Last October, I stayed in Riviera Maya, Mexico for two weeks. It is a 4-star all inclusive hotel by the sea. Although the service was excellent and my trip was wonderful, I had to deal with a lot of solicitation.
When travelling to the Caribbean, most hotels put a bracelet on your wrist according to the hotel package you have selected. It’s like having the word “tourist” tattooed on your forehead. Everyone knows you are on vacation and everyone thinks you are rich!!! When I was walking around in Playa Del Carmen’s market, a Mexican man approached us saying “Hey! You are staying at the Allegro Playacar, I am one of the waiters at the hotel”, all this to engage the conversation to sell us his “trinkets”. At first, we were surprised, we thought it was possible because, after all, there are so many employees that we do not remember everyone. But a second, a third, and on almost every street corner we got the same story… you see where I’m going with this… But, they are never aggressive, just persistent. You have to know how to be firm, polite and say “no thanks” and then continue your way.
Another form of solicitation also exists, namely the sale of annual vacation weeks available in many of their affiliate hotels, which they call “vacation condos”. From what was explained to me, unlike the “Time Sharing” where you are attached to a condo and you must ask to exchange your week to go elsewhere in the world, you are not attached to a condo and you simply need to check availability to book. These “vacation condos” are affiliated with the hotel; they have their hotel section, their own pool, their private beach section, etc. In addition to the initial purchase price, you have annual fees to pay, whether you use your holiday week or not and in some cases, you cannot postpone your week to the next year.
Some say it’s a “scam”, others do not agree. What I would tell you is, do not buy under pressure (there is probably something fishy). Check every detail, every condition, check the company behind it all, ask what would happen to your “purchase” if the hotel was sold or worse, if it went bankrupt, check each resort that is part of the agreement, make sure these are places you would like to visit and return again and again, etc. Another point to check is to calculate your other fees; your airplane tickets, transfers to and from the airport and the hotel, and the all-inclusive package at the hotel to get free food and drinks during your stay. Do not forget that prices fluctuate a lot depending on the time of the year and the supply and demand and, usually, an “à la carte” trip is much more expensive than if you buy an all inclusive package.
In conclusion, no matter where you travel in the world, your behavior, your appearance or your “bracelet” may indicate to locals that you are not from their country. So, always be careful and be polite.
Lilianne Pilon Photographe