Inside of the most historic luxury lodge in Cartagena, Colombia

Travel to Colombia from the U.S. has boomed in modern a long time, facilitated by a number of direct routes from various significant U.S. airports to equally Bogota and Cartagena. And many hotel groups are growing their footprint in the region as a end result. Sofitel lately each renovated a single of its existing qualities, the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara, and opened the doorways to a new a person, Sofitel Barú Calablanca Seaside Vacation resort.

The Sofitel Legend Santa Clara is thought of by numerous to be one particular of the most legendary and historic properties in Cartagena. And a lot of functions that took area at the building the place the Sofitel Santa Clara resides now had a immediate influence about the metropolis in the previous 400 many years. Also a preferred frequent keep amongst royals and celebrities, the historic lodge has evolved to satisfy the modern day wants of tourists, most obviously by way of the new renovation of 25 visitor rooms.

The Legend suite at the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara

Courtesy of Sofitel

When the making was to start with produced and established as a convent in 1621, Cartagena was a a great deal various town than the a person vacationers check out today—even the outdated metropolis popular with holidaymakers. The stone partitions that encompass the outdated metropolis did not exist in these situations, and weren’t constructed for at the very least a further 90 many years. So in the earliest times of the metropolis, currently being proper on the coast, the convent was only shielded by the partitions encompassing the residence, and normally confronted the brunt of attacking pirates browsing for gold and the treasures that the Spanish already looted from other communities and were being subsequently set into storage in Cartagena prior to becoming delivered again to Spain.

When architects frequented the web-site the restore the building and convert it into a lodge in the 1990s, they observed dozens of cannonballs in the previous backyard (which is where the swimming pool is now). The resort continue to uses these cannonballs, and attendees could possibly spot them at numerous details close to the home, normally keeping open up doorways and home windows.

The flooring ended up restored extremely likewise to the authentic in the convent as perfectly the walls, columns, and most of the ceilings. (Wood ceilings, specially, are commonly the to start with architectural aspects to grow to be ruined when abandoned). But the ceiling over the foyer when attendees very first enter is the only one with the original wood, which can be spotted with an inscription dated to 1788.

Nearly all of the decorative home furniture and artwork (i.e. desks, chairs, Catholic artwork) all around the resort, outside of the 125 total guest rooms, were found out on the home for the duration of the building’s restoration. A single instance is a wood statue, regarded by several historians as unusual presented its artistic fashion and lack of outfits, constructed in the picture of Santa Clara de Asís (St. Clare of Assisi), the founder of the Catholic purchase to which the nuns belonged. (There are some parts of furniture that were being taken from other attributes around the metropolis, but had been nonetheless from the colonial time period.)

But the most important problem for the architects was to restore the initial feeling of the convent. They found a development above one more (and a different above one more) since this place was not only a convent, but it was also a jail, a military services fortress, and most just lately, a hospital, which was abandoned for numerous decades ahead of the resort restoration.

And mainly because images naturally did not exist through the time the developing was a convent (for around 240 a long time), there is no visual for comparison—only reports of the nuns’ lifestyle. That’s the only basis current scientists have about the each day life of the nuns, primarily specified that they were being cloistered, so there is no way to be 100% guaranteed every little thing that happened inside of all those walls involving the mid-17th to mid-19th century.

On the terrace with the Amaral suite at the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara.

Courtesy of Sofitel

The nuns who lived in the convent were being cloistered, this means they couldn’t be observed by many others. So, there were a range of architectural tips, so to communicate, to guarantee anonymity. For illustration, the home windows have been produced larger than the average peak of a girl at that time, allowing sunlight to enter but blocking the women of all ages from staying equipped to glimpse outside the house. Moreover, the resort does not have any authentic balconies experiencing outside—only internally.

Just one ground down from the lobby, there is a basement with a sequence of tunnels, which now hosts offices for the resort revenue division and the parking lot. But when it was a convent, that is the place the nuns would go to conceal in the circumstance of pirate invasions, which in the course of all those times was frequent to the stage of normality.

