Journey to Colombia from the U.S. has boomed lately, facilitated by plenty of direct routes from a number of main U.S. airports to each Bogota and Cartagena. And plenty of lodge teams are increasing their footprint within the area consequently. Sofitel lately each renovated one in all its current properties, the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara, and opened the doorways to a brand new one, Sofitel Barú Calablanca Beach Resort.

The Sofitel Legend Santa Clara is taken into account by many to be one of the crucial iconic and historic properties in Cartagena. And plenty of occasions that befell on the constructing the place the Sofitel Santa Clara resides now had a direct impact over the town within the final 400 years. Additionally a preferred frequent keep amongst royals and celebrities, the historic lodge has developed to satisfy the fashionable wants of vacationers, most clearly by the latest renovation of 25 visitor rooms.

The Legend suite on the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara

Courtesy of Sofitel

When the constructing was first constructed and based as a convent in 1621, Cartagena was a a lot completely different metropolis than the one vacationers go to in the present day—even the previous metropolis widespread with vacationers. The stone partitions that encompass the previous metropolis didn’t exist in these instances, and weren’t constructed for no less than one other 90 years. So within the earliest days of the town, being proper on the coast, the convent was solely protected by the partitions surrounding the property, and sometimes confronted the brunt of attacking pirates trying to find gold and the treasures that the Spanish already looted from different communities and have been subsequently put into storage in Cartagena earlier than being shipped again to Spain.

When architects visited the location the restore the constructing and switch it right into a lodge within the Nineteen Nineties, they discovered dozens of cannonballs within the former yard (which is the place the swimming pool is now). The lodge nonetheless makes use of these cannonballs, and friends may spot them at numerous factors across the property, typically holding open doorways and home windows.

The flooring have been restored very equally to the unique within the convent as effectively the partitions, columns, and many of the ceilings. (Wood ceilings, particularly, are normally the primary architectural particulars to turn out to be broken when deserted). However the ceiling above the foyer when friends first enter is the one one with the unique wooden, which will be noticed with an inscription dated to 1788.

Practically the entire ornamental furnishings and art work (i.e. desks, chairs, Catholic art work) across the lodge, exterior of the 125 whole visitor rooms, have been found on the property in the course of the constructing’s restoration. One instance is a picket statue, regarded by many historians as uncommon given its inventive type and lack of clothes, constructed within the picture of Santa Clara de Asís (St. Clare of Assisi), the founding father of the Catholic order to which the nuns belonged. (There are some items of furnishings that have been taken from different properties across the metropolis, however have been nonetheless from the colonial interval.)

However the primary problem for the architects was to revive the unique sense of the convent. They discovered a building over one other (and one other over one other) as a result of this place was not solely a convent, but it surely was additionally a jail, a army fortress, and most lately, a hospital, which was deserted for a number of years earlier than the lodge restoration.

And since images clearly didn’t exist in the course of the time the constructing was a convent (for roughly 240 years), there isn’t a visible for comparability—solely research of the nuns’ life-style. That’s the one foundation present researchers have concerning the each day lives of the nuns, particularly provided that they have been cloistered, so there isn’t a approach to be 100% positive the whole lot that occurred inside these partitions between the mid-Seventeenth to mid-Nineteenth century.

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

Courtesy of Sofitel

The nuns who lived within the convent have been cloistered, that means they couldn’t be seen by others. Thus, there have been plenty of architectural tips, so to talk, to make sure anonymity. For instance, the home windows have been constructed greater than the common top of a lady at the moment, permitting daylight to enter however stopping the ladies from having the ability to look exterior. Moreover, the lodge doesn’t have any authentic balconies dealing with exterior—solely internally.

One ground down from the foyer, there’s a basement with a collection of tunnels, which now hosts places of work for the lodge gross sales division and the car parking zone. However when it was a convent, that’s the place the nuns would go to cover within the case of pirate invasions, which throughout these instances was frequent to the purpose of normality.

El Coro, the lounge bar—the place many friends can come for a cocktail within the early night, get pleasure from stay music on weekends, and even watch a soccer match in the course of the center of the day—had a beforehand life because the convent chapel. Friends may even get a glimpse of the crypt proper beneath the bar by an illuminated, although blocked off, stairwell. (One other native enjoyable truth: The crypt additionally has a big position within the novel Of Love and Different Demons by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who has used many websites inside Cartagena’s previous metropolis for settings in his books.)

The door within the bar that opens to the road, by the place patrons who aren’t lodge friends can enter, has seen plenty of motion—together with an escape of a number of nuns throughout a neighborhood army invasion as effectively the arrival of French pirates, which prompted most non secular teams (together with the nuns) in addition to tutorial and political figures to take refuge in one other city a number of hours away for no less than a yr. Upon their return, the nuns discovered the convent looted in addition to principally destroyed. A number of years later, Cartagena was rebuilt and extra ready for international assaults, together with the thwarting of an tried English invasion.

Proper subsequent to the lodge bar is the 1621 Restaurant, named for the constructing’s origin, which affords elevated superb eating with wine pairings within the night. Friends also needs to get a have a look at the wine room, the place they will ebook tastings with the lodge’s sommelier for each tastings of wines from South America in addition to rums made in Colombia. However within the convent period, it’s protected to say that this space wasn’t as glamorous. Sure, it was additionally a eating room again then for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—however all meals have been consumed in whole silence. And in the present day’s wine cellar was then the personal eating room for the mom superior. (And the kitchen simply throughout the courtyard continues to be a kitchen in the present day, however now for the restaurant the place friends can actually get pleasure from breakfast, lunch, and both alfresco or contained in the consolation of the cool air con—all whereas speaking as a lot as they like.

The El Claustro restaurant on the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara.

