Service, Service, Service

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I haven’t been to Mexico since June, and I’m starting to feel a little bit itchy over the whole deal. I miss the fishing, the food, the people and the weather. I had one day available to fish in the past week and it was Saturday, when the mercury didn’t rise above 31 degrees, so I elected to stay home.

During this long hiatus, I’ve realized that the most important thing about Anglers Inn is not necessarily the fishing—although that is uniformly excellent—but just about anyone can set up a lodge on a great fishery. What separates Billy Chapman Jr.’s operation from the rest of the pack is the commitment to service. Your drink is never dry. You never have to carry your own bags. They look at you funny if you try to bring your rods to the boats in the morning or back to the room in the evenings, rather than letting a staffer carry them.  

Once, during siesta time, I tried to get behind the bar to grab a bottle of water, but my man Sammy came flying out of nowhere, leapt the bar in a single bound, and had the bottle open and handed to me before I could do it myself. In a similar vein, last year Hanna was on a very restricted diet during our two visits and each time they went out of their way to make sure there was something for her to eat. Sometimes that meant grilling the fish entrée instead of frying it, while other times it meant making an altogether different meal. That’s how they treat everybody.

I didn’t realize how unusual that is until some recent travels.

In November, we went redfishing in Louisiana at a top-rated lodge with fine accommodations and great food. When I woke up one morning, two ladies were behind the kitchen counter making breakfast. I spied a full coffee put back there with them and asked if I could have a cup. Their response was to point at the pot. Get your own, dude, was the implied answer. So I did.

I suppose that’s not an unreasonable practice but given the fact that Anglers Inn DELIVERS YOUR DAMN COFFEE THE WAY YOU ORDERED IT as part of your wake up call, it was not the one that I expected.

Last week we traveled to a wedding about an hour north of New York City in a quaint little town with a boutiquey hotel that was pretty proud of itself, as evidenced by the $300 nightly charge. The next morning they had a lovely breakfast buffet (thankfully included with the room). When we arrived there were coffee pots and pitchers of juice available, but I might’ve had a few too many vodka tonics the night before and I was craving a Diet Coke (actually, I was craving a Diet Dr Pepper, but I figured that was a bridge too far).

Since they were a full-service lunch and dinner restaurant, I presumed that wouldn’t be a particularly difficult ask. I found two slack-jawed servers talking to each other just behind a partition and asked if one of them would be so kind as to get me a soft drink. They looked at me as if I had three heads and then walked back toward the bar. I sat down at my table with a plate of food and a moment later a third staffer – apparently the manager – set down a glass in front of me and made clear that this special treatment was an exception to their rules and apparently an affront to her dignity, but she’d gone out of her way this one time and one time only.

She put the drink down.

It was flat.

I drank coffee.

Apparently, I’ve been spoiled by a dozen or so trips to Anglers Inn.

It made me realize that it’s been far too long since I’ve been to Mexico. No lodge can guarantee you great weather or a 10-pounder, but service is a controllable variable. If you’re paying a lot for an experience, make sure that you get what you deserve.