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Hotel Don Pepe Boutique, a sanctuary in Santa Marta

Article - October 11, 2013
Colombia has many beautiful tourist sites but Santa Marta holds a special attraction: with white sandy beaches and beautiful mountains, it is the perfect place for relaxation and adventure. The owner of Boutique Don Pepe explains what makes his hotel the best option in the Colombian coast
HOTEL DON PEPE BOUTIQUE, COLOMBIA
Santa Marta is the oldest city in South America. Rodrigo de Bastidas founded it in 1525 with the 300 men that came with him from Spain. The first catholic church of the new world was also built in Santa Marta. For centuries this city has acted as a bridge between Colombia and the world. Also, Jimenez de Quesada, who founded Bogotá, came into the country through Santa Marta with the help of the natives. 
 
It also has significant historical value because it was Simón Bolívar’s final resting place. Bolívar was born to a noble family of Spanish origin in the Captaincy General of Venezuela which was essentially a viceroyalty of the Spanish Empire in all but name. Interestingly, the Bolivars had had settled in what is now Venezuela in the sixteenth century and his mother descended remotely from King Fernando III of Castile and Count Amedeo IV of Savoy whilst his grandfather, Juan de Bolívar y Martínez de Villegas, had attempted unsccesfuly to acquire the title of Marquis of San Luis and Viscount of Cocorote in exchange for the maintenance of the monastery at Santa Maria de Montserrat in 1728. 
 
Bolívar was able to finance his revolutionary campaign thanks to his family’s inmense wealth and is recognised throughout Latin America as “the Liberator” as he was a decisive a military and political leader in the rebellion against the Spanish crown. He founded Gran Colombia and was one of the most important figures in creation of the country’s now known as Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Panamá, Perú y Venezuela. 
 
When Simón Bolívar reaches Santa Marta, suffering from tubercolisis, the locally based Spaniard, Joaquín de Mier, offered him his country estate known as the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino. Bolívar accepted gratefully and lived on his estate till his death on 17 December 1830. Joaquín de Mier took care of Simon Bolivar and his venerable rests were moved from his estate to the house that is now the Hotel Boutique Don Pepe before they were buried in the cathedral of Santa Marta. Mr. Juan Ignacio Vives, who owns the hotel, restored the old house and made it into one of the most beautiful hotels in Santa Marta. “We maintained 99 percent of its original structure, not just the façade but almost every detail was kept exactly the same”, explains Mr. Vives. Hotel Boutique Don Pepe is in the heart of Santa Marta’s historical center.

The cathedral where Bolívar was buried is only a couple of blocks away and it is flanked by museums and government institutions. The 'Quinta' near Santa Marta can be visited today and it has been preserved as a museum with numerous references to Bolivar’s life.
 
Aside from the history held in this city, there are beautiful beaches and natural parks that make it an ideal tourist destination. White sandy beaches are the norm and, while watching the ocean, one can also see the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, with its snowy peaks.

The Sierra Nevada is the tallest coastal peak in the world and it was declared a World Heritage site by the UN in 1979. At least 30.000 natives still live in the Sierra Nevada and it holds the Lost City of the Tayronas, which tourists can visit. 
 
 From the Hotel Boutique Don Pepe one can easily get to all these marvelous sites, including the Tayrona National Park, an extensive forest that connects directly to the sea. Its accommodations are first class, with only 12 rooms carefully decorated with old photographs and its own personal history.  
 
 The hotel’s restaurant is another of its appealing aspects: “Our idea is to offer the main products consumed in the region, like cayeye, a traditional Samarian food. We like to blend these ingredients with international cuisine”, says Mr. Vives. The hotel also has a spa and offers guided tours of the city, so tourists can understand the extensive history of Santa Marta and its surroundings. 
 
 As is typical in all of Colombia, the attention given to guests is one of their main concerns. “All our staff has been carefully picked and taught to offer the best service possible, always with a smile. Our guests are kings in this hotel. Their wish is our command” explains the owner. They also have a gallery where guests can buy local craftsmanship and learn about the region’s culture. 
 
 Mr. Vives built the hotel in honor of his father, who had been an admired and highly influential figure in Santa Marta’s society. “Don Pepe” as his father is known, had created the “Caja de Compensación Familiar de Magdalena”, a pioneering initiative in social security for the local people.

Today a number of educational and cultural institutions owe their existance to this initiative. In fact Mr. Vives’ grandfather had also explored his hotelier vocation and was responsible for the city’s first luxury hotel, the Hotel Tairona, where local authority now have its government building. Mr. Vives breathed new life into the city’s historical landmark when he decided to restore it and turn it into a place where tourists could feel at home away from home.

He built the 12 rooms, a restaurant, a pool and a spa with a Jacuzzi and, on top of it all, a 300 meter terrace from which guests can look out onto the city of Santa Marta. The Hotel Boutique Don Pepe holds history, beauty and a relaxing environment all in one place. 

  3 COMMENTS



Georgia Hurst
11/10/2013  |  13:08
100% of 1

Wow, it looks absolutely stunning!!

Elaine Halbert
17/10/2013  |  2:11
100% of 1

¡¡Glorious location!! Must visit

Katie Stuart
22/10/2013  |  17:44
100% of 1

Amazing, I wanna go there