Monday, April 12, 2010

¡Viva Las Vegas!

Last Thursday while enroute to Morelia, I was seeking lodging for a visitor, and had a rare opportunity to visit the Auto Hotel Las Vegas. It's on the Pátzcuaro-Morelia highway, located less than half a mile east of the Tzurumutaro junction. Although we'd often driven past the attractive, new building, we'd never had a reason to stop by, as our home is not too far away.

Look for the motel behind the power pole
The facade is white, with a can't-miss, bright red sign. It immediately gained points with me for its clean, uncluttered, yet Devil-may- look. No lighthouse, no crenellated towers, no throbbing neon sign.  Just inside the curving entryway is a placard with the rates. I wrote them down.

  • Normal $180
  • Especial $200
  • Jakuci $500
All the posted rates are for an 8-hour stay.
(I have to state at this point that the designations, "Normal" and "Especial" don't have any relation to the variety of activities that might transpire within, but only to the size of the rooms.)

At the office, I inquired about 24-hour rates. The woman on duty called her manager for further information. After a while, I obtained the following:
  • Normal $300
  • Especial $400
  • Jakuci? I didn't bother, as our visitor would be on a tight budget.

Now, we step beyond the semaphore barrier...

This is a semaphore barrier, or something like it.

I was pleased that without even asking, I was shown two rooms. The first was a Normal. Its overhead garage door is electrically powered and rises smoothly and quietly at the touch of a button.
The interior of the garage was not only spotlessly clean, it was far nicer than a few scruffy hotel rooms we'd stayed in elsewhere.

It's notable that there were no stairs to climb, as the Auto Hotel is built on one level. This is thoughtful planning, as both the electric overhead door and the lack of stairs mean better energy conservation.

A simple door lead into the habitacíon itself. The decor was neutral but not unattractive. There are small and subtle decorator touches.

Inside was the immediate, unmissable, suffusing presence of a powerful air freshener. Inescapable, but fortunately not to the level of gasping and choking.
The room itself was small, but serviceable, with a neatly made bed, two shelves as nightstands, a shiny, flat screen TV, and a tiled floor. I didn't have the nerve to jump onto the bed to test it, but it looked new and firm. Firm is important.

The modest sized window was well curtained. That, too, is important. There may be a deficiency of ventilation. We noticed that the garage door descended to within a foot of the pavement. Maybe that's to help the ventilation.

Over in the baño, just past the entry door, the necessary was behind a partition, opposite the sink and an attractive, glass enclosed shower. Every thing about the place was clean, modern and upright.

On the vanity in the bedroom was a plastic-laminated menu, listing foods and drinks, a select line of your favorite tipples, plus Health and Beauty products that might be useful for your stay. (Like a comb...)

There is an on-site restaurant, probably not open to the public at large, for example, tour bus groups, but solely intended for the comfort and sustenance of the Auto Hotel guests. I'm also speculating that there's no dining room, but that there's 24-hour room service. I didn't notice any pasamuro opening for food delivery. Maybe I just wasn't paying close enough attention. (Later...nope, there is no pass through. I wonder how room service makes its discreet deliveries.)

The Especial room was next on our tour. It was on the same floor plan as the Normal, but perhaps 25 to 30% larger. This particular room was next door to the office, and had no window but a false one. The bath also was a little more spacious.
It's up to the individual guest whether size matters in choosing a room, but the Normal is certainly cozy, yet functional. If you were to bring a trunk full of special doohickeys and accouterments, then you might wish to pay a little extra for an Especial.

That was my first visit to a true motel de paso*. If we didn't live nearby and were traveling, I'd certainly consider it an excellent and economical lodging option. But it would not be my choice for an extended stay.

I returned Sunday afternoon with our visitor, who approved of the standard layout, and it was then that I quietly took some photos. I noticed that a few luxury details were missing, such as the fancy glass shower partition, but no matter; it was fine with him.
Bedroom with mirror
The garage; not the living room.
A "Normal" room.
Cinderella's coach goes here.
The air freshener was more muted in his room.

I'm hoping to obtain a man on the sheet interview with our visitor when we see him today, to get his effable evaluation of the lodgings and services. So, stay tuned to this URL. §

*The Hotel Pal in México, DF has a motel section, but we stayed in the family and business section, so I have no observations of the nether regions of that hostelry.

§ This, just in: the bed was fine, but the room was warm and he wished for a fan. I didn't get any info on the bathroom and hot water supply. He didn't call for room service food.

§§ NEW! Our visitor stayed a total of 4 nights and reports that the shower was fine, with plenty of hot water, although its arrival was somewhat delayed. He also confirmed my earlier fleeting impression that there is another, smaller mirror on the wall across from the foot of the bed. One could reflect on the possiblities of that arrangement.
(Now I see that I captured it in my photo. So much for my powers of observation!)

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Apple, Inc Collaborates With Pátzcuaro Tourism Commission

DATELINE: Pátzcuaro, Michoacán. April 1, 2010

As a devoted Apple fanboy, I occasionally am privileged to receive insider info from a Silicon Valley source that chooses to remain anonymous.
(For similar reasons, illustrations are not available yet.)

Thus it was that I was astonished when I opened my encrypted email earlier this morning to learn of the collaboration of Pátzcuaro's Tourism Development Commission with Apple, Inc. in regard to the renovations of the Plaza Grande. The newly renovated Plaza will, first of all, be a wi-fi zone where both local citizens, expats and tourists can use their mobile devices to both check their email and chat in real time with their buddies. (There goes The Office.)

Artesanías aficionados will be able to shop online and pay with digital money for the Catrinas, Alejibres and Cocuchas without the bother and added expense of a guide to take them to craft villages around the Lake.

The new multi-story Mercado will feature multilingual touch screen iPads at strategically located stations so that shoppers may view produce, meats and clothing in an easy manner, comparing the prices in advance, and pay with credit  card or PayPal. This lessons the risk of petty thievery as well.

Local fondas and taquerías are eager to jump on the digital bandwagon. Proposals are afoot for an iApp for online ordering from your favorite taquería, birrería or quesadillería for digital micro payments. This is looked on as a major breakthrough in reducing or even eliminating the perpetual coin change shortage.

As an added bonus, digital subscribers will be able to get combi van schedules on line and make reservations for boarding passes, thus eliminating the uncertainty that some persons experience under the present system. Phase 2 will breakout the digital readable passcards to eliminate the scrambling for change that is so aggravating now.

All involved are enthusiastic for the success of this plan. "If all goes well", said an unattributed municipal spokesperson, "we'll be looking at virtualization technology to allow more visitors to enjoy Pátzcuaro without those stinking tour buses clogging our calles."

Other municipalities are watching closely, and may develop similar programs if Pátzcuaro's is seen as successful.

Remember; you read it here first.