Details About “The Club”

I return to my chair on the beach. There is a different couple sitting next to me, from when I left for lunch. Eder comes by and we chat. He talks to the couple next to me. They ask what the deal is with reserving chairs. He clarifies that a rolled up towel on a chair means, you can have this chair. It was placed there for your convenience by a beach butler. A towel spread out means that someone has reserved the chair. We all chat about how long it should be okay to reserve a chair. The woman says she would pay $20 a day to reserve a chair all day. I think back to my discussion with René. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe people do like different levels of service.

It really seems like the whole club concept is evolving. At this point there is a special lounge for club members and I believe they get checked in there. For the record, I have not ever had to wait to check in. Remember, I have been here 16 times (although this trip report is the 15th time). Never. Had. To. Wait.

There is a special area on the beach for club members. On this trip that I am currently reporting on, the sign saying this is a special area, for club members, is being ignored. On my trip in June there were fancier beach beds and there were no non-club members, but I’m wondering what will happen when the hotel is at capacity and there are no chairs to be had. The biggest benefit for club members is they get a 25% discount on their rates, so if you travel several times a year or for longer periods, it would be a benefit. They also get upgraded amenities in their room (Moet and L’Occitane), transportation to and from the airport. It seems what people are paying varies. There are different levels, affecting what kind of room you can book. You can book any Iberostar property and there are other properties you can book. It is definitely not a timeshare. You are not buying a certain number of weeks or a specific period of time. It seems vacation club is a more accurate name. The fees are pretty high (tens of thousands of dollars). There seems to be a lot of secrecy about how much it is, which probably means different people pay different amounts, and no one wants to talk about what they get. This is the part that makes me uncomfortable. It should all be above board. While some people report that people are signing up in droves, the empty special beach section and empty lounge tell a different story.

René talked about all kinds of possibilities for club members. But like I said, it is evolving. If you are interested in finding out more you can schedule a breakfast meeting with a sales rep, who by the way, is not an Iberostar employee (I’ve been told). It takes longer than they tell you it will, but you are in control and can always say, I’m done. They’ll give you something for your time, they always do. I’ve never sat through a presentation that I thought was worth it though. The other thing I have heard is, GET IT IN WRITING. Every thing they say you will get, make sure that is documented.

I was also told by René and others that Iberostar was going to come up with some kind of loyalty program for people like me who come all the time. Still waiting for that. It would be nice, but doesn’t matter to me. I’m going back either way.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

The Club

I walk to the lobby and go to the club lounge. There are two guys in there and they look at me, kind of like, what are you doing here? I must have misread their expressions though because they immediately ask if I am Mrs. Tran and get up and shake my hand and I say, we’re going to lunch, right? (I’m hungry). They confirm that yes indeed, we are going to lunch. I ask where, and they say wherever I want. They say something about the palapa, and I’m not sure what that is, but I say I want to go to La Brisa. Only one of them goes with me, René. He tells me he knows a lot about me. He knows about my blog, my FB group, that I didn’t get my breakfast that morning, that I have three kids. It feels a little creepy. He tells me he has read my blog and I ask if he has read the whole blog. He says he had someone read it for him. Oh my! This man has “people.”

A quick word about the room service fail. I posted it on FB. I was annoyed. Probably I shouldn’t post things when I am annoyed. At any rate, someone replied to my post and said they didn’t believe it. WTF? It was such an absurd thing to say. The whole thread got way more attention than it should have because of that. In the end I just deleted the whole thing. 

Anyway, back to René. I tell him that I have had people come up to me or email me and say they came to the Grand because of my blog. That people check it out because I have menus and pictures and maps.

As we arrive at La Brisa, he tells me the “presentation” typically lasts 90 minutes. I tell him he’s not getting 90 minutes of my time. 45 minutes tops. I figure that’s how long I would take to eat lunch. We are seated. René asks if I want to get food from the buffet and I say no, I am ordering off the menu. Our waiter comes by and asks what we would like to drink. I ask for a glass of  Sauvignon Blanc and Rene says he is working and won’t drink. I ask if we can order food and say I want Tournedos, medium rare, and french fries, hot and crispy. René says, I’ll have what she’s having. I also ask our waiter to take away one of my knives because it is dirty.

