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Estelar Playa Manzanillo
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Reviews (1,322)
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All reviewsquiet poolmain barfree shuttlenativo restauranta la carte restaurantsall inclusive resortbeach barsmall resortdark sandthe entire resortold citygreat resortwalled cityrecommend this resortadult only poolnightly entertainmentboogie boards
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Reviewed 9 April 2012

We travelled to Cartagena the last week of March. What a great vacation. We flew Thomas Cook and booked through Sunquest. The only thing about Sunquest/Thomas Cook is the small amount of weight you can have in your carry on.

We arrived on time got to the resort in about twenty minutes from the airport. The bus was nice it was air conditioned. The unfortunate thing was that our room wasn't ready until 3:30 we arrived at the resort by about 11:15. We changed into our beach clothes and just hung out waiting for our room to get ready. We were on the first floor of Bldg 1. No smell of mildew there, everything was white and fresh. The nice white bed linens I just love. If there are any stains on the bedding you would certainly see them on white. The A/C in our room worked really well. Our room was cleaned daily and the fridge was restocked every other day with coke and beer. By the way there is a bathroom scales in the room....Imagine that on your vacation. No face clothes.

There was a good breeeze the first few days we were there. Being from an Island we are used to wind so didn't mind it.

The food was fine, I'm a bit of a picky eater and always managed to get something to eat. the hamburgers at the grill were always a good choice for lunch. Drinks were good, Amar made the best chocolate monkeys. I don't remember the girl who used to cook the eggs and omlettes in the morning but she was great and always got you to speak in spanish a lesson every morning. Miguel was a great waiter there in the buffet.

Pools are great, always cleaned daily. We walked the beach every morning, great beach to walk on. the color of the ocean is murky it is certainly not the turquoise water we are used to seeing down south. The beach chairs are comfortable and the ones in the water by the pool are even better.

The local cows used to graze along the beach. There is a lot of construction going on next door so in years to come you can expect Cartagena to be a popular location. They are also building a golf course.

We went to town one night and took the horse & carriage it was so nice, the driver then dropped us off at the Juan Del Mar Pizza Restaurant. What a great feed of pizza we had there were 18 of us and you can imagine the ordering of wine & beer was a bit of a nighmare when it was time for the bill to come. Very, very confusing, but we manged to figure it out.

We took a day tour of the old city with Wilfred (Wil) Nieves Trocha. Great tour guide and speaks really good English. Another day we went into Town shopping and met this wonderul guy Gonzalez he took us around to find what we were looking for. The people were always so helpful we felt really safe.

I would say about 85% of the people at the resort were Canadians in their 40's to 70's, only a handful of kids. We are from the East Coast of Canada but everyone else we met were from Ontario.
My husband and I both had massages on the beach by Juanita. She was excellent, head to toe massage for $30 and it was for at least 45 min.

We have no complaints about this resort this was our 12th All-Inclusive and it was certainly one of the best.
We have travelled to many different countries.

Room Tip: We didn't spend much time in our room only to sleep and shower.
  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank Robbi H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 April 2012

If you are looking for a unique holiday this maybe for you. Great holiday, wonderful weather, yummy pizza and according to my son chicken from the grill was the best he had ever tasted. One great bonus was the complimentary shuttle into Cartagena.

Please message me with any questions.

  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled with family
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6  Thank BCHSOntario
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 April 2012

Was there from March 26-April 2, 2012
- food was great, although the 4 restaurants were really one dining room and an open air buffet with side grill and pizzeria, although were excellent
- finding lounge chairs at the pool and the beach not an issue all day long unlike DR and Cuba where you have to fight for chairs at 8am
- average beach, mirky waters but it was warm, had to travel to another part of Colombia for white sand and blue water
- shuttle to downtown walled city was a godsend, saves you $20 US each way
- not great for singles since at the time, were mostly couples but good to hang around with for the week
- english was a little bit of an issue compared to DR, Cuba and Mexico but they were responsive, attentive and most of all friendly
- lots of exploration to do in Cartagena for the adventerous, it is not just beach and pool
- you will probably enjoy the walled city, but they mostly sell Italian food there which I heard was pretty good from the other guests, my buddy and I had to travel to Boca Grande for Colombian food

Would I recommend this resort and go back? Yes, I paid $870 but heard some people were getting $700 a few days before...

BTW, if you are buying Colombian coffee to take home, buy it at EXITO grocery store in the Walled City, they charge roughly $5 US whereas the other tourist shops try to scalp it to you for $10-15.

Hope this helps!

Room Tip: Oceanview rooms are furthest away from the ocean - with a view.
  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled with friends
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3  Thank drfeelgood99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 April 2012

Chose the Occidental Grand as a base for exploring this part of Columbia, the shuttle into the old walled city, 7 times a day, made this possible and inexpensive! After years of drug problems, the government has worked hard to make tourists safe, and you find police on every block of the old city. I would recommend taking a tour upon your arrival in the old city, as there is much to see and learn in this historic site. We used Henry Castrillon, who is fluent in English, and provided an interesting in-depth walking tour. He can be reached at snowfull1966@hotmail.com and can meet your shuttle bus.

The hotel is only 20 minutes into Cartagena, on a nice stretch of quiet beach, which is great for walking. The sand is brown, so the water is not turquoise blue, but it was fun to play in, without crazy waves or currents.

The rooms were comfortable, we had a main floor suite with jacuzzi on the terrace. We enjoyed sitting on our terrace in the afternoon and walking a few steps to the bar at the quiet pool. We could open up the living room doors, and enjoy the outside. The room did have a foul odor when we used the living room AC, room 2103, hopefully they figure out what died in the AC unit!! But we just used the bedroom A/C and opened the doors for ventilation.

The hotel is new (opened in July 2011) and the staff are still "in training". They are very friendly, and helpful, but little things, like failing to replace used toiletries in the bathroom, restocking the pool bar with liquor, using flat pop instead of opening a new bottle, need to improve. William at the front desk was amazing in helping organize tours to the Mud Volcano (take a bus to a "mud" volcano about 30 minutes away, take a mud bath and get massaged ... have to try it!!) and Rosario islands, getting our fridge restocked, etc. Few staff spoke English well, but using our limited Spanish and hand gestures got the job accomplished.

The downfall to the hotel was the FOOD. It lacked flavour and was overcooked. I would recommend the pizza, fruit, omelets and french fries. The food in town was great.

Room Tip: We had a problem with odors coming from the a/c in room 2103. Enjoyed the upgraded suite with jacuzzi!
  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank reginaski
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 April 2012

My husband and I have just returned from this resort and have to say this is by far the best vacation we have had. We were skeptical about some of the negative reports we read but am pleased to say we found none of them to be true. The resort was clean and well maintained by friendly staff who went out of their way to help. The rooms were, comfortable, spacious and well appointed and we had no issues with towels or bedding. The pools were well maintained and the ground staff did a great job of keeping things in order. We ate at all three restaurants and had no issues with the food what so ever. I particularly liked that the entertainment staff kept you busy if you wanted to partake and left you if you wanted to sunbathe. Being a smaller resort of 192 rooms it was more intimate and there were no loud partygoers up until all hours – that said, there may have been but they were quiet and we certainly never heard them!!! I’d recommend that if you were going in to Cartagena that you call Henry Castrillon 321-692-2404 or e-mail him at snowfull1966@hotmail.com to book a trip. Very knowledgeable and friendly tour guide. Both Graeme and I loved our first trip to Columbia and can’t wait to go back again to this resort - OVERALL AWESOME

Room Tip: Tower 3 - floor one - lovely sunset view every night
  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Twosharps
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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