The Meet and Greet (previously arranged on Trip Advisor) was great. I first got a drink, because it had been a few minutes since I’d had one. I got a citron vodka and club soda. I chatted with Candy and Mark. A gentleman came up to me and introduced himself. He was Steve, from North Carolina (aka upsmanclt on Trip Advisor). He is the nicest man with that charming, southern politeness that you never forget. He was traveling solo. Steve and Janelle introduced us to Randy, another solo (male) traveler. I’ve met and seen lots of solo travelers over the years at the Grand and they always appear to be having a great time. So, if you are a solo traveler and have been wondering if it’s mostly couples, and you’ll feel out-of-place, it IS mostly couples, but you will have a great time there. Don’t hesitate to book it if you’ve been considering it.
We all sit down and chat. Ahleli, our favorite Lobby Bar waitress is there. We first met her at our first visit to the Lindo and were delighted to find her at a later trip at the Grand. She’s one of the staff that we look for every year when we arrive. There were hugs and kisses. Then I see Eder over by the lobby. I go running over and there are hugs and kisses. We chat for a bit and I button his one button that is not buttoned. I guess I can never stop being a mom.
We discuss dinner plans. There is the Stars Under the Stars poolside party tonight. There have an International Buffet, bar, music. Sounds great. We’ve been here the past couple years in October when they have this and it has rained both times, so it was indoors with just the buffet and some music. I was not wowed by the buffet either time. However, they won’t take advance dinner reservations on this night. We could have asked what restaurants were open when we arrived, but I decided we would just go with the flow and eat at the buffet.
However, Steve and Janelle had reservations at Toni’s, the Surf and Turf, which is our current favorite restaurant. They suggested we go with them to their reservations and ask if they could do a table for four. If not, Zung and I would just eat at the buffet. Steve felt pretty confident he would get us in at Toni’s. The staff love Steve and Janelle. Probably because they treat everyone so well. They eat at Toni’s, ummmm, I think every night.
As we were getting ready to head over to Toni’s, I saw Eduardo, one of the Star Friends. He was chatting with someone at the bar. I went over to say hello. He remembered me. Well, I’m pretty unforgettable! Although, the first time he met me (October 2011 trip), he didn’t recognize me from our morning yoga class (where I was the ONLY participant) to when I saw him in the bar that same evening. I gotta lighten up on the amount of make up I wear!
The guy Eduardo was talking to asked me if I was Andrea, with the blog. His wife reads it all the time and she would be jealous she didn’t get to meet me. Rock Star moment! He said the blog helped them decide to come to the Grand. I love hearing people read my blog (cause what’s the point of writing a blog if complete strangers don’t read it?), and that it makes them want to come to the Grand. I love sharing the Grand with everybody. I will continue feel this way as long as I can continue to come to the Grand at a price I can afford. When that no longer happens – I GOT HERE FIRST! It’s MINE!
Just kidding. (Sort of).
Steve, Janelle, Zung and I head off to Toni’s. Steve asks the hostess if they can seat all four of us. While we are waiting, a couple is leaving and it is Dave and Laurie H! I knew they’d be down here some of the same days as us and we were planning to meet in the Lobby Bar for drinks tonight or tomorrow. Dave and I are both on Trip Advisor and My Beach Board (which sadly, no longer exists) and use Tami, from Trip Surfer vacation (check it out for awesome personal service and great rates), as our travel agent. We agree we will try to meet up at the bar in the next day or so.
We get good news when they tell us they can seat our party of four that was supposed to be Steve and Janelle’s party of two.
Zung and I are pretty low maintainance when we are on vacation. I always read about how accommodating the Grand is, so it is very nice when we ask for something special, they are able to do it.
The whole dinner reservation thing gets a lot of buzz on the forums. A lot of people say they don’t want to have to make reservations for dinner. The restaurants at the Grand are very nice restaurants and when I’m at home if I go to a nice restaurant I expect to have to make reservations. I find it gives me a little bit of structure when very little else of my vacation is scheduled in any way. Remember, I don’t wear a watch when I’m on vacation.
When we were at Excellence Riviera Cancun last year we got to experience the whole “no reservations needed” method. We tend to eat early, so we never had a problem getting a table. But I still prefer having reservations and knowing that when I show up, I’ll be seated and not have to wait with a beeper. So we were very grateful that Toni’s was able to accommodate our unexpected arrival.
While we are waiting for our table a woman comes out who has met Steve and Janelle. She has on great shoes and I take a picture of them. Her name was Whitney (I think).
I wonder if she gets that kind of request often?
We are seated. Eli, the sommelier, immediately brings a red wine that Steve and Janelle have had before and like. There are two bottles opened by the time we are done. It was a nice wine.
The wine list has changed from when I was here in January and they said it is changing again and many of the included wines are not available. That’s kind of a bummer because the good selection of included wines was a nice aspect of the Grand.
Zung and I order the Seafood Selection for our apps. I know Janelle had a lobster tail for her app, but I can’t remember what Steve had. At any rate, we forgot to take pictures of apps. We did a great job of pictures for entrees though.
Zung and I had the Surf and Turf. We had the exact same thing for apps and entree (this will become pertinent later).
I had mine with pureed potatoes (which are really just piped, mashed potatoes).
Janelle had a filet mignon (so basically she had the Surf and Turf, but served as separate courses.
She got the vegetarian main course as a side.
The wine had been flowing and I was definitely feeling it.
Steve and Janelle told me that Humberto was tending bar at the Stars Under the Stars party, so I knew I had to save room for a Chocolate Martini. I passed on dessert.
Zung had the Apple Custard with Pecans and Sweet Rosemary.
Steve passed on dessert. He and Janelle are doing the low carb thing. She however considered the fried ice cream, which is not low carb at all. Steve discouraged her. But I remembered it was one of the things on her list of “can’t wait to do at the Grand” so I told her she HAD to have it so she could cross it off her list. Steve was probably reconsidering inviting us to join them for dinner right about that point.
I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Some things are just worth going off the approved food list for.
It had been a perfect dinner. Great food, good wine and wonderful, genuine, nice people. It had been a great evening, meeting new friends and seeing old friends. There was still one more important reunion for the evening, though.