Colombia, Where Ancient And Modern Go Hand-In-Hand: NNN Travel

photoedited

Forget Rio: Colombia is the hottest new South American destination, offering secluded white sandy beaches, colonial architecture and amazing nightlife. It’s also one of the most progressive countries south of the border, with same-sex couples beginning to tie the knot in September 2013.

For a taste of what Colombia truly has to offer, we’ve mapped out a 12-day itinerary that hops from Cartagena to Medellin and on to Santa Marta.

Cartagenacartagena_diversedited colombia

Grupo Maximo Agency is a one-stop shop for everything Colombia and specifically Cartagena. Spend a day touring the Old City or if you are the adventurous type, contact Cartagena Divers for some excellent scuba diving out at sea. Jump on a boat and zip out to Baru Island for the day if you’re searching for white sands and aquamarine, Caribbean waters.

Don’t miss a drive up to La Popa Monastery for a bird’s eye view of all of Cartagena. In the walled Old City, stroll through the shops and cafes as you make your way to Plaza Santa Domingo, easily found by locating the reclining female Botero sculpture in the southern corner. Need VIP access to the hottest clubs in town? Grupo Maximo Agency can hook you up with live music at Club Havana or easy access to one of the many discotheques in town like Cinema on Calle Arsenal or Studio 54 on Calle Larga.

tcherassi colombiaFor the fashion set, Tcherassi Hotel + Spa offers a sleek interior off the bustling streets of the Old City of Cartagena. The style of Silvia Tcherassi (the hotel’s Miami-based owner and famous Latin American fashion designer) touches each corner of this gem. Stop by for dinner or a drink but if you can, try to spend a few nights. Escape the tropical humidity on the roof where you’ll find a small pool that’s perfect for a cool dip. The rooms are large with vaulted ceilings and the bathrooms feature walk-in glass showers with fantastic rainfall shower heads.

Casa La Fe is ideally located on Plaza Fernandez de Madrid in the heart of Cartagena, offering a calm and relaxed atmosphere but with the convenience of the town’s antiquities and restaurants on the doorstep. The building dates from the Republican era and was restored to its former elegance by the current owners in 2005.

For the best roof pool in Cartagena, go straight to La Passion. Spend the afternoon lounging on poolside daybeds while sipping piña coladas as sounds of classical piano trickle over the walls from the ballet school next door. Few hotels have such character as La Passion, not to mention such an incredibly friendly staff and a rooftop breakfast to set your day on the right path.

Built within the walls of a former 17th century mansion, Casa Pestagua is a work of art.  The third floor “penthouse” is a1edited luxurious retreat and features a private roof Jacuzzi with ocean views of the sunset.  If you are looking for a great honeymoon, it doesn’t get more romantic than this.  The suite itself is massive with 20-foot exposed beam ceilings. The bathroom is draped in white marble with a walk-in shower recessed into the floor that takes up an entire side of the room. Stand under a deluge of water and feel like a Roman emperor.

karmairai If the city heat gets to you, book a few nights atKarmairi Hotel Spa which is a 20 minutes drive east of the old town. Enjoy the luxuries of being on your own private beach, right outside the city. This boutique hotel features an open air restaurant that spills out to a wide beach.  Recline at the pool before your spa treatment amongst the palm trees then dine at night under the stars with the ocean lapping upon the shore. Karmairi is the perfect escape from the Cartagena scene for a couple of nights. Nothing beats a morning jog along miles of empty beach.


Medellin

Medellin or “The City of Eternal Spring” sits amongst the Andes in a valley surrounded by peaks. Graced with a temperate climate, the city is a wonderful change from the humidity of the coast. Once plagued with crime, Medellin has experienced a renaissance of sorts in recent years and the world is starting to notice. In March of 2013 the city was named the most “Innovative City of the Year” in the Wall Street Journal, beating out both New York City and Tel Aviv. Don’t miss a stroll around Botero Plaza downtown or a vernacular ride up to Parque Arvi. The city’s Metro (or subway system) is clean, convenient and easy to use.

thecharleeNestled on a hillside in the fashionable neighborhood of Poblado, The Charlee Lifestyle Hotel feels like a touch of New York chic in the heart of the Andes. Rooms feature sliding glass walls that open up to huge balconies overlooking the entire city of Medellin. The hotel’s gym takes over the top two floors and membership is free for hotel guests. Check out the scene at the gym around 6p daily for a glance into the world of Medellin’s famed beautiful women and men.  At night, the rooftop turns into the club Envy, one of many all night parties in the neighborhood.

