So, About that Room

I had answered the phone, to be greeted by the Customer Service Rep. He asked how things were. I replied “Ok,” in that tone that says they are really not ok at all. He asked what was wrong and I told him about the double bed situation, the almond milk that I had been assured I could get and said I’d had an issue with service at lunch, but that had been addressed and I was satisfied with that.

I want to take a step back before my first two complaints make me sound like a whiny, high maintenance guest. I am high maintenance, and I freely own it. I stay at the kinds of places that meet that aspect of my personality. I’m not obnoxious. As for the bed situation, I understand that there is not always a king size bed available, and it was not guaranteed. That would have been less of an issue for me, had they not tried to upsell me to the Prestige Club, or whatever the heck they call it. Maybe they try to sell everyone that when they check in, but for us, it just was annoying to get that right away and then when we declined we are told our requested bed was not an option. As for the almond milk, I was really irritated about that. Not that they didn’t have it, but that they had assured me when I inquired by email that they would get it for me and have it in my room. Lots of places don’t have almond milk, just don’t tell me you’ll get it and then there is no one who has a clue about it. If they had told me, nope, we don’t have it, I would have brought some with me. Which is what I told the Customer Service Rep on the phone.

He assured me he would get it for me. Then he told me that tomorrow they would be starting renovations on our building and we would have to move. For one night.

Oh, hell no!

But, they were going to upgrade our room to a swim out, with, wait for it…a king bed! And some amenities in the room. Not only that, we would get to spend the day at the Prestige area on the beach, with the fancy bali beds that they make up for you with many towels to make them comfy. When it became clear that I didn’t have a choice about moving (that would become abundantly clear the next day) I said I would need space in the Prestige beach area for my friends as well. No problem, he said. He asked where we were having dinner tonight, and I said the French restaurant to celebrate my friend’s 50th birthday. He said he would make reservations so we wouldn’t have to wait. I asked for a special bottle of wine, off the extra list. He said he couldn’t do that, but would send a bottle of house sparkling wine.

I was not happy about having to move FOR ONE NIGHT. I could not understand why they would put us in this room when they knew we would have to move for the last night of our three night stay. I still don’t understand it. In my eyes it was just crappy customer service. It is the primary reason that I will never stay there again. There were several reasons why I wasn’t impressed, but had this alone happened, I would not go back.

I will go into more detail about the dinner in my next post. The short story is, they made Helen’s birthday dinner really nice and special. That would have gone a long way to make up for the whole moving thing, IF it had been my or Zung’s birthday. Helen and Chris were not the ones being made to move.

What they did for us what not enough to make up for the inconvenience.

I text Helen that we have dinner reservations at 7, and say I will explain how we got dinner reservations when I see her.

 

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Another Day Bites the Dust

We get an early start by waking up at 7:30. We are going to have breakfast with Chris and Helen. We walk to the La Hacienda buffet. We sit inside. I ask our waiter if they have almond milk. After some discussion about me being told by the customer service rep that they would have some he goes to get it for me. I go to the buffet to get my breakfast. When I come back there is not any almond milk for me. Helen tells me that he brought some but Chris looked at it and didn’t think it was almond milk and tasted it to confirm. I guess something was lost in translation with our waiter. Bottom line is, no almond milk.

Zung says the omelette has an almost pancake like consistency. I am not wowed by the buffet, but there is always something at a breakfast buffet that I can eat.

After breakfast we go to the beach. The property is so large. It is quite a hike. We go by the pool area and think we see the towel hut and head over to get some towels. Just as we approach it we see a sign saying that it is the dive shop. So we continue looking for the beach. It actually is the towel hut as well, we will later find out.

We find the entrance to the beach, There is a small towel hut there, but when we ask the attendant for towels he tells us that they are only for the Preferred Club guests. Their area is to the right. I must have given him a “look” because he hands over a couple towels, but says it will be a one time thing. I feel scolded somehow, and very annoyed.

