Author: Dennis Bisson
Date of Trip: June 2015
Friday we begin with our morning visit to the gym followed by breakfast at the lobster house. Today’s hotel theme is Mexican so we are looking forward to some special events and dining experiences.
The staff spent a good part of the day constructing a Mexican village on the “square”. Despite their effort a late afternoon downpour ruined their efforts and all the evenings events had to be moved inside. It’s a pity so many guests did not have the opportunity to witness their efforts.
For dinner we decided to visit “Basmati” an Indian themed restaurant. This venue is a long narrow room having three columns of well spaced tables for two. We were greeted by an elaborately dressed hostess and all of the servers wore Indian dress. The ambiance was excellent. For starters we shared an order of Murg Tikka which consisted of two large pieces of very moist and flavorful chicken kebobs. We were also served some very good pampadoms. For main courses we ordered Vindalo chicken and chicken Kadhi which was prepared with green pepper onion and spices. We ordered rice pulao, a basmati rice with peas and two types of nan. The dishes arrived in small bowls, were very hot and wonderfully spicy. This dinner turned out to be the best dining experience we have enjoyed so far. If you enjoy this type of food don’t miss a visit to Basmati.
Following dinner we returned to the square were staff had set up a number of gambling tables. By the time we arrived they were just rapping up for the evening but we were just in time to get good seats in the theatre for the evening’s Mexican folkloric show. We have attended several of these over the years but we felt that this was the best we had experienced.
We awoke Saturday morning to an overcast and rainy day. We went to the gym followed by breakfast at the buffet were I enjoyed a wonderful omelette. At 10:00 o’clock it is still raining heavily and I’m writing this in the main lobby area. Of note is that Wifi service is available throughout the resort but was not always reliable on my different devices. Rain and wind persisted throughout the day so we made use of indoor facilities and our room/spa.
We received an unexpected call in the late afternoon from Guendoline our concierge. After some discussion she said she was aware of our disappointment with our Grill experience and wanted to make sure that we were accommodated at whatever restaurant we wanted to visit tonight. This was an exceptional response to a dissatisfaction we had not yet voiced. Obviously our waiter at the Grill must have noticed our dissatisfaction and passed it on up the line. This was an example of exceptional attention to detail and determination to ensure the guest is satisfied. We advised Guendoline that we intended to return the Chez Isabelle at 7:00. We’ll see if she is able to ensure our entrance?
We arrived at the restaurant about 6:45 and as soon as we stated our room number the hostess greeted us by name and escorted us to a specially prepared corner table. Flower petals had been placed all around each place setting. We were impressed to note that a pianist was playing. We were off to a wonderful start. Our waiter soon introduced himself and we quickly had our first round of drinks. We have found that the servers want to give very fast service probably because most diners do not wish to linger over their meals. In order to pace our meal we ordered the French onion soup for starters and told our waiter we would decide on other dishes later. The soup was a very flavourful light broth with a Gruyere cheese topping. We again ordered the mushroom crepe to share and we were not disappointed. By now we were into the Merlot and the waiter left the bottle on the table.
For the main course we ordered a Pollo con Calvados and a filet, medium rare, for myself. Both dishes arrived as requested and both were excellent. We ended dinner with a Spanish coffee and liquors. This was a wonderful dining experience.
Following dinner we went to the theatre and caught the last 15 minutes of a performance by three tenors. What we heard was excellent and we were disappointed we had not attended the whole performance. Following the tenors we witnessed a “light show” performed by six individuals. The stage was very dark so that you could not see the bodies only the light wands and objects they were twirling. What followed was a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes that could make you think you were tripping on LSD. This was a performance that should be on AGT. Showtime finished, rain still falling we retired to our room for another spa session with wine.
