Trip Report: New Years '21 at Pearl: Fun, Fights, & Failings

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Trip Report: New Years '21 at Pearl: Fun, Fights, & Failings

Postby tj71903 » Mon Jan 04, 2021 11:05 am

Whether it was bidding good riddance to 2020 or simply welcoming 2021, we just completed our fourth trip to Desire Pearl. It was a six night stay (12/28-1/3) which represents the longest of our brief tenure at the resorts and was among the most interesting.

Our first trip was in July and we were actually the first couple to return to the resort after their pandemic pause/closure. Accordingly, we've been able to observe just how the resort is maintaining the spectacular sanitation standards we saw on Day One now that we're more that five months from the re-start.

In general the standard remains pretty high but there has been some relaxing of what we saw in July. And then in September. And then in early December. I don't believe it's the staff's doing. There is still consistent masking by all staff, cleaning, scrubbing, and overall sanitizing on a perpetual basis. However, the nature of the resort and the conduct of the guests has probably made the early days' standard unattainable in any rational sense.

Even so, we continue to feel safe and secure at Desire. We continue to appreciate their genuine efforts and believe them to be working as much as reasonably possible.

Because of the efforts made, the quality of the staff, and the environment, we're already planning our next trips down and back and look forward to all of them. Still, this trip provided us some new perspectives on the resort, the company, the guests, and similar which I'll quickly outline.

Another mostly easy travel day for us. American Airlines connecting through CLT and then direct to CUN. Plane was fine. No concerns from us. Arrive to the gate thinking "that was seamless"...and then it wasn't.

Immigration on December 28th was a complete train wreck of logistics and execution. The line was through the dividers, out the back fo the hall, and up the escalators/stairs and halfway to the arrival gate. It took nearly two hours to get through. Thankfully our driver was able to text with us (when AT&T would allow a signal) periodically. The big kick in the head was really the wasted time. By the time we got to the resort it was nearly 6 PM and any hope of catching up/freshening up and jumping into vacation mode was somewhat condensed.

When we arrived they took us through the lobby over to the Mansion where Diego and company welcomed us with their usual friendly demeanor (Diego replaced Axel, though we hear Axel is coming back and confirmed with him via message). The one good thing about arriving so late was the room was ready...silver linings.

They get us up to the room (Room 72) and we're initially thinking it's on the opposite side of the resort from our usual preference of the hot tub. That concern is immediately forgotten. The 'ocean view' is pretty, you're overlooking that and the quiet end of the pool as well. You wake up and pull the shades and see the palm trees and the ocean while laying in bed. Not bad. We unpacked quickly (another perk of Desire...easy to travel with carry-on only luggage) and are met at the door by Hector who tells us he took the liberty of booking our dinner at Suki when we weren't in early enough to do it ourselves.

After that we hear from Diego/Hector again to confirm if we would be willing to speak with the sales team again regarding membership, etc. "Sure". Then confirming the times we'd like at the spa as well as treatments, etc.

The first night's dinner was the first time we'd been a bit let down. We were at Suki and arrived at 7 or so. 75 minutes later we had consumed one roll and drank three glasses of water. At that point we decided to terminate the meal so that we could get back to the room to prepare for the night's activities. No hard feelings, but we weren't thinking dinner would be a marathon and, given the challenges of arriving in country it wasn't something we wanted. We discretely informed the server we were going to bag it, and thanked him for helping us.

We didn't think much of it.

Apparently the hotel did. Before we got to the room we had spoken to Hector and to another manager who apologized profusely. We were taken aback. We explained we weren't upset, we didn't want to be rude but we wanted to get ready for the night's activities and after nearly an hour and a half it was clear that something needed to change and so we changed the surroundings. The two gentlemen offered to have the food brought to our room, etc. We declined and reiterated we were NOT upset. At all.

Still, when we came back the next night there were zero issues. At all. They Brough the chef out to meet us. Again, totally unnecessary and we continued to reassure everyone that we weren't upset, that we appreciated everything and we would sing their praises without exception. Was it disappointing that things were dragging? Sure, but that happens everywhere. We've experienced delays, backups, etc at McDonalds and at Michelin-starred happens. It's how they respond that goes a long way for us and Desire's administration, back and front of the house teams responded in a way that reenforced our opinions of how good the staff as a whole is. As we've said in the membership sales meetings, their staff rates as high as the St.Regis butler staff with their personalized and genuine efforts.

