Friday, August 21, 2009

Visiting Los Cabos: the Timeshare Gauntlet

Every time I walk off the plane in Cabo San Jose, I want to scream. This isn’t usually how I like to start a vacation, but it should say something for Los Cabos that I love this place even though my first reaction is to scream and maybe even hurt people.

Why the visceral reaction? The madness begins in the airport (A/C never seems to work) with customs. Find your bag, hand it to the screener, push a button, randomly get screened. OK, this part isn’t too bad and in fact, it is the best part of the airport.
After this you walk into a lobby area where there is a sudden rush of individuals wearing official-looking airport security badges. They all are there to help you find a car, a hotel, excursions, etc. Actually, they are NOT there to help you and I’ve had one flat out lie to me before: “The Hertz shuttle just left, ma’am, so you have time to just step over here and speak with me, I have a deal for you”. As it turns out, Hertz had gone out of business in that airport; hence, there could not be a Hertz shuttle at all. This lobby of helpful folks are all there to sign you up for a timeshare tour. Do not be fooled.

If you are lucky enough to have rented from a rental car company still in business and running shuttles (stupid Hertz – you suck!!!), proceed to the rental car fun. The price is negotiable – trust me. And that free map and guide book they just provided? It has your rental car agent’s name and cell phone number in there so you can contact him for a timeshare tour. By the way, (as you get into your car), would you like to sign up for a timeshare tour? I can provide you a voucher toward your rental car expenses.

The drive to Cabo San Lucas is lovely – take the toll road and avoid traffic in downtown Cabo San Jose. At your hotel, avoid picking up your “welcome package”, your “free” drink coupons and having your ass signed up for yet another timeshare tour. At Villa Palomar I finally had to go down and stand there for 10 minutes and let them show me their favorite attractions on a map, all the while building to the timeshare tour request I knew was coming and had refused several times. However, I realize they have a job to do and they will STALK YOU in your hotel until you at least give them a few minutes. Don’t sit down. Say no, request no additional notes under your door, following of you to the pool or phone calls to your room.

After that, you should be able to enjoy your vacation!

To be fair, if you have the time, energy and the ability to say “no” with a vengeance, our first trip to Cabo we did a tour and got about $200 USD off our rental car. I wouldn’t do a tour for anything less than $200 USD. If you decide to do it, negotiate like a devil – you’ll get what you want. And I realize these folks are just doing a job that (probably) corporate America is paying them to do – I sympathize with that – but damn! No, means NO!

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