By John Chalmers from the January 2015 Edition
My wife, Linda, and I have vacationed in Mexico in many places, but ten years ago we discovered the Manzanillo area. After renting a condo for six years at the Vida del Mar development four years ago we bought our own place there. After the purchase, we bought a Mexican car and now fly to Manzanillo, not making the long, but spectacular drive from our home in Edmonton.
En route to Mexico and on the way home, we have stayed at an ocean-front hotel in Mazatlan. However, from the highway to that hotel is a time-consuming and complicated drive. So on one trip going south, we watched for a hotel right on the highway and found one with an unusual name, the Xtasis Hotel, quite imposing and looking like a great fortress with no windows. We immediately turned in to book a room. There was no place to park at a reception office, usually seen at a hotel or motel. Instead, as we drove in at the entrance, a voice on a speaker – like a fast-food drive-thru lane – asked us questions in Spanish.
“No comprende. Habla inglese?” I asked in my best Spanish. The security guard, who didn’t speak English, then came out and directed us to a room on an avenue inside the fortress. Wow, I thought, we even have a garage with an overhead door!
Almost immediately, a maid came over to check us in. She indicated the cost would be 480 pesos. She took my 500peso bill, wrote out a receipt and reached into her pocket for the change. First time I was ever checked in by a maid.
The door to the room entered from the garage. I indicated there was no key, so the maid gestured that all I had to do was put the garage door down. It could be lowered from a button on the inside of the garage, or on the outside of the room. With no key, the door could be locked only from the inside.
We took our overnight bags into the room. The maid left and then we started noticing strange things. The lights were dim, too low for reading. Low mood music was playing from a ceiling-mounted speaker controlled by a dial beside the bed. Instead of the usual box of Kleenex in the bathroom, there was a large commercial-type tissue dispenser wall-mounted beside the king-sized bed. There was no closet and only two coat hooks on the wall. No stand on which to set a suitcase and no mini-bar or coffee machine. There were no hand towels, just two big bath towels. But toothbrushes and toothpaste were provided. The hotel had no restaurant, but there was a takeout menu in the room, presumably for ordering food to be delivered.
Each room at the hotel had a device that reminded us of a milk chute. It’s a rotating, drum-like device that allows things to be put in it, then spun half way around for these objects to be extracted from the inside without being able to see through it. We thought maybe it was for receiving items from the menu.
Linda soon found the control for the TV. It was a set of wall-mounted buttons beside the bed. “Look at this,” she said turning on the television, showing me that we got only six channels. Four were in Spanish and the other two were porn channels in English.
We finally realized we had booked into a hotel that rents by the hour, or in the case of seniors like us, for a whole night. We had booked into a “love hotel” for the first time. But it was quiet and we never saw another person except maids who always seemed to have a room to make up at any time of day or night. Then we discovered a sealed plastic package in the bathroom. We thought it was condoms. But it turned out to be a shower cap. “I bet this place even has rubber sheets!” Linda said. She checked and, sure enough, there was a rubber-like sheet over the mattress.
The name of the hotel should have been my first clue. It’s the Xtasis Hotel. Pronounced “Ecstasies.” We did have wireless Internet, although the signal was weak. Of course, most people don’t come to the Xtasis to check their e-mail. After going out for dinner, about 10:30 p.m., we went to sleep after a long and tiring day. At exactly 5 a.m., as indicated on my digital travel clock, we were awakened from a sound sleep by the telephone. It had to be either a wrong number or the office, as we weren’t asked for names when we paid. “What do you want?” I snarled into the phone. A female voice said something in Spanish. It sounded like the voice on the speaker at the entrance to the hotel.
“No comprende. Habla inglese?” I replied. “Una momento.” She replied and seemed to be pausing to check with someone. I hung up. At 5:12, a maid knocked on our door. “Buenos dias!” she said. “Go away, we’re trying to sleep!” I replied. She said something more, and then her voice came through the milk chute, a device obviously capable of more than just delivering a sandwich. Not understanding her, we again said to leave us alone.
Three minutes later came another knock on the garage door, accompanied by a male voice speaking English. “Good morning,” he said. “It is time for you to check out.”
We replied that we were trying to sleep, it was too early and he should leave us alone. He responded by moving to the milk chute and saying again that it was time for us to leave. By then we had enough and told him we were going. I took the complimentary bottle of water with the Xtasis label bearing the hotel’s slogan:
Donde tus fantasias se veulven realidad – “Where your fantasies become reality.”
Quickly we dressed, packed our bags and left in the dark of 5:40 a.m. Soon we were leaving Mazatlan in light traffic as the day was beginning, with shadowy figures walking the streets. Others were caught by our headlights as they rode their bicycles. By 6:30 there was a little light in the sky as the day unfolded and the sun came up over the mountains. Some three hours after we left, the earliest start we had made in our trip, Linda was looking in her purse for something and came upon the receipt from the love hotel.
The Spanish wording was simple enough to understand. “It says here that we had the room for only 12 hours,” she announced.
Obviously, the night staff pays attention to the records. We got what we paid for! The phone in the room had rung exactly 12 hours after we checked in. Perhaps we should be grateful for getting such an early start to the last day of our trip as we arrived at our condo ten hours after starting out and 765 kilometres of driving. Without that early wake-up call we would have been two or three hours later.
We weren’t asked for names, make of car, licence number or any of the usual data collected at a registration desk when we checked in at the Xtasis Hotel. We paid cash, got a receipt, and there is no record that we ever stayed in accommodation intended to provide the utmost in privacy and discretion for clandestine trysts.
What happens at Xtasis stays at Xtasis.
Author note: John Chalmers is a Canadian snowbird from Edmonton, Alberta firstname.lastname@example.org