Quite the Night

After dinner we go to the bar. We do shots. Lots of shots.

First there is this one. It’s a Cucaracha shot and it gets lit on fire. I can’t remember whose idea this one was. It’s got Kahlua and tequila in it. It has a third ingredient, but that can vary and I don’t remember what it was tonight.

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John points out that he had done “my” shot (chocolate cake), and had bailed on “his” shot (tequila) and it was time to pay up. He ordered tequila shots with sangrita chasers. It appears from this picture that it is only John, Ian and I that do this shot.

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I didn’t like the tequila and really didn’t like the sangrita. I don’t like tequila and I think drinking tomatoes is just yucky. And for those of you who think I just haven’t had good tequila, I have and it all tastes like gasoline to me.

After the shots, we go to the show. There is a guy in front of us that is really feeling the music. He is as entertaining to watch as the show, It is the Beatles show. All the shows are good, quality shows. Don’t miss them because you think they will be like the usual cheesy shows most resorts have. They have some really talented singers and dancers.

After the show, we all take a golf cart ride and we go to the Disco. The Disco is at the shopping center and has a very cheesy Star Wars theme. We sit for awhile and watch the Star Friends and some other people dance. I get a drink at the bar. They don’t have Havana Siete, so I settle for Havana Club and start plotting my escape.

John has informed me that I am going to dance. I hate dancing. I have no rythym. But I have had enough to drink that I agree to it. Ian and Janette and Suzanne and John pull me out to the dance floor. Zung watches, but thank goodness, does not take any pictures. I dance for a song or two and when they aren’t looking, I go back to Zung and say let’s get out of here.

We go back to the Lobby Bar and I order a cucumber mojito. Ken and Patrick are there.

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Someone decided there should be chocolate cake shots for everyone.

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Suzanne and John and Ian and Janette return. They said they looked around and we were GONE! Suzanne and John are leaving tomorrow, so we take one last shot of Suzanne and I. We clearly are both feeling no pain.

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I’m sure, I HOPE, it was not long after this that Zung and I went back to the room. We had gotten into enough trouble for one night. Well, I had at any rate, and he is guilty by association.

Posted in Bars, Drinks, Entertainment, The Grand | 1 Comment

Corner Suite Tour and Unplanned Group Dinner

There are two ocean front buildings, 70 and 71. Each has three floors and two corner suites on each floor. One of the corner suites on the third floor is a Presidential suite. I’ve never been in a Presidential suite. I have asked for a tour a couple of times, but they have always been occupied. I had never seen a corner suite until we walked through the door of ours. This is the first thing you see, a little room with a couple funky chairs and ottomans. I’m not sure if they originally had other plans for this room or if they think people might hang out here, but it strikes me as a little odd. There is a door to the rest of the suite.

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I included both pictures because the chairs look so different depending on the angle.

When you walk through the next door, it is the same as a regular room, with the closets, bathroom and mini-bar. There is another door and then you come to the room with the bed. That is identical to a regular room. Then you step down, and this area is a little larger in the corner suite. In a regular room the table starts where the drapes are. There is also the nice, big window by the table in the corner suite. No window in a regular room.

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Here is a picture of a table in a regular room for comparison.

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What really sets this room apart is the nice big jacuzzi on the balcony, and in this particular room, the incredible view as you sit in it.

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When we are prunes from sitting in the water for too long, we go inside and shower and dress for dinner.

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We still have a bit before dinner, so we go to the lobby bar. Sheila and George come over and we chat. Ian and Janette show up, and we chat with them too. Sheila and George are going to the Mexican restaurant and I recommend the chicken molé.

As it turns out, Ian and Janette are going to the same restaurant that we are tonight, the Japanese. And so are Suzanne and John! We ask the hostess if we can sit together and she put us at a hibachi table. Those tables are designed so couples are kind of off to themselves, so we probably should have asked for a regular table. I don’t think they have any already set up for six though.

