Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Shradh Ceremony, Dev Kumar Datta, October 1, 2007

"Hari Om Tat Sat"

Om Ganga

With grief we inform you about the sad demise of our beloved father Dev Kumar Datta on 22nd September 2007 at 3:00am (21st September night).

To pray for his departed soul, you are invited to attend the Shradh Ceremony which will be held on Monday, 1st October 2007 at our residence from 11 am onwards.


West Hill, East Wing
4th Floor
27 Nepean Sea Road
Mumbai 400 036
Tel: +91 22 23695917

Deeply Mourned by:

Uma Rani Datta
Mitra Das, Chitra Datta
Rati Datta, Kaveri Datta
Sanjukta, Pronoti
Priyanka, Piyali

Mukti Lal Das
Sree Kumar Datta
Pranab Kumar Datta
Pradyut Datta
Abhijit, Sarosh

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Dev Kumar Datta, 1912-2007

In Memoriam: Dev Kumar Datta

b. November 20, 1912
d. September 22, 2007

Today is a sad day in the life of my family. For nearly thirty four years, I have been blessed to have the loving support and affection of both of my grandparents on my mom's side. That changed today. Early this morning, at around 3:00am, I lost my grandfather. My dadu (grandpa, in Bengali) died rather unexpectedly. His death came after a short period of deterioration in his health. It was a mere four months ago that dadu was the healthiest and most vibrant 94-year old I could ever imagine. Today, dadu left us in the same exemplary manner in which he lived his entire life.

My grandfather was a wonderful father, a loving husband and brother, and an amazing grandfather. It was my dadu that named me Abhijit when I was born, it was he who greeted me with the same reassuring "I am well if you are well" every time I asked him about his health, and it was he who has taught me more about living with discipline and dignity than any other human being ever has, and perhaps ever will.

It is far too late tonight to do this post justice and my emotions are still unsettled; there is much that remains to be written about dadu and I look forward to completing this post over the next few days.

Goodbye dadu. You are my inspiration and I shall never forget you. I miss you.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Indian Customer Service -- the Tata Indicom Way

Tata Indicom
Tata Teleservices (M) Ltd
Ispat House, B G Kher Marg
, Mumbai


Those of you who have never done business in India may enjoy this quick story. Those of you who have or are doing business in India will empathize. We recently ordered telephone service from Tata Indicom, an Indian provider of wireless telephones. We needed the number quickly since we had people waiting to receive and utilize the phones. We were promised 48 hour turnaround.

Our orders were considered complete over two weeks ago, during the third week of July, and since that time we have been calling several times a day to inquire as to their whereabouts. Every day we are told, in essence, that the phones are to arrive, and every day, there is some reason the phones have not. Last Friday, we were told the phones did not arrive "because the rains were heavy," a few days prior to that we were told that the "go down" (the common Indian term for warehouse or distribution center) was flooded, while today were were informed that additional paperwork needed to be completed. Amitava Das, MK's Vice President for India, Amitabh Devendra, MK's Strategic Advisor for India, and Jacob Purackal, MK's Senior Manager for India have all been involved in the hunt for the Tata phones, consuming nearly a hundred hours of corporate time. As of today, August 6, 2007, no phones.

Earlier today, we were told by Dinesh Yadav, the "Sales Executive" at Tata Indicom that someone needed to be at my residential address to sign and deliver additional paperwork. Having had people waiting at my apartment for Tata in the past, we offered to travel from the office to the apartment on the condition that the phones be ready and waiting for us. Mr. Yadav refused, stating that surely the phones would be delivered after this latest round of document requests and wondering why we doubted his assertions. We decided to speak with Mr. Yadav's supervisor, Sachin Kulekar a "Manager" at Tata Indicom, who informed us that he did not care that we very dissatisfied with Tata and needed help. In effect, we were informed that customer satisfaction and prompt delivery of promised products was no longer part of Tata Indicom's mission.

So, if you are considering telephone service in the Mumbai area, and receiving a phone number and phone equipment is important to you, consider avoiding Tata Indicom. While Tata products and services are still considering reliable in India, Tata Indicom and its Mumbai sales and service operation failed more completely than any other service provider I have dealt with in recent memory. Timely and reliable service remains a scarce commodity here in India -- Tata Indicom's failures, coming from a well respected Indian conglomerate, while perhaps not unexpected, were truly disappointing nonetheless.