Courtesy of Sofitel

Right this moment, sleeping requirements on the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara are as luxurious because it will get, with plush bedding and comforters (and really robust air con) throughout its TK guestrooms and TK suites. Not so, sadly, for the nuns who lived right here a whole bunch of years in the past. They slept in a single large dormitory with a number of entrances, and every nun had her personal mattress. However the mom superior, the nun accountable for all of the others inside the convent, had a mattress one foot greater than the opposite beds within the dormitory in order that she might have a large view of your complete room. Numbers diverse over time, however the convent had anyplace between 100 and 200 nuns at any given time within the convent’s historical past. The spot the place the mom superior had her sleeping preparations is now a duplex suite, which is commonly widespread with bridal events for 2 causes. One is the historic significance to the room. The opposite is that it’s proper subsequent to the church—normally the location of the marriage—so solely that visitor suite is aware about the loud noises coming from the venue.

Inside a junior suite on the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara.

Courtesy of Sofitel

The nuns resided on the convent in Cartagena’s previous metropolis from 1621 to 1841. Then got here a brand new political energy in Colombia, and the brand new administration at the moment didn’t favor the Catholic Church, utilizing a legislation already in use in Mexico to expropriate the properties of the Catholic Church. Principally, if the Catholic Church couldn’t show that they purchased the property, the federal government took it again. And because the convent was not purchased by the Catholic Church (as a substitute funded by a rich native noblewoman named Catalina de Cabrera), the nuns have been compelled out. Most of them moved to Havana, Cuba, the place they began a brand new convent. However a few of them moved to Turbaco, roughly seven miles away from Cartagena, the place the order nonetheless resides in the present day.

From that time on, the constructing had a tumultuous historical past, beginning off as a army fortress that hosted a jail and in addition served as an artillery to retailer weapons. Over 20 years later, the federal government constructed a hospital within the yard the place the pool space is now, with the surgical procedure proper within the center, roughly the place the poolside bar serving pisco sours and mojitos is now. (And the location the place the So Properly wellness spa, showcasing widespread luxurious French skincare model Sisley merchandise, is in the present day was once the morgue, actually giving new that means to feeling revived after a facial or therapeutic massage.)

The construction the place many of the visitor rooms are in the present day are a part of the constructing constructed for the hospital, which solely had three ground. However wanting on the constructing now, it’s clear there are 5 flooring. That’s as a result of the lodge architects took benefit of the extraordinarily excessive ceilings in the course of the hospital period, redesigning the constructing so as to add two extra flooring.

The Botero presidential suite on the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara.

Courtesy of Sofitel

One luxurious suite that does retain very excessive ceilings is one within the authentic constructing that overlooks the pool: the Botero Suite. Primarily the lodge’s presidential suite, the suite features a master suite, a dwelling space, a kitchenette, a full toilet, and a hallway toilet. The room is very vital because it was designed by the lauded Colombian artist Francisco Botero himself alongside along with his daughter Lina Botero. (Though many of the work within the room are accredited replicas of his work.)

The Sofitel Barú Calablanca Seashore Resort is situated on the jap a part of the island of Barú, a 20-45 minute journey from Cartagena by boat.

Courtesy of Sofitel

Following the lodge’s restoration from 1990 to 1994, the lodge opened because the Sofitel Santa Clara. It has since been rebranded because the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara given the constructing’s historic significance. There are solely five other Sofitel Legend properties—all housed in historic buildings—around the globe: the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi in Vietnam; the Sofitel Legend Outdated Cataract in Aswan, Egypt; the Sofitel Legend Folks’s Grand Xian in China; the Sofitel Legend The Grand in Amsterdam; and the Sofitel Legend Casco Viejo in Panama Metropolis, which can open subsequent yr.

Inside a superior visitor room on the Sofitel Barú Calablanca seashore resort.

Courtesy of Sofitel

Sofitel’s latest property within the Cartagena space, the Calablanca seashore resort on the island of Barú, is a stark distinction to the Santa Clara, providing a a lot completely different however equally luxurious expertise.

To begin, the brand new beachfront property on the Isla de Barú is barely a yr previous. And whereas it’s doable to get there by land (a 90-minute drive from the town), the easiest way to get there may be by sea: both a 45-minute catamaran trip or a 20-minute speedboat trip, the latter of which is barely accessible on weekends. However Sofitel can prepare transport between the 2 properties, together with rides to and from the marina, streamlining the voyage for friends.

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

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One necessary uniformity throughout the entire 187 rooms and suites is that every affords a panoramic view of the Caribbean sea. And all lodging include a deluxe toilet (some with customized bathtubs and a jacuzzi), HDTVs, Bose SoundDocks, Nespresso espresso machines, L’Occitane toiletries, Sofitel’s signature mattresses and bedding, air con, and high-speed Wi-Fi throughout the property. Seashore chairs and umbrellas are setup not solely all throughout the seashore but additionally at a number of swimming pools on a number of ranges, together with each swimming pools designated for households and adults-only.

There are three eating places onsite, together with two indoors with air con. Bahia, an open air restaurant with loads of shade and followers, serves native favourite dishes and cocktails. Humo is a Peruvian-Japanese idea open for dinner, serving twists on Japanese dishes with Peruvian (but additionally Colombian) twists and flavors. And the lodge’s eponymous restaurant, Calablanca, is an all-day affair, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Extra facilities embody the wellness spa, a innovative health middle, and a boutique with clothes by native designers.

The Sofitel Barú Calablanca seashore resort at dawn.

Courtesy of Sofitel

Beginning charges on the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara vary from $340 per evening for a basic visitor room to $2,380 per evening for the Botero presidential suite. Charges for the Sofitel Barú Calablanca vary from $285 per evening for a superior visitor room to $2,000 per evening for the presidential suite.

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