Motolombia: Supporting Local Businesses in Colombia
Motolombia began when the Colombian tourism industry was still in its infancy – opening a business relying heavily on overseas tourist dollars was a big gamble.
We never expected the boom that was to follow years later. It’s wonderful to see the positive change in perception so many foreigners have towards Colombia. Businesses like us really have the natural beauty of the country, the warmth and hospitality of its people and the entrepreneurial spirit of local tourism operators to thank for the fact that we’re still here, over 10 years later.
Part of Motolombia’s mission is to support local businesses who are going above and beyond to make Colombia a truly world-class destination, whether they’re in the business of luxury boutique hotels, quality digs for the budget traveller, or spicing up the tourist experience with innovative tours, activities and adventure sports that just a few years ago, didn’t even exist in the country.
On our guided Colombia motorcycle tours, we hand pick the best boutique hotels, resorts and guesthouses in each of our stopover destinations, so our guests can wind down in comfort at the end of a long day of riding. Our chosen accommodation is determined by four main features: safety, cleanliness, a good location and great service.
While we’re starting to see more international chain hotels popping up in places like Cartagena, we wholeheartedly believe that choosing locally owned accommodation benefits both the local economy, and the guest seeking a more authentically Colombian experience.
We also have close partnerships with activity providers and adventure sports operators, to ensure our guests make the most out of any included or optional side excursions, like coffee plantation visits, horseback riding in beautiful El Cocuy National Park or dune buggy blasts across the coastal desert sands of La Guajira.
Travelling by motorcycle gives us the unique opportunity to take tour groups to some remote and still rarely visited locations, bringing much-needed business and awareness to tourism operators all over Colombia. Our small group tours see up to 10 riders (plus any pillion and support vehicle passengers) overnighting with local accommodation providers, who we also recommend to independent riders, whether they’ve rented a bike through us are journeying through Colombia on their own bikes.
In short, we’re pretty passionate about promoting local businesses that we think are doing something special.
This year, we’ve developed an “Excellent Service” certification that recognises the accommodation and activity providers we use on our tours and the quality service they provide.
For 2019, we’ve selected the following hotels to receive our Motolombia Excellent Service award, located in some of the most beautiful, fun and fascinating corners of the country.
HOTEL DIEZ CATEGORIA COLOMBIA
A concept hotel inspired by the various cultures of Colombia, Hotel Diez Categoria showcases world-class service and a stylish designer ambience, perfectly suited to its setting in the heart of Medellin’s upscale El Poblado district.
TERRAZAS DE SAN AGUSTÍN
One of the finest accommodation offerings in this historic rural village, featuring a spa, fitness facilities and fantastic views from the rooftop terrace, Terrazas de San Agustin is located in the centre of town, minutes from the UNESCO World Heritage listed San Agustin Archaeological Park.
POSADA LAS TRAMPAS
Set in a beautiful colonial-style house (built c1870) with an outdoor pool, this luxury guesthouse promises personalised service and restful accommodation, with 14 individually decorated rooms capturing picturesque balcony views over the Magdalena River.
HOTEL VILLA PARAISO VIEJA
A welcoming oasis at the edge of the Tatacoa Desert, this boutique hotel features a refreshing outdoor pool and comfortable air-conditioned rooms, situated in the centre of the charming colonial town of Villa Vieja on the banks of the Magdalena River.
HOTEL BRISAS LA GAVIOTA
On a sprawling property complete with six fish-stocked lakes, tranquil gardens, a swimming pool and sportsgrounds, this relaxing tourist complex, hotel and restaurant is located amid the beautiful rural landscapes just outside of Mariquita, a historic Spanish silver settlement with an authentic Colombian village feel.
This 5-star hotel in Granada, Cali’s upmarket dining and entertainment district, features luxuriously appointed rooms and on-site facilities including a pool, spa, Finnish sauna and several on-site restaurants. Market Restaurant has a show kitchen and serves build-your-own salads, burgers, carpaccio and pizzas. The poolside Tanoshii Lounge offers open-air drinks, sushi and live music.
HOTEL SALENTO REAL
An eco-friendly, colonial-style hotel in the heart of coffee country, the centrally located Salento Real welcomes guests with traditional Colombian hospitality, well-furnished rooms and a daily breakfast served on the rooftop terrace with gorgeous views over Salento and the forests and mountains beyond.
MOVICH CASA ALFEREZ REAL
Blending timeless colonial-inspired charm with contemporary elegance, this Movich Hotel (a Colombian owned boutique hotel brand) is one of the most beautiful accommodation offerings in Cali’s upscale Granada district. The excellent restaurant outdoor terrace bar and hotel rooms and suites showcase high-end modern décor, complemented by exceptional service.