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They bring some sushi rolls to start, which I usually pass on.

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We have ordered some fried stuff. I’m not sure that pink stuff on the plate adds to it visually.

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I have ordered a wok dish, the beef fillet with oyster sauce.

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Zung has ordered chicken and shrimp. This is before they give him his veggies.

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Dinner is good. Dinner at the Japanese is always a leisurely affair. After dinner we go back to the lobby bar. And I do what we all tell our teenagers not to do.

I submit to peer pressure. And it involves alcohol. And dancing. Yes. You read that right. Dancing..

Posted in Food/Menu Items, Restaurant, The Grand | 6 Comments

Corner Suite and Big Rains

Tuesday morning we wake up to a spectacular view.

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I decide to celebrate this wonderful view by having lobster for breakfast.

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What’s that you say, your all-inclusive doesn’t have lobster for breakfast? Well then, you should certainly check out the Iberostar Grand Paraiso, because we get to have lobster for breakfast, lunch and dinner, if we want. Today, I “wanted” for breakfast, and ordered their delicious lobster blini. I always ask them to hold the salmon roe. I guess I’m just not a caviar kind of gal. It was as delicious as it looks. There was a Mimosa to go with it. Champagne and lobster for breakfast. This was just too good.

Zung has….wait for it…an omelette.

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I see Olivia and say hello. If she is available, Zung always has her make his omelette. She’s the best.

I must add that the service at breakfast was spectacular. It was that really outstanding service that the Grand is known for.

We go back to the room. We see one of the butlers and ask about moving to the new room. He says he’ll let us know when it is available. I go out to the beach, where the skies are looking a little iffy.

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I order a Coco Loco. They are so damn yummy.

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I’m pretty sure you want to know where I got that really cute beach bag. Target. On clearance. I may buy ridiculously expensive shoes sometimes, but I can only do that because I hunt down bargains to within an inch of their lives.

The waves are a bit rough.

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At around 11 I go in to check on Zung, who is working, and the butler tells me the other room is ready. We pack up and call for help moving. Then we wait.

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You can probably tell from all the pictures that it was taking a little while. I called again and then a butler came right up. The new room was on the 2nd floor and our current room was on the third floor. The three of us gathered everything up, got on the elevator and then to the new room. The butler brought our Havana Club and even a new plate of limes. We put all our clothes away. We check out the view. We can see a rainstorm coming in.

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We grab the umbrella that is in every room and go down to the lobby of our building. By the time we get down there, it is pouring.

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We go to La Brisa for an early lunch. So has everyone else. We have to wait a bit for a table.

DSCN4001Not only has almost everyone gone to lunch at the same time, but there is no outdoor seating with the rain.

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We have our usual drinks. Zung has shrimp fajitas…

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…and I have tournedos and french fries. Both are cooked perfectly.

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The service is excellent and the food is delicious.

We take our time with lunch, but it becomes apparent that the weather is not going to get better.

What to do? It appears it is time to check out that awesome jacuzzi on our balcony in our new room.

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We make some adult beverages. We remember that it’s important not to mix jacuzzis with alcohol, so we mix the rum with coke.

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I wasn’t sure the jacuzzi would be ALL that. What can I say? I was wrong. It was awesome. Especially on a rainy day. Ahhh, who am I trying to kid? We used that jacuzzi every day. I am hooked. It was so relaxing to sit there with an awesome view, in that huge bubbling bubble bath. Now this is decadence.

Next time, I will give you a tour of the room. It is a little bit different from the regular rooms.

Posted in Check-in/Upgrades, Drinks, Food/Menu Items, Restaurant, The Grand | 6 Comments

Dinner at La Brisa and Tequila Shots (or not)

Zung and I walk to La Brisa. We are greeted by Oscar, the manager or mâitre d’. I’m not sure what his title is. He tells us that at La Brisa you have to do a tequila shot, and if you make a face when you do it, you have to do two. I say, no way. He recognizes that he shouldn’t try to mess with me.

