Lounge Review: Sala VIP, Cartagena Rafael Núñez International Terminal

Cartagena’s Rafael Núñez airport is a small airport about 15 minutes out of El Centro (Old Town Cartagena).  Since its so close to town and so small, a lot of people probably arrive far too early for their flight.  We did, but luckily found the Sala VIP in the International Terminal to waste away the time.

Cartagena’s Rafale Núñez airport is split into two parts – the domestic and the international terminals.  Each has its  its own lounge, both of which were (and may still be) associated with Colombia’s national carrier, Avianca.  While I cannot speak for the domestic terminal, the international terminal does not offer much to do post-security (or pre-security for that matter).   Basically an overpriced souvenir shop (please buy them before getting to the airport!) a small, overpriced café, small duty free shop and the Sala VIP lounge.

The Sala VIP joined priority pass JUST after Dan and I visited in February 2016. Since it was not a member of Priority Pass when we visited, we had to decide whether it was worth it to pay to enter, and the choice was pretty simple given the limited options in the airport.   Entry cost $27 a person, and ended up being worth it given the lack of facilities in the international terminal.

The Lounge – the Sala VIP is located post-security just beyond the only small café, duty free shop and gift shop.  Seriously, the airport is tiny.  The check-in area is in main terminal waiting area.  So much for exclusivity.  Since we had to pay to enter, the check-in lady was very polite and gave us a tour before we decided whether to purchase.

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The lounge is pretty small and consists of a lounge area with TVs playing international news channels, a dining area, bathrooms (no showers) and a children’s play area.  The lounge was very comfortable and basically empty when we were there.  One employee was constantly replenishing the food and cleaning up any trash.

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The Food – We entered the lounge around 10:00 a.m. and there was a nice spread of food, consisting of meats and cheeses, small sandwiches with meat and cheese or just cheese, lots of crackers, cereals, fruit, granola bars, etc.  There were also some good desserts, including a gluten free type.  It was enough to make a morning meal and certainly enough to get you through a short wait or layover.

The Beverages – Since it was 10:00 a.m., we stuck to the coffee on this visit.  There was a machine making espresso beverages, so I had a cappuccino and some water.  In addition, there were a variety of sodas and juices, and wine, liquor and beer.  The beverage choices here looked equivalent to, if not better than, those at the sole café in the international departure area.

STEAL OUR LOUNGE

Cartagena Rafael Núñez Sala VIP (International) – International Airside, First Floor, right of duty free shop.  Open 5:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.  Open 5:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. & 8:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  This lounge just jointed Priority Pass and entrance is now complimentary with Priority Pass.  Alternatively, when I visited, entrance was $27 a person.  Updated information is a little sparse online.  I recommend asking the front desk.  They were extremely helpful when we were there.

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