Back at Amsterdam Manor now after quite a full and productive day…delightful even. I went to bed knowing I had to be at Bucuti at 9am. I am not a morning person as I have artfully managed to create a living that involves long and late hours but never early hours. I know to the average Joe or Janet 9am is normal..trust me..it isn’t for me. I was cheered, however, by an email from Susan at Bucuti saying she would meet me at the lobby which meant I could sleep in a bit longer and obviated the need for me to make arrangements to schlep myself the few blocks to get there. I awoke , removed the earplugs that make sleeping at the construction zone of my room possible, and belted back three cups of anise flavoured coffee, showered, shaved and went out to meet Susan.
I have always loved the whole Bucuti concept – a low rise eco-friendly but decidedly stylish beach resort. So often eco-friendly connotes spartan accommodation, chanting and breakfast bread that requires a hacksaw…not here. Susan was a delight from the first moment we met. She drives like me; indicating at every turn, stopping at every zebra crossing despite an absence of humans in the vicinity and maintains a speed that would keep even the most geriatric of nuns happy…in other words she is A-OK in my book. We toured Bucuti and finally, after 8 years of never being able to see a clean room because of their high occupancy rate i saw not one but two. One of their standard rooms ( that would put most other hotels to shame) and one of the rooms in the very tony Tara Suites complete with a view of the beach that would make you reach for your camera. I always maintain it is the little things that get my attention in hotels and the included iPod docking station and ionizer unit shows the detail mindedness that makes for a great hotel. After the arduous tour..ok fine…it wasn’t arduous but keep in mind I only had a few cups of coffee under my belt…we settled down for breakfast on the beach deck.
Not being a morning person I don’t expect much in the pre-noon hours but our conversation made waking up early completely worthwhile. In the hotel business one meets all sorts ranging from the facile to the downright irritating. I don’t blame hoteliers for this as it is an extremely difficult business and dealing with travel writers can be something of an annoyance when what you really want to do is scream at a busboy or fix a leaking sink. Susan and I had a wonderful conversation about the environment, Aruba, the hotel business, Dubya and the current situation with the Natalee Holloway arrests. The environmental aspect of our conversation was, perhaps, the most revelatory as she genuinely cares about the environment and is currently trying to stop a planned torture…sorry..swim…with the dolphins park planned for Aruba. Strangely she has not combined this fervour with a brown rice fetish and crystal gazing so I was completely comfortable. She is, to my mind, a wholly pleasant combination of Dian Fossey and Christopher Hitchens…not a normal combo I agree…but a wonderful one. Susan also has a blog which you can read by clicking here.
After Susan deposited me home from Bucuti I checked my email and didn’t see a reply from Matilde so I happily caught up with some reading, chatted with the Ecuadorian construction worker who swears he is a “periodista” and then headed to the ATA for a final go-through with Castro ( not the dictator..the ATA guy) about some of the details about Aruba. After that I enjoyed an hour of awe inspiring gawking in the aisles of Ling and Sons supermarket which could give any supermarket a run for its money and then back to the hotel to check my notes, make calls and head off to Aqua Grill for an evening of “upscale” seafood dining.
As is my custom I walked around the building before going in and discovered that one of Aqua Grill’s neighbours is McDonald’s…did i read anything into this…Naaaah. The restaurant is a cavernous undivided space and i noticed that despite their best efforts, well heeled patrons had to contend with an equal number of shorts wearing families. The thing with a resort destination is it is difficult to enforce a dress code if you also want the money and the vast majority of holidayers are of the suburban Chicago variety. I also found the noise level to be quite high but I gamely resisted pelting my salad in the direction of one egregiously loud family of 64. The GM Shirley suggested the ceviche as a starter ( brave I thought) and I suggested a mini version of their Mahi Mahi ( aka Dorado) for my main course. The ceviche was extremely good especially since I was beginning to feel I was in a Red Lobster somewhere in the seedier side of Miami given the noise level. Speaking of which, one of the women in the party of 64 was wearing what appeared to be a lime green baggy lampshade with drawstrings over her bust. I had only had one beer but it was all i could do to not leap from my table , tussle her to the ground and slap some sense into her head. Note to lady…if it looks good on Kate Moss…it will NOT look good on you…especially in the wrong size. The Mahi Mahi was good enough although when it crumbled under my fork I knew it had been overcooked. Chefs of the word..flaking is a sign you have cooked it too much..and add salt already…we aren’t all on low sodium regimes. It tasted pretty good though and generally the meal was quite excellent until i met the “caper sauce”. The caper is a wonderful thing and is to be respected but when you drown it in what appears to be not even Hellman’s off the shelf mayo…you are looking for trouble..especially from me. Thankfully the sauce was on the side and after one taste…on the side it stayed. Is it so hard to make your own mayo? Even better…do something that makes the humble caper happy…burnt butter? A simple lemon and olive oil mixture? Would it kill you?
So as i sit here in a gentle poolside breeze that would have other countries reaching for the nails and ply I am happy with this day. Bucuti and a kindred spirit basically made my day…small wonder it is the resort most others on the island try to be. In these environmentally troubling times if you can stay in a really upscale resort for a fairly low price and feel less guilty about it..why not? The fact there are few ( if any ) screaming kids running about just cements the deal for me.
Off to Bonaire tomorrow, no doubt on a plane made in 1952, if I don’t have an entry tomorrow you know what happened….unless..God forbid…Captain Don’s has no WiFi…hell no it is 2007….if there isn’t I hope they are prepared for a nasty review. Toodles.