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All reviews quiet pool main bar free shuttle a la carte restaurants beach bar all inclusive resort the entire resort great resort dark sand old city walled city boogie boards nightly entertainment adult only pool city tour pools were clean colombian pesos
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Reviewed 15 May 2017

this is our 2nd return to the same hotel (03/2015), then 05/2017.

- The small reception will give you the impression that the hotel is a not a lavage and 5 star as Barceló claims. It is not for sure a 5 or 4 or even 3 stars in my own ratings. The friendly front desk staff ( the only one that speaks any English), will accommodate to the best of their ability. The new Manager does not speak fluent English & does not understand it. Columbian are very warm people. Make sure you ask for Angie or Ednis Or Jennifer they are great. Definitely the property went down in my rating from service to amenities than 2 years ago.

- Property= is located about 15 munites drive from the airport, with light traffic. Taxis run about $8 each way & they are plenty waiting. Always kept clean from the beach to the hallways, housekeeping is doing their job. Maintenance is very poor & undependable. Rooms are cleaned & done every day with fresh towels. Free WIFI, that is very pool on the beach

- Beds = Mattresses are laid on a cement slab. all rooms are the same but it is worth paying extra to get a suite with ocean view. Rooms that have ocean front are 1301, 1401, 1501, 2301, 2401, 2501. We had both 1501& 2501. The suite Deluxe has 737 ft2. Plenty of room

- Pools, 2 large. one quiet & the other has all the activities. Plenty of chairs, only few umbrellas. Not enough for the 192 rooms they claim they have.

- Restaurants, 4 of them. within few steps of each other. Same cook, and the same kitchen provides all the foods. Mediterranean, Italian, buffet, then the steak house. Few limited menu in all but food taste good. Not enough workers.

- 2 Bars, one per pool. They do not have the license to have one by the beach, so that is shut down now. Long walk back & forth to get water in the hot weather.

- Nightly entertainment; very poor now & they do not speak any English.

I will definitely go back. Do not pay a lot for the hotel & you will enjoy it.

  • Stayed: May 2017, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank Raouf S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Management response:Responded 23 May 2017

Dear Raouf,

From all the employees who Works at Hotel Estelar Grand Playa Manzanillo thanks for taking some time to let us know how was your experience with us and what can we do better to give to our guest a fully experience.

About some facts that you mention before, we would like to cheer with you some information as a shown we really cares about our guest comfort and how much we work every day on their suggestion to provide them a better service. 60% of our staff speaks second language fluency; the other 40% is currently taking some courses to learn one different than the native. The hotel has made a few agreements with some institution so they can have access in an ease way to study and learn foreign languages.

What it comes to our restaurants, we are glad to inform that our A&B department is working on a new selection and design to our menus for all of them, and give more variety to ours 15 cyclical menus. Add to this, our bars department is taking some courses related to drinks and cocktails too. Add to this, the beach bar is closed by now, not because we don’t have the license to put it work, it is because the hotel occupancy rate. To open it we must have a minimum among as a requirement to give the service. But since attend to our guest it’s a priority for us, we offer the bar service at the place that is located in the right side next to the pool, and near to the beach. We apologize if you feel it in a different way.

Your suggest related to the shows and performances that are recreating in the night to entertain the guest, are already submit to the corresponding area for their knowledge so they can work on it. Right now, our dancers are working on new shows better thought out.

Improve is something we do every day, because we want to give the best of our work and make feel our guest comfortable. We really hope have the chance to have you and your family again, so you can enjoy the improvement we are working on and as usual being attend by our friendly and dedicated staff.

Best regards,

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

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Reviewed 13 May 2017 via mobile

My husband and I wanted to get away from the cold weather, have been curious about Colombia for a while now, so decided to take a trip to this beautiful country.

Couldn't find an adult only all inclusive, therefore, we picked the Occidental in Cartagena. The ride to the hotel was interesting, there was a lot of road construction (lots of bridges), but it wasn't too bad. Once we got to the hotel, I was surprised to see how small it was, it even looked a little primitive.

From my experience, the one good thing about our stay, was the staff. Most of them were very nice and helpful. The ladies working the spa were amazing, as well as the housekeeping staff.

The food, had a lot to be desired, as well as the drinks. And the restaurants.... Well... (Besides having only three of them) were bad! The only one that was decent was the grill... And it seemed that they never had enough staff so we had to wait a long time for our dinners. I even had to go and get my own drinks at the bar, (if I wanted to have something to drink).
The buffet for breakfast and lunch looked the same every day, boring....

I was annoyed at the fact that I had to wait in line every morning to make reservations for dinner to one of their "a la carte" restaurants, and some mornings the "concierge" wasn't available.

When we checked in, we were told about the mini bar.... They supply you with two, TWO beers, one bottle of water, two colas and two other kind of sodas per day, and if you would like more than that, you'll have to pay extra for them, or go and get hem yourself at the bar. Never heard of that at an all inclusive hotel!

They have two bars, one is located at the "quiet" pool, and closes at 5:00pm, although the pool closes at 8:00pm.... (The bartender at this pool was always missing, whether getting ice or something else he didn't have, or he was on his break), and the main bar, so if you are at the quiet pool after 5:00 pm, and want something to drink, you'll have to go all the way to the main bar and get it yourself.

The entertainment was horrible! Not very entertaining at all! The guests were more entertaining than the staff.

The rooms were clean, but they look very old, as well as the furniture. The bed, though, was very comfy.

The beach was nice, very wide.... The vendors were around all the time, but if you told them you didn't want anything, they wouldn't bother you any more.

Overall, it was an ok visit.

Stayed: February 2017, travelled as a couple
Thank Canela57
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, greetings from all of the employees of our hotel, 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.

What its related to the food 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. The same goes for the bar and drinks part. We make the reservations system to put on schedule to our guest so we can give them a better service since those restaurants have at deadline to work.

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. Right now they are working on new performances to put on scene.

Once again we apologize if some of our working systems made you feel unpleasant. We hope to 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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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.
  • Stayed: May 2017, travelled solo
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  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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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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
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