A Short Story
This happened way back when Cancun Mexico was first being developed as a resort but we were talking to someone just recently where something similar happened to them at an Asian resort.
The first time we visited Cancun we bought a combination air/hotel prepaid package for Thanksgiving that was too good to pass up. At that time there were maybe five resorts open with the El Presidente being the farthest out on the peninsula (it is now an Inter-Continental Resort). Next to the El Presidente the Club Med resort was just getting its foundation poured.
The morning of the trip we went to the airport in Miami to discover that our airline, Mexicana was on strike. We had booked the package thru Eastern Airlines and they worked at getting us to Cancun. That ended up being a flight to New Orleans, another flight to Mexico City for an overnight and than another flight to Cancun. When we got to the hotel Dos Playas we were a day late and they had given our beachfront room away. We ended up in a back room on the third floor overlooking a parking lot and a construction site.
The next morning I went to the front desk, explained in great detail our reservation called for beachfront room, the flight delays and the desk manager listened very intently and that said “You come back later and see the manager” I again elaborated on the story and again he listened and said “You come back later and see the manager”. Later that afternoon I again checked with the desk and someone else was there and again it ended with “You come back later and see the manager”.
The next morning I went to the front desk and the same man listened and said “You come back later and see the manager”. As I was walking away I overheard a woman guest asking about where to go to catch a taxi and the desk man replied “You come back later and see the manager”. At that I realized that nobody on the desk understood English and had learned one phrase “You come back later and see the manager”.
After a little searching I found someone who spoke Spanish and English and using the translator I managed to get moved to a beachfront room.
That evening, which was Thanksgiving, we went to dinner at the El Presidente that was promoted as having a great seafood buffet that featured lobster, fish and shrimp which was just what we were looking for. After a round of drinks on the patio overlooking the sea we went in to the buffet and found a spread that included turkey with stuffing, ham, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and all the holiday favorites in celebration of Thanksgiving. No seafood…
One other small issue in that five day vacation. In the afternoon a lot of guests tried heading into the mainland town for dinner and shopping. Unfortunately thousands of construction workers were also leaving the building sites out on the strip and for a couple of hours they filled up all the busses. Many were hanging onto the back of the buses and entry doors. Nobody could get into town except to walk the few miles. At least we learned that we had to head to catch our early evening flight a few hours sooner.
I think there is a moral here – as you travel don’t assume that everyone speaks and understands English – not even when they act like they understand you. Heck there have been times I put on the same act in a language I don’t really speak.