There have been many changes to the resort at the Playa Magante. Some good, some not so good. I have been struggling to decide what I should say and what is best left unsaid. My surrounding are still quite beautiful, the ocean is the same and the palms are still standing. The dogs still stand watch over my cabana while I sleep and do so for ‘Dino’ cookies. The serenity of the early mornings still bring me a sense of peace.
The people that worked here when I first came are still for the most part here but not as often. I work in business and I understand that when it comes to controlling costs that manpower is the easiest controllable cost and sometimes hours must be cut to improve the bottom line. I also know that when you do this the impact is on customer service.
This has been the case at the Playa de los Piratas. New management has brought new ideas and a new way of doing things. It has also brought a life sized pirate galleon and placed it in the parking lot effectively blocking the view of the ocean when you approach. There is a feeling that you’ve just arrived at some kids restaurant or theme park, I guess this would be fine except in the ten days I’ve been here I have yet to see one single child!!
The approach to the playa has always been down a rather nasty road, no doubt originally cut with machetes. Weather has made it uneven and pot-hole filled and it winds through over-growth. Chickens, cows and horses meander on it, so there is no way to move quickly down it, even walking, but when you would reach the final bend and turn into the parking area at the playa, before you was the ocean and the beach. This view always made me feel as if I had stumbled out of the jungle and into shangri-la. The thatched roofed buildings only added to that vision and the feeling that I had arrived at a place that was truly unique. A reward for making the trek down the road. That view is still there but has now been covered up by the wooden planks of the faux ship. What the hell are they thinking?!!
It might be okay (no it wouldn’t) if it ended there but when you enter the compound through the hole in the ship you are staring at clothing store maniquin dressed like a pirate, hooked hand included, standing behind a faux cannon (wooden) a stack of cannon balls by its side (cemented round rocks painted black). In its dainty non-hooked hand it holds a pole that has been fashioned to look like a torch for which to light the cannon’s wick. It has a light at the end that illuminates the entrance. I will admit that the torch is inventive, not required, but inventive. It is not until you step past the faux Captain Hook that you finally see what has always been here, the area’s natural beauty.
I have seen themed businesses before and I have yet to see one succeed. Customers try it once, maybe twice, and then it becomes old. The fad fades and people no longer care to go see mock-ups of castles or spaceships. They don’t care if the waiters are dressed unusually and talk with funny voices, ultimately they care about the quality of the service they receive and the products they purchase.
This I am sorry to say is where the Playa de los Piratas fall well short of its predecessor Los Gringos. The food is fine, much the same as before, but the portions are smaller and more expensive and the service in the evening is horrendous. The couple from France that manage the business are more likely to ignore your presence then to welcome it. You can sit at a table for fifteen minutes before they will finally come to your table and ask what you want. They will let your drinks go empty on the table and never ask if you would care for another. I might have a certain amount of understanding if the restaurant were packed and they were trying to handle the overload under-staffed but I’m the only one in the restaurant!
I could speculate as to the cause of this. I don’t speak French or Spanish and they have a certain disdain for those that are not the same as them. I don’t spend enough by drinking or eating more, so what I do spend is not worth their effort. How would they know, they don’t try to elicit more from me. I dress funny?? What is it?? Would it help if I wore a patch and ‘aaargh’ all the time??? I thought it might be me but I have seen other guests enter and be ignored the same as I have been and have come to the conclusion that these people should not be in this line of work, it is not suited for them.
The one thing that stands out about the Playa de los Piratas to me is there is no longer a feeling of community. The feeling that I used to have that this was a place where all were welcome and you would meet new people from all around the world every time you entered the restaurant. You were welcomed with open arms and asked to join in if you were so inclined. You never felt like you were intruding. This appears to be gone from this place and for someone that has been here before it is obvious. The other thing that is missing from Pirate beach, something that was always here even two years ago after Patrick’s sudden passing are the Dominican’s, the soul of this island. They too do not feel welcome.