The waiter comes back with a white wine that is not Sauvignon Blanc. The waiter says they are out of Sauvignon Blanc. They only have one on the wine list. It is decent and a nice, light wine to drink at lunch. He asks if I will try this other white. I say sure. I take a sip. It is too acidic for my taste and I say I don’t like it. He takes it away and comes back with another white wine and a new glass. He puts down the glass and pours a taste of wine in it. I look at the glass, and then I look at him and say that the glass is chipped. I feel kind of bad for the waiter. He is a young kid and he is getting flustered. But there is no way I am going to drink out of a chipped glass.

René looks at me and says I have an attention to detail and he wants to know what I do for work. I tell him I’m a lactation consultant and am the coordinator of  the program at my hospital, and yes, I need to have an attention to detail. But also I have two sons in the industry and they have taught me to have an attention to detail in restaurants. He says he wouldn’t have noticed the things I noticed. (Really? A dirty knife and a chipped glass?) To be fair, I have never had either a dirty piece of silverware OR a chipped glass of any kind at La Brisa, or any other restaurant at the Grand. It was unfortunate that I had both this day.

I don’t want to seem so picky and explain that I don’t usually drink white wine because I prefer red. But at lunch I like white because it is lighter and Sauvignon Blanc  is one of the few whites I like. He likes wine as well, and we talk wine.

Martin, the manager appears and he has a bottle of white wine that he would like me to try. It is a 2007 and I can’t remember the name, but all of a sudden René decided he could have some wine. Martin pours me some and swirls it and Rene asks if he is a sommelier and Martin gives him the look of death, just shut up and let me make this lady happy. She’s a VIP. It was, in a word,  divine. Absolutely amazing. We drink the entire bottle. He brings an ice bucket to our table to keep the wine chilled. It is one of the best wines I have ever had there. 


Unfortunately, the food comes and it is horribly overcooked, but I have pointed out so many things I can’t possibly complain about the overcooked meat and lukewarm fries. I just eat it.


René and I talk and I take notes on my iPad. At one hour he lets me know how long it has been. I wave him off and keep asking questions. Then he alerts me at two hours. Then  I say we are done and cannot believe that much time has passed.

Our young waiter comes back and asks if we want coffee. I say no, but I want some coconut ice cream, He gets this worried look on his face and starts to say he’s not sure. I reach out and touch his arm and tell him, they always get to for me. And so he does.


Rene and I eat the wonderful coconut ice cream, I leave the tip and we shake hands and he says he will send me some more information. I leave with a better appreciation why they are doing this vacation club thing, and a little clearer idea of what it is.

I tell him people don’t like levels. He says it works at other places. And he is right. I go back to my beach chair and the universe gives me a little smack up side my head.

Posted in Drinks, Food/Menu Items, Restaurant, The Grand | Leave a comment

Room Service Fail, Lounge Chair Saving and Housekeeping

I wake up at 7:33.


I pop up and remove the Do Not Disturb sign from my door so that room service can deliver when they arrive. I requested delivery for 7:30-8.

And then I wait. And wait. And wait. Eight o’clock comes and goes. At 8:15 I call room service and ask where my breakfast is. She says she will check and call me back. I don’t know if she checked. I do know that she never called me back. I also know I posted this on the Facebook Grand board and someone told me that this hadn’t happened, couldn’t have happened, or there must have been a good reason that it happened. It kind of blew up and I ended up deleting the whole thread. It did happen. The reason it happened was they couldn’t read my writing and took my breakfast to another room. No one was at that room. When I called about it, the person that I talked to never followed up. This was the real fail. I understand about not being able to read my writing. However, the person who I talked to should have followed through and made sure it was delivered.

I was super irritated at the time. I was really looking forward to my mango Mimosa that I requested. To sitting on my balcony and having breakfast. It didn’t happen this day. This is what I refer to as a first world problem.