medellin art hotelA few blocks from The Charlee is Art Hotel, also in Poblado. With a dark lobby splashed with vibrant furniture and artwork, this industrial space boasts a stunning décor with a fabulous wine bar and a spa. Being steps from the nightlife and restaurants of Poblado make Art Hotel an excellent option for a few nights in Medellin.

el cielo colombiaFor an evening of fine dining, reserve a table at El Cielo, just a couple blocks from The Charlee Hotel. In an elegant, intimate atmosphere experience the full “quince momentos” menu… 15 Moments that you will be talking about for weeks. This is experiential dining at its best, with each sense teased through dinner starting with the rose scented hand “clay” at the beginning of the meal to the martinis that bubble in a haze of liquid nitrogen fog and the crackle of the explosive dessert.

burrotekAside from nightlife and dining, do not leave Medellin without exploring the nature that surrounds the city.  Burrotek Tours leads day trips into the mountains on horseback as well as trips outside of the city limits to nearby Guatape.

After a couple of hours on a horse, lunch is served overlooking the city and if you’re lucky, it will be homemade pork and chicken tamales!


Santa Marta & Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona

Santa Marta is South America’s oldest surviving city and the second most important colonial city on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, after Cartagena.  The seaside town offers fabulous restaurants, historic plazas and tons of bars and cafes.   Though the actual beach in town is not fantastic, Santa Marta is a great jumping off point to reach the famed beaches within Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona as well as Ciudad Perdida (The Lost City).  Right in the heart of Santa Marta there are several high-end boutique hotels that we highly recommend.

casa isabella colombiaCasa Isabella is a stone’s throw from Parque de los Novios in the center of the Old City of Santa Marta.  If you are lucky enough to book the penthouse you’ll enjoy a private roof jacuzzi that is spectacular. Rooms include wifi, complimentary iPads and Apple TV as well as restored furniture and handmade adornments.  Breakfast is served outside, one floor up on an outdoor shaded deck.  The staff is warm and friendly and hugely helpful in setting up any plans around town.

Casa de Leda is located closer to the shopping district and feels like an oasis in the heart of Santa Marta.  The roof features open air dining and the huge, modern rooms feature vaulted ceilings, tons of natural lightcasa de leda and all the amenities of a luxury resort.  First owned by a wealthy family of Santa Marta’s golden age, the original house where Casa de Leda sits dates back to the late 19th century.   Escape the humid Caribbean air inside the hotel where the walls are lined with cascades of green vines and equipped with a cooling mist system.  Historic Santa Marta Cathedral is steps from the hotel’s entrance. Flat screen TVs in every room have media players with music stations and video libraries.

Casa Verde is a small boutique accommodation that was originally built in the 1920s. It has recently been fully restored into a five-room hotel close to the vibrant downtown area that is the home to beautiful parks, restaurants and historic buildings.  Inside the walls of Casa Verde there is a peaceful silence while right outside its walls are the bustling streets of Santa Marta.

There are several great options to dine in Santa Marta.  ouzo-pizzaeditedOn the edge of Parque de los Novios, try Ouzo for what many say is the best dinner in town.  Try the grilled octopus appetizer, a favorite on the menu, or one of the thin crust pizzas cooked in the central brick oven.  For lunch, hit Agave Azul for incredibly Mexican food.  Order a fresh mango margarita and a steak taco that will knock your socks off!

A quick 45 minute taxi ride east from Santa Marta and you will find yourself outside one of the main entrances of Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona.  Book a couple nights at Villa Maria vlla mariafor a room overlooking the mountains to the southwest and the ocean to the northeast.  Walk through the hotel’s garden where the owners grow pineapples, avocados, oranges and bananas.  If you cross the street and walk down a path through some palm trees you’ll find yourself on miles of untouched white sand.  Be careful in the surf as these beaches are known to be quite treacherous at certain times of year.  But definitely enjoy the solitude.  For a $35 (US) entrance fee, spend a day inside Tayrona Park.  By horseback you can reach secluded beaches that are only accessible by foot or horse path.  Be warned that the trails are somewhat rocky so if you are not an experienced rider, consider walking. 

cartagena_diversedited colombia

Source: NewNowNext

#Colombia, Prime Medical Tourism Destination

20130913-083028.jpg
By Richard Emblin

When Philip Sheldon* was told by his Toronto doctor that he was on a six-month’s waiting list for cataract surgery, this retired executive had the foresight to call his son-in-law in Bogotá to see what could be done. Despite comprehensive medical coverage in his native Canada, Sheldon wanted to speed up a condition that was getting worse by the month and was affecting the possibility of getting his driving license renewed.

