News & Reviews Caribbean & Mexico Mexico Review: Las Ventanas al Paraiso

Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort
Room type: Garden View
Duration: 27th > 30th March, 2019

Kevin Spacey.  A man who has taught us a lot about sin.  Greed, sloth, pride and being a massive cock, amongst others.  Las Ventanas was going all out to collect all his badges.  Not the cock one, but then who am I to deny them another allocate?  They would gladly take it.  For everyone was so busy telling us how great they are, they forgot to actually be it.   

When you have stayed in as many hotels as I, they eventually blend together into one.  When Las Ventanas were telling us how great they were, it was nothing new.  We were not in the midst of an arrogance outbreak.  It’s 2019, where some of my shits have their own Instagram account. The unctuous adulation is omnipresent and almost always unfounded.  Yet there’s something cringe inducing when you see a faulty product continue to circle jerk itself into a climax.  When you win all those awards you pay to enter, you’re just feeding the junkie, man.

Come into my lair, young ones

The arrival gave no clues to this; it is actually amongst the best I’ve ever experienced.  A traditional – or at least if you’ve seen Three Amigos – trio of singers welcomed us, before we were whisked away to a 15 minute complimentary massage, drinks in hand.  They each gave us a quick show around of the separated male/female facilities, then we met in the middle, by the outdoor relaxation area, and had a short massage. I feel relaxed just thinking about it.  It was only later I realised this was an entire sales tactic; a little taste, tempting you into coming back.  And go back we did.  Or at least tried to, before they whispered the price at us.

We all have our financial breaking point.  It doesn’t matter how good the stock market was last year, how good your accountant is at siphoning funds off into Panama or what spaceship you ride to work, there comes a point where something simply isn’t worth it.  $15 for a banana in the Raffles Singapore; $850 for a hike in Laucala; charity workers asking for £2/m to save the children.  And now $288 for an hour massage at Las Ventanas.  No, the MiG was worth every penny, so leave it out of this.

So this begins the contradiction on offer here: generosity, built in with a supreme ability to charge – often for an inferior return on investment.  They did a good job with our stay list; there’s the host of inclusions, such as free suncream, ice lollies, bottled water, daily replenishments of fruit.  They’re even generous enough to include “house water” from the menu, although it is at the bottom of the worlds longest selection of aqua, just below “water used to soak a horses testicles”.

The rooms are decent enough; they are certainly spacious.  The large, soulless towers that home the rooms may look like a 1970s council estate, but it does mean you don’t need to spend hours getting from your room to the beach as the rooms are tightly packed together.  It does not mean that you won’t hear music and screaming from nearby parties come the evening, nor that you will be equipped with IT made in this century, but it does have a nice balcony.  Ours, 2303, a garden view suite, offered surprisingly decent views of the ocean, although we felt no need to ever use the room, as the facilities ruled supreme.

The facilities are incredibly impressive.  8 pools, some appear to have never experienced human contact, several adults only; a SnapperScreen sun lotion machine, that sprays your entire body as you stand there, admiring your greatness; mini golf course; an indoor jacuzzi, underneath a man-made cave; multiple bars; even more restaurants; jacuzzi’s, sauna’s, stream rooms and on it goes.  You do have to contend with all Mexican beaches being open to the public, so yes, some dude was walking around all day trying to sell stuff and you can’t even throw things at him and tell him to go back to his own country, as he’s already there.

To make sure no one is ever near them, all the guests wished to prove faux ownership by putting their towels over everything man-made, often well before 9am.  If you fancied your chances of getting a seat, you ain’t been tipping hard enough.  Once you find a spot on the beach, you will just need to be weary of the traffic generated by all the horses coming through, like you’re in in a military parade.  The beach is also unswimmmable due to the strong waves.