A minute after I got off the phone with room service, the phone rang. I am thinking that it is room service, but it is someone with the Vacation Club. They want me to meet with the Sales Manager. She emphasizes that they are not trying to sell me anything, but they just want me to know about it, because I am  “so important.” She says that several times, and that everyone knows who I am (really? EVERYONE?) I wonder if this is because I visit so often or because I cause so much trouble when I do visit?

I agree to meet him for lunch. She tells me to go to the vacation club lounge, by the lobby. I hang up. Since I still haven’t heard from room service, I get dressed and head downstairs. Seriously, that’s one of the benefits of room service – not having to get dressed. When I step off the elevator, the concierge says good morning and asks how I am. I tell her that I am not very happy because I never got my room service. She says she will check on it and I say I am just going to go to Bella Vista.

First I go to the beach to get a chair and palapa. I find a chair in the third row, all  the way at the end, next to the area roped off for the very exclusive vacation club area. Except, by the middle of the afternoon, this area is full of the regular riff raff, like me, who ignored the ropes (to be clear, I did not ignore the ropes because I am a follow the rules type of girl). All the other chairs have been reserved with shoes or books or shirts. There are few actual people in the chairs. I can’t complain. I am reserving a chair also. I don’t feel that guilty. I know I will be in said chair by 9 am.

I go to Bella Vista. I ask for Asael’s section. He has such a lovely smile and he takes such good care of me.

He brings me my Mimosa.


And a perfectly lovely breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, a croissant and some really lovely raspberries.


Then it’s back to the room and change into my bikini (oh, such a sad day it will be when I can’t wear a bikini any more). I head to the beach. I order another Mimosa.


It is a sunny day, somewhat cool, in the mid-70’s. After my Mimosa I have a Coco  Loco.


I read and enjoy the view and the sounds.

IMG_1624 IMG_1625

A little before noon, I go back to the room and make sure that I am presentable for my meeting with the vacation club sales manager. My room is made up. The maid has put felt hearts  on my bed.


When I read reviews of the Grand sometimes people complain that their room is not made up until later in the day, like 3 or 4 o’clock. Who cares? This is one of those complaints that I consider really petty. If you want your room made up early because you plan to come back and take a nap, or whatever, let your butler know. I am sure they can arrange it. Otherwise, who cares when their room is made up? As long as it is made up by the end of the day. I am guessing they make up the rooms that are being vacated first, for the new guests. And then they probably just go down the line until the end of their day. Which is probably 4 or 5 o’clock. Just sayin’.

I head to the lobby for my meeting.

Posted in Awesome Staff, Food/Menu Items, The Grand | Leave a comment

Solo Wanderings

Today is definitely not a beach day. I feel like I should get some exercise, so I take a walk down the beach, towards Maroma. I don’t go as far since I am by myself. The weather hasn’t gotten any better and it still isn’t a beach day. I consider going to the bar and just drinking all day, but I think that wouldn’t end well, so I get a golf cart ride to the shopping center. Come to think of it, that could not end well in a different way. As it turns out, I zip around there in no time and am not tempted to pull out my credit card even a little bit.

What to do next? I decide to go to Playa’s 5th Avenue. The hotel has a shuttle but it does not leave for a while and I am too impatient. I take a taxi. I wander around the shops. The shop owners are not as aggressive with a woman by herself as they are with a couple. I don’t see anything that sings to me . A set of Mapchicks maps does catch my eye. I have read so much about them over the years, so I go ahead and buy them to see what all the fuss is about. They are really interesting to look at, having read about so many of the places on them. I think they would be really useful if you were out touring as well.

The weather was cool all day , but it has only sprinkled on and off.

I skip lunch. When I get back to the Grand Daniel is behind the bar, so I go in and have him make me a cucumber mojito.


There is a couple there that I remember from a previous trip. On the beach she would talk to him in a very sexy voice in a language that I don’t understand. Wink, wink. She is intrigued by my cucumber mojito and she has Daniel make her one, and she likes it. Seriously, they need to put this drink on the menu. And they should call it Andrea’s Cucumber Mojito. Her husband (male companion, how do I know they are married?) has a margherita. I take a picture and text it to Zung, because Daniel’s margharitas are his favorite.


I go back to my room and the maid has decorated my bed (which feels just a little weird when you are by yourself).