We find our palapas that Rick has saved for us. They are what I call the torture-loungers. I find them to be incredibly uncomfortable.

The day is beautiful. The beach is very nice. The water is clear and calm. There are lots of fish. We go in the water for a bit.IMG_1066

Although the day has started out nice, we can see that weather is coming.

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It comes in quickly, and starts to rain. We hightail it to the lobby bar. Chris and Zung sit and talk and Helen and I go shopping at the jewelry store.

The sign says they are having a sale, 40% off, plus an additional 20% off. I love a good sale. We are in there for a long time. Mary joins us for a bit. I try on a lot of stuff. There is so much that I like, it is hard to decide. I eventually settle on a pink topaz necklace. It is a pretty large stone. I also get earrings with large blue stones, a wide silver cuff and a thin black and silver bracelet that is made of titanium. The silver cuff has a tag on it that says $900, so I say I am going to pass on it. She says she’ll give it to me for $150. Sold! Helen has shown more restraint and buys a necklace. She was going to buy earrings too, but when the lady was polishing them, one broke.

We go and collect the rest of our group and go back to La Hacienda, which is now a lunch buffet. It is late-ish, so the restaurant is not crowded. Still, we wait awhile and nobody comes to get our drink order. Chris tells us to go get food and he will order our drinks. We come back from getting our food and the waiter is just taking the drinks order and giving us water. Rick and Mary have ordered sweet iced tea, and they are brought regular iced tea. Helen and I get white wine, which is not refilled when our glasses are empty. Water is not refilled either. We talk about how bad the service is. Helen says we should mention it to one of the head waiters.

As I am on my way to get some dessert I see one of the head waiters and tell her our service has been terrible. She says she is sorry. When I get back to the table we are sitting there talking. We are in no hurry to leave because it is still raining. The captain comes by and asks how things are. Everyone says fine. I say, no it isn’t. I tell the captain that our service has been terrible and explain why. He says he will take care of it. Ricky sees him take our waiter in the back. A few minutes later our waiter comes back to refill our water and wine and asks if there is anything else we need. It is clear that he was reprimanded. We continue to sit and talk. Our waiter comes by again and refills water and wine again. He then apologizes for the poor service. We leave him a tip when we leave because things were made right when we complained.

While our lunch service got better, the weather never did. We do a little more shopping. Then we head back to our room. It is time for Zung’s afternoon nap.

We get a call from Customer Service, asking how things are. I would find out he wasn’t really calling to inquire about how things were. he was calling to make our stay even more unsatisfactory.

But that story will be another post.

These are some pictures of our room.

Here’s our double beds.

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And our single sink.

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There is a desk and armoire for the TV, with some drawers.

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Here’s the mini bar. There were some chips, and soda, juice and water in the fridge.

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The sofa that we had to keep walking around to get to the bathroom and door and closet.

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Unexpected Rock Star Moment

We get a golf cart ride to our room, with our bags. It is still raining. The room is fine, not great, but fine. They had said they could push the two double beds together, but it is obvious that is not possible because the controls for the lights and fan are between the beds. They never come to do it anyway.

There is a sofa in the room, but it interferes with the flow walking to the bathroom. We have to kind of maneuver around it. The bathroom only has one sink and that makes it crowded with all our stuff on the vanity, and makes getting ready take longer because we have to take turns. I know I probably sound like a diva, but I travel enough to know what makes a room comfortable and easy to be in. Most high end hotels have two sinks. I would find out that we were in the low end of the rooms here at the Valentin. That’s one of the things about the Grand that I like. All of the rooms are the same. The only rooms there that are larger are the corner suites, the presidential suites and the villas. All the junior suites are exactly the same. The difference is the view.

There was a tiny birthday cake, which confused me, because it wasn’t either of our birthdays.  The cake wasn’t good, so we only took a bite.

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And the napkin they ha vewith it is dirty or stained.

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My level of being underwhelmed by the Valentin is growing by the minute.

