A Caribbean Crib Fit for a King
The first stop on any luxury tour of Cartagena is finding a colonial mansion fit for a king? Snag a spectacular hideaway in the achingly pretty alleyways of Cartagena’s Historic Centre for a truly regal experience
As one of the oldest properties in Cartagena's exquisite Centro Historico, this palatial casa is one of the most exciting renovation projects the city has seen. Boasting original foundations that date back to 1533, the 16th century Casa Pombo is awash with history but also celebrates modern architectural excellence under the mastery of acclaimed architect Alvaro Barrera.
One of its most striking features is a three-storey slate courtyard waterfall and luscious dining room that won it a place in the prestigious Wallpaper* City Guide. A rooftopmiradorfor sunset cocktails just underlines its seven-star feel.
Best of all, it's a stone's throw from Cartagena's best nightlife venues, rooftop bars and VIP hangouts. Although with this place booked you won't want to go anywhere, soiree away right at home.
Behind its reassuringly heavy oak door is a world of luxury and opulence, where five private restored suites (each sporting their own private balcony) serve up unique characteristics to ensure your stay is nothing less than enchanting.
In one suite, an old cell makes for a quirky toilette, whilst a different suite sports the famous regal bed where Javier Bardem writhed with Italian actress Giovanna Mezogiorno in Mike Newell's 2007 adaptation of Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera.
Owned by European stars of the silver screen, Pombo retains a magic all of its own and is frequently booked out by film stars and celebrities who rejoice in its discretion and serenity. You'll have full run of the place** plus a rooftop pool with views of the city's cathedral, a personal chef, private masseuse, full staff and on-hand guide who customizes a private walking tour of the Cartagena landmarks that inspired so many of Marquez finest works.
**Price and availability on request.
Caribbean Cruise Control
Leave the yacht in Monte Carlo we’ve got all your maritime needs covered right here. The Cristal Champagne always tastes better with something pretty to look at and it doesn’t come much better than the Caribbean
With the Ray Sundancer, the sunshine and smiles come free. Hosting a maximum of 12 people, the 51-foot super yacht boasts a souped-up sound system, personal skipper and barman (on request), luxurious leather upholstered interiors, an alfresco dining area, spacious sundeck and more importantly, a fully stocked bar of local beverages and specialities to get your party started in true Colombian style.
You'll set sail early to make the most of the day, leaving the private marina in Cartagena's Manga district to make your way on a serene voyage out to Colombia's most exclusive Caribbean islands and secluded coves.
During the day, your experienced team will be on hand to attend to your every whimsy and to ensure every last detail - from the time you want your first Mojito to the fluffy towels that await you after a refreshing dip - is perfect. Here, the ocean will be your world class oyster; a place filled with seductive opportunities to snorkel, relax, indulge and entertain old friends, or get better acquainted with new ones, aboard the very epitome of modern yachting luxury.
Prior to your excursion, the team on board your floating pleasure palace will work with you to create a tailored agenda according to your utmost desire, be that an exploration into the platinum-sanded perfection of Baru, the lobster-filled waters of Las Islas de Rosario or the bewitching crystal clear waters that await you in the enchanting lagoons of Cholon.
Sunset Sail and Seafood Extravaganza
After letting it all hang out in the Caribbean’s tropical Rosario Islands, step off your private yacht at sunset for a delicious medley of sumptuous seafood at a legendary Cartagena seafood restaurant, Club de Pesca
After a relaxing day's snorkeling in the tropical waters of the Carbbean, pamper your party's tastebuds with some of the finest Colombian coastal cuisine in decadent surrounds. Cartagena is renowned for it's gourmet dining scene and nowhere does it better than local atmospheric hangout, Club De Pesca.
Located in the ambiance-rich ramparts of a pirate-proof fort built in 1743, Club de Pesca remains a firm favourite with the upper echelons of Cartagena society, who flock for an inventive modern seafood menu and five star alfresco dining under the stars with the city's shimmering Manga marina as a fitting backdrop.
