Monday, July 27, 2009

Privilege Aluxes warning!

This will be my last post while on Isla. I'll probably post another when I get home, but wanted to get this one done before I leave.

To put it bluntly, my experience with the Privilege Aluxes was terrible and I’m writing this post as a caution to everyone who might be interested in checking it out. Beware!! If you think it sounds too good to be true…it usually is.


I had made previous arrangements to check in there on Saturday. The woman told me I could check in early. I stopped by at about 8:30 or so that morning to ask when I could get the room. There was a different desk clerk there, but he said noon. Fine. That would give me time to go to Jax and do my blog post on the golf cart trip. I headed over there at about 12:45 and they said the room wouldn’t be ready until 3:00 and that I should hang out at the pool. *sigh* (They did give me a complimentary glass of champagne, however, which I downed in about two gulps.) I hadn’t eaten anything at Jax, so I went to the hotel's little restaurant across the alley-way…the one with the statue with the woman holding the big ball that they take in every night. They had everything priced in U.S. dollars averaging at least $12. I had the shrimp cocktail because I wasn’t that hungry.

It was so bland, I couldn’t believe it. It tasted like they poured Campbell’s tomato soup over luke-warm shrimp. No little bits of onion or cilantro like the one I had at Justicia Social the day before.

So I’m sitting there trying to enjoy the scenery eating my bland shrimp accompanied by loud rock music blaring from nearby speakers. I really wasn’t in the mood to hear Eminem’s “Sorry, Mama…I didn’t mean to hurt you…I’m just cleaning out my closet, etc., etc.” Just didn’t have that island flavor, you know? When they started playing songs from Shaggy (is he even still around anymore??), I decided to check on the room. I go to the desk, and the guy says my room is ready…only the bus boy starts heading in a completely different direction than the room I looked at when I made the reservation…which the girl specifically told me I would get and wrote it on my reservation form. I said, “Hey, I thought my room was on the third floor over toward the lighthouse!” ”No, you have the standard room rate,” he answers. So I agree to look at it and it’s smaller, without the nice features the other one had, and looks out over the garbage dumpsters to the north of the building. *sigh* I said, “Thanks, but no thanks,” and head back to the desk. I tell the desk clerk that the girl said I would be in the room I looked at. After some Spanish discussion amongst the staff, they agree to let me stay for one night in that room…but that they’re still doing construction in that area, and that I would have to move into another room the next night. He assured me that I could move into a two-room suite at the same price. *sigh* I’ve already paid cash for the first night, so I decide to stay there for now.

Here's the room...


And bathroom...

There is a nice Jacuzzi tub out on the balcony…

And the shower has a door into the bathroom as well as out onto the balcony. If there were people on the top floor of the Color de Verano, they could probably see you taking a shower. And thank goodness they don’t let anyone into the lighthouse, because that would be a real show!

Complimentary robes…

When I was at the restaurant, I thought it was strange when an Oriental family came down to eat all wearing the same robes. Now I knew why. HaHa!

View from the balcony…

And of the Satay Restaurant below on the ground floor…

Here is what it looks like from the ground…


I walked around town for awhile and got back about 7:30. I had gotten up really early that morning and didn’t feel like walking to another restaurant, so I thought I’d give their restaurant a try…after all, I love Satay. The restaurant is huge and is very formal with white linen tablecloths, etc. At 7:30, I was the only person in the entire restaurant…no kidding…the only one. I ordered a glass of wine and waited for the waiter to take my order. After about 15 minutes (after all, he had all those other customers to serve…oh, wait…NOT!), he finally told me that there is no menu…it’s a buffet. Okay, fine. So I go up to this big buffet with all this weird looking food which I couldn’t even recognize...not to mention everything looked like it had been sitting there for hours...which it probably had since they open and 6:00 and had no customers. I put a few helpings on my plate and took it back to the table. I put the first bite into my mouth and just about had to spit it out. I tried little spoonfuls of everything else, and it was all the same. It all tasted like cardboard. I very seldom complain about food in a restaurant, even when I’m disappointed, but I couldn’t hold back this time. When the waiter came back to my table and asked how it was, it was the first time in my life I’ve ever told a waiter, “This is horrible…I can’t eat it.” He walked away and didn’t come back. Eventually, I just got up and the manager came over and I told him what I thought of the food. I was nice about it and told him that with all the restaurants on the island that offered great food, they were going to have a very difficult time getting business with those prices (everything is over $20 U.S.). He went on to tell me that they’ve had compliments on the food, I just looked around and said, “But there are no customers.” I was more sympathetic than anything because they’re just the employees, but they’re going to have to kick it up a notch (or four or five) to get any customers…especially at the prices they charge. So they didn’t charge me for the meal, but I was pretty disappointed in the whole deal about this time. The hotel has internet and they give you a passcode when you check in. About a half hour later, I couldn’t get the internet anymore. Hmmm…they probably cut me off. *sigh*

The next morning, all I wanted to do was to get out of there. It’s a nice, luxurious room, but it’s very isolating. You don’t even feel like you’re on Isla when you’re there. I missed the laid-back, relaxing hotel rooms, like Posada, Almendros, or even when I stayed in the Colonias. I actually felt sorry for the desk clerk. He seemed so sad when he asked why I was checking out, but I was just honest with him…and wished him luck.

