Open For Business

I have news…

piritas003Los Gringos is now the Playa de los Piratas. Translated that is Beach of Pirates, aaarrrgh!! I received this information from Ginger and The Earl, the owners of the property and went and tried to find out more. Eventually I had to join Face Book, something I have avoided for years (I feel so dirty), but it was the only way to get a look at what has happened to one of my favourite locales. I have mixed opinions at first glimpse.

The cabanas have received a face lift, something they were in need of. The floors have been redone in a dark stain and the interior walls have been removed, creating a larger and airier space. From pictures it appears that the bathrooms have also been redone and from what I saw, quite tastefully. New beds have replaced the four poster bamboo ones and water coolers and bar fridges have been added to each.

piritas002The bed replacement is a good move. The bamboo beds were pretty but noisy as hell. They creaked every time you moved and if you were in the act of moving a lot, the guests in the next cabana knew you weren’t sleeping. The day beds (also bamboo) have been moved onto the beach for the guests to lounge on throughout the day, I like that.

The restaurant I have been told has also received some touch-ups. The plastic chairs have been replaced by wooden ones and the faux thatch roof over the bar has been removed and as Ginger tells me, “the whole area has been de-cluttered”. This too is good.

piritas014In our hypothetical discussions, Honey and I have many times said that these are changes we would make in an effort to increase the occupancy of the site. I have written before that to me the money is in the cabanas not the restaurant. Los Gringos, the restaurant, was a going concern because of Patrick’s culinary skills. This ability not everyone possesses… especially me. I have known since the first day I set foot on the property that ‘hypothetically’ the only way I would ever be able to run a successful business there would be to fill the cabanas four months of the year. Take advantage of the natural beauty of the area and sell the retreat to tourists as a secluded, romantic get-away. How could you lose?!! Guests are sleeping right on the beach!!! You can’t find that at any large resort, you can get close for big bucks but not on the actual sand!! I know… I’ve been looking!!!

So you’re saying to yourself, ‘Hey, they’ve done exactly what you suggested and they should be a huge success’. They might be and I hope for the landlord’s sake they are but they have made a few other changes that may not work in their favour.

piritas013It is not in my nature to be critical on these pages and remember I am only dealing with pictures and a quick note from Ginger to apprise me of the situation but when I found their Face Book page, the first picture I saw was of the entrance to their beachfront from the parking lot. What was once a beautiful view of the ocean framed by the thatched roofed restaurant and cabanas was now a pirate ship.  A full sized one!!! You can’t see the ocean anymore!! Are you serious??? A visitor’s first impression of a romantic get-away should not be a theme park façade!!! The view was free, why cover it up??!!! And what the hell is with the pirate mannequins???

That’s right!!! I’m told they’re five of them!!! They are meant to help draw families with kids. One of them is an animatronics creation; it works on a motion sensor and goes off every time a guest or a dog walks by. It scares the shit out of the small children that it was meant to entertain! piritas006I get ambiance but I don’t get this. There are a lot of ways to entice families with small children to your establishment, one that comes to mind is, “Hey kids… Do you want to go to the beach and play in the ocean???” It might work.

If this were Florida, land of the amusement parks, I might understand why you would go so over the top in an effort to entice customers. I believe that by creating a theme that isn’t necessary they have actually narrowed their appeal. Not to mention the amount of upkeep required to keep it all looking fresh. Salt air, moisture, insects and critters will wreak havoc on the wood and paint in short order and the screaming pirate will be a bitch to keep running. Wouldn’t a Jolly Roger up a flag pole and an open antique chest with dollar store trinkets filling it create the same type of atmosphere if they really needed to do it? And in case you haven’t noticed, I’m saying they didn’t need to!!!

It’s the Dominican Republic; people go there for the tropical feel, to escape the nastiness of winter, for sunshine and warmpiritas005 waters. The new proprietors redid the cabanas with what appears to be that in mind but then took an abrupt right turn and built a theme restaurant. I’m confused as to which market they are trying to appeal to, families or couples? The place I don’t believe is big enough to do both.

My initial feeling is that they may have missed the mark by once again trying to make the restaurant the focal point of the establishment formally known as Los Gringos, rather than seeing that there is a much larger market interested in escaping to a deserted island (with amenities of course). North Americans and Europeans that wish to escape the mayhem that is their life for a week or two and experience the peace and tranquility Magante has to offer. People who would love nothing more than to wake up to the sound of the sea and have coffee delivered to their deck by a night watchman with a toothy grin. All you need is to find 52 couples and you’re making a profit! With the internet at your disposal you should be able to find them!!

piritas007In all fairness though, what do I know? I have not been there since the changes were made and seen it all up close and personal. I am only working from first impressions based on the pictures and the comments of others on the ‘Playa de los Piratas’ Face Book page. Comments that are always good (it is their page after all) and in French because the new proprietors are French and are currently attracting a predominantly French clientele (as if I didn’t have enough of a problem with Spanish). I also realize that I am looking at all this with a jaundiced eye.

Will I go there and check it out for myself, giving either credence or negating my words with firsthand knowledge? It’s a good question. Maybe it’s not as cheesy as I envision. I would need to think further on whether I wish to spend my tourist dollars on a place with five life sized Johnny Depp look-a-likes littered around the area, creating weird shadows in the middle of the night and screeching out when Tricon returns from his nightly sojourns to visit the local maidens. Kind of creeps me out and I don’t know if I could get past that. It took me forever to get used to the dogs barking in the darkness!

piritas008The multi-layer lingual environment would also be a problem for me I think. It might even be difficult to see the changes to the property and I would spend all my time thinking of the things that could have been done differently, rather than enjoying the things that were there.

There is one thing I do know though. It’s the one thing that will make me go to the Playa de los Piratas at least once. It’s that the Playa Magante is still one of the most beautiful places in the world and the people that I’ve met there have been some of the best. You can dress it up any way you want but for me that will never change.