Bogota has all the modern services and comfort required, while not losing its colonial past
It was three years ago, when the annual TravelMart LatinAmerica was held in Cartagena, that we knew Colombia would soon be a tourism hot spot. We remember asking our readers to keep an eye on the destination. Its momentum, though, doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. Here’s why.
A New Gem in Town
Of all the new properties already open or soon-to-open in Colombia, perhaps the best is the Tcherassi Hotel + Spa, Cartagena. The boutique hotel on the Caribbean coast was designed by renowned Colombian fashion designer Silvia Tcherassi, the first from Latin America to turn attention from dressing women to dressing rooms.
After a meticulous two-year restoration and renovation, a 250-year-old colonial mansion came to life in the heart of Cartagena’s old city in late 2009, reflecting the spirit and elegance of a bygone era. The luxurious, homelike hotel has seven guest rooms and suites (all named after elegant fabrics used in Tcherassi’s collections) with dramatic high ceilings, private balconies, rich wood floors and open bathrooms.
It has a full-service spa including treatment rooms and a pool for water-based therapies. The hotel also houses VERA, a 40-seat indoor/outdoor restaurant and lounge serving authentic Italian cuisine. Diners can sit in the air-conditioned patio overlooking one of the hotel’s four pools, as well as a vertical garden consisting of more than 3,000 local plants. A private lounge on the third floor provides guests with an outdoor bar and daybeds to soak up the sun while the rooftop pool deck offers 360-degree views of the historical city and the sea.
Agents should contact General Manager Lia Osorio (011-57-5664-4445, Lia@tcherassihotels.com) for details.
While a few high-profile chains already have hotels in the country, others are in the construction phase. These include Intercontinental, Sofitel, Sonesta Collection, JW Marriott, Sheraton, Hilton and Mercure. In the next two years 7,042 hotel rooms will be added.
On the south of El Dorado avenue, about 15 minutes’ drive from the airport, the new Bogota Marriott has 10 floors and 239 rooms. This has become a great option for business travelers to the city.
Continental Hotel, Bogota reopened late last month to the public after 17 years. The hotel on Jiménez Avenue has 120 comfortable and modern suites, a shopping center, 10 restaurants, a ’60s nightclub and a wonderful terrace where a VIP Lounge will be placed. It brings visitors closest to the most important tourist attractions in Bogota.
Sol Meliá has reached an agreement to add a new franchised hotel in Medellin, to be operated under the urban Tryp brand, to its portfolio. Tryp Medellin is a four-star hotel with 140 rooms, a gym, meeting space and more.
It is scheduled to open in July opposite the site of the 2010 Ibero-American Games to be hosted by Medellin, the second-largest city in the country with 3 million inhabitants.
Additionally, four new hotels from the international hotel chains Sonesta, Hilton, Real and Hyatt are under construction. Hyatt Bogota will be a luxury hotel with 450 rooms; the JW Marriott Bogota will have 264 rooms; Hilton Bogota, 245 rooms; and Hotel Sonesta Bogota, 127 rooms.
Hosted every two years in Bogota, the Ibero-American Theater Festival will be the strongest yet in 2010. No less than 80 theater companies from 40 countries including Iceland, the U.S., Serbia, France and the UK will be participating in this year’s festival, which will be held from March 19 to April 4.
These theater troupes will be showcasing 320 works in Corferias, a conference center in Bogota, which is the official venue of the festival or the theater village. There will also be 150 shows of street theater held on the sidelines of the event. More than 100 Colombian representatives will be taking part in the festival.
This year is especially exciting as Colombia became an official stopover on the PGA 2010 Nationwide Tour, the first time the event has ever been held in South America. The Pacific Rubiales Bogota Open was played from March 4-7.
The Modern Art Museum of Medellin (MAMM) will be opening in November in the city. The renowned Modern Art Museum was relocated and is to be relaunched.
Following in the footsteps of museums like the Tate Modern Gallery in London and the Clock Gallery of Manhattan, the MAMM has taken over an old iron and steel metallurgy factory and converted it into a world-class contemporary art piece.
The MAMM’s opening will feature lots of cultural activities like concerts, lectures, special art exhibitions, auctions and more. The museum is regarded as the Colombian artistic and cultural gem. In the 8,500-square-foot museum, tourists will find 233 works by the famous painter Débora Arango, as well as sculptures, paintings, drawings and sketches by Hernando Tejada.
With more than 29 nonstop flights from the U.S. on all major U.S. airlines, as well as two low-cost carriers (JetBlue and Spirit), Colombia is accessible and affordable to visit.
Travelers now have five weekly flights with the best schedules between Los Angeles and Bogota via Avianca Airlines. The flights were launched last month.
Tcherassi Hotel’s guest rooms and suites have dramatic high ceilings, rich wood floors and open bathrooms