stayed at this resort from March 8-15/12. this is one of the best trips we've ever been on. The rooms are nice, their beds are excellent, slept great.The resort is beautiful. The food was great and the staff is very friendly and helpful. This is a nice relaxing hotel. the hotel offers horse back riding on the beach which can be booked in the Spa. There are shuttles that run throuought the day, so that you can go into the city. We met so many great couples and families during our stay. if you get a chance visit the volcano mud bath it was quite an experience. i would stay at this resort again.

  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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6  Thank Mari s
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hoteles_Estelar, E-Commerce at Estelar Playa Manzanillo, responded to this reviewResponded 22 March 2012

Good Afternoon Ms. Stamant,

Thank you for sharing your experience from your recent holiday/stay at Estelar Grand Playa Manzanillo Hotel. We are very pleased to read your review and learn that you enjoyed your time with us. We appreciate your comments which are very important to us. We certainly look forward to welcoming you back next time.

Kind Regards,

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 March 2012

Stayed at this resort for one week last month. We had a great time, and would highly recommend this hotel. A nice relaxing place, close enough to the old city to truly enjoy it. We took the shuttle to Cartagena three times and it was very convenient (usually took 30 min). We loved the city, both day and night. Booking on short notice was never a problem for us.

Beach and pools were good, and service was very friendly. They could stand to add another bar or two, but the drinks were great. English was a work in progress, but everyone was trying their best, and we never had much trouble communicating. The food wasn't a strong point, it was okay but I'd say below average for a resort of this caliber. The rooms were nice, and our view was decent (but I probably wouldn't pay extra for ocean-view again).

Cartagena is a great destination as far as resort travel goes, and I strongly recommend checking it out! Make sure you get off the resort, Colombia is a great place.

  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled as a couple
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7  Thank GGMTorontoON
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hoteles_Estelar, E-Commerce at Estelar Playa Manzanillo, responded to this reviewResponded 20 March 2012

good Morning Dear Guest,

Thank you for your positive review of your recent stay with us at Estelar Grand Playa Manzanillo Hotel. We keep on working hard to provide our guests an excellent experience during their stay. Hoteles Estelar is very pleased that you had a great time with us. We are working with the quality department to improve our food and English language of our team to be a best service of the city. We would like to invite you to visit other destinations where we can provide you the same excellent service.

King regards.

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Reviewed 10 March 2012

We spent two weeks at the end of February, first of March. If you are a novice traveller, looking for a beautiful beach, a gentle surf, great ocean swimming, shady palm trees or palapas with a "soft" breeze, interesting nightly entertainment, hot food; this place is "not" for you.

However, if you're looking for fairly good food, friendly staff, a clean hotel, reasonably priced and a very unique and exciting city nearby; the Occidental Hotel is the place to be.

We found the beach to be dull and the strong winds sandblasted you in the afternoon. The noise level from the main pool (activity director and ghetto blaster music) extended to the sheltered palapa area where permanent shade was available. Shade was very elusive and the strong winds necessitated the lowering of pool umbrellas; hence your stay was ended at the pools if you weren't a sun worshipper. We had a lovely room in building #3 but you couldn't sit on the balcony because the sun was too intense in the afternoon. Building #1 had shade all day long so if you were chased away from the pools due to strong winds or lack of shade; you had a place to go.

The highlight, for us, was the old city of Cartagena. The free shuttle was a bonus, exploring the old city with its unique architecture, restaurants, stores, people watching and visiting the historical sights, made this trip very worthwhile. U.S. money was accepted in the old town and at the resort for tipping; no problem. Credit cards are used a lot as well; even encouraged for tours from the hotel. Our friends had no difficulty retrieving money from the many banking machines (also in English). Our focus, once we discovered the beauty and excitement of the old town, was a routine visit to the city to explore so I cannot comment on other excursions.

Room Tip: Building #1 has shade all day. Bottom floors, even though there were more bugs, made it easier to access your washroom facilities since there were only a few public restrooms located on the property.
  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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10  Thank HamiltonLovebirds
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hoteles_Estelar, E-Commerce at Estelar Playa Manzanillo, responded to this reviewResponded 20 March 2012

Hello HamiltonLovebirds,

Thak you for your comments we will working always for new services. we see that your stay was greatfull excep for the sun and your recomendations about the Swimingand, activities will received.

We hope see you soon.

Kind regards

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