In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll be honest right up front. I dislike big resorts. Actually, I can’t stand them. Certainly, I can admit I do appreciate a flushing toilet or a shower a few times a week, but when I travel I want to actually experience the culture and meet the locals; and by that I don’t mean just exchanging pleasantries with those bringing me my latest poolside cocktail or cleaning my room. Jim’s parents actually prefer a more “cultured” lodging option as well, however years ago got sucked into the world of timeshares and hence… next thing I knew we were leaving the airport with them to experience Vidanta.
First impressions are one of a bit of awe. This is an enormous resort, with impressive landscaping extending all the way to the road. I can not imagine the magnitude of the landscaping staff alone. The shuttle, actually a full-size touring bus, dropped us at a meeting area, seemingly in the middle of no-where near the resort. And yet the uber-organized porters organized each passengers luggage into special carts fully enclosed with a zippered cover, whereas they had mom and dad examine their bags and watch as they were carefully locked up. I was gobsmacked by the efficiency of it all.
Luggage claim ticket in hand, we were instructed to wait for the carts to shuttle us to the hotel. Well, or so we thought. It was readily apparent immediately that Vidanta doesn’t really want you leaving. We took a shuttle to the main transportation hub, where we then were required to walk a good 15 minutes on meandering paths to the actual tower where they had reservations. Now this is not all bad. As mentioned, the grounds are stunning. Multiple pools and seating areas flanked a variety of restaurants; Italian, American steak house, Mexican, Asian. Waterfalls and scultures lined the paths surrounded by lush foliage.
However, this was mom and dad, an 82 and 79 year old who had been up since 4am to travel all day to arrive to suffocating humidity. The walk took away what little energy they had gained in seeing us after 5 long months.
Luckily, check-in was speedy. At first. Even though they had already paid for their timeshare. Even though they pay yearly maintenance fees. They were still required to pay $75.00USD upon arrival, seemingly “just because’. It was called a resort fee and, to be fair, it was in the fine print of the confirmation they had been emailed. However, seriously? However, it was what it was. Soon their room was ready and the engaging young man who was checking us in handed us over to the “activities coordinator” to get a map, our pool towel cards, etc.
Or did he? This is when the hardcore timeshare BS began. She insisted they had to decide that minute on what time they wanted their breakfast meeting to be for. She attempted to get a lot of ridiculous information, such as how much they currently paid for yearly fees, at which point my father-in-law, visibly drooping and exhausted finally spoke up to say it was none of her business and he simply wanted to go to his room.
Then began what might be the most ridiculous time-share moment I have ever experienced. The “activities coordinator” refused to simply show us how to get to their room and instead called her manager over to see if they could be upgraded to the owner suites in the Luxe tower. Dad said he didn’t want to be upgraded, he just wanted to go to his room. The manager attempted to proclaim just how much more impressive the other tower was and then, when advised of what room they were currently booked for, let out a huge sigh and said “oh oh, that is NOT a good room. it’s one of our worst really. I think you’d be much more comfortable in the Luxe tower”. I nearly snorted out loud and it took Jim and I to finally say ENOUGH just bring us to the room now to get them to let up on their pushy sales pitch.
As soon as these ladies realized they were out of luck, they basically abandoned us. When we asked where we needed to go to actually get to their room, they simply pointed us through the very impressive, but very dark, “tomb room” at the center of the Grand Mayan tower, and said it’s past there. After asking others, we managed to get them up to their room, drained from the entire debacle.
Their visit, from that point on, was just fine. The room was, in spite of the disgusted comment from the timeshare manager, absolutely lovely. A very large 1-bedroom with a spacious bathroom, large kitching/dining/living room, and a generously sized patio with a dipping pool.
The grounds continued to enchant. Truly breathtaking, I must admit though that it reminded me a lot more of Hawaii than anywhere I’ve ever seen in Mexico. Multiple pools, dozens of restaurants, shopping, daily entertainment, and miles of gorgeous beach. And the lazy river. Oh, I do love me a float in a tube down a lazy river!
For that week we cabbed to the resort from our downtown apartment most days. Sadly, Vidanta doesn’t allow furry friends, so our time was a bit limited due to not wanting to abandon Aspen for entire days. And yet we still managed to tube the lazy river most days. We dined at the resort several times, and generally always had cocktails, all of which were excellent.
On Fiesta night we enjoyed a fantastic buffet on the beach, unlimited cocktails and a show. All great fun.
In short. We enjoyed our time there.
And yet, each and every time we arrived or departed, I found myself cursing under my breath at the length of the walk from any sort of transportation to the Grand Mayan tower. Even while loving the beauty and truly admiring the logistical management required to efficiently run such an enormous place, I sighed at the true lack of culture.
In the end, they enjoyed their time there, which is really all that matters. We enjoyed spending a few hours in complete luxury in comparison to our normal life. And I am big enough to acknowledge that a lot of people are looking for just that experience. They want to go to a place for a week to escape the reality of life. They want pools and beauty and food and shows. They want escapism.
It is still not a place for me. Even in our old life, when a weeks vacation was a treasured jewel that we saved and dreamed of for months, even then I wanted to be in a little hotel in old town. I wanted to walk the beach in the morning when it was just myself and a few beach restaurants setting up. I wanted to know what country I was actually vacationing in.
However, to each his own. Vidanta, you are so not for me, but I wish you all the best.