Moving on...

New Year's Eve had two options for dinner. You could eat at the pool (subject to weather) or you could eat at Pearl. We chose Pearl because they had smaller tables and - to me - a better menu. Wife had grilled lobster. I had rack of lamb. Split a bottle of fancy champaign for the occasion (and by split I mean I had a sip as the boring half of our team). Presentation was pretty on all four courses. Flavors were very well mixed. Ambiance was nice eating on the outside terrace. All in all a fun twist/new wrinkle from the usual.

Another new twist was getting to eat at the Mansion restaurant. Arranged by the staff, we were able to place orders a day before and were pleased. Grilled snapper for me, some kind of fettuccine shrimp thing for her. Three course private meal...pretty cool. Compliments to Mario, Cob, and the rest of the team there.

Other nights were at Suki as we like the Asian flavor palate. And I'm partial to their fried ice cream.

Breakfast every day at Aphrodite with the staff bringing coffee and juice and then going to the buffet line where a staff member builds your plate per COVID protocol(s).

Lunch - if we ate it - was at the pool. Steak quesadillas, pizza, or just nachos. All very good. Heavy portions, but still very good.

We did realize that the resort does tacos and pizza for late night. We came out of the disco at 1-2 and were greeted with the opportunity to partake. Very good to take the edge off before heading to the hot tub.

Our first trip we didn't really do much with the night life. We've since learned it's a lot of fun. So this time we had matching (don't judge me...I do what the wife says) outfits each night. We did Gods and Goddesses (toga!), Masters and Mistresses (me in black her in leather), Angels and Demons (red and whites), New Years Eve (loud shirt for me, she's in some sort of reflective go-go dancer get up), Tropical Night (Hawaiian shirt and then some sort fo tropical print green dance thing), and Playboy Bunny night (I was Hef, she was in a pink bunny suit). Each night was fun for us.

The week was pretty good. Lots of new shows. Some better than others. Wasn't a big fan of the Latin band for tropical night. Music was slow and salsa isn't my thing. New Years Band was pretty good. And they have a lot more of a performance/production than in past visits for the shows. More acrobatic/gymnastic routines and the core strength of the performers is unreal. Male and female. Yuni did a pole routine one night...very good.

DJ in the disco still pretty good, mixing lots of dance tracks and various remixes. They need to balance the speakers though. Base on the left side has either blown or stressed the speaker and the rattle was noticeable. Little thing, but for a somewhat comfortable wall flower it was something that caught my attention.

We stayed in the Disco in various locations most nights until 1 or later. Her dancing, me not so much. Crowd and longevity of it would vary from night to night. Some nights it was dead by 11:30. Some nights it closed down. Pandora's closet in the back corner's participation and occupancy varied from night to night.

A couple of nights they did some pre-evening stuff in the Mansion lobby which was neat. Early in the week they had a violinist who was tremendous. Very attractive lady and talented musician. We enjoyed watching, listening, and just relaxing for her performance. Other nights was just the general dancing with the playmakers before the disco opened. Candy, Yuni, Kia, Charlie, and Ceasar were all fun to talk with and each of them do all they can to encourage the guests to join in. Some do and some don't.

New Year's Eve also featured a lot of goings on including raffles (we won an upgrade for an upcoming stay), dancing, the midnight countdown, etc. It was honestly the most fun we had in the lobby as there was a lot of participation (again, not me...I don't do the dancing in our household).

Varied for enjoyability for us throughout the week. Early on the pool volleyball was fun because it was pretty lightly attended (four playmakers plus five or six guests). Later in the week it was packed with a much larger crowd which wasn't as fun as it was just two crowded.

Pool polo was fun though, like with other activities, they may want to remind everyone that it's for fun. Chill the #($# out with tackling people, spiking the ball, etc. There's having fun and then there's channeling Terry Tate, office linebacker. Some were doing the latter which was...intense. To each their own, but yeesh. When some dude grabbed the better half's arm and pulled her thumbnail off....that was the opposite of a highlight. Second game of the week was more fun though still some pretty good NFL hits between some of the players.

