There’s hardly a better setting for a summer drama than a swanky Miami hotel overflowing with champagne and secrets. Enter ABC’s “Grand Hotel,” based on a Spanish series and developed by Brian Tanen (“Devious Maids,” “Desperate Housewives”). It wastes no time diving straight into a tangled mess of melodrama, ranging from missing people to secret pregnancies to a bratty pop star who demands overnighted pastries from his mom. Directed with efficient humor, in part by executive producer Eva Longoria Baston, “Grand Hotel” packs as much punch in as it possibly can.
Heading up the action and the hotel alike are Santiago (Demián Bechir) and Gigi (Roselyn Sanchez), who got together after Santiago’s wife (and Gigi’s best friend) died suddenly of a heart attack (probably — with a show that prizes itself on twists and turns like this one, no death certificate can be trusted). Santiago is in over his head after taking out one too many shady loans to save the hotel, leading to him making a whole lot of stupid decisions that frustrate everyone around him, most especially Gigi, his daughter Alicia (Denyse Tontz), his righthand woman Helen (Wendy Raquel Robinson), and this reviewer.
Since few are looped into that particular aspect of the hotel’s standing, everyone else obliviously marches along on their own interweaving paths. Alicia tries to put her business school degree to good use, but manages to save some energy for flirting with mysterious new waiter Danny (Lincoln Younes). Her playboy brother Javi (Bryan Craig) gets caught up in the series’ weakest plot when surly hotel maid Ingrid (Anne Winters) tells him she’s pregnant. It’s a shame how flat this story is given the sly humor Craig brings to an otherwise tired archetype, and the shaky grasp “Grand Hotel” has on the class differences inherent in its cast.
Meanwhile, Gigi wants to prove she’s a smart asset who’s worth more than the title of Santiago’s “trophy wife.” (Sanchez is a sharp actor who can take some wild turns, but Gigi’s personality shifts too wildly depending on whose company she’s keeping.) Her twin daughters Carolina (Feliz Ramirez) and Yoli (Justina Adorno) flit around the sidelines bickering, mostly to serve as an odd couple comic relief until the show deigns to let them grow personalities outside of “the hot one” (Ramirez) and “the annoyed one” (Adorno).
That’s plenty to digest, and yet, “Grand Hotel” wants to serve up so much more. Even when the characters feel flimsy — an inevitability with a show boasting such a long cast list — there’s enough zip in the story to keep “Grand Hotel” moving along at a clip that should make it an easy, breezy summer watch.