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Reviewed 2 May 2012

I have traveled extensively. I am fairly laid back but have stayed all over. Lets face it does not matter where you stay its the experience and what you make of it. Place was gorgeous, totally relaxing, pools were breath taking over looking the ocean, steam room was fantastic. resort is small but it made me realize how much i love small resorts. Beach was OK, great for walks.

I read through all the reviews and the only major issue was sand flies and mosquitoes. We got killed and had welts that itched and burned for a week after we got back. But the rooms were awesome we got this enormous upgraded suites. Nicest I have stayed in just gorgeous. Cartegena is stunning and fun.

Food was great, Never sick. Would come back. Again the only issue was the bites, am I the only one who noticed this. We even lathered on mosquito repellent.

  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled with family
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6  Thank JackLifeman
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 4 May 2012

Good Morning Dear Guest,

Thank you for sharing your experience from your recent 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 23 April 2012

This was our fist time in Cartagena and we had a great time. We went with a group of approximatley 20 people. The hotel was nice, there was some confusion at check in but it was taken care of quickly. I was not a big fan of the decor and furniture in the rooms but it all worked. Food was a little better than I expected. Service was good. Beach was crappy though...not very clean and not the Carribean beaches that I have been used to...dark sand and dark water ( no seeing the bottom here ). The walled city was by far the best part of the trip...amazing history, lot's of nice restaurants, and of course the buildings and the streets reminded me much of being in a small town in Europe. One more off the bucket list !

Room Tip: we paid the extra for a suite with hot tub...was nice to be on the ground floor....worth spending the extra couple of bucks
  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled with friends
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5  Thank luv2snorkelCanada
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 April 2012

I went for a 2 week stay in late Feb, 1st week of March 2012 and found the whole experience delightful. The room was kept very clean....comfortable beds, big shower, & good view + balcony. On arrival you are greeted by dancers & mocktails. I can't say enough about the pleasant & helpful staff; the food was very good & non-stop. If you didn't like something at lunch, just step over to the grill & they will make something else at all 3 meals. Loads of variety where to eat & when, pizza at late night available also...also fresh water, coffee & juices always available. The beach bar was busy place, plus other smaller bars set up during daytime hours. I felt that they tried to think of everything to cover your needs, even a computer room with 5 to use equipped with Skype & cameras. The entertainment committee kept things hopping around the huge main pool, but there was also a huge "quiet" pool if you preferred that....then there was some form of musical entertainment each night. The beach is wide so it was good for walking; there are sandbars so you can swim if it is not too wavy...but the sand is not white sand beaches like Fla or the Caribbean, but it is acceptable enough. Beach cabanas are free.
Free shuttle into town on a schedule and it was about 20 - 25 min drive. I heard some people complain about the distance but bus is air conditioned, so what is the problem ??.....relax &
enjoy the view ! The bus tour that Sunquest sells is worth it for $35
It was my 2nd trip to Cartagena, a city and the people that I just love. I can't wait to go back.
I see other reviewers complaining about the wind....it was especially windy this year; no one can help that, but If you stayed within the walls of the city as I have, you would be happy for the breeze....ha ha.
You would have to be a very picky eater indeed to not enjoy the food.....I am a good cook and found the food REALLY excellent considering the number of guests they are feeding. So when you go to Cartagena.............
I would like to recommend a guide for the city....his name is Henry, just ask around....everyone knows him and he speaks excellent English....or I do have his email & phone number.

Room Tip: I preferred my ground floor room in building A, or opposite building which was B, I think....because it looked out over the pool and I had a little patio of my own. Also , some on ground floor have a hot tub.
  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled solo
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7  Thank Sarnia_OntBarbiegirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 April 2012

Hola everyone. We were down to the resort for the 2nd week of March - two families, with 4 adults and 4 kids (ages 9 - 15).

First the positives:
Very good food
Friendly staff
Clean resort
Free shuttle into Cartagena
Nicely decorated and appointed rooms

And the negatives:
Very VERY windy (windy season is apparently January to April)
There is nowhere to escape the wind and it blows from 9:30am to midnight - hard!
Quite a small resort
Quiet - nothing going on after 9:30pm
The "shows" were abysmal
Nothing for kids to do - no kids club or teens club, no staff, etc
Beach could have used a clean up
The staff are all learning - the resort is new - it will get better, I'm sure
They ran out of alcohol one evening
The staff is slow (especially bar service - maybe to save alcohol??)
The poolside games were extremely intrusive, not fun and loud
No store onsite - no magazines, no aspirin, no suntan lotion, nothing.

All in all, there is a lot of potential for this resort - I can't imagine that it will ever be a great place to take kids - it's just too small, with not much to do. But the staff will get better, their english will improve, they will learn to ask if you would like another galss of wine. That comes with practice.

I am not a particularly hard-marker - I generally give resorts a 4 or 5 star, but this resort leaves too much on the table to give it more than 3.

  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled with family
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2  Thank JohninTO
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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
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