Arriving at a resort hotel is always an exciting experience because the resort is your vacation. Unlike a hotel that merely provides a hot shower and a bed to sleep in, a resort is a destination and you should never have to leave it to have fun. Likewise, you expect great food, great service, and well, to be pampered with things such as massages, cocktails by the pool, and fluffy robes in your room.
You expect to see people walking around the property actually wearing them as they travel to the sauna room, the pool, the Jacuzzi, or gym. The arrival can actually define the stay by telling your mind that the arrival was really awesome and this will be a great experience or leave you saying, uh-oh.
The same can be said for our chauffeurs and bus drivers arriving at a pick-up location and meeting the passenger for the first time. I believe that the first 60-second encounter defines the rest of the service. The same can be said for table servers and bartenders. You are either going to like them, dislike them, or have no opinion of them.
This arrival would be flawless. A group of young men in khaki shorts and blue polo shirts were at our side the moment we arrived offering to unload the car and valet park. Rather than call from the room for our luggage and wonder if it will be delivered in 10 minutes or an hour, the bellman remained by our side during the check-in process. The process was quick and efficient with keys already programmed before we arrived; confirmations of our activities planned during our stay were printed out and we did a quick review of a property map before the bellman took the lead to our room.
The room was perfect. There was a dog bed for Gizmo, two stainless steel bowls for food and water, and a doggie room-service menu. The bellman asked if we needed help unpacking. Things were looking great so far. Top notch — just what I had expected.
We decided to eat in our room because we had Gizmo with us and the sun was going down over the ocean. With our spectacular view, why not? We made our selections from the menu and soon discovered that our phone in our room didn’t work. This forced us to have to use a cell phone to call the hotel and then be transferred to room-service. I suppose this would be the same as one of our passengers bringing a great movie to watch on the two-hour trip to the airport only to discover the DVD/TV system was not working in the limousine or bus.
This was not the end of the world but certainly a disappointment as you expect all the amenities to be working when paying a small fortune. We placed our order and were told it would be “about 40 minutes.” I asked for red wine glasses to be immediately sent to our room so we could enjoy a bottle of Tobin James wine while we waited for our dinner. Both the dinner and the wine glasses arrived together nearly an hour and 20 minutes later. I figured now was the best time to make sure the food and beverage side of the hotel knew we would take care of them so Jonathon got a nice $30 tip for his slow speed delivery of lousy food.
Now, just as we know about our high-rolling, big tippers, and every chauffeur wants to drive them, hotel staff are the same with their guests except that you become known as a “Room Number.” I would later learn this is not a concept they embrace well at this hotel. I would also learn later that night that I had no remote control in my room for my two televisions. Phooey! Who wants to be manually channel surfing while on vacation? It would be three more days before they could locate one for us.
The final part of this evening was spent in the hotel bar. This was a fun place where we were lucky enough to meet the town drunk according to the bartenders on duty. The drinks were stiff to say the least. Shots of Patron were poured into bucket glasses filled half way rather than shot glasses. The usual, “where are you guys from?” abounded through and around the bar. New friendships were made, phone numbers scratched out on napkins, and a great time was had by all. The bartenders facilitated introductions by yelling things out like, “Hey, Fresno, you want another drink?” causing people to ask if he was from Fresno. Duh! It was good strategy and the crowd mixed well with the smoking patio being a place to continue the development of friendship in a quiet environment. Here is the kicker. It is 10 p.m. and the bartenders and servers start telling everyone it is last call for alcohol. I started counting empty chairs. There are two in the whole place. So, I am wondering, why, if all of these people are literally handing over cash the hotel decides to close their cash registers and quit accepting money that we are throwing at them?
It really seems like a poor business decision. It reminds me of a chauffeur I once had who told is passengers they could not go over the prepaid time because it was, well, prepaid. Once the clock got to that point, the ride was over. I think he is probably the manager of this bar now. Well, that was it. By 10:30, the bar was empty. I had even asked how much we need to throw down to keep the staff there until midnight. The answer was a stern response that closing time is 10:30 p.m. Aw, shucks.
I knew the next day I would wake up with a pounding headache from those gigantic Patron bucket shots. Of course, I wanted to eat for some hangover relief, and visiting the resort restaurant actually made me feel worse!
Later, room-service and this restaurant would have their last opportunity to serve me as bad became worse.
-- Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor
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