HOTEL CAMPESTRE CAFE CAFÉ
Set on acres of stunningly landscaped gardens, with a massive outdoor swimming pool, vibrant Colonial-style architecture and brightly furnished rooms, this calming, colourful retreat is surrounded by enchanting coffee plantations, 3.9km from Quindío’s National Coffee Park.
In the exclusive Chico area of Bogota, this smart modern hotel features a stylish selection rooms and a relaxing terrace and cocktail bar with a tapas menu, chilled-out evening DJs and international service standards.
HOTEL BOUTIQUE VILLA ROMA
A gorgeous colonial-inspired hotel, walking distance to the central plaza, Villa Roma features whitewashed walls and contrasting wooden furniture, a garden courtyard, an outdoor pool and spacious, elegantly furnished rooms and suites.
VILLA DE LEYVA
HOLIDAY INN BUCARAMANGA
Consistently one of the most highly rated hotels in Bucaramanga, the Holiday Inn is a chic, contemporary hotel and restaurant in a fantastic location, promising superb comfort, high quality international cuisine and breathtaking views over the tropical mountain city from the rooftop pool and Skybar.
LA CASA AMARILLA
Nestled beside the Magdalena River and Santander Forest Park, just a short stroll from the magnificent colonial centre of Mompox, La Casa Amarilla is a homely and inviting family-run retreat with quiet, comfortable rooms and delicious breakfasts served every morning at an airy communal dining table overlooking lush floral gardens.
HOTEL FRUTAS DEL LAGO
In a quiet yet convenient location just outside the urban centre of Caucasia, Frutas del Lago offers some of the best boutique accommodation in the area, with simple yet spacious and comfortably furnished rooms, an excellent on-site restaurant and a reputation for true Paisa hospitality.
HOTEL FERNANDO PLAZA
Providing cosy and elegant accommodation in the heart of Pasto’s business district, a short walk from the central Plaza Nariño, this hotel features ultra-spacious, lushly furnished rooms, a restaurant serving regional Andean cuisine and a bar with a variety of wines and cocktails on offer.
HOTEL DANN MONASTERIO
In a renovated Franciscan convent built in 1570, Hotel Dann Monasterio showcases some of the finest traditional architecture in the ‘White City’ of Popayan, one of Colombia’s most beautifully preserved colonial cities. Forty-seven rooms are arranged around a majestic central courtyard. The hotel boasts an outdoor pool and the Campanario Restaurant which services regional and international cuisine with overlooking the manicured gardens.
A stylish hotel in the Milla de Oro shopping and dining district of Ibague, the Ecostar is a smart, business-style hotel with friendly service, air conditioned rooms with smart modern décor, a daily breakfast buffet and a lobby bar.
HOTEL VARUNA MANIZALES
Located in the lively Zona Rosa district in vibrant Manizales, gateway city to the Zona Cafetera, this sophisticated hotel features huge, heated rooms with luxurious modern décor and an indoor spa and wellness centre (perfect for those cool Andean nights). The on-site Tabil Restaurant enjoys fabulous city and mountain panoramas, especially at sunset.
HOTEL HOLIDAY INN YOPAL
Yopal lies at the doorstep of the magnificent Los Llanos, the sprawling plains of north-eastern Colombia and a nature lover’s paradise. This centrally positioned hotel is highly regarded for its large, superbly appointed rooms, on-site restaurant and gym. The top-floor pool terrace is captures sweeping views of the city and the wilderness of the plains beyond.
HOTEL ALMIRANTE CARTAGENA
The 5-star Hotel Almirante boasts an unbeatable location, right opposite the beachfront in the always-lively Bocagrande neighbourhood. The hotel has a vibrant tropical vibe and spectacular beach and Caribbean Sea panoramas from its deluxe Ocean View rooms. You’ll find a pool and fitness centre on-site as well as countless seaside restaurants and nightlife options only a short walk away.
Not far the the centre of the coastal Caribbean city of Riohacha, the gateway to the desert dunes and unspoiled beaches of La Guajira, Hotel Emerawa provides guests with a relaxed country atmosphere. It features a sparkling pool surrounded by tropical gardens, a thatched-roof cabana lounge and spotless, simply furnished rooms as well as more luxurious spa suites.
This list should give you a taste of the type of accommodation you can expect on a Motolombia tour. We can wholeheartedly recommend these hotels to anyone visiting Colombia seeking genuine Colombian hospitality and a true local flavour.
(extreme pillion rider and adventure travel writer)