Thursday, July 03, 2008

It's Ritzy

Aesthetically, it makes a strong first impression.

The lobby amplifies this impression with marble floors, vaulted ceilings, chandeliers, exquisite floral arrangements.

The staff who work here, everyone from the assistant general manager to the concierge to the cleaning maids. move about with a calm purposefulness. They convey always a perceptive and inquisitive interest into your well being. They look you in the eye and listen. After helping you they usually say something like, "My name is ______. If you need anything else, please let me know. Enjoy your day."

There are ten levels. The ground level features ballrooms, event rooms, a restaurant, a spa and a gym, and of course doors opening out onto the courtyard with its poolside cafe and the Mediterranean a stone's throw away.

On the fourth floor you come across a rather astonishing indoor courtyard that rises all the way the top floor.

In the center of this space is an imposing mayanesque sculpture. Cascading down from the iron rails on all floors are green leafy vines. The effect is magical. You are ensconced in a shimmering wall of green leaves that seem frozen in free fall.

Our room was in some respects unremarkable, especially compared to rest of the hotel. It was spacious and of course it had "the view". It's prime feature was the bathroom. Again marble floors, walk in shower, separate bathtub, and a lovely pair of sinks...for us, this is true luxury. Notice in the photo how nicely our things are arranged. We came back from an outing and found our stuff laid out like that. Subtle touches like that were commonplace at the Ritz.
On the flight over, Beth and I had speculated as to whether the Ritz would offer it's own version of the continental breakfast. We had resolved to keep our spending within a budget which meant in all likelihood eating elsewhere and/or bringing food and groceries into our room. As our shuttle pulled into the hotel entry way, I was immediately seized by a general apprehension. Tipping alone might break us here. A short smiling man with distinctly Mayan features approached and reached for our bags. Instinctively I clutched them. He demurred gracefully. Immediately I felt abashed at my own motivations. Another valet opened the outside doors, a third opened the interior doors. Each one of them smiled warmly and without a hint of the coyote grins we encountered from the vendors at the airport. At the reception desk, the young man, taller and more Spanish in his features, welcomed us. Upon receiving my name he noted that I had asked some months ago about sea turtles.
"Would you like us to call you if there are turtles located on the beach?"
I said we would.
"Anytime of the the night, sir? If you like we can do that."
I decided to ask about the continental breakfast, prefacing my question with a simple admission that never in our lives had we visited such a place and that we were therefore completely ignorant of how things went. He smiled and without a hint of condescension informed us that there was no complimentary breakfast.
"The gym?" I asked.
"Is free sir, as often as you like."
I smiled.
"My name is Luis. Here are your keys. Guillermo will show you to your rooms. Please, if you need anything or have any questions, let me know. Enjoy your stay at the Ritz Carlton."
I turned and saw that Guillermo already had our bags in hand and stood ready to lead us into the hotel proper. The receptionist and the valets all regarded us like proud parents watching a child launch on his maiden bicycle voyage. We waved shyly to them and followed our guide Guillermo through the lobby.
Putting on the Ritz was certainly going to be an awkward but quite possibly entertaining experience.


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