Best Cruise Ships from Cartagena

A little bit of history; Cartagena was the main port for the fleet of the Spaniards, and epicenter of attacks from English pirates and French buccaneers. Today, Cartagena de Indias is Colombia’s main commercial port and one of the most … Continue reading

Best Business Hotels in Cartagena

Cartagena de Indias is an ideal destination for business tourism. This beautiful city is not only the number one Colombian tourism destination, but is the city that holds most of the events: congresses, conventions, and incentive trips in Colombia. Cartagena is currently ranked the number one Colombian business destination in the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), above Bogota, Medellin, and other main cities.

This type of events are usually linked to a hotel venue, but let me guide you through the 3 best business hotels in Cartagena de Indias to make sure you’ll be staying in the right place.

Located in the modern sector of Cartagena de Indias, the Hilton Hotel is one of the most traditional, yet professional and corporate hotels you will find in the whole city. Staying in this chain hotel will assure that you are in a 5 star hotel, not only because of its amenities, but because of its convenient location.

Hilton Hotel.Hilton Hotel. By: Google Images

The hotel features 341 guest rooms and suites.  If you are staying in its Executive Tower, then you are for a great treat. These are the best hotel rooms; modern and have direct access to the Executive Lounge which offers a panoramic view of the city.

Suite at Hilton HotelSuite at Hilton Hotel. By: Google Images

If you decide to stay in the hotel and dine in, Hilton offers a variety of restaurants that captures the flavors of Cartagena. Visit Las Chivas Restaurant, Pizza Al Forno, or Bar El Cangrejo (The Crab Bar), no need to go out for night entertainment.

Las Chivas RestaurantLas Chivas Restaurant. By: Google Images

Las Americas Beach Resort, a family friendly hotel 15 minutes away from downtown, is another great option to stay, especially if you want to do business or just get away from the city buzz, and enjoy the relaxing Caribbean experience by the sea. Don’t get me wrong, this is also a business friendly hotel. They have a corporate Tower called Torre del Mar (Ocean Tower) which will keep you from any tourist distractions. Even though, you still have the option to join the party if you want.

Torre del Mar (Ocean Tower),Torre del Mar (Ocean Tower), Las Americas Beach Resort. By Google Images.

The corporate tower is also on the on the Caribbean shore with a private Convention Center and offers executives working with all the comforts of modern life, arranged for recreation. Their exclusive pools of endless beauty to the Caribbean ocean is the perfect spot to take a break.

Pool with a beach viewPool with a beach view. By: Google Images

There is no need to get out of these amazing installations; work, and relax having fun at the pool and private beach. After this experience, just be sure to visit their spa fora a complete revival of your body and senses.

Private Beach at Las Americas Hotel.Private Beach at Las Americas Hotel. By: Google Images

 

Hotel Monterrey is conveniently located steps away from the main Convention Center. This 3 star hotel is not only more affordable, but walking distance to the Convention Center (if you have business there), and walking distance to the Historical Downtown.  Find the better of these two worlds; if you are a business traveler that does not mind staying in a 3 stars, yet historical hotel.

Hotel MonterreyHotel Monterrey. By: Google Images

Consequent with local architectural traditions, this hotel is located in an elegant republican building. With only 30 rooms beautifully decorated highlighting the Spanish legacy, experience a historic private stay.

TerraceTerrace. By: Google Images

On the hotel’s terrace you’ll be delighted by the best views of the walled city. I suggest spending an evening with your significant other or by yourself. Just enjoy the view and let y the history of Cartagena de Indias talk to you.

Evening at Monterey’s terrace.Evening at Monterey’s terrace. By: Google Images

Even though you are traveling for business and sometimes work can be overwhelming, do not forget that Cartagena de Indias is one of the Caribbean best kept secret destinations, ready to recharge you energies.  Make sure that you do not stay in the hotel and discover its magical history, tasty food and vibrant rhythms.

Cartagena: a Magical Destination Wedding Part 1

It’s the most special day for any couple, so why not make it memorable? Then celebrate that extraordinary day in Cartagena de Indias, a magical fairy tale city that ignites love and romance. This is a one in a life time event for you, your significant other, family, and friends.  This tropical paradise offers beach and ocean side locations, open plazas on top of the historic fortified wall, and quaint historic houses where any wedding becomes mystical. You’ll just have to choose!

If you are already engaged, take a look at your wedding ring and get inspired by it. If luxury, beach, history, love and romance pop in your mind, just go for it! Give Cartagena the opportunity to make your dream wedding a reality, and as relaxing and stress-free as possible. Turn your wedding into a vacation getaway  for the whole family.  In Cartagena, this day will be remembered forever.

I suggest a small private wedding. Live the experience with your loved ones without worrying about planning a big party or a huge guest list. Just leave the details to the professional local party planners.Tell them you want an elegant Caribbean wedding with local food and drinks. They know how to do their job. Focus on the experience, live it, breathe it. For sure you will have to make some decisions; buy your dress and your couples outfit, and most importantly, buy 2 round tickets to Cartagena for 10 days.

