As a retired educator, I have the time to take advantage of the many local happy hour deals that restaurants offer to drum up business during a generally slow time of the day. Since I live on a relatively fixed income, maximum money mileage and value are important components and considerations.

But so are a restaurant’s ambience and the quality of its menu and service that produces a diner’s overall enjoyment. My friend Patty Morrison and I, during the months of July and August 2017, selected ten Perimeter Mall area restaurants to experience their happy hour menus with choices of drink and nosh offerings and compare them.

We recognize that our survey was not scientific despite serious employment of applied hands on research. Surveys of this nature are admittedly subjective; regardless, we have done our best to provide consumers with practical information for facilitating good times between the hours of 3 PM and 7 PM.

www.arnoldheller.org, my web site, is exclusively a public information site. I am not seeking compensation from the restaurants surveyed, nor endorsing them. Many local people have inquired about best happy hour deals and now they can simply read the below list and make their selection.

Restaurants are listed in order of visitations decided on whim and convenience – this is not a ranking.

Seasons 52

The Sunset Menu – served 4 to 6:30 PM – includes satisfying choices of drinks and small plates. The restaurant’s ambience is very attractive and comfortable for a mall out parcel location, the service attentive, and a sizable and interesting crowd accumulated the day of our visit, many of whom appeared to stay for dinner. I like Season’s 52’s grilled trout very much.

Fleming’s Steakhouse

Flemings is a typically comfortable beef oriented restaurant adorned with dark leather chairs and booths. The steakhouse provides a surprisingly good selection of “five for $6”, five decent choices of mixed drinks, wine, beer, or small plates or appetizers. The service was excellent and the red wine selections generous.

Westin Hotel’s Savor Bar

The hotel is located in the Concourse Office Park, Sandy Springs that is noted for its two iconic office buildings.

The Savor Bar and Grille at the Westin Hotel possesses a grand modern ambience, especially when sitting at the bar and overlooking the patio and lake. The food choice is the most limited but the drinks selection is good and the environment is special.

The Cheesecake Factory

Located at Perimeter Mall, the Cheesecake Factory is a lively happy hour (4:30 – 6:30) with a fine choice of small plates, drink possibilities, and a pretty bar and interior. The chain restaurant remains very popular with the public – at 5 PM, it was the busiest of all.

Taki Japanese Restaurant

Location: Perimeter Center Village, 4711 Ashford Dunwoody Rd.

This relatively quiet and relaxing restaurant offers good deals on Martinis, Cosmos and other drinks. The pot stickers and the spring rolls are my favorites – the two sushi rolls are a good value.

P F Chang’s

Location: Ashford Restaurant Park, Dunwoody

PF Chang’s is a popular Chinese bistro with a cool modern décor. We chose a table out on the patio overlooking Ashford Restaurant Lake. The tasty noshes, array of adult beverages, and lakeside breezes was enjoyable.

Brio Tuscan Restaurant (Now Closed)

Located at the Ashford Restaurant Lake, Brio (4 – 6 PM) is an attractive northern Italian style restaurant. Weather permitting we suggest seating on the patio overlooking the lake and bocce courts available to diners for use. Brio offers a nice combo of ambience, good service and consistently well prepared food and drinks.

Eclipse de Luna

Location: Park Place Center, Ashford Dunwoody

This neighborhood institution with a Brazilian accent furnishes a colorful and lively atmosphere (3 – 7 PM) for imbibing, socializing and even dancing to a nightly band. The Spanish short ribs and mojitos are favorites of mine. Their famous lamb chops are not available for happy hour but there are still many tasty items to please the palate.

Sage Wood Fire Grill

Location: Park Place which is home to a second fine tapas restaurant and bar (3 – 7 PM). Noted for its neon lined bar tops and stools, Sage offers a fairly broad line of small plates and full drinks. An acoustic musician performs after 6 PM.

Pub at Perimeter (Now Closed)

The Pub at Perimeter is an English-themed restaurant and drinking place and fills the bill with $3.25 14 oz. schooners and interesting noshes. Weather permitting we suggest patio dining to observe the masses walking by. The Pub was the least expensive establishment that we visited.

We enjoyed ourselves at all ten places – comparing them is like “apples and oranges” – they all provide favorable combinations of attractive environments, drinks and nosh offerings. The most important ingredients are sharing any of the ten places with good company and a positive attitude towards having a nice time. We believe that can be achieved without having to work too hard at it.

A bonus is the Le Meridien Hotel that does not have a happy hour program – twice a month they present from 8 – 10 PM an awesome jazz band with excellent lead singers that is a well attended local treasure flying under the radar.