El Coro, the lounge bar—where numerous attendees can appear for a cocktail in the early evening, take pleasure in live new music on weekends, or even enjoy a soccer match through the middle of the day—had a earlier existence as the convent chapel. Visitors can even get a glimpse of the crypt ideal down below the bar as a result of an illuminated, even though blocked off, stairwell. (An additional regional pleasurable actuality: The crypt also has a major role in the novel Of Appreciate and Other Demons by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who has applied quite a few websites in just Cartagena’s outdated town for configurations in his publications.)

The door in the bar that opens to the avenue, by means of where patrons who aren’t hotel visitors can enter, has viewed a ton of action—including an escape of a number of nuns throughout a community armed service invasion as nicely the arrival of French pirates, which prompted most spiritual teams (which includes the nuns) as very well as academic and political figures to acquire refuge in an additional city many hours away for at minimum a year. Upon their return, the nuns discovered the convent looted as perfectly as typically destroyed. Numerous decades later, Cartagena was rebuilt and a lot more ready for foreign attacks, which includes the thwarting of an tried English invasion.

Ideal up coming to the resort bar is the 1621 Cafe, named for the building’s origin, which offers elevated fine dining with wine pairings in the evening. Attendees really should also get a glimpse at the wine area, the place they can e book tastings with the hotel’s sommelier for the two tastings of wines from South The united states as very well as rums manufactured in Colombia. But in the convent period, it’s safe to say that this location wasn’t as glamorous. Yes, it was also a dining area back again then for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—but all meals were being eaten in full silence. And today’s wine cellar was then the personal dining home for the mother superior. (And the kitchen just across the courtyard is even now a kitchen area currently, but now for the restaurant wherever friends can truly get pleasure from breakfast, lunch, and both alfresco or inside of the convenience of the awesome air conditioning—all when speaking as much as they like.

The El Claustro restaurant at the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara.

Courtesy of Sofitel

Today, sleeping benchmarks at the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara are as deluxe as it gets, with plush bedding and comforters (and pretty solid air conditioning) across all of its visitor rooms and suites. Not so, sadly, for the nuns who lived listed here hundreds of many years back. They slept in one particular large dormitory with quite a few entrances, and every single nun experienced her have bed. But the mom excellent, the nun in demand of all the others inside the convent, had a bed just one foot greater than the other beds in the dormitory so that she could have a large check out of the overall area. Quantities different over the decades, but the convent had wherever among 100 and 200 nuns at any given time in the convent’s record. The place where by the mom superior had her sleeping arrangements is now a duplex suite, which is generally preferred with bridal parties for two factors. Just one is the historic significance to the room. The other is that it’s ideal up coming to the church—usually the web site of the wedding—so only that visitor suite is privy to the loud noises coming from the venue.

Within a junior suite at the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara.

Courtesy of Sofitel

The nuns resided at the convent in Cartagena’s aged metropolis from 1621 to 1841. Then came a new political electric power in Colombia, and the new administration at that time did not favor the Catholic Church, making use of a legislation already in use in Mexico to expropriate the homes of the Catholic Church. Basically, if the Catholic Church could not confirm that they acquired the assets, the authorities took it again. And as the convent was not bought by the Catholic Church (rather funded by a rich area noblewoman named Catalina de Cabrera), the nuns ended up forced out. Most of them moved to Havana, Cuba, in which they began a new convent. But some of them moved to Turbaco, close to 7 miles away from Cartagena, exactly where the buy however resides today.

From that issue on, the developing had a tumultuous background, starting up off as a army fortress that hosted a jail and also served as an artillery to shop weapons. Above two decades afterwards, the govt crafted a healthcare facility in the backyard wherever the pool location is now, with the surgical treatment ideal in the middle, approximately where the poolside bar serving pisco sours and mojitos is now. (And the web page where by the So Well wellness spa, showcasing popular luxury French pores and skin care brand name Sisley solutions, is currently used to be the morgue, really offering new which means to emotion revived right after a facial or massage.)