Casa del Azobispado Butique HotelThe “Casa del Arzobispado” boutique hotel. By: Google Images

There is a wide offer of small boutique hotels; old and historic houses located in the heart of the Old City that have been renovated and available to accommodate small number of guests. You can have the option to book an entire hotel for your family and friends. The “Casa del Arzobispado” boutique hotel located in the Old City was built in the late seventeenth century, and previously the home of an Archbishop. This hotel gives you the opportunity to have a royal colonial house just for you, and the perfect scenario for a romantic wedding reception.

The idea is to arrive in Cartagena about three days before your wedding day.  Spend the first day with you wedding planner making final arrangements and then forget about them. Enjoy the paradise where you have landed; history, beaches, islands, restaurants, and vibrant night life. Make you wedding “day” into a wedding “vacation”.

Every bride in their wedding time needs to be pampered and cared for. And they deserve the best of the best. Book a massage at LeSpa, located at the Hotel Sofitel Santa Clara. Enjoy the relaxation and soothing treatments, have a cool drink at the solarium, or just leave troubles behind at the sauna.

Private BeachPrivate beach in Cartagena. By: Google Images

Next day is family and friends day. Take them to a private beach just 10 minutes away from downtown, catch some sun, and have some cocktails. I suggest “piña colada” a pine apple creamy beverage with local rum.

Club de PescaClub de Pesca Restaurant. By: Google Images

At night, gather at the “Club de Pesca” (fishing club) Restaurant. It stands out with its historic and marine scenery that evokes the magic, the history, the freshness of Cartagena, with a natural and, open-air atmosphere. It’s a privileged place, not only because of its antique construction, its beautiful view of the city bay, but because of its menu, where seafood is the specialty.

Take a moment to spend with your couple walking around the Historical walled sector and get hooked by the romance that this majestic city offers. Don’t think about anything. Grab your fiancées hand, keep your mind blank, and free your senses; breathe the tropical wind, listen to live Latin music playing in every corner, and witness the local ambiance. After that wonderful night, get some rest at the hotel.

Roof deck Casa del Arzobispado Roof deck Casa del Arzobispado. By: Google Images

The best part about waking up at  Casa del Arzobispado is having breakfastat the magnificent roof deck Just ask the concierge, and be amazed by the astonishing view of the Old City that can take you hundreds of years back into time.

Best festivals in Cartagena

As summer fades across the northern hemisphere, Cartagena de Indias and its internationally recognized festivals are one of the most visited destinations in South America. An ideal refuge to embrace the sunshine and dig into the excitement of a world class cultural adventure.

My best top three suggestions:

Hay Festival Cartagena has become one of the most important literary events in the Hispanic world; an ideal space for dialogue and celebration. Performing Nobel Prize winners like Mario Vargas Llosa and Herta Muller as well as writers from the region like Juan Gossain Abdala, Colombian Nobel prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and artists from over 23 countries.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez at Hay FestivalGabriel Garcia Marquez at Hay Festival. By: Google Images

Featuring literature, visual arts, cinema, music, geopolitics, and journalism. Usually this magnificent word and art exchange goes for ten days with a bursting program of debates and conversations, taking place every year at the end of January.

For more information visit:  http://www.hayfestival.com

hay festival-cartagena-Forum at Hay Festival. By: Google Images

The Festival International de Cine (Cartagena Film Festival) emphasizes on the promotion of Colombian television programs and films, as well as Latin American films and videos. Founded 1960 in Cartagena, this festival held every March for one week,  is the oldest film festival in Latin America.

Cartagena Film Festival.Cartagena Film Festival. By: Google Images

Since its beginning, the Film Festival has given priority in the selection of films that promote cultural identity matters of Latin American countries, such as the social and everyday life of the nations they represent. Its mission is to promote the comradeship among the region, and recognizing their cultural expressions in extraordinary stories.

For more Information visit: http://www.colombia.travel

Cartagena Film Festival.2Outdoor event in La Aduana Plaza. By: Google Images

Festival Internacional de Música Cartagena (Cartagena International Music Festival) is a cultural event that has emerged from the architectural features of Cartagena, its churches, streets, and majestic theaters, putting together a classical music event that involve the community as well as national and international musicians.

Cartagena International Music Festival.Cartagena International Music Festival. By: Google Images

At the beginning of January, enjoy thirteen days of superb outdoor settings; music on plazas, balconies, and historic streets of Cartagena. Delight your senses with some of the most prominent musicians in world of classical music like Charles Wardsworth; composer, pianist, and founder of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York.

For more information visit: www.cartagenamusicfestival.com

If you’re looking to combine your next trip with a world-class festival or with local and international expressions of music, literature and films, then look no further, Cartagena de Indias is your next stop.

Historical Sightseeing in Cartagena

Any time of the year is perfect to visit Cartagena de Indias and to be amazed by one of the world’s best kept secret. Do not worry about winter, spring or fall. Cartagena is summer year round. Its climate slightly varies by 10 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year, from 80 to 90° F, and the Caribbean breeze intensifies in a delicious way when winter crashes the rest of the world.  Even though Cartagena has no weather or touristic seasons, my recommended time of the year to visit this beautiful city is in January or February; New Year’s buzz has faded and not much tourists around, yet local people waiting to grace with your presence.

