Our recent visit to Cartagena Colombia gave us an opportunity to see one of the newest openings in the Conrad Portfolio. After several delays in the opening date it was an opportune moment to see what the city’s newest luxury address had to offer.
Conrad Cartagena is situated in a resort area called Caribana which has a distinctive air with a golf course and other private residences surrounding the hotel and beach. What we can say stood out as praiseworthy were the genuinely proper and friendly staff, several beautiful swimming pools, a fantastically decorous lobby and a glamorous spa area with excellent facilities and finally an idyllic beach club with cabanas, pools and restaurants that invite leisure.
As far as the meals went we found the hotel Breakfast to be excellent, the food was a presentation of the freshest ingredients and some of the local favorites that anyone would savor. The dining area and views made it all the more memorable.
Unlike the name implies it is really not located in Cartagena but actually around 30km away from the city center in an area called Manzanillo. While it is a nice property and location it is a misleading name for guests. There is a shuttle to the city but the roundtrip costs $50 per day for transfers.
The building itself is a bit odd, shaped like a box on the outside it was a sign of some of the overall deficiencies of the hotel. While it is brand new, the property lacks the wow factor that a hotel of this brand and age should be able to deliver. The suite we were given a complimentary upgrade to had a spectacular view but the materials in the room were evidently cheap and the room was not clean at all, from hair in the carpet to an unclean toilet. This is not the Conrad standard we know.
After we complained about the state of cleanliness there seemed to be little to no effort from the management team to rectify the situation. A young employee was dispatched to me to listen and take notes, however I later saw that this genuine person performing waiter duties in the hotel and so was clearly not management. We had problems with a hotel that was not taking these essential complaints seriously.
The Spa (which had truly gorgeous facilities) disappointingly did not offer complimentary access without a treatment, even to premium members. When we asked why this was the case (it is accessible in almost any other property) we were told that it was just so and there were no exceptions. We were offered a 10% discount in the entry fee for our status but it just felt insulting. It is really the best facet of the hotel.
The hotel is nice but it could be better in many ways. Our contacts in the luxury market in Cartagena who came to meet us for business there were completely unaware that the hotel existed even months after it had opened. So it really seems like the manifestation of the property was not well done and the Conrad brand is being damaged by this particular venue. Several glaring flaws in the layout and operations as well as the overall logistical challenges of location and recognition made the experience less than ideal for us.