Pssst. Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve got a secret. I’m not normally the type to sneak around and break the rules, but when an opportunity presents itself, I’ll at least think twice about it. Especially if I think I can get away with it.
A close friend of ours had told us about the Grand Hyatt Resort and Spa on the South Shore, and their legendary oceanfront ‘lagoon’ – a man-made saltwater swimming pool with sandy bottom, beaches and lava rock islands. Various trees and plants line the edges, and if you didn’t know any better (or had enjoyed a few too many poolside Mai Thai’s,) you might think it was a natural formation.
One of the most bizarre and amazing things about this lagoon is its proximity to the beach, being mere yards from the real thing. A thin strip of palm trees is all that separates it from the pounding surf of ‘Shipwrecks’, one of the more intense and boogie boarding beaches of the island. There is a short trail to the beach, to allow the hotel guests the choice between illusion and reality. Of course, there is no bar at the beach, nor is there a masseuse, a water slide, a water park, or the bronzed bikini bodies of America’s wealthy elite.
The simple secret to pulling off an act of grand deception and sneaking into this, the umpteenth wonder of the world, is to be in possession of a Hyatt towel, which is more of a large fluffy blanket than a towel. Confidently in possession of this white golden ticket, you can stroll in from the beach, and, acting as though you belong there, pick a suitable poolside chair to relax into.
I’m sure you can see where this is all going. Our friend happened to have no less than four Hyatt towels, no doubt purchased on the black-market towel trade, and was quite willing to lend them to us for a day.
And so it was that we ended up lounging in the sun, swimming around the small ‘islands’ and trying to make our own micro-islands out of the soft sand that line the bottom of the pool. I was doing my best to look casual, which meant frequent furtive glances around to make sure none of the staff were paying us too much attention. As time went on, my paranoia increased, and I began to worry that the joyful cries of our children as they splashed about and had the time of their lives would bring the security forces down on us, who might expel us, call the police, have us arrested and beaten, or worse, make us pay for a night’s accommodation.
Somewhere along the way in my life, I’ve acquired a guilty complex. I’m not sure if it was the Sundays I spent in church in my youth, or simply the product of a rural Canadian upbringing. Whatever the cause, I tend to have an uneasy feeling whenever I break the rules in life. This leads me to have an inverse relationship between the amount of worry/guilt I have, and the amount of fun I might possibly have. For some, breaking the rules is a gateway to fun, but it always just leaves me with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Meanwhile, Theresa was sinking so deeply into her deckchair that I wondered if I was going to need to use a rope to pull her out. I watched in amazement as the poolside waitress sauntered up and asked her if she would like anything from the bar. If we had brought any money, I have no doubt that Theresa would have accepted, which, I mused, might have been exactly what my frayed nerves needed. The thought briefly crossed my mind (no doubt influenced by watching too many Hollywood movies), that we could eavesdrop on someone and find out their name and room number to charge the drinks to. This only brought further trepidations to my gut, and guilt worthy of a Catholic confessional. Damn those movies! Damn my conscience!
Eventually, I became more and more comfortable with our deception, and even began to enjoy myself as we hobnobbed with a clientele that clearly had far too much money on their hands, and could probably care less who we were or what we were doing having something so bold as fun. Once thoroughly relaxed, we made a clean getaway, sneaking back out to the pounding surf of the actual ocean. The magical world we had left behind made a deep impression and we discussed getting a room for a night, just to enjoy the luxuries free of guilt. That thought lasted approximately 1.5 seconds, after a quick call revealed that it was a minimum $400 for a night’s stay. There are many things we could do with our time and money, and financing a chain of luxury hotels did not rank high on that list.
Back on Shipwrecks Beach, we discovered a crowd gathering around a sign planted in the sand. What, I wondered, could be so important about a sign that a throng of people felt the need to congregate around it? Upon closer inspection, pressing though the throng, my deductive reasoning and literacy skills determined that the sign was a clear warning to give the area a wide berth, as there were no less than two elephant seals sunning themselves on the warm sand. An area had been roped off around the majestic animals, who seemed more or less oblivious to the crowd who clearly lacked the capacity to read signs, much less observe their dictates.
As much as they had done their best at creating the magic of a Hawaiian beach, the Hyatt could not compete with the spontaneous majesty of the natural world. Hours later, after getting thoroughly pounded by the towering waves of the aptly named shipwrecks beach, and loving every minute of it, we made our way home, sun kissed and sparkling in more ways than one.