It’s amazing what’s available to us within a square mile of our homes.

I have been a lifelong student of architecture and fascinated by its role in creating interesting and attractive public or private spaces that we occupy. After previously experiencing and enjoying Secret's Silversands and Blue Aqua, I’d become a student of the combined aesthetics, services, amenities, etc; that produces the visitor’s desired outcomes for the best possible all adult, all inclusive experience.

 

So welcome to Secret’s Maroma, located on the Riviera Maya about 45 minutes south of the Cancun airport that, in my opinion, furnishes as near perfect all adult, all inclusive experience as humanly possible. The physical infrastructure is outstanding; the skilled management’s super training of a friendly, helpful, and efficient staff makes the hotel special.

 

As one enters the elegant lobby, a singing group may be filling the big stately room with beautiful music ranging from soft Indie rock to light jazz or R & B. Performers featured are a duo called Carmay who sang classic rock standards.

 

 

The lobby bar sitting area is an attractive spot to enjoy a beverage and schmooze; the same cocktails, wine or beer are available to guests preferring to sit on the comfortable lobby couches and sofas.

 

The World Café, located back side lower level plaza, provides a delicious buffet breakfast with attentive service. The accompaniment of an easy listening jazz saxophonist or harpist made for a nice touch to start the morning.

 

The CoCo Café, the hotel’s coffee, pastry and ice cream shop was one of Patty’s favorite places for an early morning coffee or an evening ice cream cup, usually coconut. There are two computers available for patrons to catch up on email or other online needs.

 

Desires is a music bar and the place for late night listening to a DJ or dancing. Maroma’s entertainment program is top notch with a variety of musical formats, comedians and magicians and other acts; outdoor extravaganzas are offered up almost nightly.

 

 

One leaves the lobby behind for a first encounter with the beautifully landscaped property by stepping out on the terrace and turning left or right to access the two main staircases. Comfortable chairs and sofas are furnished to take in the view and enjoy a nosh or sip a drink in the meantime.

 

I descended the left staircase and began sensing the architect’s vision.

 

 

I figured the spine of the property starts with the short, circular fountain ahead.

 

 

But just off the left staircase and the spine is the main theater located at the end of this trail. Productions of all types; rock shows, dance performances, movies, whatever, are regularly scheduled.

 

 

I studied this fountain – the spray signified to me the beginning of a river in the high mountains with the runoff streaming down and through the land, the water making its way to the sea.

 

“The architect’s plan is ‘a river runs through it,” I thought; “how brilliant.”

 

I followed the stream as it slowly widened into a shallow lazy river symbolized by the hammock floating in the middle. The red color comes from tiny reddish paving stones blended into the cement ‘riverbed’.

 

The bridge at the end of this stretch of river is what I call the beginning of River City – it allows the guests to seamlessly access facilities on both sides of the ‘bend in the river’.

 

 

An’ in-river’ ‘outdoor café’ allows a guest to snack or drink and get their feet wet at the same time. The hut with the swings is actually a kind of village pub and a center of activities; ping pong, pool, karaoke, vendors with goods to sell set up here too. The schedule board lists the full list of daily activities.

 

 

The second ‘bend in the river’ features rocky outcroppings or a palisade of sorts. The steps built into the ‘river bank’ are wonderful places for water aerobics or to just sit in the pool.

 

The next ‘bend in the river’ will flow through the ‘heart of town’, the main pool area.

 

The next view, the ‘center of town’ is from the Oceana / Seaside Grill, the main food service location.

 

 

This view is from where we liked to sit.

 

A guest may have worked up a thirst by the time they reached this ‘stage of the river’ – the swim up bar is a good place to quench it.

 

 

Or if you are hungry and ready for very good food and service, get out of the pool and head for the Seaside Grille which becomes Oceana after 6:30.

 

Or if you prefer to burn up some calories or just exercise, the Gazebo, a stones throw away, is a good place for a yoga fitness class.

 

Patty called the next bend in the river ‘the beginning of the second main pool area’; I saw it as the beginning of the ‘mouth of the river’ just before it will turn again to flow into the sea in the background. This juncture is the cross roads of beach and pool life and related activities.

 

 

This last bend is the ‘mouth of the river’ with the beautiful sand beach beyond it to the left.

 

 

The thatched tent cluster and thatched chaise lounge cluster face the beach along this trans-beach walkway located between the sea, the beach, and the pool areas.

 

In case the guest has worked up a thirst on the way to the beach for a swim, walk, or to simply relax with a good book, a cozy bar with swing seats is waiting to refresh you.

 

The stretch of beach beyond the bar to the north is considered by many travel agents to be the prettiest along the Cancun and Rivera Maya coast.

