What constitutes an all-inclusive holiday? Full- board includes all meals; usually breakfast, lunch and an evening meal. Half-board; the T9 option, normally includes breakfast and an evening meal. The McCanns, we are told, decided to have breakfast at their own apartment, whilst the other members of the group went to the Millenium restaurant. (referred to in the following as the Mill), wasting, apparently, free meals due to mobility issues.
Apart from their first evening meal in the Mill, we are also told that the group thereafter, made a block booking to eat in the Tapas Bar. To do this, they had to plead for a table, so the first question is, why do they need to plead for a booking if they already have an all-inclusive, half-board option package?
Please bear with me whilst I wade through the various statements and press reports, trying to make any sense of the arrangements described.
Agapito, a waiter at the Tapas says they all used to go to the Mill for dinner every day, as would be expectef on their was all-inclusive deal. The T7 claim they lunched in the Payne's apartment, as it was the most spacious. The McCann's, we are told, lunched, alone, in their own apartment a few yards away.
Luis Barros, a waiter at the Tapas, who also worked at the Mill, said there were 20 diners on half board at the Tapas, but he had to seek authorisation from his manager Steve (Cova) to make a block reservation for the T9. Steve Cova was the Angolan catering manager who had left at 8pm on the night Madeleine disappeared.
Waiter Joaquim Jose Baptista said that to book a Tapas table, guests had to queue at reception from 11 am onwards on the day ( The Sun 2310.07.).
This is where Fawlty Towers comes to mind. Scene One -Imagine foreign visitors on half-board to that eccentric hotel in England. They come down for their INCLUSIVE evening meal, only to be told by Basil, the manager, that they can't eat, as they haven't booked.
“You have to queue at 11 am to book a table. We like to impose some discipline on our guests, none of that free-for-all stuff you continentals go for! A queue, where you stand in a line and wait, you cloth-eared, ......”
At this point, his wife drags him off before the scene gets too ugly and a long-suffering waitress placates the enraged guests. Manuel, the only English speaking waiter in Fawlty Towers would end up getting the blame for serving JUST 23 plates in under 30 minutes..
No, not even John Cleese and pals would be THAT ridiculous to give us a laugh. They excel in INTELLIGENT and FEASIBLE humour.
Returning to Baptista. He says he usually served the group with 8-10 bottles of wine. His partner (Maria Fernandez) worked at the Mill. She described the McCanns coming to the Mill for the SECOND time and recounts how Maddie searched for high chairs for the twins.
She refers to her as “a little angel”, rather than the rather naughty child of others' descriptions. An expression also used by David Payne.
So, we now have more confusion about whether or how many times the McCanns went to the Mill, as there is now an additional sighting. Maria Fernandez is not the only one, however. Cecilia do Carmo, a Mill worker who greeted guests, places the McCann family at the Mill on Thursday. May 3rd; the day Maddie disappeared .
She saw Maddie with her parents on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday am (discrediting totally the theory that the little girl possibly died before May 3rd ...)- presumably at breakfast-and describes Maddie as clinging to her father.
Alice Silvestre says the McCanns ate there often and confirms the Mill was used for breakfast and dinners.
Paula Veira recognised them from a photograph and says she saw them twice.
Baptista seems to disappear from the story at a later stage, to be replaced by Geronimo Salcedas, another Tapas waiter (see... post for background) Why would that be? Baptista was apparently interviewed 3 times by the police and was said to have disappeared abroad after this.
Could it be because his story no longer fitted the account of events? He describes Kate as raising the alarm from the BALCONY of the apartment, rather than returning to the Tapas bar screaming.
Who to believe? Was the Mill the all-inclusive venue, rather than the Tapas? Well, Jennifer Murat, mother of Robert didn't believe the McCann's private investigators. In an article in The Express (17.12.08.) she claims the PI's paid off witnesses.
She should be in a better position to judge than anyone, as they had paid a visit to the home of the Murat relatives in November 2007.
As for my opinion, I couldn't possibly comment.