Sunday morning and it is still raining. Many parts of the resort are built in the open concept with the corridors, stairs and public areas all finished in tile. When you have heavy rain and high winds water gets everywhere and it takes a small army of workers with squeegees to try to dry these now very slippery surfaces. Don’t know how we will amuse ourselves today? It rained all day. We spent a lot of time reading
Tonight we visited the Barcelona restaurant, a Mediterranean themed venue. We followed our practice of ordering one course at a time in order to control the pace of the dinner. We had Falafel and Kibbeh for starters which we shared followed by white bean soup. For a main course one had Moussaka and the other grilled salmon. Everything was well prepared, tasty and served hot by our very attentive waiter. Following this excellent meal we attended the Madonna show. This was a very energetic show with good performances although we didn’t care for some of the music selections.
Monday morning and the rain has stopped. It is hot and humid but overcast. Hope we have a good day? Yes indeed we had a good day all around. Enjoyed several cervezas and we spent the late afternoon on our patio lounger.
Guendoline contacted us again and made arrangements for us to visit “Spice” the Japanese –Asian themed venue. The décor and dress of the staff is in keeping with the theme. There is a separate enclosed area where those who have opted for the hibachi style dinner are seated. The remaining area is spacious with widely spaced tables. Again we were warmly greeted and escorted to a specially decorated table.
Our servers tonight were Cesar and Geraldo. After our pre-dinner drinks we ordered “Spice Combination” which included shumai, spring rolls, and chicken satay. Geraldo also brought along a selection of sushi. We followed this with bowls of “Tom Kha Gai” a very tasty/spicy Thai chicken with coconut milk and vegetable soup. Wonderful! For a main course my wife chose Thai Green Curry, with shrimp only, she passed on the squid, and I opted for the “Chili Basil Grouper”. Both dishes were excellent. We passed on dessert. Thus concluded a wonderful dinner in an enjoyable venue. With the exception of the Flavor Market we have now had dinner in all the speciality restaurants. We will now spend the next three evenings returning to our favorites.
Tuesday morning it is warm and the sun is promising to make an appearance. We made a point to visit Guendoline at her office in building nine to thank her for her efforts. She is a delightful lady and was very eager to ensure that our stay would be memorable. She insisted on knowing our plans for dinner so I expect we will again have a special table at the Lobster House.
After eight days it’s fair to comment on general maintenance and housekeeping. We have found the grounds, gardens and pools to be meticulously maintained. The beach area is regularly groomed. Public areas and especially the washrooms are constantly attended to. There is no shortage of beach towels or chairs despite hoarding by some guests. Finally we must compliment our housekeeper, Yaneth, for keeping our room spotless and fully stocked. We are usually early risers and we greatly appreciated having our room tidied by 10:00 AM. Similarly we greatly appreciated the evening turn down service and freshening up including chocolates. Unfortunately we never did get to meet this individual. It wasn’t until late in our stay that we learned you can call room service and request a specific time for your daily housekeeping. There is supposed to be daily mini-bar service but this was not always the case or on one occasion they came very late (6:00 PM) after we had called room service.
Tonight we returned to the Lobster house for dinner. We arrived about 7:00 PM and were greeted and immediately seated at a nice table in one of the “pods” and thus able to enjoy the gentle evening breeze. We have found that by arriving around seven we have never had to wait to be seated at any restaurant. Our server, Arnulfo, soon had our drinks. For appetizers one of us had the warm potato salad with chicories and the other had Cancun salad, a green salad with Mahi Mahi. Both of these were delightful. After a glass of wine we both had the lobster bisque which was even better than that of our first visit.
While enjoying a break between courses we were visited by Alfonso, the duty manager and also the Entertainment and Sports manager. We enjoyed a delightful conversation with him. After more wine my wife opted for the tried and true seafood stuffed lobster tail and I opted for a steamed lobster tail with veggies. These were outstanding and my ½ tail was the largest I have seen and cooked to perfection. Stuffed at this point we passed on dessert and went in search of entertainment. Thank you Arnulfo and especially the chefs for an exceptional dinner.
We found good seats in the theatre to await the 9:30 “Magic Show”. The show was performed by three magicians and two lovely assistants. An interesting twist is that the performers were silent or mimed actions. This meant there were no language problems. The magic itself was of a very high standard and could easily be worthy of a TV special or large commercial venue. Speaking of shows we have been very impressed with the performances we have seen and look forward to these shows. One comment we have is that the show information about the different performances published in the daily newsletter is very sparse. Because of this we feel many guests have missed some very talented acts.
