2 quick questions for you...re: surf club specifically
Is the chair situation still the same at the pool (i.e. you can tag them at 7, return at 9...)?
Originally Posted by jeffnev
--The chair situation is that you can use your tags to reserve chairs at the pool starting at 7am and cannot leave them idle for more than 2 hours or they will be removed. They are really trying to have the chairs available for people at the pool to use. We are "beach people" (I'll share my palapa thoughts in a separate posting) and often used the pool in the afternoon, especially during happy hour. We never had a problem getting chairs for the 5 of us when we needed them and it seems like they have added a few additional seating areas around the upper pool areas. We were also able to get chairs pretty easily at the new adult "Serenity Pool". Then again, I hear the situation is much different in during Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks than I experienced in July.
The Surf Club palapa situation gets a bit more interesting/complex every year. They keep changing the rules based on feedback from owners and here is what is currently going on:
50% of all palapas are free. Half of them (25% of total) can be reserved beginning at 4pm the day before and the other half (25% of total) can be reserved at either 7am or 8am (can't remember which). The remaining 50% of palapas can be reserved at either $15 for the 1st 2 rows and $10 for the rest up to 3 days in advance. There is also some rule about reserving only 2 or 3 consecutive days. I know this sounds confusing (because it is) but it did seem more orderly at the beach this year with much shorter lines of people waiting for palapas. We never had a problem getting one for free all week including days when we were out in the morning and at the beach in the afternoon. I bet all of this changes during holiday weeks when I hear things get pretty wacky there.
The situation at the pool is always a bit more stressful than the beach. Thankfully, we sit at the beach.
The pool, people come out early to get their chairs and you have to stay with your chair until 7am, then you can go upstairs but you have 2 hours only to come back or your chair will be "opened" up for someone else.
The beach during the busy time is CRAZY!!!! Jeffnev is correct in the procedure. They have limited the days to two that reserve and pay for, then you have to wait a day and do it again. They are trying to enable more guests get access to the huts. For the free huts, many people will start lining up easily one hour ahead of time.
The disturbing thing I found out was the past few years, some people have been paying "locals" to come and sit in line at 5am so they can get a hut for them. Marriott found out about it and then requested that this "supposed" guest be put on their reservation. They actually did this and there wasn't much Marriott could do. Personally, I think that is really low! This was during the Christmas season. They are now trying to keep it very "quiet" but it isn't hard to figure out who is a figure head guest.
Druif Beach, Divi Divi AI, Red Sail Sports, Black Pearl
Here's a suggestion. We stayed at Surf Club last summer, never again for a few reasons, but we simply accepted the palapa reservation system. We usually stay under one all day, so if there is a game, we play it. It's true you have to line up in afternoon at hut between Surf and Ocean Club on beach. Around 4pm the attendant hands out numbered cards and then she calls the 1st number (ie 1). That person goes up and picks palapa on map and they are set for next day. You get an assignment card which you keep and give to attendant in morning on beach, who unlocks the lounge chairs for you and sets them out. You throw him a couple bucks.
So our game plan was simple. I read under the Palapa anyway, so I simply walked up to hut at location described above at about 3pm for the 4pm start. First 8 or so people fit on the (two or three) benches, so you sit in in line for the most part. I read. I had a beer. Instructed my wife to come by with a cold beverage every 20 minutes or so (we are a team). You get to talk to people you never met and you find the same people following this strategy each day, so you get to know them. Many didn't do the beverage replenishment processs with the spouse, but the soon followed. Bottom line, you can be all stressed, or just relax, talk to people, enjoy your company, the island and simply go through process I describe. You would rock if on your day of arrival, assuming before 3pm, you go to the hut. You will have palapa first day out. You will be Elvis. If I don't make myself clear, ask clarifying questions. Key is get on line at 3pm for 4pm assignments and have process to have a beverage replenishment and get used to talking to people. The newbies start conversation complaigning about process, but it gets old and you just talk about other things. That's the process we followed to get WATER FRONT HUGE PALAPAS EVERY DAY ALL DAY at the Surf Club. Enjoy! We'll be on the island next week...but not staying at the Surf Club...tooooo complicated.