Published on June 3rd, 2013 | by Mark Chesnut
COLOMBIA HOTEL REVIEW: Holiday Inn Cartagena Morros
One of the newest hotels in Cartagena, Colombia, the Holiday Inn Cartagena Morros opened in 2011 in the upscale Morros area. I was recently a guest at this high-rise, beachfront hotel and found several noteworthy reasons to stay here (also check out my airline review of the JetBlue service between New York City and Cartagena).
THE STYLE: Located less than 10 minutes from the Cartagena airport and a 10- to 15-minute, 12,000-peso (about U.S.$6) taxi ride from the tourism attractions in the historic city center, the Holiday Inn Cartagena Morros is fresh and bright — and well-situated to take advantage of the growing popularity of Colombia‘s hottest tourism destination. Clean white serves as the primary color and floor-to-ceiling windows in public areas and guest rooms let in lots of natural light. Upon arrival after my JetBlue flight from New York City, I was greeted at the reception desk with a cool glass of Holiday Inn Tropical, the hotel’s signature cocktail.
Contemporary but comfortable décor elements include a stylish, semi-circular lobby lounge area (check out the photo; it looks almost like a set from a James Bond movie!), plus equally fashionable seating in Blue, the hotel’s attractive restaurant and bar. The hotel’s interior design — the work of Bogotá-based Miguel Soto — includes some clever and uniquely Colombian elements. Old-fashioned, traditional Colombian tiles serve as a colorful visual counterpoint to the overall modern decor, and actual Colombian coffee beans — which are arranged in compartments in the public waste receptacles — are an ideal aromatic and visual complement for what would ordinarily be a boring refuse container. (In case you’re not up on the redesigned Holiday Inn hotel concept, you’re missing out on a much cooler experience than what you may have had with your parents during road trips in the old days — and in Latin America, the hotels are even nicer. Check out my video and review of the Holiday Inn Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic.)
THE GUEST ROOMS: Smart use of space makes for comfortably functional guest rooms. All the expected amenities are here: two telephones, large flat-screen TV, alarm clock, minibar, safe deposit box and good reading lights next to the comfortable king-size bed, which was furnished with well-labeled soft and firm pillows. The balcony in my room provided a nice view of the large swimming pool that belongs to the adjacent condominium, as well as the beach and the Caribbean Sea. Free WiFi throughout the hotel is an especially nice plus.
I also liked the bathroom, which had an open sink area, separate toilet stall and — best of all — an extra-large walk-in shower with a partial glass partition that let in light from the main guest room area. Bath amenities include a hairdryer, shampoo, conditioner, lotion and vanity kit — and the mirror lighting was so good I felt like I was looking at myself on HD TV (which, in my case isn’t always a good thing; I turned off one of the lights when I needed to feel better about myself).
AMENITIES & SERVICES: The cool lobby area flows gracefully into Blue, the attractively designed restaurant and bar, where seating options include semi-circular couches and bright chairs with vibrant fabrics. I enjoyed a tasty, artistically presented lunch here, as well as a generous breakfast buffet (which is included with some room rates).
Just behind the restaurant is a public lounge area with comfy couches and small, moveable tables that are perfect for setting up a laptop and working in a more social environment. Two meeting rooms are behind that (larger meeting space is available on the second floor), and adjacent is an outdoor seating area with reflecting pool. At the back of the property, right next to the ocean, is the hotel swimming pool, with an indoor gymnasium just steps away.
BEST FOR: Business travelers and convention planners can make good use of the meeting space, as well as the nearby Las Americas convention center, which accommodates 4,000 attendees for events. The Holiday Inn’s event space also works well for weddings, which is an increasingly popular reason for international travel to Cartagena. Vacationers who prefer a dependable international brand will also be more than satisfied here, especially since the room rates — which start at about U.S.$160 — are more reasonable than the often-pricey small boutique hotels in the historic city center. Members of IHG Priority Club Rewards will also find the Holiday Inn Cartagena Morros an attractive option for accruing and redeeming points.
COMING UP: In 2014, IHG will open the brand-new InterContinental Cartagena, a 280-room property now under construction in the beachfront Boca Grande district. The new hotel is part of a complex that will include a casino, upscale retail shops, a movie theater and restaurants.
MORE CARTAGENA TRAVEL TIPS & INSPIRATION:
• AIRLINE REVIEW: JetBlue Airbus A320, Nonstop Cartagena to New York City
• Cartagena’s Colorful Public Transportation
• The Joys of the Colombian Hot Dog
SPECIAL OFFER FOR LATINFLYER.COM READERS:
Book Now and Save up to 20% on your next vacation with Holiday Inn Resorts!