Tuesday, 27 October 2015


I've named this article thus after the song I sang at karaoke the last time I was here at Clube Praia da Oura for any length of time. And although I chickened out of doing likewise last night, it seems an apposite title for any article reflecting upon the very major changes which have taken place at CPO at the behest of the new management style introduced by MGM Muthu Hotels.

When I first arrived here at 11.00pm on Saturday night I was quite surprised to see the Piano Bar packed to the rafters, to the point where my family and I couldn't find a seat until the bar began to clear shortly afterwards. Even when I visited the resort in July last year, at the height of the holiday season, it wasn't like this.

Similarly, the pool area during the day is to all intents and purposes fully subscribed. Not everybody is prepared to brave the chilly autumn water, but many do and many more still spend a great deal of their day sprawled out upon the ample sunbeds around the pool. In the evenings the M&M Bar (formerly Amanda's) is invariably full, whether there is a staff show, karaoke or visiting entertainment.

What is happening is that MGM's new all-inclusive option has kicked in with a vengeance. Holidaymakers who pay a set amount for their meals and all they can drink tend, not unreasonably, to make every effort to get their money's worth. The autumn throng at CPO probably makes little impact upon the local economy beyond the walls of the resort, but it has transformed the resort itself into a bustling hive of activity.

Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing depends very much upon whom one happens to be speaking to. Many of the staff whom I have come to know over the years seem suddenly to have moved on, and those with whom I am still in touch generally tell an unhappy story.


This has the effect of rubbing off on long-time regular users who, like myself, feel that part of the CPO experience has traditionally been about the sense of belonging which comes with continuity. It feels good to be greeted by bar staff and entertainers who, not only do I remember, but who remember me. The team MGM has at the moment maintain the excellent standards set by those who have moved to pastures new. But the arrival of so many new faces still leaves me feeling like a newcomer at a resort that I've been using, and using well, for over a decade.

On the other hand the business case for the present approach does appear unanswerable. CPO is a holiday resort, and it is not unreasonable that the management should aspire to fill it with holidaymakers, and to apply whatever strategies are best equipped to achieve that objective. There can be nothing wrong, surely, with having a bar and reception area which is buzzing, a pool which is popular and entertainment which is well supported?

Memories are a wonderful thing, but progress is the life-blood of any successful business venture. And it is not as though the current set-up actually lacks ambience, it is simply not my ambience, at least in the way that I remember it.

If the management is smart it will endeavour to marry its new strategy with an attitude towards long-standing and loyal users of old which is sympathetic. To consciously drive away one's most faithful and dependable clientele is silly. CPO is a big resort, there is room for both - and for a business strategy which incorporates both models with a flexible approach to membership and to service provision.

I will continue to come to CPO, as and when I can afford to do so and work permitting. I'll adapt to the new approach, I'm sure, but if it can adapt to me also, and to others like me, that will be a bonus.