4 Best Resorts in Santa Marta, Colombia: We Review You Enjoy

Are the best resorts in Santa Marta worth it?

The beaches of Santa Marta do not have an excellent reputation, and the city center is not comparable to Cartagena. Still, many travelers decide to venture there because of its proximity to the majestic Sierra Nevada and its much more affordable hotel offers.

Besides incredible day trips, you deserve to find a hotel with a pleasant beach, a safe area, and good facilities. You’re on vacation, after all!

I’ve been many times in Santa Marta (at least 8 times. I stopped counting.), and in this article, I’ll help you choose among the most famous resorts in the area.

They’re all located in Bello Horizontes, and your choice will depend on the vibe you’re looking for:

Read on to find out what to expect and learn our tips for making the right decision (2nd part).

MAP: Best resorts in Santa Marta

Mini-reviews: Best resorts in Santa Marta

There are four on-beach luxury hotels in Santa Marta that I would like to highlight. They offer a mix of relaxation and fun and are located in one of the city’s safest areas.

1# Best resort for families with children: The Zuana Resort 

The Zuana Beach Resort is located just 5 minutes away from the Santa Marta international airport. It sits in a very safe area known as Bello Horizonte. It’s one of the best luxury hotels designed for families and big groups, where you have plenty of water and sports activities and guest rooms for several people.

👉 Read the reviews on Booking

 💰 Rooms & Cost & Options

The Zuana Santa Marta offers three air-conditioned rooms: standard, suite, and penthouse, each at different prices. The hotel features 331 rooms, all with free wi-fi access.

The standard room is a studio-type space with two double beds for 3 or 4 guests, an LED TV, a fridge, a safe, a full bath, and a balcony with great views.

The suites accommodate up to 4 people and are larger than the standard room because they include a kitchen (equipped with a microwave oven and coffee maker) and a dining area. They also feature more oversized balconies. There are suites for families of 5 or 6 members.

The penthouses are the crown jewel at this Santa Marta luxury hotel. They are on the newest building’s top floors and resemble fully equipped apartments.

Fees start at 166 USD per night for two people in the low season.

🎲 Activities & services

There are plenty of things to do at the Santa Marta Zuana Beach Resort for families, children, or only adults. The hotel has 6 interconnected pools at the center of the main buildings. There’s also an area dedicated to several hot tubs, plus a spa and fitness centre on the upper floors with panoramic sea views. Kids have a water park and a giant slide.

You and your kids can have fun at the bowling alleys. This amusement room has video and table games.

You can take a hydrotherapy circuit at the spa that lasts 1.5 hours in an indoor pool, plus massages and other relaxation treatments. And, you have tennis and two beach volleyball courts if you like sports.

For senior guests or persons with mobility issues, this Santa Marta hotel offers special “amphibian” chairs to go into the sea and safely enjoy the waves (sorry, no rooftop swimming pool). There are live shows, so you should ask for those at the front desk. There’s an inside supermarket with prices slightly above the average.

You can also hire airport transfers (it’s 5 min. away from the hotel) for 2 USD per person.

🌮 Eating and drinking

You can choose from international, Colombian, Mexican, and Asian cuisine at Neguanje restaurant. The sushi bar is called Ziruma, a sky bar on the 16-floor. It features a happy hour for drinks and opens daily. The Ziruma showcases live music shows and karaoke nights. It’s also a great place to enjoy Santa Marta sunsets. You don’t need to book dinners. 

A buffet breakfast is included. If you’re staying at the suites or the penthouses, you can do some shopping and cook in your room. 

You may also enjoy drinks and cocktails at the Masinga Sports Bar while you play billiards, watch games and sports on TV, drink beer, and eat snacks.

🛏️ Atmosphere and buildings 

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The Santa Marta Zuana Beach Resort consists of two main towers: one 25 years old and another, a newer one, that offers the best sunset and panoramic sea views. 

One frequent criticism of this Santa Marta resort is that some rooms look outdated (although this doesn’t hamper services such as free wifi access and amenities). The same happens in the gym, where some machines are aging. 

The interwoven swimming pools look great, although they can get crowded in high season—this a hotel specially designed for families and large groups. The advantage of staying in groups is that you can get a better price because you can split the bill. 

