Category Archives: Amarte Maroma

WHAT HAPPENED AT AMARTE?

Indeed, what happened at Amarte? Why did we return to Playa within 3 months, instead of bringing Amarte back to life over a period of many years? Why was this dream so shortly lived? Believe me, we are still trying to wrap our minds around the whirlwind of events that has changed our lives so drastically. So, what did happen? Honestly, we don’t really know, and I wonder if we’ll ever find out. But we do have a few theories and rest assured that in my next book I will elaborate extensively about all the juicy details and interesting conversations that have taken place. I did find a video on YouTube a few weeks ago about Amarte, and when the credits appeared – around 6.40 minutes – a piece of information emerged that we had not been aware of before; there’s a secret boss…

As much as we would like to say that we’ve found ourselves in a classic Shakespearean drama, it was nothing but an ugly Mexican telenovela, a soap opera we didn’t think we signed up for.

It all went so incredibly fast. Imagine we didn’t even have a decent working Internet for the 1st 3 weeks. The 1st month we focused on opening beach club Lolita until the owner told us it was sold. We didn’t see that one coming. Let me tell you that it took a flexible mind to refocus on the opening of the restaurant Amarte, something the owner insisted on, despite the fact that high season had just ended and May is considered one of the slowest months of the year. Nevertheless, we pulled it of. The grand opening of Hacienda Amarte was a smashing success with close to 100 hundred guests – all personal friends – eating ‘a la carte’ and enjoying an incredible show with Jazz, boleros, opera and pop. And that was that. End of story. They had kicked us out. We didn’t see that one coming either. We produced and delivered, more than was asked for or expected from us, but it wasn’t sufficient and never would have been.

Opening Night

Opening Night

How awkward that this is the only photo we have of that evening. As if it never happened.

Honza said: “We’ve been had. And it was without Vaseline!”

Then I said: “Fuck it!” And then I cried. It was a relief.

But still, I’m Miss Practical, so the 1st question we asked ourselves was: what did we learn from this? Well, for starters, we never thought that we were capable of successfully running such a large enterprise. Anything else that comes our way will seem like peanuts after this, and it looks like a great opportunity indeed is crossing our path, something we never imagined we would do in our lives. In that way we needed this experience. And we learned that we will never ever work for somebody else again. What was I thinking? The walls of incompetency were ridiculously frustrating. I experienced first hand what it felt like to work in a hostile macho environment, where the authority of a foreign woman is simply not tolerated and outright boycotted. I do not wish to ever have to experience that again. It was rather unpleasant.

It’s a time of change. Change is good. Although the dream was shortly lived, we still lived it.

Here’s the full version of the promotional video we produced. It’s gorgeous!

It’s so sad to see such an incredible opportunity go to waste because of sickeningly inflated egos. These people need help. Be kind to unkind people; they need it the most.

Singing in the choir of the rock musical Jesus Christ Superstar was the beginning of my musical career. There was a line I couldn’t get out of my head: “Empezar de nuevo…” Start all over again. So, that’s what we’ll do.  I pick myself up, dust myself of, and start all over again. Yes, I’m going to add that song to my repertoire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The highlight of my stay – The Spirit of Amarte

Before Honza and I could recuperate from an extremely successful grand opening of Hacienda Amarte, our next guests arrived. Holly had recently made the permanent move from Canada to Merida with her 2 Labradors, Kiefer and Buddy, and she would be attending a wedding with her son Adam, so she was very happy to have found not only a dog friendly hotel, but also one with dog lovers who could babysit them for the day.

Honza walking Kiefer and Buddy.

Honza walking Kiefer and Buddy.

As soon as they had arrived we found out that Adam is a professional singer and has a deep baritone voice. We decided to have lunch at restaurant Hacienda Amarte the following day and after lunch we would create an improvised concert with Adam behind the grand piano. They would bring 3 relatives who had attended the wedding as well. Together with the 4 Czech friends of Honza who were visiting Playa we would have a nice lunch table under the palapa; a familiar situation for Honza and me, but a new one now working at Hacienda Amarte, because they were all paying customers.

It was a long time ago that Honza and I had waited tables, but within this relaxed atmosphere it was actually fun. Different cultures met, many different languages were spoken, and many loud laughs were shared; exactly the spirit we had in mind for lunches under this little palapa.

A lunch table with 3 different nationalities and languages.

A lunch table with 3 different nationalities and languages.

Chef Mex and Chef Canek were applauded for their talent to touch our guests’ taste buts in such exquisite way. Before we moved inside the restaurant, they all received a tour of our holistic spa and temple Itzamara and they were in complete awe.  With this emotion we ended our tour in the restaurant so Adam and I could touch their ear buts. I was completely blown away by Adam’s warm, deep voice. What a talent!

 I sang my favorite 3 Mexican Boleros, and Adam applauded with most passion.

