Thursday, October 23, 2008

Samba Vallarta

We´re staying at a hotel called Samba Vallarta.

Longtime readers of my blog may recall that I´ve ended up here on a bit of a fluke -- I bid on a one-week vacation package at a silent auction. Normally, I research the hell out of a place before I book a stay there. Here, all I had was a small color brochure.

The place isn´t bad. Indeed, in some ways, the small color brochure didn´t do it justice, as it has some picture postcard views. The place is on the beach (well, a stairway UP from the beach), so it has gorgeous ocean views. There are also three pools, zillions of deck chairs around them, palm trees, and well-manicured topiary as well. (We walked by an odd shaped tree the other day, and I burst out with "smiley face!" as, indeed, the tree had been cut to look like one.) It´s a very pretty hotel.

And, as we learned quite by accident, if you leave a gratuity for the housekeeper (or, as we did, if you happen to leave a buck out on the dresser), she will leave you your towels folded in some cute towel origami figure. First day it was a bath towel and a hand towel folded into an elephant. Second day, we got a bath towel, bath mat, and hand towel all together in the shape of a little doll, leaning up against my pillow. Way cute, and worth the buck.

The downside is ... well, the food, really. It´s an all-inclusive resort, with buffet meals every night. Breakfast is good (once we discovered the lady making eggs over in the corner). Lunches consist of hamburgers, hotdogs and fries ... and, when I bit into my first hamburger, I had a flashback to school lunch burgers. It had that same not-quite-beef taste that comes from patties bought in boxes of a thousand. Dinners are hit or miss -- every night is a different menu and some are clearly better than others. I read a review on TripAdvisor that said Mexican Night kinda blows -- I wouldn´t have believed it if I hadn´t seen it, but, indeed, the hotel in Mexico kinda sucks at making Mexican food.

They also promise activities -- including free kayak rentals. Of course, the waves are very high here and someone with my vast experience kayaking in the ocean (i.e. flipped my kayak the one time I tried to come back to shore among waves) isn´t going anywhere near them. So, even though the "all-inclusive" resort includes kayaks, we´re planning a day trip to some secluded bay someplace where the water is safer for such water sports.

But, for lying by the pool and lazing around? This place rocks.

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