Lydia Linton Pontius (Oct. 2014)
My travel partner, Jamie, and I had agreed to this because this very convincing and entertaining saleswoman approached us at Fox Car Rental. After explaining she would get $100 if we went, we agreed to give it a whirl. By the way, there is apparently a new law going into effect which will no longer allow people to approach you about timeshare deals; in the meantime they are making the most of the chances they have.
The property we were scheduled to visit is adjoining the new Cirque du Soleil property so that had me curious. As timeshare presentations go, this was a friendlier approach than some I have experienced. Our salesman was very sweet and shared that he was given us because he didn't have the best record with Americans and needed the practice before high-season came. His goal was to be successful enough that the company would send him to a new property in the Dominican Republic; we wish him well.
He knew early on that this property was not for us. I guess it was a giveaway when he saw my face as he answered my first question, "Is that a manmade lake?" which I asked as we sat at breakfast overlooking a lagoon. "Oh yes, isn't it beautiful?" "Hmmmm"óno reply. Later on the tour he explained how eco-friendly the company was, followed almost immediately by "And here is where the new beach will be; they are importing the sand from Cuba." "Hmmmm"óno reply. A few moments later he looked at me and said, "This isn't your type of place, is it?" I nodded in agreement and said, "I do prefer smaller, more truly ecological places." We all agreed shortly after that that we would finish the tour and play it out, so he wouldn't be reprimanded by his manager, and that he was getting his much-needed practice with two American women.
Closing in on three hours later (Can you hear the theme song to Gilligan's Island?), we were still fighting to get out the door. The price for a property dropped to 1% of the original price. Our two bottles of tequila turned into Kahlua; they explained that was because the previous night everyone drank tequila celebrating Mexican Independence Day. However we were paid in cash for most of what the car rental fee was and given vouchers to get two Maya pendants at a jewelry store. At least we had earned money for dinner at the Alux Restaurant that night. All in all, we figured we both made about $25/hour for our time.
Entering the property, we were all treated amazingly well. And I was quite surprised by the number of expats from both the U.S. and Canada who worked here. Equality ends when it is time to sign; if you buy a timeshare, you are treated like royalty and waltzed around the property. However if you don't, you are taken out the back through the basement and dropped in the middle of nowhere. Ask someone where your parked car is, and they have no clue how to get there. We, and others who had passed on the deal, got in a shuttle with a driver who promised to drop us near our car. As we compared notes, some of us were not completely sure there wouldn't be one more attempt to close us. But there was not, and we made it safe and sound to our car.
Here is a valuable thing we learned for those of you who would like to see these properties and collect your gift in half the time: The secret is, go have breakfast, tour the property, and when it is time to sit down for the money talk, cry. Yes, two ladies did that and they were escorted out quickly, taken to the basement where they were given their gifts, and allowed to leave. It was pointed out to us that no one there wants the other prospects to see anyone cry. With breakfast for two, liquor, pendants and cash, it might be worth it. I promise you that is the only way you will do this in 90 minutes.