I have two timeshares that I try to use when possible, one with Marriot and the other in Mexico. For my trip to Mexico in January, I made an exchange and stayed at the VIDA Resort. This resort is a bit over the top, as they are planning to build within this huge compound of hotels, a Circus of Solie Entertainment Center. This resort has 22 restaurants, three spas, about 6+ swimming pools, and a mall. They do everything possible for you not to leave the premises, which is excellent for the elderly, families with children, and even teenagers as it offers a great deal of convenience and safety for a price. Frankly, I found the resort a bit artificial in that you wouldn’t know what tropical country you are in other than driving to and from the airport. Although I have stayed in many resorts, I do not find them appealing as to the immersion way I want to travel, which gets to my story on “timeshare resort living.”
A little history first —- Mexico tourism relies heavily on the timeshare industry, and so they have a very aggressive and effective sales machine which at times is a nuisance. For most communities, the timeshare industry ensures repeat tourism of which they are entirely dependent on. This past year over 44 million tourists have visited Mexico, it is the second or third largest industry creating jobs and helping build the country’s infrastructure and economy. Unfortunately, Mexico is not controlling the pace and impact that over-tourism is having on its coastline, generating way too much pollution suffocating its ecosystems (clearly, all those margaritas in plastic cups and food waste are adding up).
So, what is the real picture here about timeshares? When buying a timeshare, you are basically paying into a membership/network that allows you to stay or exchange your time at an additional fee (annual maintenance fee) or when you do decide to use it (latter is the better option). These fees go up every year so over time you may not always be getting such a bargain. The more you pay for the membership fee that can cost between $10,000 to $45,000 determines what class you are in and determines the type, amenities, and size of the unit and when you want to use the timeshare which in many cases may not be available regardless the sale pitch. Once you agree to a timeshare presentation, it will take several hours of your vacation time. They do this by offering all kinds of goodies (the bait ) if you succumb, get ready for a high pressured sale job by a well-trained team where they promise all sorts of benefits by adding more weeks that you will never be able to use….consumerism at its worst. If you do buy and have buyer remorse, you do have 3-5 days to get out of the contract depending on the country. Just make sure you follow their laws.
I do think that timeshares are suitable for families, the elderly, or couples who like to do a quick gateway and like the convenience of an inclusive environment. I like the benefit of exchanging it to stay at other places even though there is a fee. If you are the type of person that wants to venture out or travel from city to city, timeshares can be very restrictive as most of these resorts are not in the city.
If you decide you want to buy a timeshare, you may want to look at those that are for resale on the internet depending on what location and time slot you like to travel. Believe me; this would be much cheaper than going to a presentation on your much-needed vacation time.
One more thing to remember, hotels and resorts in Mexico do not pay their employees well unless they are at a professional level. Waiters, maintenance workers, security, and maids earn between 73.04 – 80.04 pesos equivalent to $2.52- $3.86/hr, which is not keeping up with the cost of housing, food, and fuel escalated by the same tourism industry.
The photos in this posting are of the VIDA resort and amazing sunsets.