Every resort has its nemeses, and the short comings of Puerto Vallarta are threefold. Number one cannot be avoided, the second will be cured eventually, and the third can be avoided by the following tips.

Firstly the elevations in Puerto Vallarta dictate that there will be steps everywhere… and guess what… there are steps everywhere. This will not change although elevators will help. The advantage is that everyone has a view because the side hill is like West Vancouver or, as I like to think of it, a theatre, because you are always watching and seeing some activity. The panorama is superb.

The second is the noise. The wonderful and healthy cross ventilation which we enjoy by taking advantage of the “adiabatic effect” rather than air conditioning, has a disadvantage; it also admits noise. City ordinances forbidding animals such as barking dogs, roosters etc. are (if they exist)not enforced and one of the reasons I’m sure is that it is difficult to ask people who put 60% of what they earn into their mouths to give up raising a few chickens. These same chickens are useful bug scavengers in the dirt floored ‘casitas’. Dogs bark, and dogs protect, this however will change with time. It has diminished considerably from a few years ago. A circle road to detour the large trucks is completed with a tunnel behind the hill already perforated and in use now for several years.

The third “irritation” is however a product of OUR countryman and that of our mutual neighbour the U.S. Enter the “timeshare” salesman. (purposely no caps) This individual is the most insidious, conniving, buzzard you can meet in Mexico. They come in both sexes and all ages although many are suave, good looking and young. They are often so brainwashed with their belief that they are really bringing riches to their clients that their fervor is infectious and many of the laid back people, thinking that they will take advantage of the freebie and politely withdraw at the moment of truth, find themselves the ‘proud owners’ a few hours later. Their appeal is to greed but done with a subtlety that rivals that of religion’s fear of Hell and being outcast etc. Lead will appear as gold and all it takes is one swipe of your Visa card and a simple signature here. … The chances that you’ll see a scorpion in PVEE are very few indeed. The chances that you’ll meet up with a timeshare salesperson are as good as finding sand on the beach. Unfortunately we can’t reverse the odds.

Consider that no matter what you earn back home as income per day you are worth $150+ per day in PUERTO VALLARTA as your trip cost amortized over a two week period let’s say, plus your accommodation yield a daily expenditure of at least $100. So if someone for whatever reason “steals” your time in the sun he/she’s costing you $75. to $100./ 1/2 day. Now someone earning that kind of money might quickly see through the “jeep for $10.00 a day” when you know they cost $60 to $80. Some people think they will just listen to the pitch to be amused or “see what real estate is goin’ fer down here” and the trap starts to close. Unfortunately the cliche “ther’ ain’t no free lunch” shouldn’t have been so specific as “free breakfasts” are very popular ploys.

The bottom line of this is that unless you are definitely interested in purchasing something, stay away from these creeps. You’ll either end up a purchaser or troubled that you let the crown jewels slip through your fingers. Remember, you took this vacation to get away from the tension of decisions etc. so don’t put yourself through this ordeal. This denunciation is directed to the methods employed to ensnare people, as ‘interval ownership’ as I prefer to call it is a viable and certainly popular instrument to hedge against inflation etc. Another advantage to it is that it sort of obliges you to take an annual vacation and that isn’t a hard to take obligation.

The thing to remember is that rental is the easiest option and the least confining, although usually the most expensive. In other words you trade lack of commitment and choice for money. You rent where and when you want and receive a thank-you. When you enjoin in a contract you have obligations to dates and locals, albeit a great case for trading is made in the pitch for timeshare. The fact is, in practise, it doesn’t work out most of the time. Also there is maintenance to pay. However for a prepayment you have an entitlement to that space and time which is pegged because it is prepaid.

MEX-DEV has studied this dilemma for over the 10 years that timeshare selling has been prevalent in Pto Vallarta and we are considering a type of interval ownership but with a unique twist as this method addresses the other necessity in owning property away from home and that of course is how you are going to get there. Our method is home grown and to my knowledge has not been done before, although, modesty aside, I believe it may be emulated shortly after we launch. The name of the vehicle is “Vacation Annuity”. Watch our newsletter for more on this once we have the kinks ironed out.

Back to time share salespeople …. How to avoid them: You can’t….so you must be prepared when confronted by them. They now rent (at $1000./month) niches in the storefronts strategically located along the shopping alleys, with signs saying “Information”. Several years ago Octavio GONZALES, the ex-police chief mentioned earlier, became subsequently the Jefe de AHUNTIAMENTO (Public works – Municipal affairs) and his campaign plank for election was to “calm down” the aggressiveness of the timeshare people.

