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Reviewed 3 April 2017

This resort is a solid 4 star resort. In all they do, they do it well. They are not perfect and have some room to improve, but our recent experience there was a very good vacation.

The rooms are exactly as shown in the brochures. The beds are on concrete bases and cannot be moved. The mattress is firm but not so hard it affected our sleep. The rooms are clean, well maintained and kept clean throughout the week.

The ground are clean, well maintained and in good condition.

The front desk staff was helpful and spoke very reasonable English.

The pools were clean and always had attendants close by to help in setting up umbrellas etc.

This resort, unlike other all inclusive resorts, does not overload the buffet tables with multiple choices. They serve a limited number [2] choices of main course and enough side dishes and choices to have an excellent meal. They prepare things well and there were very few shortages on any dish. The a la carte restaurants were good; however, it was not their fault that we did not enjoy the taste of some of their dishes. We made the choice but the food was well prepared. We enjoyed the Italian a la carte the best. Restaurant staff was attentive, but their knowledge of English was usually limited.

During our visit, the resort was in transition from the winter season and not quite going for the spring and summer season. As a result, the occupancy of the resort was about 25%. While the lack of crowds was wonderful, there were some cancellations of the a la carte restaurants on some nights.

This resort has a lot of local people staying there and not overly populated with northern tourists.

The beach and ocean were not great. This is not the fault of the resort but just the way it was. The ocean is not the clear crystal blue of the Caribbean but murky water. The beach although flat and sandy could not be walked due to the ever present wind blowing and blowing sand into your face. The resort has shelters with lounges on the beach, but even those could not prevent the sand blowing into you making a stay on the beach very unpleasant.

We needed to get some things from a local grocery store, but the store was 2.5 km from the resort. The cost of the taxi to and from the store would have been 20,000 pesos. But we learned that all you had to do was place your order with the front desk staff, they called the store and for a delivery fee of 1,200 pesos, your order was delivered in 20 minutes.

This is a resort to relax and enjoy. The shuttle to Cartagena is good and except for the ever present road construction, you usually got into the centre in about 30 minutes.

Take Colombian pesos with you. Travel magazines say US$ are widely accepted. Yes, but only in the large stores. There is no currency exchange at the resort and Colombian pesos is the currency of choice.

  • Stayed: March 2017, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
Thank Ken L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Management response:Responded 18 April 2017

Dear guest

First at all, we really want you to know how much we apreciate your valuable remark about your staying with us; Comments like that help us to improve the quality of the service that we offert.
what it comes to the facts you've mentioned before related to the limited number of main courses, we are glad to inform you we are working on a new menus for the buffet lunch and the buffet meal with the main purpose of making progress in the service to our guest.

Additional to this we are glad to tell that our staff is being teach in a new language, so they can comunicate and give a better service to ours hotel guest. we have check every single detail you have mentioned with the mainly decisition to make sure we can offert you a better service in your next visit to us.

We really hope having that chance.

sincerely,
Alonso Giraldo
General Manager
Hotel ESTELAR Grand Playa Manzanillo by Occidental Hotels & Resorts


Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 March 2017

We traveled to Colombia between the 17th and 24th of March 2017.
Room 3106 ground floor

Let's start with the resort.

Trip from the airport is about 30 minutes but there is road construction on the way once completed it should be much quicker.

Occidental Grand Cartagena is a very nice resort , the staff and amenities are all very good.Spanish is the main language spoken on the resort but you can communicate in English at reception and even in French with Angie.They are learning to bridge the language gap.

The resort has 4 restaurants 1 buffet and 3 a la carte (Italian,Grill and Colombian).The food was good with a nice variety.
The a la carte you need to reserve early in the morning.

3 Pools one quiet that is actually quiet and big the other 2 with animation & music at the other end of the resort. The rooms are cleaned daily, towels changed , mini bar re stocked , 2 queen beds and AC worked fine the only negative is that the sound does easily travel into the room. The beach is big with a darker colored sand ,the ocean was warm and not too deep, we swam there often.They also offer free use of boogie boards,paddle boards and kayaks.Beach towels can be changed regularly and there are plenty of loungers and chairs no need to rush or reserve. It is windy in the afternoon and at night on the resort but it feels good after a day at 38c. On Thursday they put on a gala show with a dinner outside.They have a free shuttle that brings you to and back from Cartagena.
WI FI is also available and free everywhere at the resort.

Cartagena is a must see !
We were there at the same time of the Miss Colombia contest and to make it even better Miss Cartagena won! The City was just buzzing

The Colombian Peso is recommended at worse they will take US

We went to the old city during the day and at night also and felt safe in city. You can walk the streets, visit churches admire the colonial architecture. There are restaurants ,stores to purchase gift and of course venders. We also visited the St Filipe fortress and Isla Rosario on a tour.

