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“Certainly not 4 stars. Wouldn't return.”

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Occidental Cartagena
Ranked #50 of 159 Hotels in Cartagena
Reviewed 6 May 2017

I stayed at the Occidental after booking through Bavaro Resorts. My stay was only for a night (thankfully).

Let me just begin by saying this hotel is FAR from the city center and therefore far from all the fun.

Check in: I arrived at approximately 6:30pm. Check in took over 45 minutes and I was the only one checking in. I had already provided all my information in the pre-check in. I was asked to forward my reservation e-mail to a resort's email address because "they couldn't pull up reservations." Next they said their copier wasn't working so they had to take a picture of my passport. I was not happy about this but they wouldn't let me check in unless they had a "copy" of my identification. They did not give me any information about the resort. I had to ask about wifi, restaurants, bars, etc. Also, they didn't have any property maps so it was up to you to go and explore. I waited 10 minutes after finally checking in, they didn't have anyone to take my bag to the room so they said to go to the room and they would send my bag in a few minutes. I waited over 45 minutes for my bag. I called them numerous times and every time they said it was on its way.

Room: The room was great. I booked a suite so it was very spacious with a double balcony overlooking one of the pools (which was apparently closed to the public) and near the adult pool and lobby. There is a weird kitchen area, that is not really a kitchen. Long counter and a bunch of cabinets. Beautiful bathroom and super comfortable bed. They had a bottle of champagne for me in the room which was a nice touch. The refrigerator did not work.

Food: Not good. I'm Colombian and I had been in Cartagena for about a week prior to my arrival so I know the food in that area. I ate at the italian restaurant for dinner and the buffet for lunch. I had room service for breakfast. They have no one to check you in at the italian restaurant. I had to walk almost all the way to the kitchen to grab someone's attention. The buffet was terrible. I've stayed in numerous all inclusive resorts and the food has never been this bad.

Bars/Entertainment: There is nothing to do at this place and it is far from the city. The only thing was the dance show which was great and the dancers did their best. They have one bar open at night. Drinks are decent but only 1 bartender. The other one is at the adult pool which is only open during the day. The bartender controls the music from a laptop, all through youtube. No pool service. In the "active" pool, you have to literally leave the pool area and go through the restaurants in order to get a drink which is annoying. There is a bar by the "quiet" pool.

Service: The entertainers were great and extremely friendly. I did the relaxation class at the active pool which was amazing. Service at the restaurants was very poor, even after tipping. Service at the Spa was okay, not friendly at all.

Overall, the hotel falls below what I expected and what the Barcelo brand stands for. It wasn't worth the money and I wouldn't return.

Room Tip: Stay somewhere else or book a suite.
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  • Stayed: May 2017, travelled solo
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank goodfriends3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Management response:Responded 30 May 2017

Dear guest,

First at all, we really want you to know how much we appreciate your valuable remark about your staying with us; Comments like yours help us to improve the quality of the service that we offer. At the same time we are sorry to hear that your experience with us didn’t full fill your expectations.

We have checked all the points you have mentioned before so we can work on the facts that need a corrective and preventive action.

As you say our hotel is located 30 minutes from the city, which is why the hotel offers the shuttle transportation to our guest in different schedule during the day without any cost. We also have private commute for those who want it go by their own, this last service with an extra charge. About the passport this is a requirement according to the immigration department policy take a copy of your ID when you are from a different nationality then Colombia and report your arrival to the hotel, which if we don’t do, we take the risk to be fine for that. We are sorry if our copy machine was not working and we delay you for it.

What it comes to the refrigerator, those mini fridge you found inside the room are just for the minibar drink so they are not expected to freeze as a regular refrigerator because of their capacity but we are going to make check every single one of we have to avoid this situation. Add to this we are glad to inform we are working on the 15 cyclical menus we offer in the restaurants to diversify them and give more variety to our guest.
Our guest satisfactions is a priority for us, for that reason we put on scene a different show to them every night through our recreations department. They performance the main shows on Thursday and Saturday. The reason why we have a bar on the quiet pool is because people under the 18 ages are not allowed there, different the active pool where the kids and teenager can go. For that reason we cannot have a bar service inside of that area.

One more time we apologize for the inconvenient that you have during your staying with us.

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

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Reviewed 27 April 2017 via mobile

I stayed a week from April 8-15. The beach was good for walking for exercise, but not for laying out. Sand constantly blew around and stuck to my body and got inside my drink.

Rodriquez who worked in the evenings at the various restaurants was great at customer service. He had great attention to detail and was good at problem solving.

The cons were:
1-The adults only/quite pool had idiots who brought their babies or played music without using headphones. This happened 4 days in a row and only once did hotel mgt ask them to move to the other pool.

2-The resort is non-smoking and even though there are signs posted, people still smoked. I asked the bartender to address it with a person sitting across from me and he refused. He said that even though there is no smoking allowed at the bar, he didn't feel it was his place to ask someone to stop. So I had to take it upon myself to carry the no smoking sign from the bar over to the guest to show them in English and Spanish that they aren't allowed to smoke. This shouldn't be my job to enforce the hotel rules. A smoke free environment was one of the reasons I selected the resort, so I was very disappointed that the staff wasn't willing to reinforce their policy.

3-The room walls are very thin and the people next door had very LOUD children which woke me on several occasions. I called the front desk to complain, but nothing was ever done about it.

Bottom line is- you get what you pay for. This place is good for the value, but if you're looking for quiet R&R in a smoke free environment then it isn't the place for you.

Stayed: April 2017, travelled solo
Thank ATLTraveler60898
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Management response:Responded 29 April 2017

Dear guest

We really appreciate for you have taken some time to let us know what can we do to get better and give you a better quality of service. At the same time we are sorry to hear that your expirience with us didn't full fill your expectations. For that reason we have taken the corrective and preventive actions that guarantee us that things like you've mentioned before won't happen again.

