Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Grand Experience

Gee, we never thought we'd stay at The Grand. It's normally too expensive. This year, however, the economy and the swine flu put Mexico's tourist trade in the dumps. Since we have visited the same area in the Riviera Maya so many times, we could certainly see the difference. The resort had to lower its prices drastically, and then simply closed down the two first hotels, automatically upgrading guests who had reservations in that closed area. The company did not change its brand, however; the staff seemed to come together with the goal of wanting us to come back more than ever, hopefully to The Grand. Well, that would be grand.

This is the iconic picture of the main pool:

The other side of this pool is bevelled so as to create the optical allusion, from inside the pool, that it runs into the sea. This picture was taken from the building where we were staying, and there are two other buildings which are right on the ocean. Only one of them was open this year because of a lack of business. The beach was an especially quiet place this year.

There was another, smaller pool, which is seen here from our room's balcony. I was very happy with the view. And it was a nice balcony with a swing and comfy couch, and the housekeeping staff kept beer and other goodies in our 'frig, and the food and wine were off the charts, and one day, we even walked into our room and discovered a beautiful flower arrangement.

The most lavish thing of all was the private dinner on the beach. This is normally something that people pay extra for, but this year, the management picked two couples per night, probably people who are repeat customers, and simply awarded it.

They set up platforms and canopies right out on the beach and treated us as if we were staying at one of the Presidential Suites on the oceanfront. To say that my expectations were exceeded is grossly inadequate.

Of course, some things never change:

There was one particularly bold coati that came up to the main pool area every day. Once, it actually entered the sunbathing area with chairs in the shallow-watered shelf of the pool, where it stomped right up to a low table and stuck its snout into someone's fruity drink. I couldn't help laughing, but when a woman behind me said, "That was my daiquiri," I was embarrassed. Another woman told me that she watched a coati walk up to one of the cabinets in an outdoor cafe area, open a drawer, and help itself to a sugar packet. They are omnivores, their front paws are prehensile, and they live in paradise.

The resorts in the area would love to get rid of the coatis, but the beaches are owned by the Mexican government, which prohibits harming any of the indigenous wildlife. And, well, they're awfully cute and easily shooed away, if you see them coming. Ekim and I witnessed an encounter between this bold coati and a kitten. The kitten hissed, it charged, and it scared the coati away. I wish I had that on tape.

This is a beautiful place, but it's farewell for another year...

The kittens by the pool area, ready to claim their territory!

If you click on this picture, you can see a kitten in the bushes, ready to hiss