The framework the place most of the guest rooms are right now are part of the making constructed for the medical center, which only experienced three flooring. But seeking at the building now, it is very clear there are five floors. That is simply because the lodge architects took gain of the extremely superior ceilings all through the medical center era, redesigning the setting up to incorporate two more flooring.

The Botero presidential suite at the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara.

Courtesy of Sofitel

Just one luxurious suite that does retain incredibly superior ceilings is a person in the initial constructing that overlooks the pool: the Botero Suite. Primarily the hotel’s presidential suite, the suite features a grasp bedroom, a dwelling space, a kitchenette, a comprehensive toilet, and a hallway toilet. The room is primarily considerable as it was created by the lauded Colombian artist Francisco Botero himself alongside with his daughter Lina Botero. (Despite the fact that most of the paintings in the place are accepted replicas of his do the job.)

The Sofitel Barú Calablanca Beach Vacation resort is found on the jap element of the island of Barú, a 20-45 minute trip from Cartagena by boat.

Courtesy of Sofitel

Adhering to the hotel’s restoration from 1990 to 1994, the lodge opened as the Sofitel Santa Clara. It has because been rebranded as the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara provided the building’s historic significance. There are only 5 other Sofitel Legend properties—all housed in historic buildings—around the globe: the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi in Vietnam the Sofitel Legend Previous Cataract in Aswan, Egypt the Sofitel Legend People’s Grand Xian in China the Sofitel Legend The Grand in Amsterdam and the Sofitel Legend Casco Viejo in Panama Town, which will open following year.

Within a exceptional guest place at the Sofitel Barú Calablanca beach front vacation resort.

Courtesy of Sofitel

Sofitel’s newest assets in the Cartagena location, the Calablanca beach front vacation resort on the island of Barú, is a stark contrast to the Santa Clara, presenting a a lot different but equally lavish knowledge.

To commence, the new beachfront home on the Isla de Barú is only a calendar year aged. And though it is probable to get there by land (a 90-minute generate from the town), the greatest way to get there is by sea: both a 45-minute catamaran journey or a 20-minute speedboat journey, the latter of which is only out there on weekends. But Sofitel can arrange transport between the two houses, which include rides to and from the marina, streamlining the voyage for visitors.

A glimpse at La Pergola, the rooftop bar at the Sofitel Barú Calablanca seashore resort.

Courtesy of Sofitel

One important uniformity across all of the 187 rooms and suites is that every single offers a panoramic watch of the Caribbean sea. And all lodging appear with a deluxe rest room (some with tailor made bathtubs and a jacuzzi), HDTVs, Bose SoundDocks, Nespresso coffee devices, L’Occitane toiletries, Sofitel’s signature mattresses and bedding, air conditioning, and high-velocity Wi-Fi throughout the residence. Beach front chairs and umbrellas are setup not only all across the seashore but also at several swimming pools on numerous amounts, which includes both equally pools designated for family members and grownups-only.

There are three dining establishments onsite, which include two indoors with air conditioning. Bahia, an open air restaurant with a good deal of shade and admirers, serves nearby favourite dishes and cocktails. Humo is a Peruvian-Japanese thought open up for supper, serving twists on Japanese dishes with Peruvian (but also Colombian) twists and flavors. And the hotel’s eponymous cafe, Calablanca, is an all-day affair, serving breakfast, lunch, and evening meal. Added amenities consist of the wellness spa, a cutting edge exercise middle, and a boutique with clothing by area designers.

The Sofitel Barú Calablanca beach vacation resort at sunrise.

Courtesy of Sofitel

Commencing charges at the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara assortment from $340 for every night for a basic guest space to $2,380 for every night for the Botero presidential suite. Fees for the Sofitel Barú Calablanca variety from $285 for every evening for a exceptional visitor space to $2,000 for each night for the presidential suite.