He did this by ordering them off the streets – hence the kiosks and ‘hole in the wall’ niches. Undaunted they will strike up a conversation very obliquely. “Would you like to go to ??????” …. when the word free comes into it – look out. Remember all that person is doing is trying to get you to go somewhere where the real heavys hang out. These guys have sold more Detroit iron than the Bay of Banderas can hold. If this doesn’t scare you think of the guy who skipped town back home and look carefully for the plastic surgery, toupees and dye jobs to see if he isn’t among them. Wolves pack, so do these types.

However the front line people are the ‘girl next door type’ and the little Red Riding Hood theme is definitely alive and well here. How to thwart them: The best thing is to purchase a teeshirt that says “NO, I’m not interested in timeshare” and if that isn’t handy (I really believe I could sell a ton of these in your second week) tell them you already own timeshare.

Here is a list of responses. Use one or a combination as necessary till the symptom disappears:

  • I’m gettin a divorce
  • I’ve no credit cards
  • I’ve declared personal bankruptcy
  • I have terminal cancer
  • I have Aids
  • I’m a travel agent (this works surprisingly well)
  • I’m a sheriff back home
  • I’m a lawyer, financial advisor, banker etc.
  • I’m going home this afternoon

For those who don’t know what “time share” is. Time share is a form of strata title to a dwelling within a building or complex that you purchase for a specific time. A week or two week share for instance. That is to say, for a sum of money, you are the owner of that dwelling for that period each year for “x” years, sometimes forever. Variations of this are numerous. The week can advance like a slow clock so that your week moves either closer to, or further away from “prime time”. This influences the price you pay.

Summer is the cheapest and Xmas the costliest. The ZINGER here is the maintenance for which you are liable (after all you are the partial owner). Maintenance can be, and in the case of a Vancouver B.C. based company, is more than our weekly rental rate and subject to changes on top of that!

On a northbound flight I once sat next to a thirty-five year old girl from ALASKA who had just had the time of her life in Vallarta. She works on a fishing boat 300 days a year, is divorced, attractive, making tons of money in an environment where it is hard to spend. She had bought time share and was obviously excited. She shared with me how it all came about and how lucky she was and I’ve reflected on this greatly. On the plus side she is definitely happy and will have something to look forward to and help her through the hard 300 days cooking on a rolling ship. She showed me the contract which was in U.S. dollars and was in the amount of $10,000. (this was 1975 pricing). When I pointed out that the maintenance fee was $120. for the week purchased and that I was a tour operator and could rent her a villa apartment with a view (and no ‘front-end’ payment) for less money, she turned on me and like a religious fanatic and declared, “They told me there would be people like you and that I’d experience the ‘buyers blues’ but nothing you can say can dissuade me into thinking I did the wrong thing” end of quote.

Now granted she has pegged her rental rate for the next thirty years (except for the maintenance) and I’ll raise my rental whenever I think I can. If, however, she remarries and her husband or young son (travelling with her) doesn’t want to go there anymore, she of course can rent it. The obliging company will I’m sure for $100. a week guaranteed income, rent it to third parties for considerably more and therefore she won’t have to ante up the $120. U.S. but only $20. maybe. As a result of this cult-like brainwashing I felt I should dedicate a section of this guide to this increasing phenomenon.

I’m happy to say that people have become more resistant to this kind of merchandising and the candor of the representatives has become ‘tolerable’ now (1999). Just ignore them and they quickly lose interest in you. If you wonder why I’m so militant against timeshare it is from no small measure stemming from the fact that I’m extremely jealous of the “developers” side of this. Consider for a moment one of these propositions and multiply the cost of the time share unit by the number of units and project a 35% sold out situation, which means you (the developer) have the other 65% in inventory for either future sale or rental; and then tell me without any building experience if you feel you don’t have enough money to purchase the land, build the building and in fact throw in free maintenance for the first ten years.

I’d better stop, or I’ll be spawning yet more “timeshare tycoons”. The byword is don’t lose your perspective in the goal of your vacation. Granted I got caught up in the excitement of developing here, indeed the bougainvillea fragrance has permeated my skin so that tanning won’t bleach my resolve to continue building, but if you are thus inclined, seek out a legitimate realtor and there are many. Ask us at the office and we’ll direct you to those that we BELIEVE to be reputable. In fact if you’re interested in buying a piece of paradise, why don’t you drop into the office of SERVICIOS TURISTICOS whose principal is AUREA APPLEGATE (a past alderwoman) who has a delightful project on the beach, some distance out, mind you, but the best beach on the whole bay. The prices for land are still reasonable and building in Mexico can be fun and rewarding the old fashioned way. Her project is called PUNTO de BURRO (DONKEY POINT). Who knows, maybe I’ll be your contractor? Hint Hint?

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