We finally landed in Cartagena at 12:00 am and were greeted at baggage claim by the Sofitel butlers who checked us in on the bus ride to the hotel. This was extremely helpful and welcomed with such a late arrival so we were able to go directly to our rooms.
Hotel Santa Clara Cartenga, A Sofitel Legend Property: I was in a Superior Room with a pool/sea view and are available in King or two twins. Rooms are well lit and bright with plenty of space. Bathrooms are a bit tight, but fine for one person at a time. Each room is equipped with a fully stocked mini bar, balconies, Nespresso maker, a small table/workspace and lots of storage. Rooms listed as Classic are the non-renovated rooms, and very dated and worn out. Sofitel’s suite product at this hotel is the way to go. The Duplex suites are great for those that need more space or traveling with children.
Morning came quite early, and I had my first breakfast in the lovely open courtyard of which the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara surrounds. The buffet (Virtuoso breakfast amenity) was delicious and had a wide selection. They also offer ala carte menu. Of course the best part of breakfast, in Colombia, is the coffee. It is served in individual French presses. However, their cappuccinos are not to be over looked, probably one of the best I’ve had!
One our first full day we went on a walking tour of the Old City, fortress, and monastery. The Old City is fascinating with all the brightly colored buildings. I highly suggest walking into some of these homes, building, and restaurants to see the interiors. Many have gorgeous courtyards inside that you would never know from seeing the exterior. The local people are extremely welcoming and kind. There are many people selling items on the street, however, they are not as persistent as many other countries (a simple, “no thank you” and they move on). The fortress and it’s history is very captivating.
We ended the evening with the 20th Anniversary Gala and dinner. Sofitel blew it out of the water with the Gala. It was an intimate dinner of 80 guests all of which sat together at one long and elegantly decorated table. We were served a healthy 7 course meal, and every bite was more superb than the last. The ballroom was immaculate, it was the old monastery and is all original. They ended the night with a live performance from Chantel Chamberland (a jazz singer/guitarist from Canada).
The next day we took a private speedboat to Rosario Island (45 minute boat ride). Sofitel offers this as a day excursion, and most guests take a boat “with the masses.” They claim that Rosario Island is a beach destination, but it is more touristy than a beach. There is a hotel on the island, but I would not recommend it to our clients, very basic and not very clean. This evening we did go to Havana Club, which is a bar and nightclub. Great atmosphere and an amazing live band. I did partake in salsa dancing and had a blast, the locals were more than willing to teach us!
On our final day, we had lunch at Aqua de Mar (my favorite meal of the trip) followed by a spa treatment at the hotel. The spa was small, a bit hectic, and loud; but my foot relaxation treatment (this is the hotels signature treatment) was very suberb, but only 30 minutes.
Sadly I never got to use the pool, but it was beautiful and was never crowded, even though the hotel was nearly sold out.