Right now, we got some employees whose works at recreations and pool department watching over people who may not respect the hotel policy. We got 2 kinds of pool area for the same reason, because we know that everybody do not have the same interest and hobbies, but we definitely want everyone in the hotel feels good.

We also are making news sings for non smoking rule, so it can be more flashy and remarkable for our guest, and avoid cause discomfort between one and others.

What it comes to the room inconvenient, we have already worked on it. We made an especial design for the room's doors so the sound don't go to the next room and bother the neighbor guest. These new doors are about to be add to the whole building, so we really want to have the chance to have you again and mend the things that did make you feel uncomfortable.

We really hope having that second chance.

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

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 April 2017 via mobile

So it's just as well this is all inclusive as there isn't anything else around without going into Cartagena central which is 20 mins by car. In saying the food and drinks on offer were very good. Good buffet choice and other restaurants (we trust ed Italian which was worth a visit)
Adult only pool is lovely and very quiet.
Beach was nice not Caribbean clear water but the sea is warm and you can walk a fair way.
The rooms aren't great - they were clean enough but not particularly large and the first room we were shown had obviously not been occupied for a while as it smelt very damp.
When we arrived, I would say the hotel was a generous 20% occupied, we had paid for a deluxe room in a 5* hotel - my advice to hotel management do what you can to show off your hotel - if the room isn't booked then fill it I.e. Upgrade disappointed guests like us which costs you nothing, but gets you a much better review. We didn't book expecting an upgrade just what we had paid for.
I shall end on a positive- staff were looking lovely, whilst their English is limited my Spanish is worse and they made every effort to look after us, in the beach bar, restaurant and spa.

Stayed: April 2017, travelled with friends
1  Thank kezdolly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Management response:Responded 2 May 2017

Dear guest,

First at all, we really want you to know how much we appreciate your valuable remark about your staying with us; Comments like yours help us to improve the quality of the service that we offer. At the same time we are sorry to hear that your experience with us didn’t full fill your expectations.

We will check point by point the damp smelt in the room you were, because as far as I know that room was on housekeeping working 2 days before you arrived. Add to these, we are glad to inform that the 60% of our employees speak English in advance level, and the other 40% are native and they are already working on it through some schools that have and special agreement with the hotel, giving them the opportunity to communicate and give a better service to our hotel guest.

For your next visit to us you will found we have attended every single detail that you have mentioned before.

We hope have the chance to have you again and give you the best of our work.

Sincerely,

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

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 April 2017

I planned a surprise trip for my then boyfriend to go on an all-inclusive getaway. When we arrived, I had arranged transportation. Upon arrival, we had to wait a moment for the rooms to be ready, although I had contacted the hotel much in advance to have everything ready. The room was clean and I had no complaints with that. I requested extra towels, which never arrived. There is one busboy who is very friendly, but is definitely busy. The beds were hard and the room was surprisingly small. The water ran cold and remained that way for the duration of our trip. We planned a trip to Totumo and there we were haggled but enjoyed ourselves. Planning the other excursion to Playa Blanca as well was okay. They arranged an afternoon trip with one meal included. We also added in time on a jet ski which was expensive but we enjoyed ourselves. The food was okay and dinner never changed while we were there. To make reservations was very easy and I worked in advance to schedule dinner to avoid any delays. Food was hot and was family friendly. The lunch time treats included hot dogs and there were birds and other unwelcome guests surrounding the area which made it seem like you weren't getting your money's worth. The last night we were there we enjoyed a grand evening with food and more formal flair. They had dancing and meals with everyone invited. The bar was a great attraction as you could drink as much as you wanted. Good first time trip. Improvements on the actual beach area and flair for the dinner and lunch would make me want to come back. In addition, other amenities such as the room would also be spectacular. Would recommend for group trips and with kids. The owner works really hard and is a very friendly guy.

Room Tip: Rooms close to pool have Jacuzzi
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  • Stayed: October 2016, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
Thank Ayanna C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Management response:Responded 18 April 2017

Dear guest

We really apprecciate for you have taken some time to let us know what can we do to get better and give you a better quality of service. At the same time we are sorry to hear that your expirience with us didn't full fill your expectations. For that reason we have taken the corrective and preventive actions that guarantee us that things like you've mentioned before won't happen again.

We use to have our check- in time at 03:00pm to avoid cause discomfort between our hotel guest at their arrive. Nevertheless, we are going to check what happened with your room and what kind of incovenient had had at the minute of your arrival, so we can take the corrective and preventive action about it.

What it relates to the birds and the other type of guest, we try to keep it in control by mesh, nettings and others green tecniques to keep the restaurant clear of them. How ever, we can not completely restric them because our enviromental friendly policy and also the Colombian environmental law forbb us act against them.

For us, Your opinions are pretty important. We will be Glad to know what are your suggest to helps us give more flair and variety to our dinner and lunch, so we can have the pleasure to have you in our inn again.

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 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 mertzkj
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


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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Occidental Cartagena

Address: Anillo Vial Via Manzanillo del mar Km. 4 | No. 9-85, Cartagena 985, Colombia (Formerly Estelar Grand Playa Manzanillo)
Phone Number:
Region: Colombia > Bolivar Department > Cartagena District > Cartagena
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre 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:
#13 Family Hotel in Cartagena
#15 On the Beach Hotel in Cartagena
#17 Spa Hotel in Cartagena
#37 Romantic Hotel in Cartagena
Price Range: ₹ 9,916 - ₹ 21,128 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Occidental Cartagena 3.5*
Number of rooms: 189
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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