With an impressive selection of new and old world wines, you'll be treated to your own personal sommelier, who's on hand to select the perfect varietals to complement fresh langoustines grilled in a coconut sauce, or perfectly seared scallops in a basil-based sauce.
There's also the option of taking a gourmet master class and upping your own culinary skills with cooking classes in the safe hands of Club de Pesca's renowned chef, Vanessa Figueroa, who learned her trade in the kitchens of Paris. Either way, we defy you to leave without trying the signature cocktail; a limonada de coco laced with a generous dose of Guatemala's award winning Ron Zacapa.
A Cut Above | The Best of Cultural Cartagena
Colombian art is as hot as the searing Caribbean midday heat right now so skip the latter with an air-conditioned plunge into the cultural highlights of the historic centre
For those who wish to probe deeper into Cartagena's rich artistic identity and pick the wheat from the chaff of Cartagena's cultural offering designer & fine artist, Juliana Bravo, will take you into the heart of Cartagena's Centro Historico.
Visit the city's most alluring galleries, NH Galeria, Art Cartagena and the Museum of Modern Art of Cartagena as well as the studios of talented local artists Rafael Ortiz and Ruby Rumie to discover why the walled city is becoming such a hotspot for burgeoning international artists, writers, sculptors and painters.
Pick up a little something worth keeping. Who knows it might be as valuable as the pre-hispanic bling on show in the Zenu Gold Museum near Plaza Bolivar in a few years. Understand the area's pre-Colombian past and delve into the city's turbulent colonial past as an eighteenth century trading hub for slaves, gold and precious gems plagued by opportunistic pirates.
Juliana's black book of contacts and access to the city's hot young art and design talent opens up a world of possibilities and given the healthy returns being posted by Colombian art in auctions around the world it would be foolish to go home without a little cultural loot of your own.
Take me higher | Fly to Colombia’s Lost City
It’s quite a trek but the mountains that rise majestically from the Caribbean to snow-capped peaks at 5,450 metres are unique and worth a peak. Book a helicopter to see the famous Ciudad Perdida ruins and enjoy a bird’s eye view of a divine natural intervention
On the fringe of the world-famous Parque Tayrona, the Ciudad Perdida or 'Lost City' holds a mythical status in Colombia's rich pre-colonial past. Usually navigated on foot during up to a week of challenging hiking trails, why not opt in for the lazy, luxury alternative.
Charter your own helicopter and view the ruins from a privileged vantage point that allows you and three others to leave your hiking boots at home. Soar to dramatic new heights and admire the lush tropical jungle as it drops into the dazzling Caribbean waters.
Taking off from an airfield close to Barranquilla (just 90 minutes east of Cartagena), you'll be greeted with a glass of Moet and some noise-reducing headphones. Once in the air, you'll get a luxurious birds' eye view of this remarkable stretch of Caribbean coast and see firsthand why it's considered one of South America's finest UNESCO protected national parks.
Cuidad Perdida remains in the hands of the indigenous Tayrona people and as such, it's a sacred spot anchored between the Sierra Nevada mountain range and Parque de Tayrona a pre-historic stretch of unspoiled beaches, each one more beautiful than the last.
Touch down and enjoy an afternoon's sunbathing and private picnic at a Eco-Hab resort that mixes indigenous huts with five-star amenities, squeeze in a relaxing massage on the beach and the freshest of fish platters before heading back to Cartagena for a rooftop Mojito at sunset. Indulge yourself with an experience you simply can't miss.
Alternatively, if the islands are calling you away from Cartagena and your sea legs aren't as sturdy as they might be leave the yacht behind and fly over the idyllic Rosario Islands archipelago before landing on your own private island. With a dedicated pilot at your beck and call, it's a thrill-fuelled way to island hop, skipping and gliding footloose and fancy free through the Caribbean.
Shop ‘til you flop. No thanks. Spend in style
Pack the Amex Black Card for some first-class shopping and retail therapy. We've customized a decadent day hammering the plastic followed by a rewarding cocktail on one of Cartagena’s most exalted rooftop bars
Fashionistas can get up close and personal with the best of Cartagena's boutique fashion, jewelry and interior designers with an indulgent shopaholic escape that pairs you up with one of the city's hottest style consultants. Skip the tourist tat and go straight to the top for presents that really are worth paying the excess luggage for.
