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“Good, but not American standard ”

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Occidental Cartagena
Ranked #48 of 159 Hotels in Cartagena
Reviewed 20 May 2017 via mobile

I give it a 3.5 stars. Cartagena is a vacation spot for South Americans. If you're looking for 4 stars hotel that is at par with American standards then you might want to consider Mexico.

Overall, the hotel was clean, maintained, the people were helpful and friendly. Don't expect a bar with a large selection of liquors or to have various food selection during meal time at the buffet. The food and service was good. There are three a la carte restaurants, which requires you to make reservations the day of.

This hotel is about 30 minutes (without traffic) from the old city. The hotel offers free shuttle services at different time intervals, last shuttle from the old city is at midnight.

My family and I enjoyed the hotel. We took advantage of the shuttle and explored the old city.

Stayed: May 2017, travelled with family
Thank StitchRN
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Management response:Responded 23 May 2017

Dear guess,

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.

Right now, we are glad to inform that our A&B department is working on a new selection and design to our menus for all of our restaurants, and give more variety to currently 15 cyclical menus. Add to this, our bars department is taking some courses related to drinks and cocktails.

What it comes to the traffic things. We apologize for that because there is something that is goes out of our control, since is the local government the one who is behind the construction on the road because those are part of the improvement plan and ways from the city, but usually take just 30 minutes as you have said from the hotel to downtown. We offered to our guest the shuttle commute without any cost so they can use it to get to the historical city at the schedule they have set.

We are glad to hear you and your family enjoys your staying with us. We hope to have the chance to have you again and give you the best of our work.

Best regards,

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

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13 - 17 of 1,262 reviews

Reviewed 17 May 2017

CONTEXT: I am a 22-year-old American woman, and I went with a female friend to visit Cartagena for several days during May. We both have college student budgets and working knowledge of Spanish.

OVERALL: We had a great experience here. The people were friendly, transportation was easy, and we felt like we could relax once we got back at the end of activities and sightseeing.

PROS:
- VERY SAFE--we felt very much at ease throughout the hotel and on the private beach. Staff are readily available and very attentive if you need anything.
- Plenty of food/drink options--as Americans, we were a little wary of the water, but we didn't have any issues eating most of our meals at the hotel. There are a lot of options available for food and drinks; most aren't worth writing home about, but the all-inclusive option is worth it--filling, satisfactory, economical, and safe.
- Beautiful views--the pools are gorgeous, and they overlook the sunset and parts of the beach.
- Transportation--the hotel offers bus transport to and from the Old City throughout the day and evening, making it really convenient to get back and forth (the hotel is ~30 minutes' drive from the Old City).

CONS:
- Proximity to actual Cartagena--if you want to be in the thick of things, whether in the Old City (more touristy) or the modern city (more people and less navigable for foreigners), the Occidental is a little far.
- Language--as with pretty much everywhere in Cartagena, there are very few people who speak English, because the vast majority of visitors are tourists from other Latin American countries. We had a few interactions in English, but we would've had a much harder time getting by without some basic Spanish phrases.
- Cleanliness--there wasn't anything terribly gross or dirty about this place, but cleanliness standards here are different from those of American hotels. Expect a very basic room and setup, and don't eat anything that you think might've been out too long or something. Not too bad, just not the same as what we were used to in the States.

  • Stayed: May 2017, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
2  Thank bbunny3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Management response:Responded 23 May 2017

Dear Guest,

From all the employees who Works at Hotel Estelar Grand Playa Manzanillo thanks for taking some time to let us know how well was your experience with us and what can we do better to give to our guest a fully experience. We are glad to know that we did give you a great time during your staying in the city.

Right now, 60% of our staff speaks a second language, and the other 40% is taking some courses to learn foreign languages and give to our guest a better service through an excellent knowledge on a new language.

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

Best regards,

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

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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.
See more room tips
  • 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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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: ₹ 9,808 - ₹ 21,346 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Occidental Cartagena 3.5*
Number of rooms: 190
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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