I say "sort of" because I don't think that this is a review. It's more, of what I call, random thoughts and observations.
We were at CTI one week after they re -opened last April. There was still a lot of work that needed to be done. Both inside and outside of the buildings. Six and a half months later, we can see just how much has been accomplished
In April, I stood and watched two or three men putting in the green grass you see on the walkway that runs by the new swim up bar. First of all, the grass is called "Zoysa"(sp) grass. It is extremely hardy and grows under many different conditions. Sometimes you may see an ad on T.V. or in magazines. Anyway, one workman had large squares of this grass, that had been scraped from some other part of the lawn. He used a machete to cut small pieces, about 2-3 inches, and toss them to another worker. This person used his machete to scoop out the dirt in those paver stones in that walkway, and stuffed in that brown, lifeless looking piece of grass. I spoke with one of the guys, his name was Robert, and asked about the color and quality of what was being planted. He assured me that it would be fine in a few months. He was right.
The brown, scraggly strands that had been placed so diligently by men laboring in the sun, had indeed been transformed in to rich green patches. One caveat! If you have tender feet, you may find it a bit difficult to walk this path. Even though there is solid footing on the stone pavers, some of them are rough. If you are like most people, you will be wearing something on your feet. However, please choose your footwear carefully. I saw women wearing everything from flip-flops to high heeled shoes. Now you would think that the high heels would have a hard time maneuvering the path. And you would be right. But just because you have flip-flops, doesn't mean you are any more safe. I saw the flops coming off while they were walking, the high heels getting stuck. Why she had heels on during the day, on the beach, boggles my mind. So just be careful.
Esthetically, the outside surrounds have filled in really well. The plantings along the beach walkway flow nicely along the side of the building. There is newness everywhere you look. Pleasing colors. Interesting art work and comfortable seating can be found in the main lobby, as well as, the passage way that leads to the Eight rivers and Veranda restaurants and then onto the patio.
Ever since we have been going to this palace of pleasantness, we have experienced lots of changes. Some of them we liked, others were not as readily received. Fortunately, there has never been a "change" that would even come close to a deal breaker for returning. Over time most of the things became as routine as they are today. So we tend to see this pattern of improvements to continue. Undoubtedly, these moves forward will leave some people sad, upset, disappointed, really pissed, angry, disenchanted. And that just scratches the surface. So, what are our alternatives? What can any of us do?
First and foremost, we can let management, at each resort, know how we feel. First timer or longtimer. We all have access to the people in charge. Talk to them.
Now, after that it becomes a personal choice for every couple to make. How much do we love the four "C" sisters? Can we live with some new change that occurs? Or are we so (insert descriptive emotion) that we feel that we can't go there anymore? There are as many answers as there are couples. Some will be more tolerant, some less. Some may dislike or be upset with a change, but will still see and feel what they always come back for, and be able to absorb the new detail. Change is one of the most difficult experiences to deal with.
Of all the newness at CTI, there remain some problems. One of them being, the no line shower. Just about everyone we spoke with had the same problem. Water leaks onto the bathroom floor. Believe me, the powers that be are well aware of this situation. The floor was not pitched at the right angle to allow the water to flow down the drain. They are going to retro fit a little two inch high wall. This is going to take some time. Try to patient. We just put plenty of towels on the floor and dealt with it. While it is certainly true that with all the money that was spent on refurbishing, one would expect things like the shower situation would not happen. Get real folks. There are unforeseen forces at work. If everything were always perfect, there wouldn't be any second marriages.
There were many new young smiling faces working around the resort. Especially in the main dining room. You can spot a trainee by their white shirt and black pants. They also have a badge on that gives their name and states that they are training. I tried to talk to each one over the course of the 12 days. I wanted to hear what they had to say about working for this grand old lady. There was a sparkle in every eye of every person. They were all trying their best and had great hopes of staying with the Couples organization. Unfortunately, some of them will not make it. It's one thing to teach someone the skills required to do the physical part of the job. It is another whole thing to try to give each young man and woman the personality required to be there. That, you either have or you don't. We will have to see next April who remains.
As for the staff that has been there for some time, just about everyone is still there. Ava, Gretchen, Maxine, LaToya, Loita, Kirk, Emorth, Byron and Everald. There was one person that was not there. Ulysses. He was on an "extended" leave of absence. He was with his mother in New York. She is not well. So, although we did not hear his great laughter and see his smiling face, there were many others that filled in for him.
We have set in to motion to have the mirror in the island bathroom lowered a few inches. We will just have to see. Another thing we spoke about with the entertainment staff, was about something to do after 10 pm. There is only the piano bar. Many people we spoke with wanted to have something to dance to. Time will tell.
This trip wasn't much different from any of the others. Familiar friendly faces. Great surroundings. Great food, although some would dispute that. Drinks, entertainment, sun and sand. We met some great couples on TI. You guys know who you are. You helped make our time out there an enjoyable one. Boy. I've never seen grown men and women having such a good time playing with the rubber frogs and lizards. It looked like playtime at romper room.
For us, the things that we always look for are, for the most part, still there. The physical beauty is soothing, pleasing, relaxing, restful. The intangible things like laughter, happiness, joy, silliness and so much more was always present everywhere we went. Day and night. Lots of people having a very good time. Plain and simple.
Like it or not, the new CTI is what it is. We still find it charming and warm and inviting. But that's just how we feel. I'm sure others have feelings as well. I heard some say that Couples "isn't the way it used to be", "why did they change that"? "I really miss such and such". "There's a lot less food and desert than there used to be". I guess the old adage, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder", would apply here. Sure, the desert selection at lunch and evening was not as large as in years past. But was there not enough there to tempt you? If you didn't have anything to compare this to, would you have been happy with what they had?