Tall Family is currently saving vigorously for an upcoming trip where few corners can be cut. Though we are always looking for a good deal, we have within our sights a bucket list type trip that’s just plain costly. And in the meantime while we save for what’s coming up, we still want to continue our travels but keep the spending to a minimum.
Imagine my surprise when Tall Dad came home from work one evening to report that he had gotten a timeshare offer and had taken the caller up on it. I can’t recall Tall Dad ever taking the lead on the family’s travel so with some hidden anxiety, I applauded his decision (and especially the initiative) and began to think about what that trip would look like.
Tall Dad had signed on with IHG and specifically the Orange Lake, Florida resort location near Orlando. I had considered Orange Lake on previous central Florida trips, so I was familiar with what the resort has to offer. We do like to travel to Florida regularly but after some thought Tall Dad called to inquire about whether we could change our location to a different destination. That query received a firm no in response so Orange Lake it would be.
In total, Tall Dad paid $249 for three nights at the resort. After we attended the timeshare presentation, he received $100 cash in exchange for our time. So, in total, the first three nights of our stay cost $149 or about $50 per night. We tagged on to that a few more IHG free nights that we had collected between us before moving over to the coastal area of the state for a brief visit. We had a great vacation for the cost of meals and park admission!
Tall Dad and I have only been to one other timeshare presentation and that was in 2002. I anticipated a lot had changed over that time and tried to find specific information online about what we were “in for” due to the obligation. I did find some reviews but none were as specific as I would have liked and so I plan to share as much detail as possible.
Was the presentation “worth it”? Absolutely. Our family had a great time in the spacious two bedroom, two bath condo style accommodation. The size of the kitchen was especially nice including full appliances and even “extras” like a toaster. The screen porch overlooked a pond area. The unit included three televisions which was great for that late evening unwinding, and there’s nothing like hearing the whirring noise of as washer and dryer to keep vacation clothes clean at your convenience. Was it perfect? No. Months beforehand, we had asked to stay in the popular River Island area and were denied that request when we arrived. We ended up in one of the “villages” but that turned out to be alright in that it was a quieter area and though there was no lazy river and miniature golf course in the immediate area, there was a well kept pool and a tiny gym facility just around the corner from our building.
Our timeshare presentation was scheduled for the first morning after our arrival. This worked out well because Tall Kid and his friend slept in after a long day of travel the previous day and that was likely rest that they needed before we hit the parks on the days afterward. I was appreciative of the slow start.
We were set to meet at the reception lobby of the Timeshare Sales Center (the building has a different name but that’s what it is) at 8 a.m. We drove to the parking lot and were stunned by the number of cars in the lot. We didn’t recall more than a dozen people total for that 2002 Las Vegas timeshare meeting. In the lobby we waited in a long line for eighteen minutes along with about thirty other folks who arrived at the same time. There didn’t seem to be a lot of organization happening on the other side of the desk. Once at the reception desk we had to confirm certain facts about ourselves such as that we are gainfully employed and not retired.
Next we were moved to a waiting area that included beverages such as juices and a restroom that I was glad to see prior to a two hour tour. Every few minutes a door would swing open and a sales representative would call out a family’s name to begin the tour. We were relieved when we met our agent who seemed to be a good match for us in terms of approach.
Our representative was knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the product. A Georgetown graduate who reported she had been on the job at Orange Lake about six months, she explained that she was a long time owner of a timeshare through IHG. I wasn’t entirely sure about this, but she certainly made it sound credible. She worked hard to make personal connections with Tall Dad and me.
The next move was to the sales center where there was some talk about buying followed by a look at a video and a visit to a room to learn about the past, present, and future of the IHG company. Both the video and history/future portions were high quality and impressive.
Our sales representative then drove us to the creme de la creme unit in River Island via a golf cart. The five bedroom well appointed unit overlooked a beautiful recreation area. Then came the offer. Over the next few minutes four sales people visited us as Tall Dad and I sat at a tiny table back at the sales center.
The initial offer, which included a larger package of timeshare points, was for $50,000. Though I had prepared myself mentally for the pitch I have to admit I was a bit stunned by the number articulated. Later that number became $6,000 for a smaller points package. Monthly quotes ranged from $800 to about $173 per month in payments. Tall Family isn’t looking to take on more commitments though we have stayed at Holiday Inn resorts that we love – especially the Williamsburg, Virginia location.
Those monthly payments are in addition to the annual maintenance fee and the payment plan comes with a 16.9% interest rate. After several polite no thank yous the final offer was a little harder to resist. For just $100 down we could make plans to return to Orange Lake for a week for $1,099. I really liked it there and so that was a genuine temptation but thankfully Tall Dad had said that he wasn’t sure that returning could be in our immediate travel plans. So many places to visit and things to do, and though IHG has lots of locations they don’t have any at some of the more remote spots we are currently focused on for upcoming treks.
So as non-purchasers after Tall Dad received his $100 in cash, we were sent toward an exit where we waited for the resort bus to take us back to the parking lot where our car was parked. Of the hundreds of people receiving a sales pitch that morning we were the only folks who ended up hitching a ride back because the others were purchasing and thus received the courtesy of an immediate golf cart ride after the deal was set. We didn’t mind so much, though, because the wait was short and when the bus door opened a huge gust of cool air hit us in the June heat. I affectionately referred to our pick up bench area as “Loser Lane” for the remainder of the trip but the truth is we didn’t feel much like losers leaving with $100 more than what we arrived with and incurring no debt. Still, IHG does offer a solid product for the right type of traveler, and we were exceedingly grateful for the opportunity. Start to finish, the entire experience lasted from 7:45 a.m. until 10:07 a.m. and it provided a nice overview of Orange Lake Resort before we spent the rest of the week frolicking in the sun and using Holiday Inn as a homebase for our park visits.
With a wide array of amenities and activities such as trivia by the pool, pool hopping, and a relaxing lazy river there was always plenty to do. And Orange Lake is conveniently located to Publix, Olive Garden, Miller Ale House and lots of other quick resources for your stay. Your family will always be under the watchful eye of a security presence to be sure that the area remains safe for all.