After making some phone calls to some of the best ophthalmologists in Bogotá, Sheldon decided that the investment of buying a plane ticket to Colombia, spending days with family and recovering in an apartment in the capital, more than paid for itself as compared to six months of anguish, waiting for his government to define the place and time of his surgery.

Sheldon’s medical condition was not life-threatening and the surgery was performed in under two hours. As a foreigner with limited language skills, his surgeon spoke impeccable English, having done part of his medical studies at Moorsfields in London.

Sheldon is one of thousands of foreigners who come to Colombia to be treated with outpatient procedures and in state of the art facilities.

From eye surgery to dentistry, fertility and reproductive treatment, Colombia ranks with 16 of the best 40 hospitals in the Latin America, according to recent report by the economic journal, America Economia.

Sigue leyendo

¿Cuáles son tus 5 productos más colombianos del mercado? #LaRespuestaEsCOlombia

En respuesta a Toya Viudes de @ColombiaDeUna presentamos algunos de nuestros Productos Favoritos de #Colombia.

Nuestra Riqueza es Inmensa.

#LaRespuestaEsCOlombia

Esperamos a todos les guste este mostrario disponible en nuestra:

Red de Pinterest.com/RedesColombia
~ Galería Virtual de Colombia al Mundo

A Journey To Colombia Documentary Interview

Where are you from?

As immigrants or children of immigrants living in a multicultural society it’s improbable not to be asked this question at least once in your life. For Luis Eduardo Villamizar – being a first generation American born to Colombian parents – this was a question he could not escape, and ironically the time came when Luis would ask himself the same question: Where do I come from?

I am of the opinion that we, as human beings have a basic drive to discover who we are, where we come from, and what our purpose in life is. This prevailing tendency is what inspired Luis Eduardo Villamizar to explore his lineage, heritage, and family history through his upcoming documentary titled A Journey to Colombia.

It’s my pleasure to be able to talk to Luis Eduardo Villamizar about his forthcoming documentary A Journey to Colombia, a provocative documentary that is due to inspire, muster and unite us to see ourselves and our heritage with a different set of glasses.

20130719-112426.jpg

Who is Luis Eduardo Villamizar?

I would say I’m just an ordinary guy who’s into films, 80’s music, tech stuff and trying to be a better man. Besides that, a dreamer, a romantic, somewhat jack of all trades and director-writer-producer of an upcoming documentary film titled A Journey to Colombia.

Why did you choose film as your means of communicating your message?

To quote a great line, “From my way of thinking, motion pictures are potentially the most influential form of communication ever invented. And there’s no control over it. Your message reaches everyone, everywhere.” I think this documentary will capture the essence of my journey and can make an impact into changing people’s perceptive about Colombia and Colombian people.

What was the defining moment that made you realized you had to embark on this journey?

I won’t really say it was one defining moment, more like two with six months in between. The first was at my surprise 40th birthday party with family and friends. The other was connecting with my cousin Orlando and working on a short film project with him and figuring out what would be our next project. The only positive thing in my life during that time was my family. Acknowledging the importance of my family made me realize how much I really didn’t know about my Colombian heritage.

20130719-112702.jpg

What didn’t you know when you started this journey that you now know?

There is a lot of family history and stories that I’ve found by speaking with my dad’s side of the family during this year of research and pre-production. Most of that I can’t say now as it will be in the film but in general there is a lot I didn’t know both about my family and Colombia. For one thing, I didn’t know how large the country is.

In early May, German journalist Ralf Schuler from the Bild Zeitung referred to Bogotá as the most dangerous city in the world. How do you respond to this?

Sigue leyendo

Colombia’s tourism on the rebound; foreign visits up 4.6% in 2013

Colombia’s tourism on the rebound; foreign visits up 4.6% in 2013Foreign visits to Colombia increased 4.6% in the first months of 2013 compared to the same period last year, according to statistics of the country’s Trade Ministry.

According to the ministry’s monthly statistics, nearly 685 thousand foreigners visited Colombia between January and April. Last year, the country received little more than 654 thousand foreign visitors.

Foreign visitors to Colombia

The government statistics show that, with the exception of March, the number of foreign visitors entering Colombia through the international airports has grown steadily since 2011.

Throughout 2013, 534 thousand foreigners entered the country against 514 thousand in the same period last year.

Foreigners entering Colombia through airport customs

Also the number of tourists entering the country’s Caribbean port cities as part of a cruise seemed to have recovered in March and April after a significant drop in 2012 that was persistent until February this year.

