Because Sandy used to travel a lot for work when we lived in Singapore, she belongs to a lot of airline and hotel reward programs. Even though she retired from HP several years ago, she still gets a lot of offers for good deals on travel. This past fall she got one from Sheraton for five nights hotel and a rental car in Hawaii for a really good price. Although we had been busy this summer and fall since I retired, we hadn't taken a big trip, so going to the tropics this winter sounded good. When Sandy found a good price on air fare and another good deal for a hotel to add a couple of extra days, we booked a trip to Kauai for early December. The deal was almost too good to be true.
Right after she booked the trip, the concierge at the hotel contacted Sandy to see if we needed any special arrangements. The lady said to be sure to check in with her as soon as we arrived. That was a little unusual but we figured they were just trying to have good customer service.
The timing worked out well too. It had been a very mild fall this year but the forecast was for snow and cold weather starting the day after we left Boise. We figured that we would feel a little guilty sitting on the beach while everyone at home was shivering and shoveling snow, but at least we would be warm.
We had a very early flight to San Francisco and then a direct flight to Kauai. Our flights were right on time and with the time change we on the ground in Lihue shortly after noon. After picking up our rental car it was about a half hour drive to the Sheraton resort near Poipu Beach. The hotel was right on the water, although with our special deal we were in a garden view room in the back of the hotel. Still, we were within a hundred yards of the ocean, so we passed when they offered us a chance to upgrade to an ocean view room for double the price.
Even though we were early we were glad to find out that our room was ready. We were anxious to get into shorts and Hawaiian shirts and start enjoying the warm weather. After dropping our stuff off in our room and changing, we stopped in to see our "personal service representative". She gave us some info on activities and then told us that "included" with our vacation package was a special presentation on a new resort being built on Maui.
That solved the mystery of our really good deal on the vacation. We were on a timeshare promotional package. Strangely it had never been mentioned anywhere in any of the materials. We figured that we could have probably made a fuss, or even just skipped out, but we decided that it would be simpler to just go to the presentation. We scheduled ours for the very next morning to get it out of the way. We thought that it might actually be kind of fun but resolved that we were NOT going to buy a timeshare.
By now it was dinner time in Boise and we hadn't really eaten all day so we were starving. We took a short walk to Poipu Shopping Village, where there were several restaurants and a bunch of shops. As we walked by the Olympic Cafe we noticed that Monday Night Football was just starting (it begins at 3:30 in the afternoon in Hawaii) and so was Happy Hour. That was enough to convince us to stop in. It worked out well. Although Sandy and I like to drink wine, we tried a local beer, Kona Brewing Company Big Wave Ale, and both of us liked it. For dinner I had spaghetti and Sandy had shrimp. The food was delicious although we had to admit that there was so much garlic that we both could taste it for days afterwards. No vampires were going to mess with us. It did give us a good excuse for going out for ice cream later that evening at Lappert's, a famous chain of shops in the islands that sells premium ice cream.
Next morning we took a nice walk along the water, something we did every day that we were in Hawaii. We still had plenty of time to make it to our presentation. I actually thought it might be fun, that they would spend a lot of time showing us how glamorous their new property was and all the other exotic properties in their network that we could exchange our week to visit. But they didn't do that. Other than one short video that looked pretty cool of the new construction on Kaanapali Beach taken from a drone, they mostly talked about money. They had an interesting sales pitch, where they asked us how much we expected to spend on vacations in the next ten years, and then said that since that was more than the cost of the timeshare we could afford to buy the timeshare. It didn't really make much sense to me. They also spent a lot of time emphasizing that the one week was actually deeded ownership, so it lasted forever. Our kids could inherit it. That didn't really seem like a major selling point either unless it really had value.
Financially it didn't make any sense to me at all. They wanted $36K to buy one week in a one bedroom condo per year. But in addition to that the maintenance fees were $1850 per year, which works out to $265/night just to stay in your unit. It seems like it wouldn't be hard to find a reasonable hotel in Hawaii for that price without having to pay $36K up front. It seemed like we were paying them a lot of money to lose the freedom to take trips to different places every year.
When asked for our response I said that I wanted to get their literature so that I could do some financial analysis comparing their costs to what I could find on the open market. The sales guy pushed saying that they would give us a special deal if we signed on the spot. I explained that we were both engineers and that we liked to analyse the data before we made a big decision. At that he stopped, thanked us, and walked out. We were done, just like that! He didn't even give us the information I asked for, or leave his card or say that we should get back to him if we wanted to pursue things further. I guess as soon as we said we were going to analyze it, he decided it was hopeless. That doesn't make me think that it was a good deal! Instead of ninety minutes, we were out in less than an hour.
It was impressive how much effort they were putting into trying to sell the timeshares. They had converted an entire row of hotel rooms in one wing into sales offices, probably a half a dozen rooms. As we walked in and out, they all had people in them. So they were making a big push!
It amazes me that they can actually get people to make a major purchase like that on the spur of the moment, especially when it looks like it isn't a very good deal. I guess a lot of people aren't very analytical. It worked out well for us though. We got a really good price for a five night stay. The resort was right on the ocean and we took a walk along the water every day. There were two shopping centers in walking distance with shops and good restaurants. We got five days of rental car so we could tour the whole island. And we got almost two hundred dollars in vouchers to use at the hotel. Sadly they couldn't be used for drinks, but we did use them to pay for breakfast every morning. So it was a good deal for us for one hour of our time. We got a really nice vacation out of it. Ironically, the fact that we got a really good deal on a trip as part of their marketing promotion might have been the best argument for not locking into buying the timeshare that they were trying to sell!