Hyatt Regency Cartagena – Review

Last weekend my family and I visited the Hyatt Regency Cartagena, a brand-new property I had not even realized had opened until my wife brought it up to my attention. We found a cheap fare to get there from Fort Lauderdale, and with relatively very little planning off we went.

The property is a shocking (at least I was, based on the hotel pictures prior to our trip) category 2, which requires either 8,000 points or $55 and 4,000 Hyatt points. For the opening period, they were also running a $100 per night special, but it was non-refundable and I tend to stay away from those. Still, at the category 2 points level it was basically a steal. We ended up booking a cash and points rate for 3 nights, and used a Diamond Globalist Suite Upgrade to guarantee an upgrade to the Junior Suite. Traveling with my parents and being 4 adults and a baby, having a guaranteed suite was a must.

Pre-arrival and getting to the hotel:

The hotel is a short 15-minute drive from the airport. The hotel had proactively reached out to me to see if we needed assistance and offered a $30 transfer service for 4, but I did not take advantage of it figuring that we would find a cheap cab at the airport. Ultimately we paid approximately $9 plus tip for all 5 of us and all our luggage. We kept our driver’s business card and actually used his service again on the way back home. Since the hotel had also emailed me in advance and asked me what they could do to make our stay more comfortable, I asked if they could please upgrade me to a better suite subject to availability (hey, the Presidential Suite sounded REALLY good, right?), and I was happily surprised when we arrived and were told we had been upgraded to the Regency suite.

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Check-in:

The main lobby is on the 12th floor and the hotel has two different elevator banks, so you must transfer to get to your room. Check in was relatively quick and painless, although they did require registering each individual guest and seeing our passports, and manually signing individual forms. We were given a quick rundown of the amenities and benefits (although I was not proactively offered late checkout, which I ended up asking for on the day of departure due to a delayed flight) and we were given our room keys.

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Traveling with a 2-year old requires a huge luggage and supplies entourage, so a hotel valet helped us to our suite with all the luggage, car seat, stroller, etc., and gave us a quick walkaround of the suite.

Regency Suite:

The hotel is brand new and online reviews are just starting to trickle in. In addition, their room descriptions are very generic, there are pictures of only one type of suite, and it isn’t clear which one it is, so I didn’t know what to expect until we walked into ours.

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Our suite was room 2022 on the 20th floor. I love that this hotel has the electronic Do Not Disturb/Housekeeping sign feature. No signs falling off the doorknob or going missing.

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The suite had a spacious living area with sofa bed, working table, mini-bar/coffee station, a round 4 person dinner table, and a half bathroom.

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The bedroom was in a separate room and had a king-size bed, a lounge chair, flat screen TV, a walk-in closet with safe, ironing board, flashlight, mirror and chair, and a full bathroom with stand-alone tub, walk-in rain shower (I love those), separate toilet area and double sink.

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The toiletries were the Hyatt standard KenetMD.

Hyatt-Regency-CartagenaThe suite was in the hotel’s northwest corner at the end of the hallway, which I like because there is limited foot traffic, so we had views of the north and the west (sunsets were included in the price), although the windows were pretty dirty, which deteriorated the quality of the view because of all the mixture of salt water in the air prevalent around the city. The windows needed a good cleaning.

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Overall the suite was beautiful, and I particularly liked all the colonial period artwork hanging from the walls. I really liked that the suite curtains had dual overlapping tracks with drapes that went past the center of the window. I can’t tell how many times I’m needlessly awoken at sunrise by the sunlight coming through where the curtains meet, so that was a feature I very much appreciated.

Upon arrival there was a welcome amenity with local fruits and a greeting card, although it was dated the day before and had someone else’s name. Oops.

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There were a couple of annoying room features that I wished were addressed as soon as possible. One of them was that the half bathroom by the entrance did not have a towel rack or a hook behind the door, and there was no shelf space under the small sink. That meant you could use the sink and wash your hands, but did not have a place to keep or put away a hand towel. Those we had to hang outside one of the dining room chairs.

The other feature that just drove me nuts was all the light sensors in the room. For convenience and to also conserve energy (which I can appreciate), all bathrooms, dining area, entrance, bedroom, master closet and even the separate toilet area had sensors that would turn the lights on as you walked by, which was fine during the day. The problem came at night, where the lights kept turning on as you moved around. The master closet was particularly problematic, as it did not have a door, so walking into it would shine lots of light into the bedroom area. My parents slept on the sofa bed in the living room, and walking towards the half bathroom near the entrance would also turn some of the dining area lights on. When I spent enough time in the closet, I kept having to manually turn the light off every minute or so. I really wish the room lights did not act this way or at least there was some intuitive way of disabling the sensors, which I could not find for the duration of our stay.

