We got ready for dinner. We walked around a bit. Maybe even had a drink at the lobby bar. Can’t remember. Dinner ressies were for 7:30 at Venecia, the Italian, which is the only restaurant on that side of the building, just a stagger from the lobby.
Our butler told us they needed dinner reservation requests one half hour before you wanted to eat dinner. Unless you wanted to eat at a restaurant at one of the other Iberostar Paraiso hotels. That required 24 hours notice. We never strayed from the Grand. In six trips, we never have. The Gourmet restaurants at the Lindo and Maya are both very good though. The Cajun at the Lindo is very good. It is not of Grand level, but it is a unique option. I like the blackened Grouper.
Reservations at Royal Hideaway can be challenging at times of high occupancy. One time our options were 6pm or 9:30pm. For this trip the point went to the Grand. Of course, this has to do with occupancy. Now that word is out that the Grand is the best all-inclusive in the world (it’s true, see Trip Advisor), the can sometimes be issues with getting dinner reservations at the Grand now.
Since Venecia is by the lobby, it is the only restaurant that doesn’t have an ocean view. There is an outside dining area that borders some water feature though. We ate inside and it was late enough and dark and we wouldn’t have been able to see the ocean if there had been a view.
We were shown the wine list. This is actually the only restaurant that DID show us the wine list. We ordered a Chianti. It was actually the only wine I didn’t like that much.
First course brought me the tortellini stuffed with beef and duck pate in a cream sauce. Can we say really, really, really rich? Good, but so rich, I ate less than half. While some people go to an AI and think, “I can order whatever I want. I can even order one of everything and just take a bite or two if I want” (seriously, I have read where people say this, because it’s FREE! — can we say “obnoxious glutton”?), I hate wasting food.
Zung ordered the calamari. He pronounced it “excellente!” My main course was the lamb. It was good. Zung had the sea bass and he raved about it. There was an amuse bouche. They called it a complimentary appetizer, but since this is an AI, isn’t everything “complimentary” (after you pay whatever it is you paid)?
The amuse bouche was a piece of mozzarella and a cherry tomato, speared together with a piece of spaghetti. Tasty. Dessert was the Zabione for both of us. Yummy.
There was a dude playing the flute. This was the only restaurant that had live music. The RH has love music at every restaurant. Point for RH.
Our waiter was Karim. Karim is still there and he is awesome! Efficient and friendly. We ask for him all the time now.
A word about napkins. At RH we were always impressed with how they ALWAYS put your napkin in your lap when you sit down. If you get up and leave, they always re-fold your napkin. It’s a little thing, but it impresses. They don’t do any of this at the Grand. But that first trip I kept waiting. Of course, I can put my own napkin in my lap. But, it makes an impression and the point goes to RH.
When we were done with our meal, the hostess came over and asked how things were and if there was anything they could do to improve. I suggested having a green salad on the menu. Only Toni’s, the Surf and Turf, has a salad. Four years later, this is unchanged.
When we left the restaurant, we returned to our room. All that laying on the beach, reading, drinking ,and eating had exhausted us.
We tried out the jacuzzi in the bathroom. This point goes to the Grand because, although RH has a jacuzzi, you wouldn’t be able to fit two people in it. And what fun is that? I had some of the wine in our room, which wasn’t bad. Nothing to write home about, but it was drinkable.
We went to sleep and my head loved the down pillow.
The next day would bring our first rooms service experience. There is cool button on the phone that connects you directly with room service. I mean, how arduous is it actually dialing more than one number for room service? I really miss that little button.