As Dave and I sat at Playa Prieta Beach Club, Costa Rica earlier today, we talked about travel stories. While we were talking, my brain was completely distracted by the poolside chairs we were sitting on, and the sea of empty chairs that branched out in a big long semi circle past Dave. Earlier, when we arrived at the beach club,, we were greeted by a member of the staff. I like how the beach club people greet us upon arrival and walk us to our chairs. They assign us specific chairs, which did not make a difference today, but chair assignment was a really big deal when we were here last time during high season. Because our chairs are assigned, we have recourse if someone tries to, say, move our stuff and take our chairs for themselves. Then the staff member places a terry cover over the chair cushion, rolls up a blue beach towel, and makes it into a comfy headrest. It is nice that these chairs are close to the ocean, and this is the only beach club or hotel my eyes can see. Today I recognized our pool assistant, Hener (I believe that is his name), from last time. I was happy to see him and he said he remembered us (which made us even more at home). I like that he and his co-worker took the time to tell us about the beach club. They were sure to warn us about big sharp rocks in a certain part of the beach, and the hot sand. “Be careful,” they said, followed by, “let us know if you need anything.” High fives to you, Prieta Beach Club, Costa Rica. Today you are definitely our number one. (It does not hurt that Kyle and Eli also met a very cool and adorable girl that they hung out with all afternoon).
As I consider the merits of the Prieta Beach Club beach chairs, which are pretty awesome beach chairs, I begin comparing them to all of the poolside chairs, the super comfy chairs, the beach prison prison-factory-situated chairs, and the chairs that were simple, yet did the job, that we have had the privilege or displeasure to sit upon.
There are many. Keep in mind that even the best hotel poolside chairs are often situated somewhat close together. I cannot remember them all, and my guess is because some of them are forgettable. If you you were to ask me what my two favorite beach chair experiences were, my immediate response would be the Hilton Los Cabos and the Andaz Papagayo. In truth, the Andaz is number one, but the Hilton offers free beach bed cabanas. And let me tell you, nothing beats a free beach bed cabana (enclosed by curtains, a giant and comfy beach bed, up on the hills overlooking the Sea of Cortez)
The Andaz holds the top the poolside chair spot, because it not only offers several varieties of chair and poolside chaise (my favorite: the hacky sack chair, and Dave’s favorite, the beachside hammock), it also pleasantly arranges the chairs to accommodate the capacity of the hotel while simultaneously giving the hotel guest enough space to enjoy the pool or beach. The Hilton Los Cabos (my true second place) comes very close. The chairs are comfortable, but in many places around the pools, the chairs are arranged too close together. Hence, at the Hilton Los Cabos, it is much harder to escape the space of the stranger lying next to you.
In the category of not a beach, but best beach chair the Waldorf Astoria, Park City, Utah wins. The chairs are cushioned and comfortable. Again there is not an overcrowding issue. They also offer a variety of chair and poolside lounge, like the poolside bed.
Third place goes to the Fairmont Orchid on the Big Island. Again, the chairs were comfortable. They were also plastic. There were spaced very close together, especially by the pools. I found it much better to get a chair by the actual beach. What I did not like was that I had to find a chair myself and mark my territory with something like a towel or beach hat. Note* Holding your chair so no one takes it is not unique to the Fairmont, by the way.
And now I come to my least favorite chair: The plastic chair of the Grand Hyatt Maui. Ironically, my number one poolside chair experience is also a Hyatt. See, I am sure you and I could come up with much worse poolside-chair-situations. Take Las Vegas, the cattle call of all poolside chair experiences. Unless it is 35 degrees Fahrenheit, the pools are jam packed with tourists, and if you find a chair, you probably fought hard to get it.
Now let me return back to the Grand Hyatt Maui (need to get back to the states to get one of our pictures). Why the Grand Hyatt Maui is our pick for very worst poolside chair experience is because of expectation. We are not in Vegas, we are in paradise. We are not at Motel 6, we are at the Grand Hyatt Maui, and at the Grand Hyatt Maui our expectation is that our resort experience will be top notch and not a cattle call. The chairs were inexpensive looking and not very comfortable. Come on, they were plastic. They were arranged very close together, and yes, this chair-touching-chair-touching-chair arrangement made me feel like I was stuck in some sort of pool prison hell. And no shade! The chairs were so close together, it was hard to escape, I mean, get of your chair comfortably without stepping on someone else. Grand Hyatt Maui, I know your space is small. You can do better.
And really, isn’t it funny how something that seems so insignificant as the arrangement of a chair can make or break your experience? And it is something that seems so insignificant that also reflect the place you are in. I prefer comfy cushions over plastic any day. By the way, Prieta Beach Club Costa Rica, you do it right! You too, Andaz Papagayo and Hilton Los Cabos!
Poolside at the Hilton Los Cabos