Thursday, August 07, 2008

Thursday's Notes

I woke up this morning a lot more pink than when I went to bed. Too much sun, not enough sunscreen, on Isla Mujeres. So what to do today?

The timeshare presentation.

After all, it's only 90 minutes, and who (my age) doesn't like seeing fancy hotel rooms and imagining staying there?

Oh, before I go on, it was not a timeshare presentation. It was a private membership club, or something like that. I'm still iffy on the difference between that and a timeshare. I think it's just the name.

That 90 minutes, though, morphed into 4 mostly-air-conditioned hours. The numbers started at over $80,000 (plus hundreds for the week I would stay at the facility!!!) and got down to $3,000 (plus a couple hundred each week I stay) for 25 weeks over the next 10 years. The last one wasn't bad on a per-week basis, even after adding in the per-week cost, but I don't know that I'm going to come to Costa Maya 25 times in the next 10 years. I might almost feel bad, too, because the last deal comes courtesy of a fellow Californian who, because of the mortgage fiasco back home, needs to sell the remainder of his membership blah blah blah....

After touring the facilities (yes, plural), my "guide" and I went into a room filled with people either selling or potentially buying. There must have been 25 tables in there, with a sales presentation occurring at each one. It was very comical to me. One would raise a hand, and a "manager", or perhaps a "developer's representative", would come over and apply a little harder sell. Sometimes they'd even sweeten the pot, lowering the price here, the interest rate there, offering a studio instead of the two-room package.

This is the second timeshare presentation I've attended in the last decade, and I've watched others from a distance. They all share several qualities, but the one that interests me most is this: is there some school where timeshare salespeople go to learn to write jibberish-y numbers, figures, and words randomly on a page? If you've ever been to one of these presentations you know what I'm talking about. What, exactly, is the point of that, to confuse you? No, it couldn't be, because they only want to make sure I get the best vacation package for my money. They're concerned about me. There must be some other explanation for this disorganized jumble.

I toured two of their facilities here in Cancun, and they're building one on Isla Mujeres =) I must admit, the rooms were exceptional, perhaps extravagant by my standards, but my room here at the Holiday Inn Express more than meets my needs. I even have wireless internet access in my room here--I didn't think to ask if their resorts had such amenities!

It wasn't a waste of 4 hours, though. At the first facility I got a strawberry daquiri. I kid you not, I watched the bartender spoon strawberry Smucker's jelly into the blender, but at least I have the satisfaction of knowing the rum wasn't watered down when I saw him open a new bottle and start pouring.

From there we took a boat ride across the lagoon to get to the second, bigger facility. A nice lunch and a couple banana daquiris welcomed me there. But let there be no doubt, the place was grand.

And for attending this personalized presentation, I received a voucher for a "jungle tour", which normally run from $50-60 depending on where you purchase them. The tour involves taking a 2-person boat through the Laguna de Nichupte and the mangrove forest (the "jungle") and going out into the Caribbean, where a half hour of snorkling over a reef awaits. I go on the jungle tour tomorrow.

So, all in all, not a bad way to spend the midday recuperating from a slight sunburn.

I'm doing the siesta thing right now, and will head towards the action in another hour or so.


Fritz J. said...

Remind me to avoid your bartender. Besides, raspberry daiquiris are much better.

Darren said...

Raspberry? They didn't even have banana at that bar!

Michael said...

I've been to two timeshare presentations, and I found right off a way to shut them down, and the second time even faster.

First, make the statement that you won't borrow money to pay for vacations you might take. That statement seems to make intrinsic sense to everyone who hears it- floor lackey to high-pressure floor manager.

It's a sensible statement that I actually believe.

Then, you approach the problem from the angle of- You want $40,000 and $1000 a year in fees for two weeks lodging- what else can I do with that money?

Well, I could invest it in a 'vacation' purposed mutual fund, and net 8-10% on that $40k, +$1000 per year.

On the low end, joining their club/timeshare/whatever has an oppurtunity cost of at least $4,200 per year. So, in order to join their club rationally, they must offer value greater than or equal to $4,200.

They only offer lodging. For a two week stay, you can buy a stay at a very nice place, anywhere, for that kind of cash.

I simply outlined that logic for their sales people, complimented the quality of their facility, and told them I'd be happy to pay a nightly rate to stay there, but they simply don't offer $4,200 a year in value.

After that discussion, the remainder of the meeting was very cordial and very brief. They had no 'comeback' to that objection. My wife and I were on our way fast.

Incidentally, I looked at their front desk rate card. Staying two weeks at the most expensive time of the year only cost ~$3,600.

Darren said...

But, but, you can own it! Sell it and get your money back, or give it to your children!

The way I see it, you're paying for a luxury hotel. You pay a large up-front fee, and then a lower per-week fee. Like you said, though, why pay for vacations you might take. If you want to stay in a luxury hotel, do so, but pay as you go.