Hyatt Regency Cartagena = Strong Hotel in Almost Every Way

100   Recommended

Apartment
March 7, 2019 by
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I had a 7-night stay at Hyatt Regency Cartagena and the one line summary about this hotel is that in my opinion this property scores high on just about any metric you can think of and I highly recommend it. 

 

Room

I booked two rooms because my parents were coming along, both rooms at 8k pts per night. This was a bargain and unfortunately Hyatt knew it, so points redemptions are increasing to 12k pts per night this month which might still be a decent deal during high season (January – March) while I would possibly pay cash in other months depending on cash rates.  

For one of the two rooms I used a Globalist suite upgrade award and I let the other reservation as is.  The morning before arriving at the hotel I saw online that the hotel was fully booked for one night in the middle of our stay so I did not expect an upgrade for the second room.  Despite that, we were pleasantly surprised to see that both rooms got upgraded: one room was a suite as expected and the other was upgraded to one of their new apartments on the 40thfloor.  

We were told that apartments have only been available since mid February so we were among the first few to try this room type. We had an apartment facing the harbour. You can access the terrace from the living room or the bedroom and the views from there are great.  The apartment has a full kitchen built to a high standard and is convenient for people on a longer stay.  The entire apartment has nice tile floors – no carpet, which is great.  The bathroom was split in two sections, one for the shower and one for the toilet, each one with its own counter and sink.  Air conditioning was weak in the bedroom when we arrived.  After asking staff to take a look at the AC on day 1 they promptly fixed it and we had a very cool room for the rest of our stay. The apartment can be accessed via the elevators on the right side when approaching from reception; those elevators go straight to higher floors, unlike the elevators on the left which go to the traditional rooms including the lounge on the 30thfloor.  So a minor oddity is that to go from our room on the 40thfloor to the lounge on the 30thfloor, we had to go down to reception (12thfloor), change elevators, and then go back up to the 30thfloor.  On our floor it was clear they were still working on finishing touches to apartments because there was construction work going on and painting in the hallway.  Nothing that was making any noise though and we were not disturbed at any time.

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The other room we had was a junior suite which was covered by reviews earlier in this thread.  The suite felt larger than the 1-bdr apartment and one advantage was that it has 1.5 bath unlike the apartment which only had one toilet.  

Dining

Thanks to the Globalist Guest of Honor benefit, all guests in both rooms had access to the Regency Club.  The lounge has great views and is an attractive place to spend some time generally speaking.  

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It was my first time in Colombia so I cannot compare the quality of the lounge relative to local competition, but compared to other hotels we have been in South America we were more than happy.  For breakfast there was a wide selection of fruits which was slightly different every morning to avoid repetition, including some fruits which I like and cannot find often in hotel lounges such as mangoes.  They also had scrambled eggs and another hot dish which changed every day, along with several vegetables and cold cuts.  In the evening for happy hour 5-7pm they had lots of healthy vegetables and specialty salads, for example couscous salad, quinoa salad, etc. The vegetables were delicious: some of them grilled, some lightly sprayed with olive oil, dressing, etc.  All options were far more tasty than hotel lounges who offer raw and plain veggies.   They also had a couple of small hot dishes which also changed every day, although I wish it was more than fried stuff.  Also if there is another small negative about the lounge it might be for alcohol drinkers: there was only one red wine from Chile, one white from Colombia, and beer. Nothing else.  Personally I value the quality of the food better and I don’t mind much having limited alcohol choices but I note it here nonetheless for others who are looking for an elaborate bar.

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Service

I found service in the hotel to be significantly above average for a hotel of this caliber.  First off they contacted me shortly after I booked to enquire if two rooms was a mistake in case I had made a double booking without realizing it.  I explained that I was not sure yet at that time if I would need one or two rooms: my parents might be coming but my mom has Celiac’s disease and she was hesitant to go to Colombia for this reason – can she be safe with gluten-free food in Cartagena?  The hotel answered back that they had a Nima machine in the hotel kitchen to test the gluten content of food when necessary.  This comforted my mom and my parents decided to go on the trip.  Once on site, staff in the lounge made themselves fully available each morning and evening to help.  They brought gluten-free options prepared in the kitchen to my mom and tested with the machine in front of us so at all times my mom felt safe.  There were a few occasions where the machine indicated food had gluten so staff was apologetic and offered something else, but the important point was that my mom did not get sick as a result.  

Staff in the lounge were friendly and helpful at all times, remembered what guests wanted to drink, etc.  I was also pleased with the hotel shuttle pick-up from the airport which I booked ahead of time.  We were delayed a long time at immigration and I was worried the driver would not have waited, but he was still waiting for us outside baggage claim. 

 

Gym

We went to the fitness gym and service was equally good there.  Rarely do I find hotel staff serving as trainers in the gym, but this hotel has it. 

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Pool

The swimming pool at the hotel is also excellent.  In fact they have three different pools, not only one.  The one on floor 14 off the gym area is for adults only.  Then on floor 13 is the kids pool, following by the main pool on the 12thfloor.  On that floor there was live music and even dancers on weekends which made the atmosphere great.  There are seating arrangements for all tastes: cabanas in the shadow, lounge chairs in the sun, sit down areas to eat in the sun or shade.  The views from the infinity pools are great and the 12thfloor also has views of the harbor side as well.  

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Beach

I do not think Cartagena is the best destination for people looking for top beaches, but for travelers interested in the beach nonetheless, I would note that the public beach is about a 5-minute walk from the Hyatt Regency but it won’t be the highlight of your visit.  Other hotels are better located for the beach, for example there is a beach straight in front of the InterContinental hotel, and Hilton has its own beach at the far end of Bocagrande.  

Overall

Bottom line Hyatt Regency punches above its weight in many respects.  There are very few cities in the world where when returning I would not shop around, but Cartagena would be one of the few for me.  When I walked by the Hilton it seemed quite old unlike the new and shiny HR. There is a hotel from Small Luxury Hotels in the historical town which will join Hyatt soon, but with Globalist benefits at HR I doubt that SLH hotel will interest me much.  For those on a budget, I also saw a few hotels in a lower price range in Bocagrande such as Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn, but the savings when going there are quite modest relative to HR so you should really question whether staying there makes sense.  There is a Conrad in Cartagena, but it is far away from the old town and I much prefer to stay in Bocagrande.  With the generous upgrades at HR, the quality of the service, the excellent Regency Club Lounge, the attractive pool, and new hardware throughout, I would see no reason to consider the competition much and I would return to HR without second thoughts.   

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