We are off to Reliance, a competitor, to see if we fare any better. Stay tuned.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Pet Friendly Hotels - New York City

Bringing the pooch along for a short jaunt to the City can be a challenge. While some hotels are beginning to realize that pets need homes too when they travel with their humans, many hotels still do not allow them. So, to help enable pet travel, I have started compiling a list of hotels that accept dogs in New York. This list is not complete (I will add to it as I verify more hotels) -- it is merely a resource to guide you as you travel to New York with your four legged best friend.

Residence Inn New York Manhattan/Times Square
1033 Avenue of the Americas
New York , NY 10018
Phone: 1-212-768-0007
Fax: 1-212-938-0180

Pets are welcome -- there is a $100 cleaning fee per stay for the pet. Let the front desk know upon check-in that you have a pet. No special reservation is needed. (Based on 7/21/2007 call)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Austrian Airlines - Business Class - Kurt Waldheim's Pride

Austrian Airlines - Service To Make Kurt Waldheim Proud

Business Class – New York – Vienna – Mumbai

John F. Kennedy Airport
Bldg 56 Terminal 1
Jamaica NY 11430


I started writing this post several months ago. The long overdue death of Austrian President Kurt Waldheim reminded me to finish my tribute to Austrian Airlines Business Class. Kurt Waldheim, you may remember, was the Nazi sympathizer and soldier who hid his past to become UN Secretary General in the 70s. Even after his past as a Nazi soldier was revealed in the 1980s, a willing Austria elected this spectacle of a man to be its President. Austrians apparently had little desire to be told that a Nazi should not be the leader of a modern country.

My earliest memory of business class travel was with my parents when I was a child. I remember that we were traveling to San Francisco to attend a conference a training seminar in Sausalito. At the time, my dad was the President of Das Consulting, Inc., an engineering software company that developed structural engineering software to analyze buildings, bridges and structures of all types. How my father – the man whose inability to program a VCR still baffles me – theorized, calculated, programmed and developed a complex mathematically based computer program that saves engineers hundreds of hours in their quest to develop and design bolder and safer structures remains, to this day, a mystery. My bewilderment notwithstanding, I digress.

My memory of my family’s United Airlines business class experience, though over twenty years ago, reminds me of what the promise of aviation – and that of refined air travel once was. Justin Shull, a dear friend of mine, now himself a pilot for Continental Airlines Express, told me a few years ago that bringing the romanticism of air travel back to the industry was one of his long term career goals. While any romanticism of air travel has left the world of economy or coach class travel quite some time ago, at least in the United States and much of Europe, I held hope that long haul carriers would justify the significant premium that business class travel bears over coach by providing an atmosphere that was welcoming and enticing.

Alas, my hopes of finding that atmosphere on Austrian Airlines were dashed each time I flew the airline over the past few months. I originally decided to fly Austrian because it is part of the Star Alliance, a network of airlines associated with United Airlines and Lufthansa. I had recently switched to the Star Alliance because the hundreds of thousands of Northwest/KLM miles I still have in my account are virtually useless. If you plan to travel on the miles you earn on Northwest and KLM, be prepared to book one year in advance, and even then, be prepared to pay for your flight. Better not to have miles than to not be able to use the ones you earn, I think. My dad has had much better luck redeeming miles on United (Star Alliance), so I decided to make the switch myself. Austrian’s business class to India from the US, was available for around $4,000, a decent price compared to other options at the time. My first flight on Austrian was actually operated by Lauda, an aging affiliate airline which is part of the Austrian family. The seats on my first flight, from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport, were cramped and old. Proving that even lackluster airlines have some standouts, my first flight on Austrian was actually bearable because of the decent service. Alas, subsequent flights would not be so commendable.

To be honest, it is not that the equipment that Austrian runs between New York and Mumbai is awful. With the exception of the Lauda operated flight (which I was led to believe was an exception), the airline uses mostly reconfigured Boeing 767 planes for the New York – Vienna – Mumbai route. The seats come in two varieties: some are the Austrian “pod” design seats that have a partial cocoon encompassing each seat and good seat adjustment controls and decent room around each seat, while the older design is a more standard seat.

The food, too, was decent. The fare on the New York to Vienna route was European, with an excellent assortment of breads, fruits and cheeses. Being Austrian, an extensive list of coffees is also available on each flight. The flight from Vienna to Mumbai had some Indian fare, which was unspectacular but decent.