(Sidebar: Since my experience, I've heard from several people who have said the same thing about the restaurant, so I know it's not just me.)

So I did some exploring to find an alternative. I’ve never stayed at Maria del Mar (and have heard some mixed reviews on it), but I really wanted to be close to the beach, so I checked it out. Turned out they had a vacancy in the newer section behind Buho’s.

I had her show me the room before taking it, and was very pleasantly surprised. Here it is…




And my view from the large patio...

And a little backyard buddy...

It has a little refrigerator, cold A/C, good water pressure and is very clean. Now I'm happy.

On another note, here's what I had for lunch today at Qubano's...

A Cuban sandwich. Now THIS is good REAL food...Satay could learn a few things (or a LOT of things) from Vivian. This was my first visit there and had a long chat with this very nice lady. I wish I was going to be here longer so I could try some of her other dishes. There's always a next time!

And on a final note...I was walking around and had the opportunity to see a golf cart filled with people run into the picket fence on the median between the lanes of Medina. He put it into reverse and promptly backed into the picket fence again. Idiot...probably drunk. He got out of their fast, but the police were there shortly afterwards. Don't know if they caught the guy.

Another day on Isla...

10 comments:

Vee said...

Sorry, Deb. How awful! Hope you'll balance the glowing reviews of PA and Satay with your experiences, and thereby let us all know how reliable Tripadvisor really is.

I hope that you enjoy the rest of your trip. Thanks for checking in, and have fun! I've heard good things about the Castle rooms at MDM. Guess that's where you are. Enjoy!

Life's a Beach! said...

Deb, that's too bad. I was really curious to hear what you thought about Aluxes. I noticed someone had posted about the wonderful meal they had at Satay on Chris's board. She said she enjoyed the sophistication. And I thought to myself -- that's not what I go to Isla for. I can have that around here, and we don't choose that here either! And a buffet? Ick!

I know the feeling of having to get up and go look for another room, and it's not fun. Happened to us on our last trip to Isla when the room I'd booked was extremely lousy. I stayed in the Castle rooms at Maria in 2004 and really liked it! Hope the rest of your trip is wonderful!

Jamqueen said...

We stayed in the castle rooms at MdM for a few years--really liked it--only reason we moved to Seahawk is beceacuse we wanted the ability to cook if we wanted. Hope your stay there was better than Aluxes--guess it wouldn't take much for that! Love the Qubano sandwich!

gil garcia said...

The Satay joint looked a little questionable to me when I saw it but I didn't think it would be that bad. Hope you had a better time at the other place.

Anonymous said...

I'm just hoping Deb comes home with a picture of a BIMBO DOG, along with a cold SOL cervasa!!
carl/debbie

Jan said...

Since the Isla Mujeres forum on Trip Advisor is all agog about Privelege Aluxes I think you need to post something there! It sometimes seems like the Privelege Aluxes forum.

Thank you for your honesty, it makes me dislike that place more than I already did. It simply is not a good fit for Isla, IMHO.

Barbie said...

I agree.

Randy said...

For me luxury on Isla means I go to an "un-named" hotel (sorry!) check in, and I ask the owner how much I owe for the week. His response is, "how much did you pay last time"?

Safe, cheap, great location, etc. Can't wait to get back and dig these feet in the sand, down a Sol...or six, and eat a great/relatively cheap meal.

Loved the photo of the Cuban! Did you say you ordered wine for b-fast? I knew I liked you for some reason!!

Don't know if you are fluent in Spanish but Sol means "The breakfast of Champions"

Love your blog!
RD de Tejas

Anonymous said...

sounds like you had a wonderful trip. I'm about to embark on a ride across America on the motorcycle. Sept 20-who knows when. It's a directional trip and I haven't chosen the direction. E, W, N, or S. Aufwiedersehsen...but I expect to cover all four.

Paul said...

anoymous was me...sorry. I'm not as smart as you folks are on this techy stuff. Paul from South Dakota