Paula being filmed while singing for our guests.

Paula being filmed while singing for our guests.

And then he played and sang a little more and then I sang my favorite Sister song. Even Adam’s mother knew the origins of that song!


 

We had to break off the concert, because some of our guests had to return to their hotel to babysit grand children, else we would have continued for a while longer. We were all so delighted with this outburst of creative energy; it was simply so heart warming to witness our dream come true: creating a cultural and spiritual center.

 “This was the highlight of my trip!”

Honza and I have heard this sentence before during our professional career as innkeepers of Hacienda El Sol, but this was the 1st time we heard it while working for ‘El Arcitecto’ at Hacienda Amarte.

We received the most beautiful review from them.

TEASER – THE MAKING OF THE PROMO VIDEO OF AMARTE

A TEASER – THE MAKING OF THE PROMOTIONAL VIDEO OF AMARTE MAROMA

It was the craziest weekend we had experienced in a long time. Everything we had planned to do in 2 months was suddenly cramped into 4 days. That’s just what you have to deal with sometimes, so you go with flow, no matter how demanding. We had to move into our new home in Amarte and turn it into a livable place, and at the same time we were producing a promotional video with close to 20 different scenes and the same amount of extras.

The 1st obstacle we found on our path was no running water in the kitchen and an empty gas tank. How was Honza going to provide catering to all our extras? The faucet got easily repaired, but the gas tank we had to have filled, driving some 40 kilometers, way behind Playa del Carmen, to the gas company. Oh well, ni modo.

Ni modo are the 2 most important Spanish words you learn here in Mexico. It means roughly: no other way, or, that’s the way it is. You can’t change the situation, so with a smile a Mexican will say: Ni modo!

The 2nd impediment we had to face was that we had to get up at 4.30 a.m. to shoot the time-lapse sunrise. The early hour wouldn’t have been so bad, weren’t it for the fact that we had slept only 4 hours because the previous night we were busy shooting an evening scene and going over the detailed productions schedule.

Sunrise prepare 2

Preparation for time lapse sunrise

The sleep deprivation was well worth it, because we witnessed a glorious sunrise.

Sunrise Profile

Sunrise 2

Shortly after the recording we received a panicked call from our cameraman. He had fucked up, almost crashed his computer, and we had to reshoot the sunrise. Breathe, smile and say: “Ni modo!”

As if we weren’t busy enough, we also had to – in between filming, catering and chauffeuring – show our old house to prospective tenants, and receive guests from our B&B in our new hotel and make them feel welcome and at home. They had read my books and had followed my blogs, so they were very excited to be part of our new adventure.

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The last shooting day was the most challenging. Not only did we have to reshoot the sunrise time-lapse again and get up very early, we also had to coordinate many scenes with a large amount of extras, who all arrived at different times during the day, and all received a tour of hotel Amarte and our new house.

Pool Home

Thanks to the right hand of the owners, a friendly and helpful man called ‘El Gato Negro’, our beach club Lolita was perfectly set up as the place where our guests could enjoy a glass of wine, a delicious buffet prepared by Honza and some happy dance tunes, which our camera man had recorded in his own creative style.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We were very pleased with the result, and fortunately the owners as well. Our cameraman was able to capture the beauty we see in Amarte Maroma, and the atmosphere we want to offer our guest. When I first heard the music our cameraman had chosen I got goose bumps all over. Of all the arias, he had picked the one that I just started studying; Ombra Mai Fu

I’m still working on the editing job for the full version, but the teaser is finished.

Please enjoy!

PAULA’S BIRTHDAY INVITATION

Felicidades Chica! Today is my birthday. Exactly 49 years ago I was welcomed into this world. I’m not going to celebrate this birthday with a big party. You can join me for a drink at The Dirty Martine Lounge, but no outrageous festivities are being offered this time. That may sound strange from the people who are famous for their lavish parties, with Honza’s well-known culinary buffets and DJ Greco’s fine dance tunes, but there’s a perfect explanation for that.

Party

The first reason is that in twelve days Honza and I will be celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary, and we had planned a big party for that special day. That is until we received a phone call from aforementioned DJ that on the 2nd of February – a date that also happens to be the wedding date of our King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima – the American Super Bowl takes place. That’s a real big thing here in Playa and we don’t want to boycott our own party. The only thing I know about American football is that they have a team that is called the ’49ers – there is that number again! – and that’s only because I’ve lived in San Francisco for a few years. Actually, it was the day after my birthday in 1989 that they won, but I have no idea from whom.

