This is an incriminating blog post because I must confess my location. I’ve been sitting in sunny Mexico for the past week, first in Puerto Vallarata and then on to Chacala, a small village two hours away.
The hotel on the beach in was a lovely high-rise with three restaurants, a gift shop, and a swim-up bar. It had everything we needed as long as we were willing to pay for it: in-room coffee service, $4; internet $17 per day, bottled water $2.75. The staff at the hotel overall was very nice but when we asked if we could make a reservation for Thursday night, after we returned from our trip to Chacala, “Sorry, we can’t make a reservation at the front desk. Here’s an 800 number,” a very unhelpful front desk person told us. “You can call it—or you can make the reservation on your computer.” So we tried calling the 800 number but couldn’t get a connection. Not feeling like paying an additional $17 dollars for Internet service to make a reservation with a hotel we’re CURRENTLY STAYING IN, we leave without a reservation.
The holistic yoga retreat and eco-lodge called Mar De Jade is located at the end of a beach in Chacala, a 10-minute walk into town. The road to the retreat is so rough that we bottom out the rental car a couple of times. But when we reach the lodge entrance it is like an oasis in the jungle with beautiful buildings perched along the beach. One of the managers carries our bags to our room on the third floor. All food is included in our room charge, drinks are $5. Coffee and Internet are free. We’re handed a water bottle when we check in and directed to the free purified water cisterns. We consider staying an extra night—they were happy to make a reservation for us—but in the end, we return to PV because we were concerned we wouldn’t make our flight in time the next morning.
The manager told us that Mar De Jade is not for everyone—it is located at the edge of a jungle so there are bugs sometimes. Indeed, while we are there I was nearly eaten alive by gnats and mosquitoes and didn’t experience a single bug bite in PV. Still, the bug bites were a small price to pay for the relaxing beauty we experienced at Mar De Jade and the little village of Chacala.
Our time in Mexico was lovely; we enjoyed both hotels. But Mar De Jade is our favorite, the one that lingers in the memory. I left Mexico wondering, when hotels work so hard to attract guests, why would a hotel make it so hard for a guest to make a reservation for an additional night at their property as happened to us in PV?