April 16th, 2012
Driving up to the Resort, you could see no damage from the fire. The entry an lobby were beautiful, just like you would expect from any 4 or 5 star resort. It was clean, well decorated, breezy and beautiful! Thank goodness for all of that because when we arrived we stood in line … again. I was near the end of the check in line, so it was probably about 20 minutes before I got to the desk. A few people tracked down a waitress and I had my first drink of the trip … what other than a Pina Colada! YUM!
A lovely gentleman named Franklin helped me at reception, but after I had signed the paperwork he told me to come back after 3pm (which was in 5 minutes) ‘to see what they could do for a room’. Wow, that wasn’t very promising! Many of the guests were set with their rooms, but a handful of individuals or couples were waiting until after 3pm to ‘see what could be done’.
At around 3:15 or so, I was one of the lucky ones to be given a room. Others were still left waiting and wondering if a room would be found. Still others had been given keys to rooms which were already occupied … not such a good first impression.
I left a $10 deposit for a DSL cable for the internet and agreed to pay $10 / day for internet and then I found myself a porter and headed to my room. The rooms are beautiful, but mine had not yet been cleaned. The maid was just one door over and told me 30-60 minutes and the room would be done. I dropped off my stuff and tried to get my internet working as I was itching to give people back home an update on our situation…. I couldn’t even find where to plug in the internet! I looked and looked … asked the maid to look too! We found a phone jack, but nothing for internet.
Seems so silly, but I headed back down to the front desk to tell them that I must have the wrong cord. Of course, they found that particularly funny as it is a standard connection cord. Basically they politely told me to look harder and if I couldn’t get it working to call the front desk and they would send a technician. I returned to my room and searched for the internet connection. FINALLy I found it. It was on a little switch that was at about knee height and it was pointed downward. The only way to tell it was for internet was to crouch down on the floor and look up at it! So, I found it, plugged it in and …. and … and … Nothing. It wasn’t working. I called the front desk who put me through to another department who told me that the internet was broken at the moment and would be working shortly (Dominican time, I’m sure).
Most of the confusion with the resort was understandable. From what I can understand and could see, the Steakhouse Restaurant, the Spa and the Pool Bar were affected. The Steakhouse and Spa, the roofs were completely gone. Not surprising seeing as they had been thatched roof. Inside the buildings were charred and messy. Luckily you couldn’t really smell any smoke throughout the resort. I guess the high winds had blown the smell right away.
Here are a couple of photos that I took of the sites that were damaged by the fire.
The pool had also been shut down because it got so dirty with ash and debris. Then there was yellow caution tape and security guards around everywhere to keep you out of the affected areas. Even on one side of the resort, you could see debris and ashes all over the lawn. It really is quite amazing that no other buildings caught fire.
Apparently, the night of the fire all guests were rounded up and asked to stay in the lobby for safety reasons. The fire had started some time shortly after 9pm. While firefighters put the fire out, staff continued to entertain guests and serve drinks. Once the fire was maintained, they had to clear the areas closest to the fire to make sure they were safe. Unfortunately some of the rooms had sustained smoke damage and guests had to be moved. That night, some guests remained at the hotel while others were moved elsewhere, or chose to find other accommodations on their own.
So, today, when we arrived, there was still confusion. Guests had been moved, some had left, some had probably left without all of their luggage because they couldn’t get to it during the fire, rooms were being cleaned and checked for smoke damage. Really, overall, I believe the staff were doing the best they could, but still lots of mistakes were made.
After supper at the buffet, I stopped at the front desk and spoke to Franklin again, checking in on the status of the internet. He assured me that it was up and running and that I should not have any issues. If, however, I did, I should call reception and ask to speak directly to him. Back to my room again to check the internet. Guess what? IT DIDN’T FRIGGIN’ WORK! I called the front desk, I’m sure Franklin thought I was useless with the whole Internet thing, but he arranged for a technician. So, I sat in my room and waited for about an hour for the technician to come. When he did, he changed a setting on my computer, went to the electrical room (or something similar) down the hall, came back, logged me on and YAY! It worked!
By 10pm, I was settled in my beautiful room (finally), I had internet working, had skyped my dad to tell him all was now well and shortly after that, headed to bed for a much needed night’s rest as I was getting up for sun rise photos in the morning!