New Year's foam party was OK. Wind made it tough and the general vibe around that day was catered to those who needed to recover. No real activities all day. Playmakers were clearly tired (having worked until 2 the previous night), and overall just not much going on. The pineapple jello shot weren't bad, however.

We also did the usual survey of playing corn hole, trivia games, lounging around the pool, walking the beach, playing (badly) beach volleyball, pool volleyball, and similar.

We visited the hot tub each night. The first couple nights it was COLD. We were advised that it is heated via the solar panels and there hadn't been enough sun to power the heating elements to a sufficient level. No way the water was above 88 the first couple of nights.

By midweek it was functioning much better. As was the pool heater.

Most nights it was pretty crowded. Beds were never fully occupied and bar was active. We got caught in a monsoon one night where we thought it was just spitting a bit of rain before the proverbial bottom dropped out. We were SOAKED. Forced us back to the room in a gusty and side ways hitting downpour. A lot of fun and a funny story.

As for the drama...

Our last night had two instances of it. The first was a couple who appeared to have some miscommunication about the purpose of Desire and their trip. Husband appeared to be very upset the wife had not pursued a chance to play with another lady at the disco. Alcohol fueling (???) he began berating her in the hot tub which brought on tears. That progressed and degraded in tone and words to him slapping her. At which point they were separated...after a bit longer she left. It was disturbing and the hotel was notified of the incident.

Then, simultaneous to this, an older gentlemen lost his mind. A couple was playing on the bar while a second dude did body shots off the lady. Fine. But not for his guy. He walks up (he was outside the hot tub) and throws a Nolan Ryan fastball with a cup (thank god it wasn't a glass) and clocks the body shot guy as hard as I've seen in the eye. Security is immediately called, a secondary struggle ensues as his passport is idea what happened afterward but he was brought up to the office with a manger around 2:45.

All I know is I don't know much about Mexican jail but it seemed both guys were closer to experiencing it than I'd ever want to be. Fortunately the resort security guard showed up quickly and handled the latter situation. Don't know the outcome, but it was clear that this wasn't their first rodeo as they

Check out was a breeze. Up to the front, they process everything and then the porters take your bags as you wait for the car. Bar tenders from lobby bar come out and wish you well and then provide bottles of water.

New Year's Day was a bit of a drag for the reasons stated above. I get that there's a general sense of recovery, but for those who didn't attempt to take years off their lives it would have been nice to have had some semblance of activities during the day. In general the atmosphere was heavily subdued and bordering on morose at times.

We learned about the option of renting the resort's boat and decided to do that next time (Feb) for a half day or day.

No photoshoot for us this time, but we did do the mineral body art. I saw we, but really, it was she (much better canvas). She ended up with a dainty(ish) vertical design down her shoulder blade and then a wrist design as well. Very cute and a fun accent.

Beach was clean for the most part. Very minimal washed up aquatic greenery. Sands cleaned as much as possible.

The hurricanes ripped the dock apart. I saw a few workers walking on it here and there, but it looks like it needs a complete tear down. No idea if and when that's on the agenda, but it's a definite need.

As with all of our trips the test is whether or not we want to go back. And we do. We're back in February, July, September, and December for 2021.
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Re: Trip Report: New Years '21 at Pearl: Fun, Fights, & Fail

Postby Mr&MrsS&L » Tue Jan 12, 2021 12:21 pm

Thank you for the great report!

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Re: Trip Report: New Years '21 at Pearl: Fun, Fights, & Fail

Postby hawaiitex » Fri Jan 15, 2021 2:20 am

Detailed, humorous, and hitting all the important review ever and greatly appreciated !
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Re: Trip Report: New Years '21 at Pearl: Fun, Fights, & Fail

Postby h.papo » Fri Jan 15, 2021 12:03 pm

That review was right on! Thank you so much the the details of both the ups and downs. Can't wait to go in Feb!
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Re: Trip Report: New Years '21 at Pearl: Fun, Fights, & Fail

Postby Lkncouple » Fri Jan 15, 2021 2:44 pm

Awesome Trip report. Those of us that have not gone in a while due to Covid, it is great to live vicariously through these trip reports.

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