OK, nothing’s perfect | AspenTimes.com

OK, nothing’s perfect

Andy Stone

OK, even when we’re dealing with places that shimmer in memory as icons of perfection, there has got to be an occasional fly in the ointment – or, switching into Italian, as is appropriate for both these dream sites (as you will soon see), an occasional “mosca” in the “unguento.”At the Maroma, that “mosca” is the bizarre presence of an Italian time-share hotel, immediately next to the Maroma. Here you are, on a tranquil beach on a private bay, in the midst of the jungle, and there, right next door, is a mob of vacationing Italians, packed cheek by jowl.Apparently, the Mexican architect who created the Maroma sold that land a few years ago. (And now, by the way – although he is still a continuing presence – he has sold a majority interest in the Maroma itself to the Orient-Express company, which is doing a magnificent job running the hotel as a spot of perfection.)That said, the Italians are more of a curiosity than a blemish. If you choose to turn your head in their direction, you will see a small crowded stretch of beach, filled with attractive young people having a great time. But the beach in front of the Maroma stays blessedly uncrowded and tranquil – and if you turn and walk the other way, away from the Italian enclave, you can stroll down the beach for half an hour and encounter absolutely nothing except sea and sky and jungle.Now then, switching from Italian tourists to tourists in Italy, I have to say that the one drawback to the Santa Caterina is that some of the “standard” rooms are less than inspiring (or, at least, they were, three years ago). When we first checked in, we were assigned one of those rooms and it was a little small, a little dark, the air conditioner was leaking a few drops onto the carpet and, although the view was superb, we essentially shared the balcony with another room.We managed to talk our way into a much nicer room. But, in any case, the solution to this dilemma is simple: Book yourself a deluxe room – or, better yet, a suite.And that casual remark, of course, brings us to a significant issue with both of these hotels: They are expensive.And by “expensive,” I mean ex-pen-sive!But you know what? There’s nothing to be done about that. For some of our readers, price is no object. Good for them.And for the rest of you, I suggest you do what we did: Close your eyes, swallow hard, and put it on your credit card.Look at it this way – your visit may be just a few days and you may be paying it off for more than a few months, but you’ll be remembering it for the rest of your life.On our last evening at the Maroma, I had a brief conversation with a woman who was there with her husband, celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. We agreed that Maroma was extraordinary. Then we agreed, somewhat embarrassed, that it was, really, more than we could afford. And then she said, with a beautiful smile, “Maybe we can’t afford it – but I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

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