Thursday, November 6, 2014

Hotel Comparison

We’ve changed hotels today. It was a bittersweet move. The staff at Hotel All Riviera has become friends, especially Antonio and Jose (or Gordo as they call him). They took good care of us, and kept us fed and hydrated. The ice chest of Negra Modelos would appear almost like magic next to our beach chairs. A hand in the air would bring one of them running to our side to take our order for fish tacos, or what they would jokingly call tacos Nemo. We even felt comfortable leaving our stuff on our chairs while we swam. During a downpour we’d all huddle under the giant umbrellas, laughing and talking.

There was some pretty hilarious quirks though. The skeleton key that fit through a hole drilled into the metal frame of the sliding glass door was bizarre. It was so unsafe because you had to leave the key hanging (visible through the window), or set it on the table near the door where you’d desperately fumble to get it in the hole right-side-up in the case of an emergency.

Even a good mattress is hard on a block of cement. And this wasn’t a good mattress.

The TV was fine, but made us laugh at the lack of concern regarding the way it looked.

At one point bags of cement were placed at the point where the tile patio met the sand because of erosion. Now it’s part of the slippery stepping stones (they’d long ago solidified) to get to the beach. Not really a good plan for the elderly who needed help from the staff to get down safely.

Our bathroom window had those old fashioned louvered panes of glass. Two of the five panes were missing, the bottom one being the most inconvenient to us. We rolled up a towel so we weren’t visible from the outside. This brings me to the other problem . . . Bad Boys Bar was next door. They had a large crowd for their live music night . . . right outside our bathroom. The cool part was they were usually great bands and we would just chill with a glass of wine and a beer. Even better was they stopped playing at 9:30 or 10:00. After that, all we could hear was the sweet sound of the ocean waves all night.

Then we moved to the fancy-pants part of town. El Taj is our new home. It was designed by an architect who greatly influenced this entire communities’ beach town vibe. His work can easily be seen by the rolling curvature of the balconies, and the narrow central space that creates a shady oasis from the blazing sun, and the unique pools.

The rooms are spectacularly decorated with unusual pieces of furniture and light fixtures. The kitchen has marble countertops and wooden cabinetry. Our condo takes up four floors; the entry floor with the front room/kitchen/guest bedroom (which is on the second floor of the complex), the second floor with the master suite and guest room, the third floor with a bathroom/massage table/huge deck with BBQ grill and large whirlpool, and the fourth floor has a loft bedroom with a half bath. Nate said it’s 46 steps to the loft . . . yep he counted them, but that’s not counting the steps just to get to our front door!

That brings me to an important travel point. When you pay rock bottom prices, your expectations are rock bottom too. 69 bucks compared to 233 dollars a night is a major difference. You should get what you pay for. Our new place is gorgeous, but functional it’s not. If you are planning on building a house or remodeling, come here first and get ideas for what to not do.

Our bathroom has no drawers and no shelf, so all our toiletries sit on the floor. Except the master suite each bathroom is outside of the room, so you have to walk out into the hallway in the middle of the night past ceiling to floor plate-glass windows (no curtains).

Two of the rooms don’t have a closet to hang up your clothes. There are really pretty lights in our room, but no bedside reading lights. The bedside table is concave so you can’t set a cup on it. The bed is amazingly comfortable though and that counts for a lot in my book.

Unfortunately hot showers are also pretty important, so the cold shower in the master suite didn’t go over well. They came and fixed it. Now my room’s air conditioner doesn’t work, so the maintenance guy is on his way. The stove isn’t hooked up to the gas line properly, so it has to be lit in a way that scares me. Maintenance has been busy with us J

At first we thought the rooftop Jacuzzi didn’t work, but it was operator error. We have enjoyed sitting in it more than I would have expected because it’s been a bit cold lately. There’s even a rinse shower up there and the view is awesome.

Did I mention the bed is super comfortable? They put a soft pad over the mattress. The down comforter is overkill, especially since our AC doesn’t work.

A great feature here is breakfast. You can choose from two restaurants and both are excellent. At the Imprevist I recommend the enchiladas. They also give you a complimentary beer or wine, and appetizer at the elegant restaurant, The Plank. A membership at The Gym is also included, and that’s a big deal because it’s a great gym. Really popular and has tons of good equipment and workout classes.

All in all I’d recommend them both, but to different people. Having eight of us stay in one place has been great. We all congregated in the pool and attached whirlpool today, which was awesome after a long day at the beach. Three of us got a massage today . . . an absolute must for a Playa Del Carmen trip. We chose El Faro hotel for our massage because the owner is Vicki’s daughter. We stayed with Vicki for language school in Oaxaca. I had Hugo do mine, and he was excellent. It was $30 and worth every penny.

Well, I’ll write an end-cap when I get home. Until then Hasta Luego!!!

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