Fear and trepidation as we approached a huge 25 foot portal built in the Mayan style, apparently the entrance to our hotel but more reminiscent of the entrance to Wormwood Scrubs. An official holding a threatening clipboard halted our vehicle and bombarded our driver with a list of questions designed to ensure that only immigrants and not local Mexicans were permitted entry into the 240 acres of resort which lay beyond the gates. The Guantanamo model I guess. We realised that we were to be incarcerated without remission until the following Monday physically cut off from the outside world, our worst nightmare when travelling, not our style at all, but we had a job to do so we pressed on, and on, and on for fifteen minutes to reach our accommodation. With dusk approaching we plunged into dense rainforest along a network of winding tracks crisscrossing the terrain. Think 'Into the Woods', eventually making out a further network of waterways and mangrove forest hiding an occasional hotel condo and allegedly the odd alligator.

We had inadertently entered American territory, an enclave inside Mexico populated exclusively by tanned fit 35 year old 6 foot WASPs shouting at each other at at least 87 decibels as they do with supreme self-confidence. Now of course you suddenly realise there are local staff here too scurrying about silently and obsequiously doing their guests' bidding, but as they are often less than five foot tall, dark-skinned blending in with the background, they make no impression on the surroundings and are only visible to the guests when handing them yet another tequila, paid for by some mysterious corporate account to which they all seem to subscribe. The pool was completely full by 2pm of guests standing around in clumps, to a man/woman clutching a drink. No one attempted to swim, probably just as well as the water must have been alcoholic too.

Arrival at the front desk was curious. Flunkies hovered everywhere as we drew up: the drinks man, the hot towels man, the luggage unloading man, management representatives bowing and scraping waving us towards a reception desk where a lone employee was fully occupied on his lonesome handling other guests checking in, changing money etc. with almost twice as many staff as guests, I reckon there should have been 3 .7 checkin staff, so another fifteen minutes was added to a very long day. From then on, service went the other way into overdrive; a request for an extra teabag resulted in a month's supply, a call from a concerned senior hotel exec and a request to complete a survey on the experience. A loo roll request would have no doubt recreated the Manuel scene from Faulty Towers. On the plus side, there are more loungers than guests rather than the usual other way round, which means we don't have to get up at 03:30 to place our special import towels with the German flag on them to secure a spot.

The management's concern for the wellbeing of its guests stretched to all the restaurants where a request for a table automatically led to questions about dietary needs and allergies. Not sure if this is another Guantanemo feature or just a fear of litigation. I thought we would have to succumb to a medical to get anything to eat, but we had a wedding to go to in a nearby hotel,so we pressed on in a good cause in this surreal world, convincing ourselves that we would in future try to avoid being held to ransom like this, where competitive alternative eating options were deliberately made unavailable and where, just maybe, everything might not be subject to a standard 38 percent tax/service charge.

N.B. The alligators are no longer alleged.

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