We unpack, dress for dinner and then go meet Chris and Helen and we all walk to one of the bars. It is very nice. Quiet and classy. We sit down and wait for Mary and Ricky. A lady comes over and tells me that she really enjoys my blog. I ask her if she’s been to the Grand and she says no. I never expected a rock star moment here! Very cool.

Mary and Ricky arrive and we go to the Italian restaurant for dinner. You can’t make reservations (supposedly, more on that later) at the restaurants, so it’s just walk in, space available, first come first served. We are seated quickly. The restaurant is full, and very busy and service is slow. This makes me think about the oft repeated complaint at the Grand. People say they couldn’t get reservations but they walked by and the restaurant is half full. It’s not about the number of tables, it’s about the number of staff.

The food is better than average. The wine is a Merlot, and gets better with each glass. I’m not admitting to how many glasses there were.

Zung has soup, I think it was minestrone.

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My first course is pasta, which was fairly good. A little bland though.

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My entree was fish. The fish was good (fish is always overcooked at the Grand). The sauce was kind of bland.

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Zung’s  was satisfied with his entree.

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It is Chris’s birthday, and they bring a cake.

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I ordered this dessert, which was quite good, but had a lot of cream in it, so I only ate a few bites.

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After dinner we go to the bar again for a bit, and then back to the room. The beds are firm. The beds at the Grand are like clouds.

If you are wondering, NO, I am not going to stop comparing every little thing to the Grand.

We read for awhile. The people in the room next door turn their TV on REALLY LOUD. When it becomes apparent that they are not going to turn it down (who does that?) I call the front desk and complain and shortly after that, they do turn it down and we can’t hear it anymore.

I know hotels could be much, much worse. However, coming from the Grand, this is a step down. Which I knew it would be. I just didn’t expect to have so many aggravations. I am determine to focus on time with friends, and not where it is happening.

I’m a hotel snob, and I admit that fact freely.

Unfortunately, the worst is yet to come.

Posted in Bars, Food/Menu Items, Restaurant, Valentin Imperial Maya | 8 Comments

See, It’s Going to Clear

The rain is heavy as we drive towards Playa del Carmen, but Daniel thinks it is going to clear, so we head to the beach club. I realize that it is the same place where Zung and I did our vow renewal seven years ago.

We park and walk to the restaurant. We are seated. It is so obvious that Daniel is hurting from his hangover. I think this is what is called natural consequences. I’ve had my share of hangovers, so I am a tad bit sympathetic. I give him some Nux Vomica (great homeopathic remedy for hangovers), but it doesn’t work.

I have a rum and coke. Zung has a margharita, which he says is really bad.

Daniel and Zung get soup, with chili oil. I think Daniel is trying to sweat the hangover out. Zung says it is really hot.

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I get a beef quesadilla and we get some ceviche. Daniel drinks lots of water and by the end of lunch he is feeling better.

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Daniel keeps saying the weather is going to clear, pointing to the slightest sliver of blue sky as proof. It does not. We take some pictures.

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We concede defeat and head back to the car.

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The nest stop is the Valentin Imperial Maya.

There are hugs and kisses good-bye with Daniel.

And then begins our stay at the Valentin Imperial Maya.

Some background info on our history with VIM. When this resort first opened we considered going here because the price point was lower than the Grand. But from what my travel agent (not the awesome Tami Pruitt with TripSurfer Vacations), it would be a step down from the Grand. At that time, we decided not to chance it, and stuck with the Grand. I had various friends who stayed here over the years, some who thought it was a good value for the money, some who let me know, in no uncertain terms that I would be disappointed. I was now 22 trips to the Grand in, with three strays to other resorts, regretting all of them.

However, my good friend, Helen, was celebrating her 50th birthday here, which means she got to pick the resort where that would happen. And so, here we are. While we had great times with good friends, it does not turn out well in terms of showing us that there are other awesome resorts out there.