The downfall for Austrian, in my opinion, is the service. Service can best be described as arrogant. Hospitality – with the exception of the Lauda flight – was hard to find, and especially hard to find if you weren’t white. On my last flight with Austrian, from Vienna to New York, I remember recalling how bad I was treated compared to other white passengers near me. Alas, a smile and a drink offering to a European passenger in the seat in front of me because a scowl and stern statement when the flight attendant came to me. Those who were not rude were actively indifferent to my needs. I noticed the same treatment being afforded the other person of color a few rows from me.

While I can’t say that Austrian is the worst in any single category, the level of service – and in particular, the disparity in service based on one’s background or race – makes it an unworthy carrier for my travel dollar. Kurt Waldheim would have been proud.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Kingfisher Airlines - Business Class - Puffery in the Skies

Kingfisher Airlines Limited
Kingfisher House,
Western Express Highway. Vile Parle (E)
Mumbai 400057
Tel: 022 2626 2200
Fax: 022 5502 0625

I have not traditionally written airline reviews. There are many reasons for this, but primarily because most US airlines are some version of awful. Jetblue, in my opinion, now stands out in this regard because it is generally both the low cost carrier on any particular route and the service leader. Last week's meltdown in Jetblue's service levels, on account of severe weather, notwithstanding. Until about a decade ago, the same could have been said about airlines in India. Only one domestic carrier, Indian Airlines, dominated the Indian skies. Old planes, sloppy food and poor service dominated the sector. This changed with the advent of Jet Airways. Jet brought new planes, impeccable service, and on-time performance to a country where bad airplane service had been the norm for years.

The advent of Jet Airways in India ushered in a new era of air transport. Jet Airways changed the current landscape in Indian aviation. More recently, with the explosive growth of the Indian middle class and the large class of young and financial empowered Indian, airlines such as Kingfisher, Go Air, Air Deccan, and SpiceJet have ushered a new era of low cost flight options to the Indian skies. Kingfisher, in economy class, is in the middle of the pack for fares but promises to offer passengers a spectacular flight experience. Dr. Vijay Mallya, the flamboyant chairman of the airline and owner of United Breweries, the company that brews and sells Kingfisher beer, a popular Indian ale, invites passengers to fly the "Good Times" aboard his airline. The reference is unmistakably to enjoying his beers and women (he calls his flight attendants "flying models"). The irony is that Indian civil air regulations prohibit the consumption of alcohol on all domestic flights!

I flew Kingfisher quite a few times when it first launched. The planes were brand new, the generally attractive female flight attendants were well dressed in Kingfisher red skirts and jackets, and the service levels were high, both on the ground and in the air. The seats, on the other hand, were lackluster. To keep rates low, Kingfisher crammed in as many rows as it could. The result was a claustrophobic feel when seated. Reclining one's seat meant causing someone behind a shocking loss of personal space.

Kingfisher recently added a large business class cabin, called Kingfirst. Molinaro Koger's Assistant Vice President for India, Pranav R. Bhakta, and I decided to try this new service. We had booked ourselves in economy (Kingfisher Class, as the airline calls it) but paid personally to upgrade our seats. We flew on flight 309 from Mumbai to Delhi . The seats themselves are spacious and there is substantial room between rows (quite rare and nice on a domestic flight). Most business class features except for lie-flat and massage options were available on the chairs. The video display units were seemingly designed by prison inmates who sought to chuckle at the free world's inability to extract the units from storage. The following short review is excerpted from a letter I wrote to Dr. Mallya, the chairman of the airline. The video clip that plays ad nauseam on the airline, shows Dr. Mallya inviting personal comments on service to which he promises personal responses. Ahh, promises... Dr. Mallya's form response to my letter -- sigh -- is also attached.

Kingfisher gets high marks for the space given to their business class guests. Much else remains (food quality, drink selection, maintenance of equipment, attention to detail), however, before it can truly be called a first-rate business class service.


I must admit some disappointment with our experience on Kingfisher. While I do believe that the airline has done a great job with the airline in general, we were especially disappointed by our experiences in your business class cabin. First, neither my nor my traveling companion's video display units worked. We were offered the option to move to other seats. Upon inspection, we found that some other seats had malfunctioning or non-functioning units as well. Not wanting to be bothered with hunting for an operating display and having work to do, I decided not to move.

