I often see vacation deals for places like Mexico or Hawaii that seem too good to be true.
The catch is that, in exchange for the cheap price, you have to endure a timeshare presentation.
I finally booked one: $399 for five days at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico. Here’s how it went.
Budget always comes first when it comes to travel planning, and I’m always looking for deals for me, my husband and our first-class daughter. After two years of parenting during a pandemic, we were all eager to get away.
So when a Facebook ad came up offering five days at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico for $399, I clicked. The idea of a vacation where you don’t have to cook sounded great, and the price was cheaper than I’d hoped.
My husband, always the skeptic, thought it sounded too good to be true and asked, “What’s the catch?”
He was right – there was one.
We’d have to endure a two-hour timeshare presentation to get the deal. The trade-off seemed worth it: five days in Playa Del Carmen at the four-star Blue Bay Grand Esmeralda hotel with two pools and unlimited food and alcohol.
I booked the deal and crossed my fingers that it was real. And it was, but not everything went as expected. Here’s how it was.
Our all-inclusive resort in Mexico was better than expected…but we had very low expectations
When we landed in Mexico, both my husband and I were concerned that there would be no one waiting for us, that our room would be dingy, or that the whole deal would be a hoax.
But someone was waiting at the airport to take us to the hotel, which was about an hour south of Cancun. There we found an open-air lobby that was low-lit and full of plants, and friendly staff took us in a golf cart to our room on the other side of the property, where an iguana and a deer crossed our paths.
Then came the moment of truth: our room. It was basic with two queen beds, a patio overlooking palm trees, and a fridge stocked with soda and water.
As we walked to the breakfast buffet the next day, some of the details made me think the property was a little dated (the club room had pictures of Magnum PI and Elvis), and I noticed the beach was full of seaweed. But we couldn’t complain. Maybe other all inclusive resorts were fancier with tastier food, but I was glad I didn’t have to cook and my daughter couldn’t believe she could have unlimited dessert.
We ended up having to attend the timeshare presentation.
The timeshare presentation was back in Cancun and would take at least four hours with travel. The hotel started pestering me to plan it from the moment we arrived, and wanted us to come the first day, but I held them out until day three when it rained.
The presentation was on a opulent resort with beautiful crystal clear pools which made our hotel look shabby. Of course, to use them, we have to spend $100,000 on a timeshare there.
They then took us to the sales area, where a bell rang every few minutes to indicate that someone had signed a deal. I pretended to take notes on my computer while googling, “How do I get out of a timeshare presentation.”
We turned down their deal to buy in the upscale area, but before they left, they sent us into a cramped room to book our ride back to our hotel and forced one last sales pitch: for $3,000 we could take three vacations. for the next three years, plus a stay at this beautiful estate in Cancun.
“Not bad,” said my husband, wanting to buy the offer. “Think about it — that would take care of our winter break, and we could get our summer vacation for free,” he said.
But on the hour-long drive back, I became the cynical one. Reading the fine print I saw that the property in Cancun was under construction and they couldn’t tell us in advance how much we would pay for a summer stay, which would be on top of the $3,000, or what properties would actually be available whenever we wanted to travel.
I wasn’t ready to commit and convinced my husband to walk away from the offer.
I’d give up a vacation day to attend another timeshare presentation in exchange for a cheap deal
With travel prices getting astronomically high, I’m still looking for cheap vacations, especially all-inclusive resorts. The lack of planning and cooking felt priceless, and to me the long presentation was worth it for the cheap deal.
I will gladly attend another timeshare presentation in exchange for a cheap price and will definitely book another one of these deals – as long as my husband promises not to buy a timeshare.
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