Vida Vacations - something smells fishy, and it's not the mahi mahi.
We are staying at the Grand Mayan in Nuevo Vallarta right now. We check out this Friday. First, I must admit the facility and grounds are spectacular, the food and drinks have been great, the service staff has been more than friendly. But unfortunately, we now have a bad taste in our mouths thanks to the ever increasing pressure sales tactics to get us and our friends to buy property with Vida Vacations.
We were given a free shuttle ride from the airport to the resort. Thereby, avoiding the other timeshare sales at the airport. I thought the instructions from the concierge I was emailing prior to our trip that told me to please not talk to anyone at the airport, protecting us from overly aggressive sales, was them looking out for my best interest. No. It was to make sure they were the ones who could pounce on us as soon as we got to their resort.
After check in, we weren't told how to get to our room as is custom, but instead we were handed off to their marketing agent, who was very nice. But in our confusion of being in a new country most people speaking another language, I was grateful to be talking with someone who seemed to be the prison (Freudian slip) person that could help us get to our room. We were offered free breakfast, an upgraded room with an ocean view (we are here during their off peak season), a free city or jungle tour and the fee for Wi-Fi to be waived by giving us a room credit of $1,000 pesos if we attended a short "90 minute" presentation, which included the free breakfast. We gave them a $20, which was returned when we checked in for the presentation.
We went to the "90 minute" presentation yesterday that lasted well over 4 and a half hours - closer to five by the time we got back to our room. The breakfast at cafe el largo (I believe that is the correct name) was excellent, the tour of the facility was nice but then prepare yourself to be cooked up under their subtle and at times not so subtle and ever increasing high pressure tactics.
The first sales rep that took us to breakfast and gave the tour told us during his initial presentation that at the end it would be either a yes or no from us (what he really should have said, it is either going to be a yes or no and then another no then another no and ultimately one more no to a very rude pushy manager and then we'll finally get you back to your restful vacation). He finished his sales pitch and I replied by reminding him of his earlier statement and told him it was a respectful no. Then we had to wait for quite some time for his manager. Tired of waiting, someone in our group asked what if we just stood up and left. He said that's fine, we just cannot honor our gifts (we are already in the ocean view room and I just ate the free breakfast...so I guess he was referring to the room credit and the free city / jungle tour or kick us out of our room and move us to the other side of the building?) Then he proceeded to tell us about a guy that complained it was taking too long. He asked the guy how much he made an hour and pointed out the gifts were worth more than a half day of that man's pay and he can't just be patient and finish the presentation?
My thought - that's not the point. We were told 90 minutes and at this point approaching three hours.
You've lost credibility in my eyes.
Besides, that's not the way a vacationer sees it. How much did I pay for this trip, so how much does a day or hour of my vacation really cost me? How long did I have to work to save or to eventually pay for this vacation? The less money I make, the more expensive the cost of my vacation and therefore the more valuable my vacation time. One hour on vacation is not equal to one hour at work. You will need to compensate me at a much higher rate for an hour of my vacation time than you would for me to work.
Nice try Mexican guy, but this gringo ain't here to buy (a saying I've repeated to myself many times on this trip thus helping me to avoid a silly purchase or two...however I think I just might go back to the beach before we leave and buy that fished shaped bottle opener that stands up on its own).
Finally his manager shows up and gives another attempt to sell us. We tell her no, she leaves. We think that was easy. Instead she comes back with another offer. After suddenly given a reduction of approximately 68% 71,900 to 23,000 we told her no. Why the sudden reduction in value? I thought this was real estate, has something happened to the market in the last five minutes to drastically reduce the value of this property? Did she go watch CNN or MSNBC for a breaking news story? Has something happened in the world I don't know about because I'm relaxing on vacation?
