Avenida 6 D No. 36 N – 18, Cali. Colombia
Known as the salsa capital of the world, Cali, Colombia attracts international travelers with its alluring salsa festivals and seductive salsa dancers. It’s only fitting that the city’s first 5-star property, Hotel Spiwak Chipichape Cali, debuted late in 2010 in the heart of the city, just 10 minutes from the most popular salsa nightclubs. Its prime address is within the new extension of the exclusive shopping center, the ChipiChape Mall.
The dust had barely settled on soft opening weekend when I arrived at the Hotel Spiwak, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts. The architectural design features two circular towers of ten floors each. The portico is elevated for entry onto the second floor, complete with water fountain and towering metal sculpture. Enter the open-air lobby and you’re greeted by English-speaking employees, and your greeting includes a complimentary welcome drink. Instead of a large reception desk, their “front office” includes three small reception desks with staff facilitating personalized seated check-in. Behind those desks are hundreds of slots containing potted foliage stacked to the vaulted ceiling, a tropical nod to the rainforests of the Colombian Amazon.
Step further into the lobby to the glass-encased railing for a view of the Chipichape Mall, the old train garage stores of the Ferrocarril del Pacífico, the first train that connected the Colombian southwest with other regions. The mall was built in 1995 as the biggest shopping center in the city. Below, on the ground floor, are a fountain and several mall kiosks. Look up and you’ll be surprised to see a Romanesque, domed ceiling.
On the opposite side are the hotel’s pool and dining terrace (part of the Restaurante La Zarzulea) with amazing views of the city beyond and overlooking the mall expansion.
To the right of the lobby is the hotel’s La Tasca Bar, next to an inviting seating area including sofas and chairs. Beyond that is the main dining restaurant, the Restaurante La Zarzuela. The restaurant is elegant without being pretentious, open from all three meals, serving gourmet cuisine.
Opt for the glassed elevator to enjoy more views of the mall and city. The 226 guest rooms are oversized suites, ranging from 521 square feet in the luxury suites (8 with Jacuzzis) to the 1355+ square foot Presidential Suite. The suites feature living/sitting rooms separated from the bedroom by a dividing door, creating the illusion of more space in a relaxed mini-apartment setting versus a sterile hotel room.
Hotel Spiwak is the closest meeting hotel to the city’s convention center "Valle del Pacifico,” the latest and most modern convention center in Colombia. Even though the hotel is business and meeting friendly (with more than 11,000 square feet of meeting space), it doesn’t distract or take away from the expectations of leisure guests. Due to the high level of service and amenities, the hotel is more befitting of an incentive meeting, and the meeting space is located on the second floor away from the hub of activity of the lobby.
While dining at the Restaurante La Zarzuela, a Hotel Spiwak investor said that the wanted to avoid the nitpicking extra charges, so the hotel offers many complimentary extras to guests. Feel free to raid the mini-bar’s complimentary snacks (water, soda, nuts, etc.) while enjoying complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the hotel (not just in your room). Even a buffet breakfast at the main restaurant is included in the room rate.
Overall, Hotel Spiwak Chipichape Cali is a luxury hotel that strives to offer great service. The concept is reminiscent of a Four Seasons—albeit one in a mall—and Spiwak’s design teams still insert enough local artwork and ambience to create a Colombian property.
Anytime you make a request (even during my stay on opening weekend), the hotel staff was friendly and efficient. While enjoying my complimentary buffet breakfast (with eggs Benedict, hash browns, and oatmeal and an array of fresh fruit), the server took time to speak to me, apologizing with a smile for his “imperfect English” – which was much better than my Spanish.
Web Address: www.spiwak.com
Total Number of Rooms: 226
Published rates: $270-$390 BB
Review and photos by Diana Rowe