Budget is always the number one priority when planning travel and I am always looking for deals for me, my husband and our daughter in first class. After two years of parenting during a pandemic, we were all dying to leave.
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 no-cook vacation sounded amazing, and the price was cheaper than I had 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 go through a two-hour timeshare presentation to get the deal. The compromise seemed to have paid off: five days in Playa Del Carmen at the four-star Blue Bay Grand Esmeralda, with two pools and unlimited food and alcohol.
I booked the offer and crossed my fingers that it was legit. And it was – but not everything went as expected. It was like this.
Our all-inclusive resort in Mexico was better than expected… but we had very low expectations
When we landed in Mexico, my husband and I feared that no one would be waiting for us, that our room would be dingy, or that the whole thing 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 dimly lit and filled with plants, and friendly staff took us in a golf cart to our room on the far edge of the property, where an iguana and a deer crossed 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 soft drinks and water.
When we went to the breakfast buffet the next day, a few details made me suspect the property was a bit dated (the club area had photos of Magnum PI and Elvis), and I noticed that the beach was covered in seaweed. But we couldn’t complain. Maybe other all inclusive resorts were fancier with finer food but I was glad I didn’t have to cook and my daughter couldn’t believe she could have unlimited dessert.
Finally, we had to attend the timeshare presentation.
The timeshare presentation was back in Cancun and would take at least four hours with the trip. The hotel started pestering me to schedule it from the moment we arrived and wanted us to come the first day but I held them back until the third day when it was raining.
The presentation took place in a lavish resort with stunning crystal clear pools that made our hotel look shabby. Of course, to use them, we would have to spend $100,000 on a timeshare there.
Then they took us to the sales room where a bell rang every few minutes signaling that someone had signed a contract. 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 us into the chic neighborhood, but before they left, they put us in a cramped room to book our ride back to our hotel and withheld one final selling point: For $3,000, we’d get three vacations for the next three years, plus a stay at this beautiful property 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 can get our summer vacation for free,” he said.
But on the hour-long drive back I became a cynic. When I read the fine print, I saw that the Cancun property was under construction and they couldn’t tell us in advance how much we would have to pay for a summer season stay that would be on top of the $3,000, or what Real estate would actually be available if we wanted to travel.
Not willing to commit myself, I convinced my husband to decline the offer.
I would give up a vacation day to attend a timeshare presentation again in exchange for a cheap deal
With travel prices skyrocketing, I’m still on the lookout for cheap vacations, especially all-inclusive resorts. The lack of planning and cooking felt priceless, and to me, the lengthy presentation made the bargain worth it.
I will happily go through another timeshare presentation for a great price and will definitely book one of these deals – as long as my husband promises not to buy a timeshare.