With one entire floor dedicated to shops, you may be mistaken for thinking you are in a shopping mall, yet I assure you, just because it has a textiles shop, a boutique, a realtor, a coffee store and a swimwear and sunglasses shop, it in no want supports this theory.  I’m convinced it’s a form of punishment, where the unruly staff are sent there to enjoy weeks of boredom, all because they didn’t say the company minimum quota of 10 “we’re the best” that day.

And this becomes everything that is wrong with Las Ventanas.  They have grown so fond of themselves that they seem to have stopped trying.  They know they can piss off ever single customer there on any given day, and it won’t make any difference.  That day it just happened to be me.  There were certainly annoyances, such as their terrible time keeping skills, slowness, forgetfulness and the frequent Stasi like requests for room numbers, often as we were just walking around.  Plus having to sign for everything to the point I would question whether I really wanted it, as it would add 10 minutes onto every experience.

What summarised the property the most was when they invited us for cocktails one evening.  Management would be there, according to the butlers, and their sister property in Mayakoba held a similar, fun filled event, where guests and staff could mingle.  Instead we were greeted by 4 eager sales guys, which turned out to be an entire sales pitch to purchase a residence.  It single handedly became the tackiest thing I’ve ever seen in a luxury resort, and I’ve the unfortunate pleasure of having seen the Kardashians staying at Iniala.  The blatant subterfuge of getting people there left an even bitter taste.

Next up: a free swimming pool special offer! All you need to do is purchase the resort first.

The service always felt like one step forward, one back, which I think means I simply stood at the starting line/reception for 3 nights – not the comfiest place to sleep, I’m sure.  There does appear to be a smatter of consideration, yet it all seemed formulaic, like there was a checklist somewhere – when asked to act on their own, nothing ever happened.  People clearly do care here, but in their own way.  They struggle with accepting any negative feedback.  During our final service at the restaurant, we complained and the waiter looked at us like we were crazy, yet 30 minutes later and the F&B manager is knocking on our door to give us the starter and drinks for free, as they made them wrong in the first place.  

The food is very much hit and miss.  Hit, in that some of the dishes were very good; miss in that you will miss out if you don’t order your lunch by 9am.  Dishes would change day to day and basic ingredients started to become unavailable.  Orders would show up wrong, cocktails arrived without alcohol and they just start making up their mind as to what we want and give it to us.  The speed is also a serious issue, especially when no one else is there, so you’ve gotta wonder what they’re actually doing.  Of course, the value for money is atrocious, but you’re in Mexico, so what did you expect?  Cheap prices?  Pah.

Even so, I would have said the food at Las Ventanas was the best food we had during our entire Mexico tour, right up until we went to El Restaurante, their Mexican restaurant.  Now I can understand that at Rosewood Mayakoba their Asian restaurant wasn’t the best – it’s ran by a team of Mexicans in Mexico. I wouldn’t expect some 3 Michelin star French chefs in Paris to be creating some of the finest Japanese food on earth either. Yet I would have hoped that Las Ventanas’s Mexican food, in a Mexican restaurant, by a Mexican team, in Mexico, would have been better than the dross that was served up. When we gave our feedback, they once again gave us the 100 yard crazy stare.

Conclusion

I already knew on the first day that I didn’t want to go back, but that I’d enjoy it.  The crowds were the first giveaway.  Las Ventanas is not a bad resort, it’s in fact a good one with great facilities, but I only care about great.  It certainly felt more classy, elegant, private, spacious  and all other adjectives that sound good, than the majority of other nearby hotels. Yet they did nothing to truly impress me. I’ll wait for Four Seasons and Aman before returning to the area.

As we departed, we were asked “how was your perfect stay?”.  There is nothing quite like watching nudge theory in practice.

“So perfect, I see no reason to ever return. If I’m going to be ripped off, I’d rather it was in the Maldives.  Thank you, goodnight”.

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Tom Cahalan

Written by Tom Cahalan on 20th May '19

Dorsia Travel’s co-founder Tom Cahalan’s take on travel is reliably candid. Here’s his take on what’s good, bad, and luxurious.

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