Activities and Amenities:

The hotel has four separate pools on three different levels, and they were impressive, at least by my standards. There was a small kids pool with warmer water (a bit too hot in the afternoon, but manageable) a couple of feet deep, and right alongside there was a long and narrow lounge pool with the same depth, with partially submerged lounge chairs. This is the area we frequented the most as we could let our son play around without having to hold him all the time.

Hyatt-Regency-CartagenaThere was a lap pool on a higher level, which we did not use.

Hyatt-Regency-CartagenaThe main pool was on the 12th floor and featured an infinity set up, and this is were the bar and most of the lounge chairs were. The main pool had two levels on the main entrance, and a zero-entry access ramp off to one side. There were also lockers nearby although we did not use them.

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The water temperature was perfect for my taste, although surprisingly (for a new hotel) a couple of tiles on the floor were already chipping away, which I reported to the staff as a possible hazard. The bar service was excellent and the mojitos and pisco sours we had were very well mixed and reasonably priced.

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There is also a bar area by the lobby, which we ordered lunch from during our stay.

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Regency Club:

As part of my Diamond Globalist status we also had access to the Regency Club, which was on the 30th floor. It was open for breakfast from 6:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m., with refreshments, cookies and some other fruits and snacks during the midday hours, and cocktails and appetizers from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. The lounge was spacious and the food was of very good quality.

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The lounge also had a Nespresso machine with four different types of flavors (one of them decaf), a good selection of teas and a cappuccino milk frother.

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This was the breakfast spread in the morning:

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And this was one of the evening cocktail spreads, which also featured ceviche on two of our nights there:

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The staff was very attentive and friendly throughout our stay and kept the food items well stocked throughout each of our visits. The fruits were especially tasty, especially the granadillas and the pitayas (a type of dragon fruit).

The cocktails consisted of a variety of wines (mostly Chilean) and beer, but to my disappointment the only brand was Budweiser. I just couldn’t get over that, being that Colombian beer is of pretty decent quality, so I couldn’t figure out why they would not serve domestic beer but would offer only Budweiser. As a personal policy I have sworn to only drink Budweiser the day I’m in the middle of a desert if nothing else is available after having spent a day and a half without water.

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Fitness Center:

The fitness center is located on the 14th floor near the outdoor lap pool. It had a good selection of machines, free weights, bikes and treadmills.

Hyatt-Regency-Cartagena Hyatt-Regency-Cartagena Hyatt-Regency-Cartagena The fitness center was empty both times I visited. In fact, that was a common theme throughout the hotel, which I attributed to a combination of the property being new and not being high season. While there was a bit of a larger crowd on Saturday and Sunday, when Monday rolled around we pretty much had the hotel and pools to ourselves everywhere we went.

Wifi:

While I usually mention the wifi only in passing during my trip reports, I was surprised to find the free wifi to be blazing fast everywhere, which was very helpful with some work I had to do while I was at the hotel. I assume this was a function of the hotel’s low capacity, so speeds might be a bit slower when the hotel’s occupancy is much higher. It also required only connecting once on arrival, and all our devices stayed connected for the entire stay.

Service:

One thing we enjoyed very much was the quality of the service. The staff at this property have been very well trained. They responded to all our requests right away, were helpful and very friendly, and we felt like they truly cared about our comfort during our stay. By day 2 most of them knew our 2-year old by name and played with him, gave him coloring books and crayons, and engaged in conversations with us at the lounge, offered tips about places to visit and dine, and sincerely told us they were at our service for anything we needed.

Overall Impression:

We ended up in Cartagena because my wife really wanted to visit. I have to admit I didn’t know much about the city beforehand, nor did I care much for visiting. This isn’t a function of anything in particular, but mostly because I had other places in mind I wanted to visit first. After this visit and my experience at this hotel and walking around the city, the friendliness not only of the hotel staff, but everyone in the city, and the incredible food quality, needless to say I have been converted. This hotel is a true gem, and if you can make it out there in the next few months before the word spreads around too much, you will probably enjoy light crowds, which was a nice bonus for our stay. At 8,000 points per night being a category 2, or $55 and 4,000 points, it’s a solid choice when visiting Cartagena, which is a beautiful city with lots of colonial architecture and many other great sights, and fresh seafood to die for. Whenever our travels take us back to Cartagena, this will be my hotel of choice.

Have you stayed at this hotel or been to Cartagena before? If so, what was your impression? I would love to hear about it, along with any tips that might help others for future visits.

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4 Responses to Hyatt Regency Cartagena – Review

  1. ABC says:

    Where’s the beach?

    • travelguys says:

      Good question. There’s a handful of small beaches nearby but nothing compared to other beaches I’ve been to in the Caribbean. There are some really nice beaches about 40 minutes away by car and ferry but we did not visit due to limited time. I’m more of a pool person myself so this wasn’t a big deal, but will probably visit those on a longer stay. Lots to see around the hotel area for a short 3-night stay.

  2. Jen says:

    Great post! The hotel looked gorgeous.

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