Zung says sure. He makes a face, but Oscar does not make him do a second shot. Oscar is holding the Sangrita chaser.

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We are seated. Our server is David. Oscar tells us that he is the best server. I believe it because the service is flawless.

Suzanne and John are there also. It is John’s birthday and they bring him a cake.

There is a mariachi band. We order wine. They bring us an amuse bouche. I get some ceviche from the appetizer buffet.

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The Mexican restaurant is set up a little different from the other ala carte restaurants. There are appetizers that you can order off the menu, but there is a buffet of ceviche, salad, chips, sauces and guacamole. We have ordered the chicken lime soup. It is yummy.

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Zung has ordered the Caribbean lobster. It is yummy.

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I have ordered the chicken molé. It is, you guessed it, yummy. It is so tender and the sauce is delicious.

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We are having a really lovely dinner experience. It is making us forget all about our lunch fail. There is still more food to enjoy though!

Dessert is delicious. One of us gets the dish that is similar to a creme brulee.

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The other one of us got the guava souffle with churro. I remember churros from Disneyland and Sea World. They were a favorite. Although, I would never go to Sea World now. Not. Ever. Again. I’m reformed after watching Blackfish.

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Anyway, I digress. I have a habit of doing that, don’t I? I am a little ADD.

What was I talking about? Oh right, our fantastic dinner at La Brisa. The food was great, the service was stellar and they even had a mariachi band. Did I just repeat myself?

I wish they had live music in all the restaurants.

Oscar comes to check on us. When we leave, Raphael is there and we tell him how wonderful dinner was and that the service was excellent. As we walk back to the lobby bar we pass Wilmer, the manager of La Brisa and he says he heard we had a bad experience at lunch, and he asks how dinner was. We tell him dinner was wonderful and I tell him that Angel at lunch really took good care of us.

I know that part of the reason that we had such an amazing experience at dinner was because I had shared with Raphael about our lunch experience. I read on Facebook or Trip Advisor sometimes about how people are disappointed in their experience at the Grand. I always encourage them to seek out management and tell them. Sometimes I get the response that they don’t want to have to spend time on their vacation doing that, that it should be right without saying anything. And I agree. It should be right. But it won’t be ALL the time. Management wants to know when they are not meeting people’s expectations. They want to make it right when they fall short. However, they will not be able to do that if they do not know. Tell them! I have experienced less than stellar experiences at many high-end hotels and restaurants. With the exception of one restaurant (which shall remain nameless), I have always seen that the feedback I shared made a difference and they made a gesture to make up for the disappointing experience. And if things are just wonderful, share that with them too!

Oh yea, that restaurant that didn’t even acknowledge my feedback? We never returned. The restaurant industry is too competitive to spend my money at a place that doesn’t care if their customers are happy, and getting what they paid for.

Digressed again!

We continued on to the Lobby Bar. We see “the crew” (Janette, Ian, Suzanne and John), and sit down with them. John order tequila shots for everyone. I whisper to the waitress to bring me a chocolate cake shot. John notices though. Tune in tomorrow for that transgression’s payback.

When the crew leaves we go to the bar and hang out with Daniel. He makes me a cucumber martini.

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Kenneth is there, and his friend Patrick recognizes me from my blog.(Picture of him later). Rock star moment!

It is chocolate cake shot time.

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Here is a step by step tutorial on how to do a chocolate cake shot.

Shoot the shot (it has a sugar rim).

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Repeat. The number of times I repeated is confidential.

We made our way back to our room. All in all, it had been a good day. The had been ups, mostly, and one down. The overall feeling was that this was a very good first full day in paradise.

And tomorrow we would move to our new room. And I would do things I swore I’d never do.

Posted in Awesome Staff, Bars, Drinks, Food/Menu Items, Restaurant, The Grand | 7 Comments

Lunch FAIL!