Because there are many people and kids, don’t expect this to be a Santa Marta resort for pure relaxation or a romantic plan.

Tower one is a bit further away from the beach and the restaurants, so persons with mobility issues should consider this. The hotel offers free private parking.

📍 Location & how to get there 

One of the attractive features of the Santa Marta Zuana is that it’s located in the Bello Horizonte beach area. This place is very safe (the hotel offers private surveillance of the public beach), it has beautiful, clean sand, and the beach has not so many vendors. The sand is dark but very well maintained. The beach has been certified with a blue flag, which means it complies with specific high international standards. 

The closeness to the airport is another advantage (a 5-min. ride, you can ask the hotel reception). Some good restaurants are in the surroundings, and Santa Marta’s center is just 30 minutes away by taxi. 

2# Best resort for couples: Santa Marta Marriott Resort Playa Dormida

The Santa Marta Marriott Playa Dormida is the perfect spot for a romantic plan or honeymoon trip. It’s located in a very safe and tranquil area, away from the noise of other places in Santa Marta. The building is new and comfortable, and the service is excellent.

👉 Read the reviews on Booking

💰 Rooms & Cost & Options

The price for air-conditioned rooms at the Santa Marta Marriott Resort varies depending on what kind of room you’re staying in. There are 140 guest rooms with ocean views (partial views for some) and modern décor.

You’ll find the Classic King room, which offers a king-size bed. Or the rooms that feature two double-size beds. These two kinds of guest rooms are 30 square meters in size.

The 28 suites offer 68 square meters of space and feature a living room that overlooks the ocean. The large private bathrooms allow for easy direct access to people in wheelchairs. The junior suites are ideal for families with kids because they have interconnected rooms.

Every suite of this luxury hotel offers sun chairs and a private jacuzzi on the terrace, great views of the Santa Marta ocean, and free bottled water. The suites have an iron, an ironing table, coffee and teapots, and a minibar.

In the low season, prices start at 219 USD for two people, with a breakfast buffet.

🎲 Activities & services

This Santa Marta resort is pretty quiet in terms of activities during weekdays. That makes it perfect for relaxing. The outdoor swimming pool with views of the ocean and the steam bath are ways to renew your energies.

There’s also direct beach access, and a spa and fitness center in the Marriott Resort Playa Dormida, in case you need to work out.

The entertainment activity goes on Fridays, with live music and theme parties. Some guests miss more entertainment options since the hotel is located in a non-commercial area and it’s relatively far from Santa Marta and other entertainment spots.

🌮 Eating and drinking

The hotel features two restaurants praised for their gastronomic offer: the 1525 Bistro and the Cayeye. The former offers international-type food for breakfast and dinner. The latter’s a-la-carte menu is based on Latin American cuisine.

Colombia’s Caribbean — and Santa Marta — cuisine also takes a prominent place with dishes based on shrimp, squid, fish, avocado, and plantain.

You may book your stay with included continental buffet breakfast. Food at both restaurants includes free-of-gluten food, desserts, meat, ribs, fish, and even homemade gelato.

Drinks can be a bit pricey at the hotel’s only bar. However, it offers plenty of exciting mixes. Chiringuito is a beach bar that serves various drinks, among which exotic fruits and coconut milk stand out.

🛏️ Atmosphere and buildings

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This Santa Marta 4-star resort operates in a newly built structure that combines modern architecture with touches of the Tayrona indigenous culture. It has direct beach access.

The building was finished in 2019. For this reason, the whole infrastructure is thought for persons with mobility issues.

The facilities are also designed for adults rather than families with children. The whole atmosphere of the place invites more to relax than party or have extreme fun. I suggest just sitting in common areas to enjoy the architecture and decoration of the hotel.

📍 Location & how to get there

The Santa Marta Marriott Resort Playa Dormida is located in Bello Horizonte, an area just 5 minutes away from the airport. This neighborhood is very safe, and the beaches are well taken care of and pleasant, even though the sand is not white and the water is not turquoise.

It is a bit secluded from the vibe of places such as El Rodadero or the center of Santa Marta (it takes 30 min. by car to get to the city’s heart).