We arrived. We were given cool cloth when we arrive. And here the comparisons begin. When Zung is finished with his, he hands it to the guy who gave it to us, who points to a hamper for Zung to put it in. At the Grand, they take it back on the silver platter they gave it to you on. Of course, at the Grand there is only the number that you need for your party on that platter. Here, you just take it from the stack they present you with. This is called cutting corners. He doesn’t help get the luggage out of the car.

We go inside and see the gang, Helen (50th birthday girl), and her hubs, Chris, who is celebrating his brithday as well, Ricky and Mary. They are hanging at the Lobby Bar, on this rainy afternoon. We go over and say hello. They want to know what we want to drink, so we give our orders. We go to check-in, which is at a desk. This is a nice touch. I never fail to wonder why the Grand decided to do the traditional lobby check-in counter.

One point for VIM.

They bring us a pathetic glass of sparkling wine. It is 1/3 full of bubbles, and that includes the cherry. Seriously?

Next, our check-in dude tries to upsell us to the Privilege Club for $466. He tells us that this is discounted and one night is free.The Privilege Club gives us a better room and access to things that are exclusive to only Privilege  Club people, like sections of the beach (we’ll get to that later). This rate is absurd, compared to what we have paid for our entire 3 night stay. I give him a firm NO. He doesn’t argue or persist. He just goes on to tell us that the only rooms they have, have two double beds instead of the king we had requested. I tell him that I am not happy, and he tells me that there is nothing they can do. I am thinking there would have been a kind bed if we had upgrade ($$$) to the Prestige Club.

Chris and Ricky bring us the drinks we had requested when we arrived, which are better than the pathetic glass of sparkling wine they cheaped out on when we were seated.

I am pissed of already, and we haven’t even gotten to our room.

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Moving Day

It is a decent Zungrise this morning.IMG_1006

We enjoy our last hours of our oceanfront views. The Grand seriously has the best oceanfront rooms. If I climbed over the balcony I would fall onto the beach. It doesn’t get any closer than this. Well, it might, but then you’d fall into the ocean, and that would be a bit wet.

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We go to breakfast at Bella Vista. Mayvany comes by to say hello.

I have Chillaquilles, which are so good today.

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We have Mimosas.

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We walk around the resort taking pictures before we go back to the room to pack.

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This is the view from outside of Toni’s restaurant.

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This is more or less what you get when you have an ocean view room.

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They are setting up at the pool bar.

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I go over to the shopping center because my nail polish chipped and I didn’t bring any with me. They have some at the spa, and they have just the right color. When I am walking through the center of the shopping area I think to myself that we should come over her in the evening. I think it would be really nice. We really need to mix up a routine a little.

My plan is to walk back, but it is hot and a butler comes by and gives me a ride. I go to the lobby because I need to go to the gift shop to get nail polish remover.

I go back to the room, avoiding the damn grasshoppers. I take a few pictures in the room.

This is how the robe looks when you arrive.

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I sit out on the balcony while we wait for the bell boy, enjoying my last minutes with my view. I wish those tents weren’t there. That is the massage tents for the people that are not part of the Grand.

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. I am texting with Daniel. He tells me that he went out last night and did not get home until 6 am. He promises me that he will still be here by noon. He asks me to get him a coffee to go. When he gets up he realizes that he is hungover. Really hungover. I tell him that he gets no sympathy from me.

The bell boy arrives and takes our bags and gives us a ride to the lobby. We share the golf cart with the couple who got engaged. They are so young and cute.

The lobby is busy with people checking in. Priscilla checks us out. Zung gets Daniel’s coffee. We say hello to Humberto, who is at the lobby bar. We are sitting in the lobby, waiting for Daniel. Mayvany sees us and comes over. It is a few minutes past noon so she checks with security to make sure he didn’t have any problems getting through.

He arrives shortly after that, only a few minutes late. We load our luggage into his car.

The weather has been beautiful all day, so far. As we drive away, it begins to rain.

 

 

Posted in Food/Menu Items, Restaurant, Shopping, Spa, The Grand | 1 Comment