Foreigners entering Colombia through port customs

The figures from the first four months of this year indicate Colombia is recovering from a stagnating growth in tourism that had been getting smaller since 2009. Last year, tourism grew 1.8% while tourism in South America grew 4.2%.

FACT SHEET: Colombia’s tourism statistics

Source: Colombia Reports

Estados Unidos calificó a Colombia como un destino seguro para sus ciudadanos

20130412-025819.jpg

Sin embargo, Colombia insiste en que se remueva la alerta de viaje por parte de ese país.

Estados Unidos actualizó este jueves la información contenida en la alerta de viaje que hace a los ciudadanos que desean visitar Colombia y resalta los progresos que ha hecho el país en materia de seguridad.

El documento anterior había sido publicado en octubre del año pasado por el Departamento de Estado de ese país.

A diferencia de reportes publicados en el pasado, el nuevo documento reconoce a Colombia Estados Unidos actualizó este jueves la información contenida en la alerta de viaje que hace a los ciudadanos que desean visitar Colombia y resalta los progresos que ha hecho el país en materia de seguridad.

El documento anterior había sido publicado en octubre del año pasado por el Departamento de Estado de ese país.

A diferencia de reportes publicados en el pasado, el nuevo documento reconoce a Colombia como un destino seguro para decenas de miles de ciudadanos norteamericanos que visitan el país cada año, no sólo en calidad de turistas sino también como estudiantes universitarios, por razones de negocios o para realizar voluntariados.

Adicionalmente, la alerta destaca que funcionarios del Gobierno de Estados Unidos viajan regularmente a ciudades principales en el territorio colombiano de forma segura.

Por último, se destaca que el Departamento de Estado reconoce que no existe evidencia de que los ciudadanos estadounidenses que visitan el país sean objetivo de actividades criminales por la simple razón de su nacionalidad.

Si bien el Gobierno Colombiano ha reiterado que las condiciones actuales de seguridad en el país ameritan que Estados Unidos remueva definitivamente la alerta de viaje, también reconoce el uso de un lenguaje más moderado en la nueva versión publicada el día de hoy.como un destino seguro para decenas de miles de ciudadanos norteamericanos que visitan el país cada año, no sólo en calidad de turistas sino también como estudiantes universitarios, por razones de negocios o para realizar voluntariados.

Adicionalmente, la alerta destaca que funcionarios del Gobierno de Estados Unidos viajan regularmente a ciudades principales en el territorio colombiano de forma segura.

Por último, se destaca que el Departamento de Estado reconoce que no existe evidencia de que los ciudadanos estadounidenses que visitan el país sean objetivo de actividades criminales por la simple razón de su nacionalidad.

Si bien el Gobierno Colombiano ha reiterado que las condiciones actuales de seguridad en el país ameritan que Estados Unidos remueva definitivamente la alerta de viaje, también reconoce el uso de un lenguaje más moderado en la nueva versión publicada el día de hoy.

Fuente: El Espectador

Colombia: Why Visit Now?

20130406-235422.jpg

Interview with Luis German Restrepo, U.S. Executive Director of Proexport Colombia, the government agency charged with promoting tourism, exports and investment for the fast-growing Latin American nation.

Q: Colombia has become an “it destination” recently. Can you shed light on the increased interest from travelers?

A: The beauty of Colombia is that there is something for everyone: We have some of the best beaches in the world, fantastic restaurants and a rich history. As a result, Colombia was named one of the “25 Must-See Destinations for 2013” by more than 350 Virtuoso luxury travel advisors. In spite of the global economic downturn, the arrival of foreign travelers to Colombia has kept a steady growth over the last decade reaching around 1.7 million on visitors in 2012, a 7% growth when compared to 2011 and positioning the United States as our main source market with 350,000 tourists last year. (Source: The National Administrative Department of Statistics; DANE)

Q: Why are so many people traveling to Colombia now?

A: Being Colombia the second most bio-diverse country in the world, the country offers activities to all types of travelers. From nature and adventure in Santander, Santa Marta and the coffee cultural landscape; to history and culture in Cartagena de Indias and Bogota; to pristine white sand beaches in San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina, visitors can enjoy extreme and unique activities suitable for young travelers, families and adults. In addition, Colombia is conveniently located with close proximity to the United States — a trip from Miami to Cartagena de Indias is just 2.5 hours away or 5.5 hours from New York to Bogota.

Sigue leyendo

A %d blogueros les gusta esto: