First of all, I thought I had problems as I began to write this post. My 17-year-old looking self is attempting to get my "free" beverage in the hotel lobby bar that came with my thoroughly-over priced night's stay, only to be ignored by the middle aged staff. A senorita who looks older than me but is likely younger than me finally approaches me to ask why the heck I'm standing around like a stump, albeit she asks a bit more eloquently en espanol. Clearly, sitting at the low tables where I can comfortably write this up was the sure way to be completely unseen, yet standing at the bar area right before the restaurant full of guests only took 12 minutes to get someone's attention. To boot, when she finally does acknowledge me, I ask if I can use my drink ticket at this bar, and she says, "Yes. You can get a juice." [Pause] Was she waiting for me to jump on this one? She sure was eyeing me suspiciously. What the heck?
After a long pause, she tentatively offers a slightly more dangerous option: wine. Still eying me, she pauses still here again before offering the most dangerous option: pisco sour. Gasp! I am not sure what she is waiting for me to do at this point. Recoil and say I stole my parents' drink ticket? Run out into the street and regret that I tried to set foot in a grown-up hotel instead of the kiddie slurpie joint across the street? Just walk away? "Vino." [Pause] "Tinto, por favor." Nothing to see here, kids.
As I wait patiently, looking as out of place as a Christmas tree in July, I stare at a table of 14 seated Indians. No, not American Indians or indigenous Indians--full on India-Indians. What's the problem here? Well, as big of a city as Santiago is, I haven't noticed many pockets of out-of-towners just yet, and if there are any, they typically hail from this continent or any one of the English-speaking former British Commonwealth. Not India.
What makes this scene funnier (in NY, it's not really that funny, but in Santiago, yes, it's funny), is seeing a conversation between the person seen as a the "group leader" who clearly speaks Indian (I don't know which specific language, it's not the point) and broken English and the organizer woman who clearly speaks Spanish and broken English. Their goal is to get food on the table for this table of FOURTEEN. If you know anything about LatAm, you know that crimson, bloody meat and ruby, potent wine is not only the backbone of a dinner at 10:30pm, but the only correct thing that one would have the decency to order. Here is how the conversation ensued:
Leader dude: "We are vegetarians and we don't drink the funny water."
Organizer woman: "Oh ok, they [hotel restaurant staff] can accommodate that. They have white wine and chicken soup."
Leader dude: "No.... Chicken soup won't work. Do you have any other soup?"
Organizer woman: "Hmm... No. Just Chicken."
Yep, as I look down the row of plates, only salad without dressing on the plates and only water in the wine glasses. Wooo, this hotel restaurant is going in the black today! Start countin' 'em now, boys!
Anyway, the original idea of this blob of verbal diarrhea was going to be purely based on the ridiculousness of staying in this hotel. Problem number one: THERE IS NO FREE WIFI. Problem number two: THERE IS NO WIFI. Here I am paying nearly 10x what I was paying to stay at the last hostel, thinking, gee, this is going to be a nice break back into the 1% lifestyle for a day or two, while I wait for my Christmas presents to arrive (shoutout to KO: I actually had my phone lifted and my camera is in a coma, so Oke hooked it up and has my replacements en route.Thanks dude!). INSTEAD, I'm back in the 1980s. Seriously? And the business center has only TWO computers? I read the card that is located on the nightstand only to find that there IS WiFi available, except it would cost the price of a solid gold ornament to have it functional for 24hours. I'm sorry... I'm paying triple digits here (ok, not really, I got it on points, but it's opportunity cost, ya know?), you can't throw in measly WiFi? Every stinkin' hostel costs under 20 bucks and offers free, functional WiFi!
Next problem: I bought a box of nice tea at the grocery store the day prior as a pick-me-up. Assuming that a place that has the work "Park" and "Plaza" in its name would have a coffee/tea station in the room, I looked forward to my little tea break after settling into the hotel. Boy, was I wrong. NO TEA OR COFFEE en suite. There is coffee downstairs, by the reception, which makes me feel like a cheapo if I stroll down there to made myself a cup and then prance back to my room. Apparently, if I wanted to have the luxury of a pot that boiled water in the privacy of my own room, I had to not get the Standard room which I was in, nor the Deluxe Business room that was one level up, but the superior room that was next on the list. I have to fork over a half a grand to have the ability to boil water in my own room? Where am I, Abu Dhabi? Someone hand me a towel...
The list goes on: there is no clock. Nope, not a one. There's no clock in the Park Plaza room! At this point, I have probably painted the picture of a white, bare room with a mattress on the ground. I can assure you that this is not the case. The hotel room resembles any normal hotel room with carpeting, regal, if dated, blue and yellow decor, a bathroom, a bed with lots of fluffy down pillows, a desk, a flatscreen, and .. oh...hmmm, there it is. A mini sound system with an iPod doc that would also have a clock on it.... except it was plugged into a broken socket (!!!), thus, no time-telling machine. Sigh.
By this point, I'd just about had it, running back to my sub-NYC lunch money of a hostel room which provided me WiFi, towels, endless movies on a much more massive flatscreen TV, multiple pots to boil water (+coffee & tea!), WIFI, Kiwis, Germans and Frenchies to chat with, and pretty much every use/convenience of someone in my situation would need. This brings me to my conclusion that, other than paying for the stuffy, overpriced decor and useless doorman who expect a tip above the room charge, the cost for hotels is stupidly, ridiculously overpriced, at least in Santiago but likely elsewhere as well.
*Note: After I got over my frustration with the WiFi bit, I found out that the card was wrong. Wifi is free if you nicely ask the front desk for the password. Still, couldn't they have printed a NEW card for the nightstand to make this a bit more clear? Triple digit cost per night!