Years have passed since the days when people came to Bogota went quickly about their business and hastily left due to fear and insecurities surrounding the city and its culture. The Bogota we have just departed, looking down on it from our plane window, is a city reborn, a place that people don’t want to leave anytime soon, but to enjoy in all aspects of its vibrant personality.
The perception of safety has shifted drastically. Like any big city there is crime and social challenges, but there is a marked difference now, many of the routine scams from taxis, guides and outright robbery have been heavily halted by the police. What has come in its place? Here’s the beauty: infrastructure, beautiful parks, tourism venues, hotels, malls and restaurants.
Our hotel stay is one of the biggest signs of progress and stability. The JW Marriott in the heart of the beautiful North side, the business and financial district. It is a vibrant place with café’s restaurants, bars, a world class spa and excellent accommodations. The neighborhood around it has beautiful homes and sidewalks, coupled with the gorgeous crisp weather that is virtually stable year round, it’s a delight to walk. This isn’t the only sign of growth, there is a W hotel, two Four Seasons, Hilton, Marriott, Courtyard and a new Marriott is coming as well.
The variety and quality of restaurants was another indicator to us of just how far Bogota has come. As of this moment it is home to three of Latin America’s Top 50 restaurants and there are many others worthy of praise too. We dined at Harry Sasson, currently the number one ranked in Colombia and a contender on the Top 50 in Latin America list. The venue was spectacular, outside it looks like a quaint, European styled traditional home with bricks and wood. Inside it is a trendy yet stylish place where the menu is overflowing with succulent dishes to delight any palate with creative tastes on classical favorites.
Shopping experiences are thrilling due to the supply of national and international brands available. Zegna, Ferragamo, Gucci etc. are as readily available here as there are in any other of the world’s fashion hubs. The shopping is especially attractive for those coming from outside the country due to a very favorable currency exchange in their favor at the moment.
We found an abundance of specialty goods too, always a sign of connectivity and progress. There are wine, furniture, technology and food stores, even local supermarkets carry a good variety of outside labels and products. People we met are more familiar than ever with international cuisine and products and they can be found in their homes and apartments.
Bogota is flourishing as a space for leisure, it is more cosmopolitan than ever. There are art, music, theater and cultural festivals going on throughout the city year-round. Public parks have spaces for individual and pet exercise, sports leagues, and people are very active participants in these venues.