Our experience with your meal service was not much better. We recently arrived in Mumbai on Austrian Airways business class. While I have never been a huge fan of Western European airlines' meal services, our experiences on Austrian were quite exemplary for food. The food was well prepared, well presented and generally very palatable. While the lack of wine or beer service while in-flight is disappointing here in India, that is not something Kingfisher or any other carrier can do anything about at the moment. My food experiences on Kingfisher early last year -- prior to the launch of your Kingfisher First service -- were generally positive. When we arrived on board for flight 309, neither Pranav nor I had eaten lunch and were quite ready for a meal. I had told Pranav that my food experienced on Kingfisher had been positive and that we could expect decent fare. However, the meals we ordered and received, a salmon preparation as I recall, was thoroughly unappetizing. It arrived as if it had just been taken out of a frozen food container, reheated, then slathered with a red gravy of some sort. It did not taste different than its appearance would dictate.

I had a few other general comments that I won't your time recounting. I did not email you to list a litany of complaints. Again, I fully support the mission of your airline and your vision in effectuating it. Kingfisher has been part of a revolution in Indian air travel, one that promotes and enhances many aspects of life in India, including the hospitality industry of which I am a part. Rather, I thought I would share the experiences of two fairly seasoned travelers. We are perhaps the more demanding air travelers -- but when we are satisfied, we also become brand apostles who talk about our experiences, experiences that others make purchase decisions based upon.

Thank you for taking the time to review my comments. I hope you will take them in the constructive manner in which they were intended.


Dear Abhijeet,

Thank you for your gracious e-mail of 22 February, giving me feedback on your experience of Kingfisher First, when you and your colleague Mr. Bhakta, flew IT 309 from Mumbai to Delhi. I have invited feedback from guests who fly Kingfisher Airlines as I firmly believe that firsthand feedback is the true indicator of the performance of my airline; I therefore appreciate the time and trouble you have taken to send me your inputs and your suggestions.

Abhijeet, I have created Kingfisher First specially for my guests with developed tastes and a desire for the very best in life. I have put in a lot of time and energy to transform an air journey into a superlative flying experience, so that you can enjoy the finest flying experience in the Indian skies. However, I am concerned to learn that your First experience was not all that it could have been and I do regret that you were disappointed.

I also appreciate your suggestions on the areas of our service that need attention.

Please accept my apologies that the video display unit at your seat was inoperative, and you were therefore unable to enjoy this feature of our service. I also note your feedback on the quality of food served on your flight, and regret that we were unable to meet your expectations here as well. We care about the quality of food we serve on our flights, and constantly strive to achieve consistency in this area of our service. We believe that our guests have every right to expect the highest standard of catering at all times; we also pay close attention to what our Guests tell us. I have therefore shared your feedback with our caterers to ensure our guests have a truly gourmet experience when they fly with us.

I agree that consistent levels of service have to be provided to all our guests on Kingfisher First and I apologise that we have been found wanting in this area. I know that there is a need for continuous improvement in the quality of product and service offered at every level, and I welcome your inputs. Please rest assured that I will also put in place the necessary corrective actions to ensure that my guests on Kingfisher First enjoy a truly superlative experience on board as well as on the ground.

Once again, thank you for your good wishes, and for your genuine interest in the success of Kingfisher Airlines. I look forward to welcoming you on board the “Good Times” again.

Cheers !

Dr. Vijay Mallya, MP
Chairman & CEO
Kingfisher Airlines Ltd.,
A UB Group Company

Monday, February 19, 2007

A revised history: Otto Frank and the Dixie Chicks

A friend of mine recently sent me a copy of a New York Times editorial, dated February 13, 2007 entitled "The Courage of Others’ Convictions." (Incidentally, I attended a Dixie Chicks concert with this friend, Ellen Downes, at her request, last year). The editorial discussed how the music industry's Grammy awards to the Dixie Chicks came several years late. I share the editors beliefs that the Dixie Chicks faced an unusually un-American barrage of hatred for exercising their rights to free speech and expression. The industry's award makes me think of another period in our collective history that bears remembering: the Holocaust and the revision of history that followed.

It has always been clear that history is written by the victors. These victors are often those who never had the courage to be leaders, but rather rode waves of convenience and popularity. I was reading a New York Times article about the recent discovery of a file containing Otto Frank's increasingly desperate letters to his American friends trying to get his family out of Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation. Otto Frank, of course, was the father of Anne Frank, whose diary has informed generations of the individual and personal tragedies that formed together to form the tragedy of the Holocaust. The file, owned by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research remained buried in a warehouse in Jersey until a recent clerical error led to its discovery.