Let me show you a different spot in the world that might not be in your bucket list, but for sure, when getting there you’ll be planning your comeback trip with the whole family or friends. Here are some ideas.

 Walled SectorView of the walled sector. By: Google Images

The Walled Old City, declared part of the UNESCO World Heritage in 1984, offers a treasure of colonial architectural gems, churches, and colors that make an incredible and memorable visit. There are also several museums and 400-year-old plazas.

 Clock TowerClock Tower from outside. By: Google Images

Hop on in a horse-drawn carriage and go around the walled sector to take a glimpse on what you’ll find inside the stone walls. Tell the driver to stop at la Torre del Reloj (Clock Tower), what was once the main entrance of the old Cartagena, now a republican style tower, with a quadrilateral clock.

Hose-CarriageHorse-drawn carriage, inside the walled sector. By: Google Images.

Continue your ride inside the walls trough the entrance next to the luxurious Charleston Santa Teresa Hotel, admire the colonial architecture and small plazas while you pass by. At the end of the narrow street you find the San Pedro Claver’s plaza.

 San Pedro ClaverSan Pedro Claver Cathedral from outside. By: Google Images.

Get inside the Sanctuary of San Pedro Claver; built between 1580 and 1654, under the parameters of colonial buildings. It was originally known as Church of St. John of God, St. Ignatius of Loyola and now called San Pedro Claver, for his dedication to alleviate the suffering of the slaves of Cartagena de Indias. His remains are found in the high altar. After he was designated as a saint his femur had been taken to the Vatican in honor of what he was and did.

San Pedro's Bastion View from San Pedro’s Bastion at night. By: Google Images

Once you get outside the church, on your right, you’ll find a ramp next to the plaza. Climb it, and delight yourself with the astonishing view of the Muelle de los Pegasos (Pegasos Pier), the majestic Convention Center, and the never ending Caribbean ocean at Baluarte de San Pedro (San Pedro’s Bastion).

La CatedralLa Catedral at night. By: Google Images

Your 400 years of history are just starting; next stop is La Catedral (The Cathedral), is the episcopal of the Archbishop of Cartagena de Indias, one of the oldest episcopal in the Americas. In 1586, while the church was still under construction, it was attacked by the English pirate Francis Drake, causing severe damage and delayed its completion.  Finished in 1612, now Famous because of the most incredible and luxurious weddings of, national personalities, locals and foreign.

Colonial HousesColonial Houses inside the walled sector. By: Google Images

Don’t forget to have your camera ready, any corner, small balcony of the colonial houses, church or plaza are waiting for a shot.

Las BovedasLas Bóvedas. By: Google Images.

It’s time to get some souvenirs at Las Bóvedas. These construction of 23 chambers built between 1792 and 1796, is now days a building of 23 souvenir shops. This was one of the last major structure carried out in colonial times, destined for military purposes; used by the Spaniards as stockrooms for munitions and supplies. Later, during the republican era, they were turned into a prison.

When ready to purchase some colorful and typical handcrafts at this series of shops don’t forget to bargain, you’ll get to the right price with a little persuasion.

San Felipe de Barajas FortSan Felipe de Barajas Fort. By Google Images.

Say goodbye to the horse carriage and grab a taxi.  Tell the driver to take you to Castillo San Felipe de Barajas (San Felipe de Barajas Fort) some 5 minutes away. One of the oldest buildings in Colombia will appear as a huge and harmonious fortification. Cartagena was a port of slave trade; the Spanish built this castle during the colonial era to command the whole bay so any suspicious vessel trying to dock could be instantly attacked.

Its outstanding entrance with eight guns and a garrison of 20 soldiers and 4 gunners, sits in a complex labyrinth of tunnels connected through strategic points that allowed distribution of provisions and to facilitate evacuation and communication; with no doughty reflect the courage and wit of the Spaniard to defend Cartagena de Indias.

View from San Felipe de Barajas FortView from San Felipe de Barajas Fort. By Google Images.

Take a deep breath, you must be on top of this massive construction, breath again and open your eyes to the astonishing 360° view of the city.

La Popa Convent Convento La Popa. By: Google Images.

Continue in your taxi ride 1.5 miles to Convento de La Popa (The Convent of the Stern), the highest point in the city, and be ready for a zigzag trip up the hill. On its peak you will find a gorgeous colonial church and convent, built between 1609 and 1611. Slaves established in the city and surrounding had authorization to celebrate their festivities in this convent.  The display of emotions and creativity resulted in one of Colombia’s most precious musical rhythm, the Cumbia.

View from La Popa ConventView From La Popa. By: Wikipedia.org

Breathe again, and get your camera ready. The highest point in Cartagena shows the most complete view of the city in only one shot.

 Overwhelmed? History never gets old, but Cartagena has much more to offer.