San Franciso 49er

The second reason is that next year I will turn fifty and that milestone asks for a major party. By now you all know where that party will be organized, so prepare yourself for a few days of festivities at Amarte Maroma. When I started studying with professor Mary Grogan, director of Opera Maya, I thought I would be able to sing the Flower Duet of the opera Lakme from the composer Delibes for my 50th birthday, but I have to admit that that dream is still far beyond my reach. I keep on dreaming and maybe for my 10th wedding anniversary or my 60th birthday I will be able to sing my favorite aria. Maybe.

FLOWER DUET – ANNA NETREBKO & ELINA GARANCA (LAKME DE DELIBES)

What is within my reach is singing with a Jazz band. Maybe Honza’s old time friend Milan Svoboda, a Jazz musician, and composer, conductor and bandleader, is willing to bring some members of his Prague Big Band to Mexico for a good bottle of Tequila. You never know.

milan svoboda

MILAN SVOBODA

And you never know if you will be drinking a glass of Tequila with us next year at Amarte Maroma. Wouldn’t that be nice?

HONZA AND PAULA’S NEW YOGA SALON

Yoga is a big thing in Playa del Carmen. Our community is blessed with so many talented yoga teachers, each with their own unique style and signature. It isn’t difficult to find a studio or teacher that suits your own specific needs.

When I arrived in Playa 13 years ago I only found a yoga class in Cindy Burke’s Bodyworks, a gym that has disappeared a long time ago. But soon other yoga opportunities presented itself. One of the first yoga studios that opened its doors was Arielle Newman’s Yoga By The Sea. With her teacher training courses, new yoga teachers were trained and soon other studios opened, like Ellen de Jonge’s Yoga by the Way.  Two other studios that have had a large following are Palapa Suuk and Casa Ananda. And very recently our yoga community received two more studios, the Yogaloft  and the Yoga District.

For ten years I’ve taught yoga at various places in Playa del Carmen, mostly at gyms, accompanied by the not so ideal atmosphere of iron pumping body builders and subsequent electronic music in the background. But now that we are moving to Amarte Maroma, we’ve found a beautiful and peaceful space where we can practice and teach yoga.

When we saw the yoga palapa for the first time, we thought it was rather small, probably because of the furniture that was still present in the space.

However, when the rain and the clouds had finally disappeared and the sunlight allowed us to take more photos for our collection, the space looked different.  The furniture had been removed and we took our time to place our yoga mats.  Kike and Marco, who own the Yoga Shala 38,  had inspired us to place our mats in a diagonal line, allowing more people to occupy the room without hitting their neighbor. It turns out we can easily fit 20 yogis in our new yoga salon.

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That morning Honza and I practiced a wonderful Vinyasa flow, just the two us. In the background we could hear the wind blowing through the coconut and banana trees that surround the palapa; we could hear various tropical birds, and the sound of leaves being raked by a Mayan gardener.

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The atmosphere was so tranquil and the energy so peaceful. At the end of our practice I was overwhelmed by a sense of gratefulness for being able to practice yoga in such a beautiful place that we can call home. It felt almost like this yoga shala was welcoming us into her space. Our new yoga salon was baptized with the final chanting of Om, the universal sound that vibrates in the Universe.

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 NAMASTE!

HONZA AND PAULA’S NEW YEARS WISH

When the year 2012 turned into 2013 my husband and I made a New Years wish. We asked the Universe to help us make our dream come true: expanding the concept of our bed & breakfast ‘Hacienda El Sol’ and finding a bigger place for our venture, close to the sea.

Ask and thou shalt receive. Allow the Universe to do its magic; et voila!  Less than a year later an opportunity was placed right into our lap, allowing us to live a dream far beyond our expectations.

Honza had been imagining five cabañas where we could organize workshops, providing our guests with yoga, healthy food, concerts and cultural trips. You probably know by now that Paula’s dreams are more of a Galactic quality, so we were presented a little more than just five rooms.

The owners of the enterprise Maroma Amarte, located only 10 kilometers North of Playa del Carmen, had been thinking of retiring for a few years already. When – unintentionally – they found themselves at our dinner table enjoying Honza’s cooking and Paula’s performance, they also learned about our experience in the hotel and restaurant business. Long story short: a year after their first visit to our house in the Ejido they asked us to take over the management of:

- 24-room Hotel consisting of luxury bungalows in a lush tropical garden
- Art gallery
- Restaurant
- Yoga salon
- Holistic Spa
- Private Beach Club

Believe me, it took a couple of weeks before the magnitude of this venture started to sink in. I almost forgot, included is also a private villa with pool for our personal use, located in the middle of a biosphere, a few steps from the Maroma Beach that is ranked among the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Here is a first impression of Amarte (meaning: to love you):

The transition to this new location will take a while. It’s a complete new adventure, for all of us. If you want to stay in the loop how we plan to turn this place into the most beautiful cultural and spiritual center of the Riviera Maya, subscribe yourself to this blog.

That leaves Honza and I with one more wish for this New Year: Do yourself a favor and make a wish: Dreams do come true!