In the file, Frank writes to Nathan Straus, the director of the federal housing authority at the time, and a personal friend of Eleanor Roosevelt and son of the co-owner of the Macy’s department store asking for any possible assistance to help his family reach America. If there was anyone in the world who should have been able to help, it would have been someone like Straus. He was, after all, an American, and a well connected one at that. We Americans, of course, are proud to take credit as the victors in WWII. Yet, as Frank's letters painfully demonstrate, Americans were rather complicit in failing to prevent the deaths of so many Jews during that period. Getting into the United States -- because of the State Department's polices at the time -- became a insurmountable hurdle for the people who most needed the lifeline that America might have provided. The State Department regulations changed constantly, often contradicting policies promulgated only days before. It seems clear that all of the obstacles were designed towards stemming the flow of refugees from Europe during that period.

The story, as we all know, did not end well. Near the end of the file, there was a note that “Mrs. Edith Frank died; daughters are still missing.” In the last entry in the file, a letter from a friend of Otto Frank informs that “Otto Frank said he wants to stay in Amsterdam” and no longer wants to come to the United States. Of course, after the war ended, Americans were pronounced the benevolent victors who wiped the scourge of Nazi terror from Europe. No doubt Americans deserved the praise, but the history is not that simple.

The Dixie Chicks have now received delayed recognition of the ordeal they faced after criticizing President Bush and his misguided Iraq war policy. The music industry will surely now claim the courage that the Dixie Chicks displayed for themselves, and perhaps, even belatedly, they should. But, much like Americans after WWII, the story is not a simple one. Had the United States been more open to the plight of European Jews during WWII, our history may in fact have been much different. Perhaps, even, millions of lives saved. Similarly, had the music industry -- and even our country -- been more receptive to dissent during our rush into Iraq, our history may well have been different. The horrors of WWII and the Holocaust are slowly beginning to fade from our collective memories, those from Iraq are now just beginning.

Both Otto Frank and the Dixie Chicks should remind us all that sticking to our principles and values, while seemingly impossible at times, remains the surest way to protect those ideals we cherish the most. Alas, the history that is written is never that simple.

P.S. As I write this, the genocide in Darfur continues. Please consider joining me in making a generous contribution to the effort to save lives there. You can contribute by clicking on the link below. Please consider doing so.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Golden Parnassus Hotel - Cancun, Mexico

Blvd. Kukulkán Km. 14.5 Retorno
San Miguelito No. 37 Zona Hotelera
Cancún Q.Roo 77500
Tel: 52 (998) 848-7550

Have you ever been stuck doing something that you can't believe you are still stuck doing? I recently returned from a seven night trip to Cancun Mexico that felt a bit like that. While the weather was nice and the company was engaging, the all-inclusive hotel we had chosen was a bust. I had never stayed at an all-inclusive resort. At such places, one need do very little except get up at some point in the day, eat, and sleep. All activities, food, and drinks are included in the package price.

At first blush, this all-inclusive concept seems appealing. Our total package was approximately $1,400 a person for checking in December 29th and staying for seven nights. We chose the Golden Parnassus through Costco Travel (which botched part of the reservation) partly because the reviews of the resort on were overwhelmingly positive. I quickly realized that while tripadvisor may provide fairly up to date information, you never really know who the reviewers are and what their tastes may dictate.

We arrived at the Golden Parnassus using the airport transfers provided by Costco Travel as part of our package. Upon arrival, we learned that the hotel had been overbooked by approximately 50 rooms. We were seated at the lobby bar and given tropical tasting drinks as we waited for a hotel reception staff member to check us in -- or tell us that our rooms were not available. As we waited, we watched other would-be guests be told that their rooms were not available and that they would be accommodated elsewhere. One accommodation which was provided to some was at the Great Parnassus Hotel, a new sister property for the Golden Parnassus which is not yet complete.

As a side note, a friend of ours who booked directly at the Great Parnassus through orbitz arrived there the same day we arrived at the Golden Parnassus to find rooms with incomplete bathrooms, non-working toilets, no air conditioning and other maladies. After switching rooms four times, he gave up. On the morning of his departure from Cancun, the shower in his fifth room failed to produce any water, a downgrade from the cold-only showers he had been taking for most of his trip.