 

 

This is the view of the stretch of beach to the south.

 

My ‘river to the sea’ or spine of the resort tour ends here.

 

 

Our junior Ocean View suite, located on the fourth floor, provided us a panoramic view of the sea, main pool area, and gardens below where lemurs frequented.

 

The view moves east to west from the sea for the other half of the great courtyard.

 

This fabulous, lush resort was literally carved out of low-lying scrub jungle thick enough to prevent penetration but with soils too thin to support large scale agriculture. The view is the southern exposure from our fourth floor suite.

 

Another view of the jungle looking east to the sea is featured.

 

Because of proximity to the jungle where animal life and critters abound, wildlife frequently stumbles onto the property and interacts with the head of the food chain with minimal friction. Signs have been placed around the resort to identify core wildlife; Iguanas and other lizards, an occasional small monkey or fox, and colonies of the lemur featured below.

 

This is the end of my 70th birthday celebration and tour and analysis of the Secret’s Maroma resort and its many wonderful assets and pleasures. It is obvious that Patty and I enjoyed our stay here, praise it lavishly, and recommend it to all who have thought about experiencing an all adult, all inclusive resort but have not yet done so.

 

From Feb. 21 – 27, 2016, special friend Patty Morrison and I celebrated our 70th and 69th birthdays; Patty, Feb. 24, me Feb. 26. As fellow baby boomers, we weren’t thrilled about reaching these ages.

 

We’d twice celebrated week long vacations at all adult, all inclusive resorts in Cancun and the Riviera Maya and enjoyed ourselves, so we decided to again treat ourselves to six days at Secret’s Maroma resort that is reported to have one of the prettiest beaches on the coast.

 

 

The purpose of this web page is to describe the all adult, all inclusive experience, and the extraordinary celebratory practices that Secret’s Maroma provides daily and with precision to fortunate couples like us.

 

The purpose of our trip was to kick off our next year with as enjoyable beach vacation as possible. The sweet wishes of Patty’s birthday card set the stage.

 

The hotel’s VIP Services execution sustained our week of romance in a small paradise that exceeded our best expectations. The Part II web page describes the hotel architecture, grounds, beach, pools and other facilities that made us so content that we did not bother to leave Maroma during our stay.

 

 

A Happy Birthday banner greeted Patty on her birthday when returning from the beach - then she opened the door.

 

 

 

Pink balloons were fastened to the bed and curtains tied exquisitely. There was more.

 

A beautifully decorated cake plate awaited Patty too.

 

Two days later, it was my turn to receive this wonderful treatment. Notice the balloons are blue.

 

A birthday cake was waiting for me when we returned from breakfast to head to the hotel beach.

 

 

When we returned from the beach, another delicious little gem of a mini-cheese cake was waiting for us with the usual gorgeous calligraphic plate writing.

 

We dined that evening at Himitsu, a Japanese restaurant, and shared a Hibachi sit around table with a business IT group from St. Louis who were nice people and a lot of fun.

 

 

The grill chef was very theatrical with the cutlery and surprisingly artistic with a birthday tribute that dropped different colors of food coloring on the scalding grill and lit a small sparkler to produce the overall effect. Patty and the IT group all sang Happy Birthday to me when the chef completed his masterpiece.

 

 

My name was lost a bit in the translation but who cared; you had to love the guy, a true master. By this time, we didn’t think there was anything more that they could do for us but we were wrong again. The restaurant followed the grill treat up with a delicious scoop of ice cream flavored with a local berry, drizzled with chocolate, and adorned with assorted fruits.

 

 

Just when we were sure there were ‘no more tricks left in their bag of delights’, they pulled another one out of the hat.

 

 

Himitsu’s restaurant decorations included a large, shiny brass Buddha – Patty and I rubbed it’s belly to celebrate our good fortune for both of our birthdays, especially mine after so many salutes that day.

 

 

We shared a memorable last evening at Secret’s Maroma with a special moment.

 

Patty and I will treasure the week we spent at the resort and recommend couples to try this vacation experience. In the follow-up web page, “Arnie Heller Turns 70 at Secret’s Maroma, Cancun, Mexico, Part II”, I will showcase the resort’s infrastructure, food service and entertainment and activity programs and how they combine to produce favorable outcomes for guests celebrating special occasions.

 

I am an amateur photographer and a shot I took of a chandelier came out blurry so I fooled around, doctored it a bit, and titled it “Bliss”. I think the photo reflects the relaxed and pleasant feelings I experienced all week in such a warm and colorful environment that managing one’s alcohol consumption is perhaps the most challenging part of the trip.

 

 

On to Part II.