Introduction: Captivating Colombia

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Introduction
Review: Avianca Domestic Lounge Bogota Airport
Review: Hilton Cartagena Hotel
Review: Sofitel Cartagena Hotel
Review: Avianca Lounge Cartagena Airport
Review: W Bogota Hotel
Review: LAN Lounge Bogota Airport
Review: Element Miami Airport


I have a couple of flights over the next few days without wifi, so I plan on publishing this trip report really fast, since I have plenty of time to write it.

In February Ford and I went to Colombia. The trip was entirely Ford’s idea, as Colombia frankly wasn’t anywhere near the top of my list of places to visit until Ford mentioned how many of his friends raved about it.

How I booked the flights

As I’ve explained, I’ve tried to front load my revenue American Airlines travel this year, given that American is still awarding miles based on distance flown rather than dollars spent.

American publishes very reasonable business class fares between Los Angeles and Bogota, so we booked the following, at the cost of $950 per person in paid business class (of course we decided to route it a bit circuitously to earn more miles):

02/19 AA292 Los Angeles to New York departing 6:00AM arriving 2:18PM
02/19 AA2351 New York to Miami departing 5:03PM arriving 8:19PM
02/20 AA913 Miami to Bogota departing 10:00AM arriving 1:50PM

02/27 AA916 Bogota to Miami departing 3:09PM arriving 7:00PM
02/28 AA64 Miami to New York departing 12:40PM arriving 3:27PM
02/28 AA181 New York to Los Angeles departing 5:30PM arriving 8:57PM

LAX-Colombia

For that trip I earned 20,284 elite qualifying miles, and 35,355 redeemable miles. So while it’s not good enough to be a mileage run in and of itself, it is a heck of a fare to a destination we really wanted to visit.

We had a week on the ground in Colombia, and as usual I tried to strike a balance between seeing as many places as possible while also realizing that I need to work as much as possible, so not trying to visit too many places in a short period of time helps with that. After quite a bit of thought we decided we’d visit Cartagena and Bogota on this trip, realizing that there are plenty of other beautiful areas of Colombia which we now want to go back and visit.

We ended up booking the following flights within Colombia, which cost ~$120 per person roundtrip:

02/20 AV9798 Bogota to Cartagena departing 4:32PM arriving 6:04PM
02/24 AV9547 Cartagena to Bogota departing 3:42PM arriving 5:12PM

Avianca-A320

That gave us four days on the ground in Cartagena, and then another three days on the ground in Bogota.

How I booked the hotels

Ford’s friend from Cartagena said that the Sofitel is the place to stay in the city. Originally I was planning on booking the Hilton Cartagena for our entire stay. However, after looking at the options more closely, it sure seemed like the Sofitel was in fact infinitely nicer. The only problem was that the Sofitel was sold out for the first night.

So what we ended up doing was booking the Hilton for the first night and then the Sofitel for the other three nights.

The first night at the Hilton Cartagena cost $140, which seemed reasonable enough. I’m a Hilton Diamond member, so we’d receive complimentary lounge access and a room upgrade.

Hilton-Cartagena-Hotel - 9

Then for the remaining three nights we booked the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena.

Sofitel-Cartagena

We booked this through American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts, which is available to those with The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN. This got us perks like a $100 food & beverage credit, complimentary breakfast, a room upgrade, and guaranteed 4PM check-out.

Sofitel-FHR Sofitel-FHR-1

Now here’s the thing. The Sofitel is really expensive, at least for Colombia. It cost $320 per night, which seems insane to me, given how cheap most other things are. I was reluctant to stay there given the price tag, but it was oh-so-worth-it.

Then we had three nights in Bogota. As a Hyatt and Starwood loyalist, I figured the W Bogota Hotel was the best option. We also booked this through Fine Hotels & Resorts, which included a third night free offer. The nightly rate for the first two nights was ~$180, and then the third night was free, lowering the nightly cost to ~$120. For that we received complimentary breakfast, a $100 spa credit, and more, all of which could be stacked with Starwood Platinum benefits.

W-Bogota

On the way back from Colombia we had a one night stopover in Miami, and we decided to finally try the Element Miami Airport. I’ve reviewed the Sheraton Miami Airport in the past, so figured I might as well check out a new property.

Element-Miami-Airport

Bottom line

Like I said, this is going to be a pretty quick trip report, as I’ll just be talking about the hotels and airline lounges we visited. I’ve already shared my thoughts on Colombia as a destination, as did Ford. If you haven’t been to Colombia I highly recommend it, and I can’t wait to return and see more of the country.

On this trip I’m also working on finally resizing the pictures from my Australia & New Zealand trip earlier in the year, which is coming up next.

Enjoy this review? Check out hundreds of other reports on airlines, hotels, and airport lounges worldwide!

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. Have you ever had an issue with stacking Fine Hotels & Resorts benefits with hotel status membership benefits? If so, which hotel memberships have given you trouble?

  2. I asked this before but how to you come up with your routing? Are they all one-way tickets? How do you find the lowest prices for so many stops?

  3. That price is very good, considering the LAX-NYC Transcon flights built in there.

    Colombia is a really neat place. Most people who haven’t visited still picture “Pablo Escobar Colombia”, which is not the case. I really enjoyed my trip there last year.

  4. @ Stav9678 — Nope, the whole thing is a roundtrip ticket. When you look at airline routing rules they often let you route via other cities, so in this case I was just taking the rules as far as they go. I use ITA Matrix to search fares like these.

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