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We arrived at Haiku and were seated at a regular table. As opposed to a teppanyaki table. They have great seating at the teppanyaki tables. There are twelve seats, with them divided into intimate little areas for two. The problem with the teppanyaki tables is that they tend to over cook the food (don’t order the beef unless you like it well done, because that is what you will get) and they haven’t done much show cooking for the last several years. There was more show cooking at the Maya 4 years ago. The other issue with the teppanyaki tables is that it can take a very long time to get through dinner. They wait until everyone is seated before taking food orders and then the chef has to cook for 12 people. Plan on a very long dinner. When the Grand first opened, and for the first couple of years, they did the cooking for one half of a table, so it didn’t take as long. Sometimes we are up for it. If you know what you are going in for, it’s fine. I would love to see them step it up at the teppanyaki tables with better show cooking, not over-cooking the food and maybe just doing the cooking for the 6 people on one side.
Sometimes they ask you where you want to sit, teppanyaki table or regular table, sometimes they just seat you wherever. However, if you have a preference, let them know. Really, the Grand is all about trying to make your vacation awesome and tying to accommodate you.
We order adult beverages. Karen orders champagne, and again complains that it is too sweet.
I look at the wine list and order a bottle of the Trivento Malbec. It is very good. Very good.
I can’t believe I didn’t take any pictures of our dinner. I know that I had the Grilled Lemon Beef Filet and Oyster Sauce. It was good. I know Karen had some Tempura for an appetizer and I think the Imperial Rolls. Beyond that…I didn’t take pictures of it and I didn’t write it in my notes. So, your guess is as good as mine.
I did take this picture, so I know Karen had a Cappuccino.
I don’t drink coffee, unless it has lots of stuff in it to cover up the coffee taste. You know, mocha’s, eggnog latte’s. I remember coffee milk from when I was a kid. Does anyone else remember that?
Ooops. My ADD is manifesting itself again.
I do remember briefly seeing Olivia in the restaurant and asking if she would come out so I could say hello. Olivia is one of my favorites. She is always smiling and she has a beautiful smile. She works so hard. It seems like she is there all the time. We chatted.
Olivia is the PR chef. She goes around asking how everything is. She also brings the popsicles around to the guests on the beach at around 11 o’clock and makes the Ceasar salads at lunch and does the cooking class. She is everywhere! And always smiling.
Dinner is finished. I take a glass of the red wine “to go”. Karen is not feeling well. She goes back to the room and I head to the Lobby Bar.
The Lobby Bar is EMPTY when I get there. Daniel is there. I drink my wine and chat with Daniel. A Star Friend comes by to chat. I ask where is Eder, because I have not seen him yet. I ask the Star Friend to please go and get Eder, so I can say hello.
When I first met Eder he was just a regular Star Friend. His memory for names is astonishing. He remembered my name the second time (vacation) I saw him. He is so goofy. Then he got promoted, and he got a little more serious. Now he’s been promoted again and he’s even more serious. He still has that goofy, fun, Eder side to him though.
He came over and I jumped up and gave him a hug and kiss. He had someone with him. Well, actually, it was SOMEONE. He introduced me and said it was Mr. Alfonso Lopez, the general manager. He said he had told him I have a blog. We chatted. I tell him the reason I have come back so many times is the people. I tell him how awesome Daniel is. He says they get lots of comments about Daniel and Myrna, the waitress at the tranquility pool. I tell him we were unfaithful and tried Excellence and were very sorry and would never stray from the Grand again. He says in December they had 40% of their guests were repeat customers.
Wow. That’s impressive. But not surprising. It’s just the kind of place that is so awesome, so perfect, that you just want to come back again and again. It’s like the TV show Cheers, they know your name.
We wrapped up our conversation and they left. I returned to my seat at the bar and leaned over and asked Daniel, who was that? He confirmed that it was the General Manager, Alfonso Lopez. I thought that’s who it was, and I wanted to be sure.
Cool. Way cool. I had just talked to the man himself. Very, very cool.
I decide I have had enough wine and Daniel makes me a cucumber mojito.
Of course, he adds a healthy rum floater. He does it where I can see it for fear I will complain that he didn’t give me one.
Steve and Janelle came up and sat on either side of me. They asked where Karen was and I said she wasn’t feeling well. She was missed. But really, we were just about to get this party started!
Best part of the dress…
Janelle and I were drinking our cucumber mojitos (are you keeping count? There will be a quiz later). Alfonso came back. He knows Steve and Janelle and wanted to spend some time with them before they left. He sat next to Steve and they chatted. Janelle was on my other side, and she and I chatted…and drank two cucumber mojitos.
We chatted with Steve and Alfonso and I mentioned that I wanted to go to Playa del Carmen to look for Havana Club Barrel Proof. Alfonso said it was a little rough. I asked him what rum he liked and he said Zacapa 23. We talk rums for a while.
Then he is gone.
When he comes back, he has a bottle of Zacapa 23.
Now, this is what I am talking about.
A proper rum tasting starts with observing the color of the rum.
Next you should appreciate the smell of the rum.
Then you take a sip. You swirl it around in your mouth, letting it roll over your taste buds. Finally, you let it slide down your throat.
The Zacapa 23 was amazing. It was smooth and delicious.
When our glasses were empty, Daniel poured some more. Janelle had a glass. I had several. I looked over at Steve and Alfonso’s second round and was aghast to see it was on ice. I gave them grief for contaminating such an excellent rum with ice.
“Why would you want to water it down?”
I shamed them sufficiently and their next glass was neat. As it should be.
It was late. They were packing up the bar.
They have to take ALL the liquor off the shelves and take it to the back (where, presumably, they lock it up).
Then, Daniel was gone. All the liquor was gone. And 3/4 of the bottle of rum was gone. And I was feeling no pain.
I said it was time for me to go. I was drunk enough to know I was drunk. You get into trouble when you are so drunk that you think you are not really that drunk. I said good-night. I guess I was drunk enough that Janelle insisted on accompanying me back to my building. We took a golf cart and I assured her I could get myself up to my room.
She returned to the Lobby Bar, Steve and Alfonso and they talked for a quite a while longer.
Karen was up and I was so excited to tell her that I had met the GM. She has been telling me for years that I should try to meet him. I talked excitedly for a short time and then I was out. Asleep. Passed out. It’s all semantics. I slept well. It had been a new kind of rock star moment. Only this time, I hadn’t been the rock star.