We walk to La Brisa for lunch. The hostess seats us and tells us that the buffet is American. She has menus, but she doesn’t offer them to us. That is fine, we pretty much have it memorized by now. A waiter comes by and takes our drink order and brings them to us quickly, but just as quickly, he leaves. I have my traditional lunch drink of Sauvignon Blanc and Zung has his traditional drink of Victoria beer. We aren’t in any hurry so we just enjoy our drinks and wait for our waiter to come back and take our food order.

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We wait, and wait, and wait. Our waiter passes, but doesn’t stop. Finally,  we flag him down and say we would like to order. He tells us that most of the food is at the buffet, “Except for fajitas and some other things.” Well, actually, we do want to order shrimp fajitas for Zung, and I’d like grilled lobster and french fries. I always add that I want the fries fresh, hot and crispy.

Then we wait, and wait and wait some more. It has been at least a half an hour since we were seated. And I am getting more and more aggravated. A new waiter comes by, Angel, and asks if we need anything. Well, actually, could you check on our food that we ordered because it’s taking a really long time. He leaves, and them comes back and says it will be five minutes more. That’s better than “some” minutes, which is an answer we have gotten for other things and has gotten to be kind of a joke between us.  I’m pretty sure he can tell from my expression that I am not happy.

Angel brings our food in about the promised five minutes. It was not worth the wait. The lobster is lukewarm and tough. The fries are lukewarm and limp. I eat a few bites and then push it away.

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Zung’s shrimp fajitas were somewhat better.

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Even our flower was sad.

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I go up to the buffet to look for desserts, hoping for some coconut ice cream. There is none and none of the desserts appeal to me. I come back to the table and when Angel comes by I ask if he can find some coconut ice cream for us. He does and we end a pretty disappointing lunch on a good note. Angel has been very attentive. If the food had been better I would have let the whole issue of the poor service and it taking forever slide by. It had been terrible though. The combination was unacceptable and one of the worst experiences we have had at the Grand.

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We go back to the beach. We nap, we read, we order drinks that are appropriate for sipping by the sea.

We return to the room to get ready for dinner. There is a very cute towel sculpture waiting for us.

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We shower and dress. The funny thing about this picture is that my bracelet is so shiny and looks so blingy, but it was a Victoria Secret freebie.

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We go to the Lobby Bar for pre-dinner drinks. Ian and Janette are there, so we chat with them. My favorite bartender makes my favorite drink.

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George and Sheila come by a say hello.

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I look over towards the lobby and see Raphael walking over. He looks very serious. He comes up to me and says there was a misunderstanding with the rate we were charged for our room. That is a long story that I won’t go into here, but he was offering us an upgrade. We could either have a honeymoon villa, which he saidhad had some improvements, or a corner suite. I had never seen a honeymoon villa, or a corner suite. I knew that I didn’t want to give up my ocean view though.  I had asked for a corner suite a couple of times on previous visits, but they weren’t available.

The big draw of the corner suite is that it has a large jacuzzi on the balcony. However, it doesn’t have a swing, and I really enjoy the swing. I didn’t think we would use the jacuzzi very often, so I almost considered telling Raphael that we were good with the room we had. That felt like it would have come off as unappreciative of him trying to make up for the rate misunderstanding, so I tell him we will take the corner suite. He tells us we can move tomorrow after the people in it have checked out.

I have mixed feelings about moving. We will have to pack everything up, and I am not sure we will use that jacuzzi.

SPOILER ALERT! We loved the jacuzzi and used it every single day. It became a highlight of the day to sit out there with the incredible view, sitting in the bubbling water with rum and Cokes. Pictures to come in a future post!

I thank Raphael, and then tell him  I want to share some feedback with him, and I tell him about our experience at lunch. He apologizes and assures me that he will talk to the manager of La Brisa.

We leave for dinner at the Mexican restaurant, which is in La Brisa. Word travels fast. Our experience was stellar.

Posted in Check-in/Upgrades, Food/Menu Items, Restaurant, The Grand | 4 Comments