2/24/16 - Hola Bob and Mary Ann,
I apologize for keeping "Beachwalker Bob" in the closet lately. He has been to the GLRM several times lately, but has been busy catching up with his chores during the time he is at home.
As to your questions, we have received only the best of service from the concierge staff, the drivers, housekeeping and all other resort staff. We know so many of them by name (including most of the supervisors and managers) that we greet each other like family several times each year. We are familiar with a few of the other guest experiences, from hearing them talk around the pool and chatting at the beach. Many of them stay at the GLRM for extended times during the northern winters. I have heard a few GL guests complain about the concierge service. Personally, we have noticed that there are many new concierge and some of them are very new. When I need anything accomplished with surety, I ask one of the more senior concierge that we have known for years. They always get it done. When we stayed in the Grand Mayan one week, we enjoyed all the amenities of the Grand Luxxe, just as if we were staying in the Grand Luxxe buildings: massages, golf, concierge, GL wrist band, etc.
In January, we noticed that the "platinum" (SPA building) level wrist bands are now black in color, at least the part of the band with the RFI room key inside. The "platinum" level bands have been a silver platinum color in the past. The new soft cloth wrist bands are much more comfortable than the old stiff plastic ones.
On the palapas, our favorite palm roofed palapas are gone and were replaced recently by large sturdy wood and canvas structures, of which there are 4 on the beach. There are also the existing smaller metal and nylon fabric palapas along the beach. We were at the GLRM in late January and there was competition for the new palapas.
Some people put their books or personal items on a palapa very early in the morning and then were not to be seen for several hours. Also, many people left their palapas leaving their towels all over the furniture, without making it clear that they were finished using it. I did not hear about any time limit on using the GL palapas, only that there were more guests wanting palapas than there were palapas due to the high season. Other times of the year when we vacation there, we have no problem finding a palapa. We were able to use one of the new large palapas only one day in 2 weeks, but that was OK. We have our own private hide away spot for the cooler weather, at the far end of the beach where private small square palapas are sheltered from the wind by the trees.
I can't report on the trolley ride from the Grand Bliss to the beach. I would be very surprised if there was not a shuttle that runs directly from the Grand Bliss main lobby to the new Bliss/GL Beach Club. The new beach club is on the south side of the resort, same as is the Grand Bliss, with only Grand Mayan buildings 5,6,7,and 8 between the two.
If the issue is to how get a ride to the GL pool from the Grand Bliss, that is another matter, as the two are on opposite sides of the resort diagonally. At the Grand Luxxe, buildings 1, 2 and 3, the electric trolleys run every 15 minutes or less and there are at least three different routes served continuously: to the pool and beach, to the Grand Mayan Lobby and to the new GB/GL Beach club. We did not ride the trolleys at all on our two week visit in Jan. It was a one minute walk from our room in GL building 1 to the GL Concierge main lobby and another 5 minutes on the new wood walkway through the jungle to the GL pool. We really enjoy getting around the resort quickly on the new elevated walkways. Since we could walk most anywhere in 5 minutes or less from our room, we always walked rather than wait for a ride.
Swimming in the ocean at the resort is much better now with the huge amounts of sand that has been pumped in to create beaches where before there was mostly rocks. All that sand reduces the visibility in the water so that snorkeling is not as good unless the ocean is perfectly calm. Even so, because the ocean is so much easier to get into for swimming and snorkeling, there were many more people swimming and snorkeling in the ocean than ever before.
Christina gave me a new digital camera that is waterproof so I can take photos of the fish in the GL reef. I took a few, but the water was too full of the new sand most of the time for good underwater photos. Maybe next time we will have calmer wave action.
Attached are photos of waves hitting the new breakwater just off the end of the new GL pier. I was not snorkeling that day. I added a photo of one of the concrete bells in the GL reef, showing how much sand has been added to the ocean floor there. The reef bells are about 5 feet high and some of them are almost buried in sand where it used to be rocky on the bottom.
I took my usual every 3 months photos of GL building 4. It is progressing well now, with the floors and most of the walls in place. You can see where the LOFT rooms will be on the 2nd and 3rd levels and see the general layout of the lower level. The staff said that Building 4 will be finished by November, this year. They said the same thing last year, but this year it might happen.
Can't forget our favorite beach. Great for snorkeling and swimming, and only a short walk up the beach. Playa del Secreto.
Hope all is well with you and Mary Ann.