She has also drawn a bath, which is simply divine after being out in the cool day all day.


I have decided to order room service for dinner. I have never done this before and it is something I have always wanted to try. Since I have no dinner reservations to get to I take my time in the bath and wait until I get pruny before getting out.

I order the room service and it arrives quickly. I ask the guy who brings it to open the bottle of wine that was in my room as a welcome when I first arrived.

I have ordered the seafood platter, grilled fish and coconut ice cream. That looks like a lot of food for one person, doesn’t it? I wonder if we would eat as much in one sitting if they put it all down on the table at the same time.


The seafood platter is what I get at Toni’s, and is an appetizer. however, I eat the fish first since it is the warm item and the seafood selection is cold. The fish tastes good, but is overcooked. Honestly, I have rarely ordered fish at any of the restaurants at the Grand and had it cooked properly. The seafood selection is fine and the coconut ice cream is of course, delicious, if not a bit melted. Maybe I should have eaten that first?


There is a special dinner tonight with a Michelin starred chef. There is an extra charge for this (I think it was around $200 0r 250). It includes cocktails before and after dinner drinks. It sounded nice, but not the kind of thing I wanted to attend solo. Someone told me that most of the people who attended were not hotel guests.

When I am finished with my dinner I go to the Lobby Bar and hang out with Daniel. It is the last day he works before I leave. I order a chocolate martini and chocolate cake shot.


We talk about how he needs to visit Colorado. We have a nice hug and I tell him good-bye and to enjoy his day off.

These beautiful tulips are in the front entry.


I go back to my room drink some more wine and put my room service order out on my doorknob before I go to sleep.

It was not a bad day, but I think it’s better to have someone to hang out with when you can’t be on the beach.

Posted in Bars, Drinks, Excursions, Food/Menu Items, The Grand | 2 Comments

Rainy Saturday, Mimosas and Pastry Loving Birds

I sleep well and wake up to a very cloudy sky. It is not raining here, but it looks like it is out on the ocean. It also looks like it has rained here. I didn’t hear anything, but the rooms at the Grand are sound proofed very well. When the sliding door is open, you hear the wonderful sounds of the ocean. When they are closed, you don’t hear a thing.


Before I went to sleep last night I put out my request for room service for breakfast and I requested that it be delivered 7:30-8. I wake up at 7:30 and jump up and make myself presentable by putting on a robe and brushing my hair. As I wait I think how awesome it must be for coffee drinkers, having the Nespresso machine. As a tea drinker, I am not going to use it to make tea with the tea bags they have in the room. Then I have the genius thought of getting the good tea bags from the buffet and bringing them to the room. Or, of saving some from room service. I’m so smart.

My room service arrive about 5 minutes after 8 and he apologizes for being late. He asks if he may come into the room. I want to say, well honey, if I don’t let you in the room I either have to haul all this food in by myself, or sit here and eat it on the floor. So, yes, yes you can come into my room.

I have ordered a reasonable amount of food. Waffles and bacon. That’s not too much, right?


I also ordered tea and a Mimosa. However, this is what they bring you when you ask for a Mimosa.


I sat on the balcony for a long time and worked on that bottle of champagne and the orange juice and just did not make nearly enough of a dent in the champagne.

They throw in a basket of pastries also, which makes me look like a glutton. I only eat a few bites of one pastry, the chocolate croissant. I eat one waffle and a couple of pieces of bacon. Bacon is my vacation guilty pleasure. I drink the aforementioned Mimosas and have a couple of cups of tea. Having more than one cup of tea is another vacation guilty pleasure.

The view is cloudy and stormy, but it is a beautiful view all the same. I go inside to get dressed and as made up as I get on vacation. I hear the birds squawking and they are so loud that I go out to see what the fuss is about. They have made off with some bacon. I cover it with the napkin and go back inside. I hear more squawking and when I look outside they are systematically making off with the pastries in the basket.

I have had a good breakfast, and apparently the birds have as well.

Next item on my agenda is to decide what to do with myself on this rainy, cloudy day.

Posted in Drinks, Food/Menu Items, The Grand | 1 Comment