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Chancing the Beaches of Colombia at The Karmairi Hotel Spa (and Loving It)

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  Site Where: Km 3 Via Manzanillo del Mar, Cartagenas de India, Colombia
January 28, 2011 at 10:31 AM | by | ()

Once again, Jet Set Life's Kimberly Murgatroyd returns with another VIP Hotel Review. You may recall her last visit to the XV Beacon Hotel in Boston. This time she headed to Colombia to relax at the Karmairi Hotel Spa. Enjoy.

When the average American thinks of Colombia, they probably think of the drug cartel and Pablo Escobar. This is changing, and as Americans, it's time to realize that we have a unspoiled Caribbean paradise just hours away!

Cartagena is only a short two hour flight from Miami International Airport and does not require an additional Visa or permit for Americans. The old-city of Cartagena offers a mix of Latin cultures and a complicated history that rivals many European cities. Inside the protective walls of the old-city, you'll find superior restaurants offering menus filled with fresh ceviche, local beef and freshly caught fish all cooked with a Latin flair.

The old-city itself is walkable and if you use the same common sense you would use in any large city, it's very safe. The narrow, cobble stone streets are lined with colorfully painted homes, boutiques, restaurants and salsa clubs. Street vendors offer fresh coconut, sliced local fruit and an incredible selection of Cuban hats.

The city itself is busy, exciting and the night-after-night mojitos and salsa dancing can definitely make you want a little relaxation. Usually, when I need to relax I'd head to the nearest beach, grab a chair and a good book. The problem in the beaches near the old-city are small, not very well kept and the water is a little rough for swimming.

Thankfully, I was lucky enough to be "kidnapped" by a local friend and taken to the Karmairi Hotel Spa for a little relaxation.

The Karmairi sent a car, which is a complimentary service they offer, to pick me up and whisk me away to paradise. During the drive we passed many new South-Beach style condo buildings with beach clubs. After close to thirty minutes we turned down a dirt road toward the coast. Once stopped, I jumped out of the car and walked into the Karmairi Hotel Spa to find the warm reception area.

As I passed the reception, I saw that the first floor has an open-air design with a dedicated area for their 5-star restaurant. Passing through the restaurant I noticed that straight ahead I could see a stunning pool, chaise lounges and a gorgeous beach and a view of the ocean!

On the wide, dark sand, unspoiled beach there are large sun beds, beach club style and a beach bar. I quickly slipped into my locally designed, Pitahaya swimsuit and got comfortable on one of the lounge chairs. I ordered a glass of white Sangria, freshly made of course, and booked a spa treatment to take place in one of the poolside Balinese-style huts.

The list of treatments reads like a candy store for adults. Bambo massage, tai stretching, honey massage, three-hour detox complete with a spa lunch. They all looked so amazing, but at the insistence of my friend, I chose the hot stone massage. This is the paradise that I was looking for!

I relaxed until it was time for my massage. The therapist showed me to my hut, and the treatment began. First, she started by painting a mask onto my face, an unexpected, pleasant surprise. Then she began the treatment by placing perfectly heated rocks from my forehead, down my down and even between my toes. She then began the massage using an oil that smelled like grapes and the heated stones to work out the muscles all over my body.

Then, the scrub began, another unexpected but welcomed addition to my massage. As I was going in and out of consciousness, I realized that this seemed way longer than a 1-hour treatment. In the US, the therapist has a timer and when it beeps, you're done. But at the Karmairi, you're done when she's done--however long that takes. At the end, I was beyond relaxed with skin as smooth as a baby! It's was pure heaven.

As Cartagena is near the equator, the sun always sets rather early, usually around 5pm. So, following the massage, I ordered a delicious multiple fish ceviche and another glass of this addicting white sangria to watch the sunset on the beach. The ceviche was perfectly seasoned, chilled and served in a beautiful presentation with banana chips.

As we got closer to sunset, the sky turned orange and the sea seemed to get calmer. As if almost on cue, locals rode by on horseback with this orange-hue sky as the backdrop. It was stunning! A perfect ending to an amazing, relaxing day.

Before I left, the owner gave me a tour of the hotel's twelve Balinese-style rooms. There are eight rooms in the main house, decorated to perfection. A few of them with gorgeous balconies overlooking the pool and sea. The third floor of the main house is dedicated to the most glamorous penthouse-style room. This room continues the open-air, simple Balinese design, and has the largest balcony. Perfect for a romantic honeymoon!

There are four rooms in a adjacent building that are simple, yet adequate for those with a smaller vacation budget. One thing is for sure, this hotel is an up and coming on the spa-hotel scene.

The owner is passionate about his hotels and it shows in your experience. The management staff of this hotel will go out of there way to help you create the most relaxing vacation ever or even the romantic experience you and your spouse have been craving.

I was so impressed by this hotel that I adjusted my travel schedule and canceled my other hotel visit so I could enjoy this paradise for one more day!

Rates at the Karmairi Hotel and Spa range from $200 to $600USD.

[Top and middle photos by Kimberly Murgatroyd; All others: Karmairi Hotel Spa]

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