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As we make our way from the front entrance gate to the Port Cochere of the Grand I take note of the different buildings. There is the convention center on the left, the shopping center and golf clubhouse on the right, there is the medical clinic and the Maya on the left. We are then turning left and driving through the gates of the Grand, up the hill to the Port Cochere. It is my 10th visit and I still get a thrill as we drive up. The doors of the van are opened and we are welcomed home. They bring us cool wash cloths and check our names off their list. We have big smiles on our faces.
They take us inside. I am surprised when they direct us to the lobby counter. We have booked an ocean front room and last time, in August when I was here with Zung, they directed us to the lobby bar for a drink before they took us to our room to be checked in there.
But this time the bellman was directing us to the lobby counter and we were being asked to pay. Last time we didn’t have to pay until the end. However, there had been an issue with my credit card after we left. The front desk clerk had not written down the security code and had not run the charge right away, so it got declined. American Express actually informed me of this and I immediately contacted the Grand with the security code so they could run the charge. At any rate, they wanted payment in advance this time. Karen and I handed over our credit cards. I wanted to use my Discover card because there is no foreign transaction fee. Unfortunately, they don’t take Discover.
We paid. I exchanged some money. Karen said I should just use US dollars (this will come up again later). I believe you should use pesos. This money is for tips and the employees will take either. Duh. I just don’t want them to have to take time our of their one day off to go exchange money. Okay, I’m going to get on my soapbox for a minute. I get, I don’t know how many weeks of vacation and I am lucky enough to be able to afford to go to the Grand. It costs me thousands of dollars to go to the Grand. It takes me a few minutes to exchange money at the lobby and if I don’t get the best exchange rate, in the scheme of things, does it really make a difference? The exchange rate is not the best, but it’s decent. My thought is, tip, tip well and tip in pesos.
Okay. I’m finished. I’m getting off my soap box now.
A waitress comes up to us with our welcome drinks. I turn around, expecting champagne, and she has a tray with two cucumber mojitos. I would be willing to bet we are the only people who have ever gotten cucumber mojitos as welcome drinks. Daniel is obviously working and obviously saw us come in.
It is a special start to a special vacation.
When we got done at the lobby counter we went over to the Lobby Bar to say hello to Daniel.
Isn’t he adorable?
We talked about the computer. I told him I would bring it before dinner.
Ahleli (my favorite Lobby bar waitress) was also there, and I turned around and there was Humberto! I couldn’t believe I got to see my three favorite people right away.
Karen and I finally got our butts in the cart to go to our room.
I had requested Building 70 because I wanted the full Heaven’s Gate view. Building 71 has been glassed in. They say they are going to do the same thing to Building 70, so I want to get to enjoy it for as long as I can.
OMG! LOVE that view!
We were taken up to our room. I had asked for the 2nd or 3rd floor. We were on the 3rd floor, room #7052. It was right over the arch. Two double beds. It was exactly what I had asked for.
Our butler was there before the bellboy left. Charly. We loved Charly. He’s the best butler we’ve ever had. He was a delight.
We got to chatting right away. He was so personable. He has a 4 month old baby boy and I asked if he had pictures and he whips out pictures. He was bursting with pride for this baby, who was adorable, with tons of hair! I loved it. He told us that in Mexico fathers get 3 days paid paternity leave and it is increasing to 10 days. Mama’s get 12 weeks, paid leave. Six weeks before and 6 weeks after. Now, remind me of which country is more progressive?
We talk about safety and he says Playa del Carmen is very safe. He fills out our paperwork to check in. We get banded.
There are flowers…
The table has a table-cloth, fruit basket, wine and plate of cheese, meats and berries. Yes! I am so hungry. Charly opens the wine and it is quite good and I drink quite a lot of it.
There was bread and olive oil and vinegar. It was such a lovely and delicious spread. This is the first time we have ever received this and it was the first of many surprises the Grand provided in recognition of my 10th stay.
Charly takes our liquor and pillow requests. He brings us down pillows (2 each) and room service brings us a bottle of Havana Siete. I told Charly to make sure they bring us the Siete and they did. There is a letter for us, but Charly points out that it says, “Mr & Mrs”, and he is going to fix it, because the Mr is not here this time.
He tells us about a very special surprise the Grand is giving us. And then he tells us there will be more surprises. I am not going to itemize every thing the Grand did for us, but every thing was very much appreciated.
There are t-shirts that say “We’re Back”. They are Large and X-L. Karen and I will give them to the hubs, back home.
Charly leaves and it is time for the Ceremonial Removal of the Watch (CROTW). If you are a newbie, I take my watch off quickly after arrival to the room. Because, I don’t wear a watch when I’m on vacation. I eat when I’m hungry, I sleep when I’m tired and I drink, (wait for it!) all the time!
I call Zung to check in. We unpack. Then it is time to dress for dinner. There is still a lot that happens this night. After all, we are just getting this party started!