Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Looks Like I Made It

I didn’t think I’d ever make it to Turks & Caicos. I’ve been working with the corporate office of Beaches for a year and a half now, and although I’d made it down to Miami to meet with them, I was shut out of the company trip to their Turks & Caicos resort last year (despite the fact that I created the relationship with them).

As a second attempt, I’d tried to arrange a meeting in Turks & Caicos this fall, but Hurricane Ike had delayed construction of some of the resort’s new features, and so the trip was postponed until February, when everything would be up and operational.

But we had another company trip scheduled for this week – another music video shoot, which has become something of an annual thing – and I had written it off as a potential trip here, anticipating being excluded again like I was last year. Although I don’t go to that many shoots for work, it turns out it was a really good idea for me to go to this one, especially since Mike couldn’t go.

And so I am here. Finally.

When I arrived at the tiny island airport, a Club Med greeter saw me chatting up my two Beaches greeters, and he asked me why I did not choose his resort instead. I stage whispered, “Because Beaches is free!” It’s true, Beaches had comped us enough trips for me to go this year as part of our marketing partnership, and although work had to pay for my flight down, everything from that point forth was going to be covered.

As a single woman with no kids, I would have been more likely to choose Club Med instead of a family resort, but I was still excited to get here, especially after leaving LGA a rainy mess behind me, and spending two extra hours in Miami International Airport and on its tarmac, waiting for a hazard light or warning buzzer or some other faulty gauge on the plane to be fixed. At first, I was glad for the delay, allowing me to get a Cuban sandwich grilled up all hot and bubbly and stringy with melted cheese. I mean, I couldn’t be in Miami and not get a Cuban sandwich, especially not after so many past trips there had gotten me attached to their customs. Since I don’t get to Winter Music Conference anymore (not til DJs really start getting into the kids music biz), I had to make the most of my only (likely) trip to Miami this year.

Once I got to the Beaches resort, I was greeted with a tropical rum punch at check-in (which was about time, considering we got them at the airport in St. Thomas), enough to get me through till I could make it to the Turtles bar for a free frozen margarita and to the sushi bar for a Volcano roll (which tasted sort of barbequey but maybe they used jerk seasoning?), eel roll and spicy conch roll.

Our driver from the airport – who turned out to be one of the head operations managers, and Austrian – had been telling us of all the many uses of conch and its shell – you know, the big kind you hold up to your ear to listen to the ocean. Some people use them as horns, but apparently the fish itself makes for a good spicy ceviche, fritters (like crabcakes), and, as I discovered at dinner, sushi rolls.

We stopped by Bobby Dee’s Diner for some free self-serve, soft-serve ice cream, a feature of the resort I’d been jealous of last year and anticipating ever since I booked my trip this year. Like many things, it didn’t live up to the hype. Sure, not having to pay for anything is enough of a novelty, but the chocolate soft serve was kind of…watery? Something was off. It wasn’t creamy. So I chucked it.

I moved onto cookies & cream hard ice cream with hot fudge, but the hot fudge was neither hot nor fudge. I picked out the one chunk of cookie dough and left the rest.

To be honest, I was appreciative for the self-restraint. It wasn’t long ago that I was the girl that couldn’t turn down free food or an open bar, and maybe one day my finances will force me into that position again, but for now, I can say no.

And I can be selective. So many of the options here are for kids – tiny slices of pizza (of which I had one nicely browned, slightly overcooked one, which was perfect for me), ice cream dyed in Superman colors, character breakfasts – that I’m not going to like everything. But the sushi dinner was delicious and the staff has been amazing, and I don’t have to lift a finger, so I’ve got no complaints.

Oh yeah, except that pesky shoot tomorrow.

Hopefully I’ll get a swim in, even though the pools close at five in the afternoon. (Then again, it does get dark at 5:18 p.m.)