Rum and cokes on the plane (are you keeping count?). Talkative (with a capital T) seat mate who spills her water on me. S’okay, it’s water, it’ll dry. There’s nothing like warm chocolate chip cookies with a nice cold rum and coke. Frontier serves warm chocolate chip cookies on their flights. It’s a nice touch.
Flight lands 25 minutes early. That’s 25 more minutes we have in paradise. There is NO immigration line. The last couple times we’ve been here, Immigration lines have been horrendous. We go up to a clerk with a green light. She’s a bitch and sends us back to the line. S’okay, we’re in paradise. We get through Immigration and go wait for our bags. When we get in the Customs line, it is LONG. How did that happen? It was empty when we got in here. We get the green light (we have had AWESOME luck with the green light).
Tutorial for newbies on the green light/red light: In Customs, your bags will go through an X-ray machine and then you will hand your customs form to a Customs dude (or dudette). They will have you press a button and if it’s green, you are free to go. If it is red, they will open up your bags and go through them. Good to know if you are transporting sex toys. The one time we got the red light, it was a very cursory inspection. And, no, we did not have any sex toys.
Another tutorial for newbies: Once you exit Customs there are all kinds of people there, many of them standing in the middle of your path, who want to “help” you. Ignore them, unless you want to sign up for a time share presentation or sign up for a tour under pressure. Sometimes they will yell at you, saying they need to see your papers (they sound very authoritarian). Ignore them. Anyone who NEEDS to see your “papers” already has. I like to put my shades on and walk purposefully. It has not failed me yet. Make eye contact with NO ONE. When you leave the building there will be all kinds of people with signs. If you booked private transportation, look for your name. Otherwise, look for the person in the shirt color you have been instructed to.
We use Cancun Valet. They were there with my name on a sign and the dude took us to wait for our van to arrive. Cancun Valet is $115 round trip to Playa Paraiso. It was 25 minutes to the Grand.
A sign welcomed us to paradise as we left the airport.
First we entered the Playa Paraiso compound. The driver has to stop and check in with the gate guard dude. The Grand is the last hotel in the compound, so we drive past the others, the shopping center, the golf course, the medical center and then we are passing through the gates to the Grand. I have been to Playa Paraiso ten times and the Grand 7 times and my heart still beats faster as we arrive to the entrance. We get out of the van and are given cool washcloths to wipe away the travel grunge. Jorge, the bell boy welcomes us back.
We go in to the Lobby and complete the check in process. I sneaked a peek at our paperwork and saw that we were in an Ocean Front room. At the end of the check in process she told us she had a surprise for us, we were being upgraded to Ocean Front! Yes! We finally won the upgrade jackpot! The head butler, Raul (I could be wrong on that name) came out to welcome us back and let us know to let our butler know if there was anything we needed. Both he and the check-in chica kept referring to our anniversary.
Nope. Not anniversary. Birthday. Which I mentioned in my email I sent before we arrived requesting dinner reservations and mentioning that we were repeat customers and my blog. But that’s okay. It was a warm welcome and we got upgraded and I was happy to be back to my home away from home.
They brought our welcome drinks.
Do I look happy, or what? Even Zung smiled for the picture.
We exchanged some dollars for pesos because we prefer to tip in pesos. We were told the bell boy would come get us and take us to our room. We waited a couple of minutes and he came and got us and we and our bags were put into a golf cart and off we went to Building 71. As we were driving there, we passed Emilio, who waved at us enthusiastically and said, “Welcome back!” I will admit, I didn’t remember him at the beginning of the trip, but I will never forget him after this trip. He was so enthusiastic and cheerful and attentive. He is the dude who fills the minibar.
We walked down the hall toward our room and passed Carlos. Carlos is an awesome beach waiter. We stopped and said hello and shook his hand. We arrived to our room, #7103, a ground floor ocean front room.
There was a beautiful flower arrangement of roses and stargazer lilies in the room.
There was a lovely fruit basket and a bottle of red wine (which we never opened).
There were two Iberostar polo shirts on the bed. Our pillows of choice were already on the bed. I like the down pillow and Zung likes the really firm foam pillow.
It was a very, very warm welcome back. It would just continue to get better.