This is a place where you can relax, swim, and sunbathe without having to stand the loads of salesmen you’ll find on other beaches. The luxury hotels in the area pay for private surveillance of the beach.

3# The largest resort in Santa Marta: Irotama Resort

The Irotama Resort is considered the largest among the hotels in Santa Marta. It’s so big that you have inside transportation service for the family and kids. It consists of several buildings and a vast outdoor swimming pool.

👉 Read the reviews on Booking

💰 Rooms & Cost & Options

One thing you’ll love about the Santa Marta Irotama is its 301 air-conditioned rooms equipped with kitchens, satellite TV, and private bathrooms (plus free bathroom amenities and free wifi access). However, prices differ depending on whether your room has a view of the ocean and a jacuzzi. The room includes bed linen.

Junior suites feature a living room area and an extra sofa, and they are meant for three people. The Luxury junior suite includes a hot tub and a king-size bed. 

Some suites interconnect to rooms and can accommodate up to 5 people. The larger of these gathers three rooms to host up to 7 guests. This one is ideal for large families or groups willing to get the best out of Santa Marta.

Prices at Irotama start at 200 USD per room for two people. If you want to book a room with a view of the ocean, you have to make sure with the person in charge that you’ll indeed be given such a room, for it’s sometimes difficult to get one.

🎲 Activities & services

The Santa Marta Irotama offers you 4 pools that include a slide and a snack bar, which reminds you that this hotel is for kids and families. There is a rooftop swimming pool. From there, you can enjoy breathtaking sunsets. 

The hotel offers you one full kilometer of clean and safe beach with very mild waves. You can also practice golf and tennis. 

The Irotama organizes dance and music shows on the beach, mainly on Saturday nights. Drinks accompany these parties on the beach. 

For the younger ones, there is a mini kids club where the professional staff takes care of them and ensures they’re entertained. 

The outdoor swimming pool and beach services, such as towels and lounge chairs, don’t open before 9 or 10 a.m., a bit too late for some early birds that would like to enjoy a swim in the Santa Marta ocean before breakfast. Jacuzzis, steam baths, and outdoor pools close at 7 p.m., also a bit too early. 

🌮 Eating and drinking

One of the highlights of this Santa Marta hotel is that you have 9 restaurants to choose from. You can also eat snacks at 3 cafeterias and drinks at 3 bars: one bar on the beach, one by the outdoor swimming pool, and one that focuses on 24/24h room service. You can also get complimentary water, tea, and coffee in the common areas. 

Continental or buffet breakfast is included in the price of the room. You may also have lunches and dinners. If you pay for lunch and dinner directly, the buffet costs 15 USD per person. There are divided opinions regarding the food offer variety. Restaurants close at 10:30 p.m. 

🛏️ Atmosphere and buildings 

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This 5-star Santa Marta resort opened 50 years ago. It features a bungalow area and 5 additional towers called Irotama XXI, del Lago, Reservado, del Sol, and del Mar. The Reservado tower is the only one without an outdoor pool. This tower and del Lago are the newest ones. 

Most of the towers have a swimming pool. The main outdoor swimming pool showcases a slide, which is a lot of fun for kids. 

Some parts of the facilities are starting to age and require maintenance. However, the service is good, and there are plenty of things to see and enjoy inside the facilities. 

And one more thing: all towers have their front desk, so it can be confusing where to check in when you arrive. 

📍 Location & how to get there 

The Irotama Resort is located in the Bello Horizonte neighborhood, one of the safest places in the Santa Marta area. 5-10 minutes from the airport. 

The facilities are located 30 min away from Santa Marta’s center. The hotel offers a free shuttle service.

In the vicinity, there is the Zazue shopping mall and a Carulla supermarket. 

Irotama also features a Bungalow—many guests commented they’re outdated. It also offers Superior Double Room and Family Suite. You can access these options by clicking on the button below.👇

4# Resort with the best service: GHL Relax Hotel Costa Azul

GHL Relax is a small, three-star Santa Marta hotel that pays attention to detail and offers a cozy atmosphere. It has a few dozen of rooms, and some with ocean views.

