Swimming with the Sharks
by Alex Hutchins
My wife and I have just returned from a week’s vacation in Mexico where we visited Los Cabos San Jose and stayed at the Grand Mayan Resort through a timeshare exchange program through RCI. We are extremely disenchanted with our ownership of a Timeshare both in the usage and attempted resale which is basically non-existent even before the economic crisis of 2008.
|Grand Mayan Resort, Los Cabos San Jose|
Our first purchase was with Blue Green in Gatlinburg, TN that we purchased for holiday getaways since it was nearby but traded it in at South Beach Resorts (SBR) in Myrtle Beach, SC because we were constantly informed by a sales rep that what we owned was worth nothing unless we upgraded.
We liked SBR because it was a family owned and operated timeshare but when they sold to Holiday Inn (Orange Lake Corporation) the quality as well as the holiday was taken out of the name, after trading up and investing more money.
|El Arco de Cabos San Lucan|
Reason # 1 to go
Our Orange Lake property was traded to an American Company doing business in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and our troubles went from bad to worse even though we could still use the 4 weeks we owned for a week in Mexico (that we used at Los Cabos) but had little if any collateral when attempting to trade at Myrtle Beach.
Why are we so timeshare foolish? Because we have always been promised (even in writing) what our ownership will do for us by very clever sales tactics, only to find our later it was a lie. The lies do not just come from the expats who are working for these Timeshares, but from all employees working for these companies regardless of nationality, almost to the point that lying was a badge of honor.
|Sunset Cruise - Los Cabos San Lucas|
Reason # 2 to go
So, I want to share with you a way that you can “swim with the sharks.” First of all, you must understand that buying a timeshare is not a very good investment opportunity but if you see the opportunity differently, then please invest as little as you can. Second, you must accept the fact that what I suggest is not become like them but learn to take advantage of what they are offering.
As soon as you disembark from your airplane and enter any Mexican terminal, you and your family will be literally bombarded by people acting as agents for the timeshares offering you all sorts of incentives. So, do your homework and know where you want to go and what you want to see before stepping onto foreign soil, because you can typically receive all types of excursions in return for going to this 90 minute timeshare presentation.
|The bay at Los Cabos San Lucas|
Reason # 3 to go
Also, be aware of where the airport is located from where you are staying because you can get free transportation from the airport to your resort and back again to the airport when you leave as part of the deal. Breakfasts ARE ALWAYS included, so you will be able to save there as well. Some of your excursions will offer dinner and if not, then it is possible to receive vouchers to go to dinner as well.
The resort where you are staying will also offer you incentives for attending a timeshare presentation and as a way of luring you and your family in, it is always with the understanding that you do not have to buy just listen and that is the key. These agents coming to you is another key as you are not seeking out the visit.
|Fishing opportunities in Los Cabos San Lucas|
Reason # 4 to go
During week long stay at Los Cabos San Jose (16 miles from Los Cabos San Lucas), we attended 4 presentations, purchased nothing as it was not right for us, but received all our breakfasts free, all our dinners free (except for 2), a couple of free excursions that included dinner (saving another $250), plus had all our taxi rides free moving about from one city to the next, had roundtrip to and from airport, received $50 in grocery money from a local grocery store that we used to purchase lunches, plus $90 in food and beverages at the resort where we were staying, and one group gave us $200 in US money so that we actually returned to the US with more money than we took with us when we left.
|Parasailing in Los Cabos San Lucas|
Reason # 5 to go
We accepted an original offer at the airport and again at our resort, and when we attended those presentations and were receiving our gifts, the person giving us our gifts at that company offer us incentives to go to another company. We also encountered this at our resort which provided us the 4 opportunities. However, at the local grocery store we were also offered opportunities and by our taxi drivers, as well as by some of the shop owners that we visited.
In short, everyone was selling presentations and receiving a little commission in the process that the Mexican economy was actually benefitting. We were told that 2/3 of all presentations resulted in a “no sell” outcome and that each presentation had $1200 invested that was written off as marketing expense.
|Kayaking in Los Cabos San Lucas|
Reason # 6 to go
All my wife and I did was act very polite, started counting the time after breakfast, ask questions, stayed 2 hours which is more than the agreed upon time, and always said that this really was not for us. I vividly recall one American Sales manager who came over to close the deal, made her offer, and we said no, and she said to our hostess, “cut em loose and get em back on vacation.” While some are not that direct, it still only takes about 5-10 minutes to get there at the end, especially if you stand up and tell them you have fulfilled your end of the bargain.
|The Marina at Los Cabos San Lucas|
Reason # 7 to go
BTW, occupancy rate in Los Cabos San Lucas this year was down to 60% one agent told me when it has typically remained around 80% year round which is not a good rate actually.
We used our extra money to pay for our parking in the US and flew down on frequent flyer points; so, our week vacation only cost us the Exchange fee and $55 in gifts.
Happy Shark Hunting
|Reason to go . . . well, maybe?|