Now they bring in the big guns, the closer (or so I thought). Let's call him Rico Suave. Part used car salesman from a very low class dealership, part Miami vice, part Vegas mafia muscle. You know the type. Slicked back hair, salmon colored shirt unbuttoned just enough for his graying chest hair and gold chains to be visible, stinking from the cigarette he just smoked on his break. Rico proceeds to put forth three different purchasing options. All of which are rejected with another, albeit less patient no from us.
Finally, more than three hours after our journey began, we are escorted back to the first building. We've survived. Or so we thought.
We are greeted by an after market rep who begins asking us about our experience and filling out a form based on our responses. "Were we treated nicely? did they... blah blah blah". Suddenly, she's pulled off the interview by her manager. "Remember that couple that was over at that table, I need you to escort them back to their room, I'll take over and finish the exit interview." He tells her. One of his questions, "did they inform you of these options?" which they intentionally had not. We told him it didn't matter as we weren't interested. Then he asks if they told us about the foreclosed properties. He writes down an offer that is so good but is probably going to get him in trouble. Another classic sales tactic. He is going to pay to fly us back down here for our next visit starts offering credits and acceleration of the usage. But wait, buy now and we'll throw in a free knife set, just pay separate shipping and handling that ends up costing more the the price to buy the *** thing from the store in the first place...again, you know the routine. We tell him no, but our friends are a bit more interested, the proverbial ***. He starts to reel them in. She tries to cut loose by saying she isn't going to do anything without reviewing the contract first, but he keeps her on line by saying let me get my manager to see if we can even get this deal approved. His manager miraculously appears at this very moment and takes over. Wait...I thought we were just doing an exit interview on our experience. How did we get back to the pursue cooker...very slick guys.
He turns up the heat and tries everything possible to get our friends to purchase. EVEN saying something about how his wife is going to be mad at him if I don't let him do his job.
Our friend sells real estate for a living and asks to review the contract for a day and then let them know by tomorrow. Nope. We must decide now. Another sales tactic. Don't let them off the line. Most people will come down from the pressure, find sites like this with reviews letting them know it's probably not going to be everything they had been promised and decide not to purchase. She tells the manager, either she takes the contact to review for a day or it is a no. He keeps pushing. She repeats her conditions. He tries to give them some other offer.
I'm done at this point. I repeat to him what she said, one day to review the contract that involves the purchase of real estate or it is a no. He tells me to be quiet and let him do his job, he isn't talking to me he's talking to my friend. He gets even more rude in his tone. I looked at my friend and repeated her conditions to her and said then since they won't let us take time to review the offer then it's a no. We stand up and he's still talking.
Finally after four and a half hours later we are taken to a desk where we our "free" offers are repeated for confirmation. I say "free" because nothing is free. It cost me nearly five hours of my time, but not at my hourly wage I am paid back home as was used by the first sales rep, but at the hourly cost I paid to be on this vacation. Yes we finally made it this time for real!
As I said before the facilities are gorgeous, the food and service staff has been great. The upgrade to the ocean view has been nice to sit and look at the water from our balcony (which could be done just as easily from one of the beach chairs), the free breakfast wasn't free when you consider they took up more than half a day of my vacation. Having the Wi-fi in my room came in handy to allow me to find this site and confirm we made a good decision to walk away. Oh yeah, thanks for waiving the fee Vida Vacations. Isn't the internet great?
My advice - come down here, enjoy a week on the beach or going shopping in town, go buy some groceries from the Wal-Mart not more than ten minutes away by taxi and cook them up in your room, have a nice meal or two at the resort, but do NOT go to the quick "90 minute" presentation.
We go on the jungle tour tomorrow so I can't tell you yet if that is worth your time or not. We'll have to see if the 1,000 pesos credit really shows up on the room charges when we check out on Friday. We'll be back, but I won't be upgraded to an ocean view room next time and I'll just pay to have Wi-Fi in my room. Maybe that trip can be spent just resting on the beach reading a good book or an entertaining review or two as was my original intention when I got on my flight back home.