Given Cartagena's proximity to the Caribbean Sea, it's no surprise the city's home to some seriously decadent beachwear boutiques. Top up your bikini drawer with a trip to Bettina Spitz or complement your look with a glittering mochilla by Barranquilla-born designer, Silvia Tcherassi.
If it's some expensive green fire that you're after, add the final exquisite flourish to your ensemble with a dazzling emerald necklace or diamond encrusted ring (pictured) from the most trusted contemporary jeweler in Cartagena, Lucy Jewelry.
Boys if you're planning on hitting the waves you can brighten up your jaded beachwear wardrobe with some of the colourful, ultra-resistant threads on offer at Italian fashion brand, Paul & Shark, or bag some Top Gun aviator shades from Kanowa Cartagena.
For the home Cartagena's chic colonial
casas are testament to the city's thriving interior
design scene, with Casa Chiqui and
providing plenty of upscale inspiration on how to adorn your home
with bespoke handmade furniture, designer rugs by Jorge Lizarzo's
Hechizoo and soft furnishings that stem from Bali to Belize.
In between purchases, hit the serene Charleston Hotel rooftop bar for freshly blended mango Daquiris and spectacular views of Cartagena's Old City (and rev yourself up for a little more spending).
Get Into Gourmet | Gastronomic Cartagena
We all like to eat well but to cook well, that’s another thing altogether. Why not get the fast-track to some serious culinary prowess with a crash course in ceviche by the beach or a personalized voyage into French-Caribbean cuisine
For foodies, gourmands or simply hosts wanting to throw a truly decadent dinner party, this unforgettable day allows you to work alongside Cartagena's top chefs and a consulting wine sommelier to learn the art of truly exquisite cuisine.
Jorge Escandon, the colourful owner of La Cevicheria opposite the Hotel Santa Clara stepped in to show the Travel Channel's globe-trotting gourmand, Anthony Bourdain, around the fresh fish options in Cartagena. Bourdain was suitably impressed. "How does a place like this exist and everybody doesn't want to live here?"
Escandon is now offering a similarly luxurious experience to anyone with a stomach for sublimely fresh ceviche plucked from the fish market in the morning and diced into a delirious selection of lime-cooked sea bass, squid and octopus in his house in Manzanillo del Mar.
For those with a more European pallet, Gilles Dupart, one half of the couple that owns Cartagena's most impeccable French Mediterranean restaurant Oh! La La, offers a short instruction into the subtle culinary arts picked up in his native Normandy.
Get to grips with his signature carrot soup laced with orange juice or the octopus glazed in tomato vinegar or the star of the restaurant's lunctime menu, Esmechada de Posta Negra, an upmarket twist on the staple Cartagena tenderized stewing steak slow-cooked in a rich sweet and sour sauce made with brown sugar, cumin, onions and garlic.
Of course you get to eat everything you cook.
Mix some magic | Rum tasting and mixology day
Chile’s got wine, Peru’s got Pisco and Colombia’s got a passion for rum. Taking some of the Caribbean’s finest sugar cane brews for a test drive, this exclusive taster evening promises to set up a night to remember (or not perhaps)
For true connoisseurs who appreciate the complex process of rum creation, this enlightening evening offers you and discerning rum connoisseurs the rare opportunity to explore the finest rums coming out of the Caribbean then put them to the test in a private cocktail 'lesson'.
Working alongside the city's top mixologists and bar wizards from Cartagena's acclaimed restaurant La Vitrola or Ferish Fosky, one of the most knowledgable sommeliers in town and the local representative of the Durigutti Winemakers' stable. You'll be guided through the art of tasting rum and learn how to spot the subtle nuances of each label's careful distillation process.
After learning the theory, a luxury yacht awaits you for a sunset sail with a team of mixologists (and a well stocked mini bar) to be coached through the creation of some of Colombia's finest signature rum cocktails.