I would like to mention some staff members that stood out by rising above and making our stay memorable. Edinson and Hanners helped to get our stay off to a very good start. Luis at the bar very friendly ask him for his (Kay pirescosa) and John.

The Colombians are very welcoming and helpful.

I would recommend this mid range resort. We enjoyed our vacation

Gracias por darnos agradable bienvenida !

  • Stayed: March 2017, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
2  Thank Canucklife
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 March 2017 via mobile

Going in spring break is always an issue but this hotel was reasonable. It was perfect for the family. Quiet, safe and fun. Not a place for young adults looking for night life. The resort was a nice size and was on the water. The rooms were clean. The staff was very attentive. We enjoyed the food. I would stay here again.

Stayed: March 2017, travelled with family
1  Thank Paul N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 March 2017

Just came back from a week in Cartagena, and stayed here for the last four nights. It is a solid mid range property. Not deluxe, but a good value. We traveled with a family of six spanning three generations.

Traveling from the USA on one of our peak of spring break weeks, we were amazing at how uncrowded it was. The pool was never more than 30% capacity and restaurants about half full. The resort hosted mostly South Americans, with a few from the USA and Canada.

CHECK IN was fairly quick. The front desk staff spoke English well. They only had enough room keys for one per room but we were able to get another the next day. Maid service was hit and miss. We did tip 5000 Pesos per day ($1.70 USD) for the maids and they forgot to leave towels a few times, but would send them up when we called to ask for some.

ROOMS - We all got upgraded to suites which gave us a lot of room - living area, large balcony, fridge, bathroom accessible by both living room and bedroom doors. Beds were not the most comfortable but I've had worse.

GYM was small with a few machines/weights. I wish they had had towels/water in the gym but it was adequate for a quick work out.

BEACH was grey volcanic sand. Rough surf that looked fun to play in, but we ended up staying by the pool as there was no bar service or bathrooms by the beach and it was a bit of a walk to trek to and from often. They did have boogie boards, SUP paddle boards and kayaks but no one ever used them that I saw. We could walk the beach in groups but the security guard would not let my daughter walk off the hotel grounds alone so I'm thankful for their word of caution. We did walk down a ways but it is not the type of beach you can walk for miles. The beach had beautiful stones that washed up smoothed from the ocean.

SHUTTLE - We stayed close to the Old City the first few days of our trip but did take the free shuttle back for another night. Worked well and tons of fun for a night out.

Pools - they had a quiet and a family pool. They did post activities but none ever took place...assuming that it was such low occupancy they did not have the demand.

FOOD - there was always something you would enjoy to eat. Limited hours so we did order room service at a cost during the mid afternoon (actually wanted to watch Big 10 championship basketball in the room and they loaned us an HDMI cord so we could stream it). Ate at the Italian restaurant and buffet.

Overall a good but not deluxe experience. Colombians are kind and gracious but still learning finer points of tourism. Part of the charm, we totally enjoyed our week in Colombia.

Room Tip: all rooms are oceanview - no need to pay extra for it
  • Stayed: March 2017, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
1  Thank Lauri K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 March 2017

We just returned from our vacation at Occidental Grand. It is very nice and clean hotel. The food was good. We spend 2 weeks there and every day was something new on the menu. you could pick from. They have 3 a la carte restaurants. One is Nativo where you can have more local cousine. We enjoyed ceviche and sea food there. It is also an Italian restaurant. We had pizza and canelloni. I dont`t care for pizza but was ok.The Grill restaurant is also good. All a la carte restaurants you can book every day.The day before the departure hotel organized the Gala dinner at the pool. It was very nice setting with the music. The staff speaks spanish only, english is spoken at the reception and a la carte restaurants . It did not bother us. Shows were in spanish as well. They have a lot of clientele from South America. Since two years more Canadians are coming.The staff is very nice, they try to please you.The hotel provides tours to visit Cartagena (~ 52$ /person), volcano Totumo(~25/person) Rosario Islands(~115/person). They have a free shuttle bus going to the old city every day,It takes you 30 minutes to get there. You have to reserve it .It is good to have pesos, but we did not exchange it, so we use American dollars. In the hotel visa is accepted.Other things we liked in this hotel, you don`t need to wake up earlier to have your launch chair at the beach or the pool.Beach towels were always available if you needed fresh one. The beach has darker sand, but was clean and the water is nice and warm. This hotel is designed for families and couples who want to rest. Young people if they stay at Occidental, they will have more fun going to Cartagena at night taking the shuttle bus.We were really happy staying at Occidental and we had a great vacation. Thank you.

Room Tip: We stayed in room 2110, it was very quiet
  • Stayed: February 2017, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
3  Thank Bozena K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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