👉 Read the reviews on Booking

💰 Rooms & Cost & Options

The Santa Marta GHL has two towers with 67 air-conditioned rooms, among standard rooms and junior suites. The standard rooms are designed for two adults. All include free wifi access.

The junior suites feature boasting family rooms, two private bathrooms, a balcony, and a minibar. These suites are great for families with children because the little ones have a lot of space to move around. 

Prices depend on the room type, starting at 91 USD for two people in the low season. Some guests say getting a room is difficult because the hotel is usually packed. 

🎲 Activities & services 

The GHL luxury hotel offers you and your family lots of fun in the pool areas, one of which is designed for kids. For instance, the kids’ swimming pool has a giant slide in the shape of an elephant and a mushroom-like fountain. The hotel organizes lots of activities for kids in the pool, so they spend a lot of time in the water (sunblock alert!). There is also a fountain in the middle of the adults’ outdoor swimming pool and an outdoor hot tub surrounded by vegetation. 

One thing that stands out at this Santa Marta hotel is the staff service. It’s probably because this is a rather small hotel, so the service is more personalized. 

The hotel includes a minimarket where you can find food and personal hygiene products. The hotel is near the beach. Did we mention free wi fi access?

🌮 Eating and drinking

The hotel has one restaurant and one bar by the outdoor swimming pool. Breakfast is included. This serves many typical dishes, like arepas and “bollos” (manioc or corn pastries). 

The food at the restaurant is mainly typical Colombian, with plenty of fruit options. 

Some guests of this Santa Marta hotel would like to see more seafood options on the menu and bigger portions. There’s a complimentary bottle of water in your room. 

🛏️ Atmosphere and buildings 

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The GHL is a 3-star resort for families and children, although the atmosphere is very relaxed and quiet. The architecture revolves around the two pools, where most of the activity occurs. 

The beach is right in front of the hotel. It looks like a private beach area (private beaches do not exist in Colombia), and it’s clean, safe, and quieter than others in Santa Marta, for the number of vendors isn’t that big. 

The lush Santa Marta vegetation surrounds the buildings, the hot tub, and the pools. In the background stands the Sierra Nevada and the Santa Marta beach and ocean in the front. There’s free private parking.

📍 Location & how to get there 

The Santa Marta GHL Resort is just 4 km from the airport, in an exclusive neighborhood known as Pozos Colorados, also part of Bello Horizonte. This comes in handy if you have to take an early flight. At the same time, it means you’re further away from Santa Marta’s historic center (where you can see the popular Santa Marta landmarks), restaurants, bars, and the party atmosphere. 

The area is very safe and quiet. However, many shops refuse to take food, medicines, or shopping deliveries. They consider it “too far,” so you should do your shopping when you visit more commercial places.

This area is meant for relaxation away from the noise of the historic center or El Rodadero Beach. 

Santa Marta Resorts: The booking guide

All the resorts reviewed here are located in the Bello Horizonte area of Santa Marta. It’s a quieter, safer zone of the city where you can relax while close to the airport.

Zones

Bello Horizonte is a Santa Marta neighborhood just minutes away from the simón bolívar international airport. Although the beaches are public, none of them has a heavy presence of street vendors. 

The GHL is the closest to the airport and, simultaneously, the most secluded from where the entertainment and eating action takes place. 

Zuana and Irotama, on the other hand, have more surrounding restaurants, bars, and shops. From either of the four luxury hotels, you must take a 30-min taxi if you want to go to downtown Santa Marta. In that case, make sure you carry some cash with you (the cost of the cab service is between 6 and 8 USD).

Best resort for families with kids

The Zuana is an excellent option for families that want to know Santa Marta. This is because of the room configurations. These can accommodate a different number of guests. The suites feature equipped kitchens so that you can cook for the whole group. 

The GHL, on the other hand, makes children enjoy the pool and the daily activities there. In the meantime, parents can have a drink or two. 

Best resort for couples or groups of friends

All the resorts are suitable for couples, but if you really want some privacy, peace, quiet, and no big crowds, the Marriott is quiet on weekdays and has a great spa to help you relax. 

If you like live music and shows, the Irotama is one of the luxury hotels in Santa Marta that features live dance shows at the restaurant, bar, and beach. There is a fantastic variety of drinks and cocktails as well. 