What to bring? your friends of course, new and old. There'll be no shortage of takers when they see the 51-ft yacht stocked with rations of Ron Zacapa, Durigutti 10-year old vintage and the local award winning tipple, Dictador.
If it's fine wines you're after then Fosky is on hand to take you on a tour of the best Malbecs currently being produced in Argentina. You don't need to go anywhere. He'll bring his wonderful wares to you.
Desert island decadence
Take your powers of seduction into another league with a surprise lobster and champagne picnic in a special corner of the Caribbean, the Rosario Islands
An uncompromisingly decadent day for couples celebrating an engagement, honeymoon or simply some deserved private time together, this bespoke experience allows you to lie back and let the skipper do the work as you and that very special person in your life set adrift for a romantic day on the ocean waves.
Heading out to the Caribbean Islas de Rosario an hour from Cartagena, your day will be filled with the finest provisions to keep your appetite up whilst snorkeling amidst some of the Caribbean's most flamboyant marine life.
Pulling into a protected cove unknown to other visitors, you'll be provided with beach mats, parasols and a cooler basket of gourmet treats and fresh lobster plucked out of the sea nearby. Enjoy with a chilled bottle of fine French champagne in the shade of desert island palms.
After you've feasted on the finest seafood Cartagena's coastline has to offer, you'll return to the port just in time for sunset and the myriad of options to explore in this magical city.
It's enough to make Robinson Crusoe green with envy.
Be A High Net Health Individual
Get down and dirty with your lover in the mud chamber at Santa Clara’s five star So Spa or catch up with some downtime with your girlfriends while the mineral enriching treatments take effect
Fun, feel-good and for those wanting to boost,
body, mind and libido levels, a luxurious couples spa day in
Cartagena's world-class SoSpa at the hotel
Santa Clara takes some beating. The spa lends itself perfectly to
couples or newlyweds escaping the heat and creating their own in
the tranquil confines of the spa's spacious Rassoul Mud chamber and
enormous aromatherapy steam room.
Once you've slathered healing Colombian mineral muds all over each others' limbs, lie back and enjoy the blissful serenity of a venue known for its ability to pamper some of South America's most famous spa goers (no we're not telling you who they are).
But rest assured, your spa day at SoSpa is reassuringly deluxe. After showering the nourishing mud of your bodies, don a fluffy robe and head together to the dual treatment suite, where two expert therapists await to customize the perfect top-to-toe massage for you both lie on adjacent silky soft couches.
Rule the roost on your own party island
If you’re the kind of high net worth individual that signs off on your own expenses then create the guest list of the century and invite friends, family and VIPs to party in private on your own Caribbean island paradise
Forget about the coat check. Ditch the guest-list. Oh, and there's no need to worry about queues either. For serious party aficionados used to seeing how the other half live, celebrate a birthday, anniversary, engagement (or simply because you can), with your own private party island for the night.
Gather your lucky troops for a sunset rendezvous at the Marea by Rausch and wait for a fleet of lightning-fast 42 ft speedboats and serene yachts to welcome groups of up to 18 VIP partygoers. Keep the evening moving with a Mojito or Blue Label whisky on the rocks that will help keep spirits up on your 45 minute five-star voyage to one of several mystery party islands. The reclusive retreats come complete with luxury suites and rooms for revelers to retire to after celebrating under a starlit Caribbean sky.
From dusk till dawn, these island can be hired and customized to your liking, we'll even source a dedicated staff and talented chefs who will whip up tantalizing local delicacies and freshly seared seafood to keep your guests satiated as the cocktails flow well into the early hours.
Better still, like any memorable Colombian
soirée, the main draw, beside the company you keep and the
cocktails you quaff is the MUSIC. Colombians like it loud but
there's no need to worry about complaints from the
Each island in the portfolio features a
state-of-the-art sound system, speakers and a bar to get your
celebrations off to a booty-shaking bang. Let us know what sounds
you like and we'll send the right DJ to keep the party rocking
through the night. If you need Shakira to play then that can be
Private members clubs? Who needs them when you've got your own offshore tax heaven.