While we did not learn of our friend's plight at the time of check-in, I was in no mood to be redirected to another property and I informed a somewhat frazzled front desk agent of that feeling. After all was settled, we did indeed have three rooms available. We were given all-inclusive bracelets to wear for the duration of our stay. Anyone wearing the bracelets we were given were subject to the same malaise that would confront us during our stay.

Say Cheese! The cheeseburger is the best meal option at the Golden Parnassus.

For food, the Golden Parnassus has several restaurants. They are, in no particular order: Pier 12, an awful seafood restaurant where the fish tastes much like meat from a four legged creature, simulating a strange hybrid which I shall from now on term "mish"; Sumo, a Japanese style restaurant which did its best to simulate the feel of a sushi joint; Old Barn, a steak house which served decent cuts of meat but chose to deep fry each and every appetizer; Paradise, the buffet style restaurant which served breakfast and lunch and offered some respite from the other restaurants by offering cook-to-order stations where one can direct cooks to prepare a variety of items; Shangri-La, the "internationally inspired" restaurant with a rotating menu picked from around the world; and The Breeze Snack Shack which was open from 11am to 6am every day and offered steak sandwiches, burgers, fries, wings, and plenty of cheese sauce only a bored cardiologist could love. Room service is 24 hours and offers choices from all of the restaurants.

We ate most our our meals at Breeze and Paradise. We ate at all of the the other restaurants once, with the exception of Shangri-La, which we visited twice having noted that the menu was supposed to change daily; alas, it did not. The chef at Shangri-La was the only one that really took the time to decorate dishes with garnishes and flavors that could be described as somehwta interesting. While food and cuisine remain items of personal taste, I can't help but bemoan the lack of any tasty or creative food options at the entire resort (with perhaps the slight exception for the Shangri-La). The best items were were able to find were the cheese burgers from the grill. We ate plenty of them. If you consider restaurants like Cracker Barrel, Denny's, and Ruby Tuesdays good and fine cuisine, the Golden Parnassus will not disappoint you. If you aspire for more, you would be better off dining elsewhere. Burger King may indeed be an upgrade.

If you think that unlimited drinks might be the redemption for all-inclusive, think again. The resort advertises "domestic and international" drinks. While the meaning of that is still unclear, as best I can discern it means that the alcohol utilizes was produced in Mexico (domestic) and a factory in, let's say, East Timor (international). The only "recognizable" and branded alcohols were Smirnoff Vodka and Bacardi Anejo dark rum. Forget about Grey Goose, which may only show up as an appetizer on the menu at Shangri-La. A week of all-inclusive alcohol may convince the somewhat discerning consumer to give Mormonism a go. Of course, if you go for quantity over quality and find your medicine cabinet an acceptable source for alcohol, you may not be disappointed at this resort.

If only the view was everything... A view of the ocean from one of our rooms.

Our rooms were acceptable but unexceptional. The Golden Room had a four person hot tub and an ocean view. The ocean view was stunning -- the waves off the Atlantic provided soothing comfort and the beautiful beaches were a sight for sore eyes. The standard rooms faced the lagoon and did not fare nearly as well. The hotel is an interior corridor set-up but because of the many openings throughout the building, there is a occasional musty feel that is hard to shake. Housekeeping only performed a very cursory cleaning evidenced by the ants that appeared in one of our rooms to feast on the drops of soda and beer that had been spilled the night before. Housekeeping was much more thorough at throwing away many of the covers from my toiletries and shaver; a most unwelcome surprise when I was packing to come home.

Amenities were equally lackluster. The hot tub alongside the pool is broken, and even a conversation with the General Manager yielded only a vague commitment that the repairs would be completed within a month or so. A resort without a large hot tub is a novelty, and we were the luckless recipients of it.

Perhaps if a brand that cared about its reputation were to offer an all-inclusive product, I would consider it again. A Westin all-inclusive, I would predict, may have a chance at glory. The Golden Parnassus, nestled between the attractive Le Meridien hotel and the Ritz Carlton Cancun (both not all inclusive resorts), should be torn down and redeveloped as a proper resort. Anything else runs roughshod over the beautiful ocean views and makes a mockery of all of the living creatures that cease their existence to provide ingredients for the various "restaurants" located within.

Save yourself the grief: pay for your food and drink and avoid the all-inclusive headache that is the Golden Parnassus.