Best resort with direct beach access

All of the four resorts reviewed have access to clean, well-kept beaches. The water is clean, but it’s not turquoise. And the sand is soft but dark.

You should remember that private beaches in Colombia do not exist, and Santa Marta is no exception. But these beaches are quieter, have few street vendors, and are very safe. And you can see lovely sunsets from here while relaxing and having a drink, alone or in good company.

Best resort with a view of the ocean 

All of them have rooms with great views. However, not all the rooms have ocean views. 

The only exception is the Santa Marta Marriott Resort Playa Dormida. This resort offers at least partial sea views in all the bedrooms available.

Resort with the best service

The four Santa Marta resorts reviewed here offer a good level of service. Nevertheless, Marriott and GHL offer the most personalized service. It’s because they’re not big hotels, unlike the Zuana and Irotama. 

Smaller hotels pay more attention to detail and make you feel cozier, more at home. It also means that room service is a bit speedier. 

Remember that customer service in the Colombian Caribbean is not comparable to U.S. or European standards.

Best resort closer to the airport

The Bello Horizonte Santa Marta area is just several kilometers away from the airport. The closest resort to the terminal is the GHL. 

From either of these hotels to the airport, the cost of the cab service is between 6 and 8 USD. The Irotama offers complimentary airport pick-ups through a shuttle service. If you go by car, there’s free private parking.

Best resort closer to Santa Marta’s historical center

The hotels in Bello Horizonte are located 30 min from Santa Marta’s historical center — about 8 USD by taxi. 

Best resort for relaxing

The smaller GHL and Marriott are the best options for luxury hotels in Santa Marta if you want some peace and quiet. The Marriott can get a bit busy on weekends because of their seasonal offerings. Weekdays are very tranquil, though. 

They achieve this because they’re designed with adults only in mind, instead of big families. This doesn’t mean you cannot travel with children, but little ones have less activity at these two resorts. 

Resorts with the most activity

Unlike the Marriott and the GHL, the large Irotama and the Zuana Beach Resort have many activities and food options for kids and families. They’re also known for featuring boasting family rooms.

The staff is specialized in keeping children entertained. There are dances, live music shows, and some partying and drinking for the big ones.

How to hire tours from my hotel

It’s possible to hire, for example, a tour to Ciudad Perdida or Tayrona National Park from the hotel. All resorts have travel agencies or a tour desk where they can organize an adventure for you.

However, you should remember that these tours can be more expensive than hiring them directly at an agency in Santa Marta. Of course, you pay for the comfort of not moving out of the hotel to get your tour going. 

The most luxurious and modern resort

The newest resort, whose building was completed in 2019, is the Santa Marta Marriott. The Irotama has a brand-new tower with modern décor and very cozy rooms, although you can’t choose directly to stay there — on availability when you check in. 

Inclusive resort for people with reduced mobility

The newest tower at the Zuana and the Marriott hotels have put infrastructure in place for people in wheelchairs. 

Elevators, ramps, showers, free private parking, and access to restaurants and bars offer appropriate settings to meet these needs. The Zuana has amphibian wheelchairs that go into the Santa Marta sea pleasantly and safely.

More upscale hotels in Santa Marta

There are several friendly boutique hotels along the beach in Santa Marta. Casa Verano Beach Hotel is excellent if you prefer calm and personal service. It’s my favorite boutique hotel in the area of Bello Horizontes.

And travelers who would like to stay in the historic center can book a room at the hotel boutique Don Pepe. You’ll be near Parque de Los Novios, Santa Marta gold museum, the cathedral, etc.

Best Santa Marta resorts: Bottom line

The resorts of Santa Marta are located on a long beach (not paradisiacal), far from the street vendors and the hustle and bustle of the city.

The service and food quality cannot compete with the best resorts in Cancun, but some offer good value for money. It is best to book your stay in a medium-sized and recent resort. I recommend GHL or Marriott.

Where to travel after Santa Marta

There are many heavenly destinations on the east coast of the Colombian Caribbean:

Tomplanmytrip’s sections

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Best Resorts in Santa Marta, Colombia

I have been traveling around Colombia and Mexico since 2015 to discover new experiences and help travelers make the right choices.

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