Dreaming of your next escape? This Winter, the Colombian city of Cartagena is at the top of our wishlist. Local tastemaker Maya Memovic shares what to do, see, eat, and experience in the magical destination. The woman behind the city’s chicest boutique, St DOM - where you can shop Joaquina Botánica locally! - and the beautiful homegrown brand, Azulu, Maya is the ultimate guide to authentic Cartagena. Read along for her tips that will spark your wanderlust - and be sure to file them away for your next trip!
Please tell us about your work and mission.
Together with my husband, we have AZULU, a Colombian contemporary brand, that a head designer and a creative director of, and St DOM, a multi brand concept store, in Bogota and Cartagena, that houses the best of Latin design talent, in fashion, jewelry, beauty, home, art. I always found so much beauty and uniqueness in the Latin perspective on design, and felt that this particular point of view mixed with hundreds of years of culture and artisan knowledge needed to be seen. I have had the fortune to discover and explore Latin design with a foreigner’s set of eyes, something that oftentimes is necessary as we ourselves tend to highly underappreciate our own value.
What are three pieces from St. Dom that everyone needs?
Statement swim, hand crafted filigree jewels, and one-of-a-kind Colombian mochila.
In a few words, how do you define your approach to beauty?
Natural and effortless. I feel that the glow should come from inside, so I try to get in some daily exercise, eat consciously and take care of my skin. I love the process of skincare, and enjoy taking time with it; I frequently use masks, serums, light therapy, etc. I tend not to use much makeup, especially on my skin… I hate the feeling of foundations and heavy makeup product. When I go out, I stick to basics, mascara, bronzer and a bit of a lip tint.
Any inherited beauty practices you picked up from your mother, your family, or your roots along the way?
My mom and aunts have always loved to use home-made recipes for hair and skin… I have a dozen masks and home remedies that my family loves to share. Coming from Croatia, rose water and olive oil have always been important beauty staples.
What are the highlights of your skincare routine? The 3 products or steps that are non-negotiables?
Daily sunscreen, nightime retinol serum and an effective moisturizer.
I’ve been having fun with skincare devices recently, and have seen great results with Nuface microcurrent in the mornings and Spectralite face mask at night. I also try to have deep cleansing facials monthly and microneedling treatments every 4-6 months.
Favorite hotels in the city?
Hotel Casa San Augustin and Hotel Santa Teresa.
Favorite hotel in the islands?
Hotel Las Islas in Baru.
Favorite lunch spot?
I tend to always go back to Harry’s or Epoca Espresso Bar. Peru Fusion and Juan del Mar are also excellent lunch spots.
Favorite romantic dinner spot?
Club de Pesca, which has a beautiful waterfront view.
Favorite spot for a group dinner party before a night out?
La Vitrola or Don Juan.
Best spot for cocktails?
El Baron in Plaza San Pedro
Favorite spot for a night out dancing?
Café Havana or Quiebra Canto.
Favorite day trip/activity?
Visiting the quirky Aviary in Baru followed by lunch at Punta Iguana
Shops – 3 favorites and for what.
Artesanias de Colombia for beautifully curated artisan goods, Casa Chiqui for an eclectic mix of homewares and beachy must haves, and, of course, St DOM for the best of Colombian fashions.
One dish you need to have while in Cartagena?
Arepa de huevo for breakfast (a perfect cure to a salsa and mojito induced hangover) and Cazuela de mariscos for a hearty lunch.
Your favorite fruit to enjoy in Cartagena?
I love tropical fruit in juice forms. A must try is lulo, corozo or maracuya juice. I also always get mangobiche (green mango with lemon and salt) or fresh coconut from the street vendors.
A tourist trap to avoid?
In general, any of the spots that have vendors luring you inside… Like anywhere, you need to explore and dig a little more to find true jewels.
+ Any other place or activity you love to recommend!
Explore outside of the city walls! Getsemani is a great up and coming neighborhood… a fun activity would be to take one of the graffiti tours around Getsemani followed by a lunch in Da Silvio’s or afternoon cocktails at Demente.