Wednesday dawned very warm with a light overcast which soon dissipated and the temperature kept rising. Great day! At noon we made our way to the beach side Los Olas grill to enjoy the Taco Festival. One of the staff demonstrated how to create a taco and how to eat it. At the same time an attractive Mexican couple rode up to the grill and the lady, “Adelita” serenaded us to Mexican songs atop her horse and encouraging guests to have their picture taken. Following her performance her partner gave a demonstration of rope twirling atop his horse.
Following lunch we returned to the “lazy river” area only to go back to the main pool area, “Sol Bar” around 4:00PM to listen to the “Little Band” followed by the Manager’s cocktail party. All the managers were presented and following the introductions they all mingled among the guests offering canapés. This was an enjoyable and unexpected event and the guests were very vocal in expressing their appreciation of the staff’s efforts. When mentioning the lazy river one should also mention the Revive smoothie bar. There you will find Emiliano or Ever ready to make you a special pick me up, many prepared with specific treatments in mind.
Tonight we are anticipating returning to the Basmati restaurant for another “hot” fix followed by the Circus H2O Show at the main pool. We don’t know what to expect there?
We enjoyed another excellent dinner at Basmati served by Anibal. We chose some of the same dishes as on our first visit and were not disappointed. There was some delay getting our main course but we simply enjoyed more wine. We arrived at the main pool area just before show time and were fortunate to secure seats stage front. A tripod structure about 30 feet high had been erected in the center of the pool and from the top of the tripod a cable and pulley arrangement had been suspended. Two long narrow strips of fabric were attached to the cable. Several performers then proceeded to entwine themselves in the fabric and were raised above the water and performed many gymnastic feats. These were Cirque de Soleil type feats. The show lasted about 30 minutes in and around the pool and again was more elaborate and professional than one would expect at a resort. Well done!
Today, Thursday is our last full day and it is starting out to be a sunny warm and almost cloudless one. After a wonderful breakfast including a custom omelette at Toscano we visited Guendoline our Concierge to say goodbye. She insisted on arranging our dinner for tonight and is attempting to obtain a late checkout for us. OK it’s organized for 12:30.
We returned to the Lobster house for our final dinner. Prompt seating, a wonderful “pod” table and “Ever” for our waiter. We enjoyed almost the identical meal as last time and it just as good. Again, Alfonso, the Sports & Entertainment manager stopped by the table for a short chat. We passed on dessert and returned to our room.
What a surprise! We opened the door and found flower petals on the floor leading to the spa. Drawing the curtain from the spa we found it full with soap suds on the top and these also topped with flower petals. The water was still very hot so the task must have been completed shortly before our arrival. In addition, the coffee table was laid out with a dish of “petit fours” with a note saying “Come back soon” and a bottle of sparkling wine was on ice. Outstanding! So ended our final night.
Friday morning we awoke early and got most of our packing done before going to “Toscano” for breakfast. We were again greeted and seated by Adriana and served by Jose. We enjoyed the rest of the morning around the pool and our balcony. The bellman arrived as requested at 12:30 and we proceeded to the front desk for an effortless checkout followed by a great buffet lunch with wine, our first lunch at Toscano. Hilario our driver from USA Transfers picked us up as specified at 1:30 PM for the 45 minute trip to the airport in heavy traffic.
I have a few suggestions that the resort might like to consider implementing:
• The addition of “noodles” to the pool areas would be inexpensive, relieve the shortage of “floaties”, would be easy to store and I believe would give the guests more flexibility and fun in the water.
• I suggest that several paddleboats be added to the selection of non-motorized water equipment.
• Perhaps a small side table could be placed beside the balcony bed.
• Although not everyone’s wish, it would be really appreciated if there was an area, preferably with at least a plunge pool, perhaps even a rooftop, were clothing optional was accepted.
With that said all that is left to say is that this was a Five Star experience. Thanks to the 785 staff that made it so.