Friday, November 11, 2011

How to score a free trip to Cancun. Part dos.

If you missed yesterday's admission about our timeshare ownership you may want to scroll down or click here to read that post first.

We'll wait.

And now the story continues . . .

OK, I didn't mention in that post {again with the being coy} but the first vacation ownership week we purchased is in Cancun at the Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas. It is an absolutely beautiful property. 

photo source
But we had never visited. 

We'd owned for two years but had spent our ownership weeks elsewhere. Honestly, I don't think it was that we were scared to travel to Mexico as much as it was we were excited to travel to Hawaii and take the cousins skiing at Beaver Creek. So many places from which to choose, so we hadn't made the quick jaunt to Cancun.  

Until one day I receive a call from the Starwood Vacation Ownership's Customer Communication Team.  The team informed me that they would be shooting promotional videos in Cancun in October and were looking for a few families who own in Cancun and would be willing to enjoy up to a week at the property. 

So let me get this straight: they take our family picture in paradise, we say we love Starwood Vacation Ownership on camera, and we get a free week at a phenomenal resort. Oh, and airfare and a resort credit which will generously cover all meals and incidentals. 

Yes please! 

Of course there is the hub's work schedule to consider. And it meant pulling the kids out of school. So while initially excited, we were equally hesitant. I'm also a big believer in "if it sounds to good to  be true, it generally is." And this sounded much too good to be true. 

In this case, however, the old adage did not apply. It was all quite wonderful and all very true.

Everything was coordinated and executed beautifully! We were given the opportunity to stay up to a week {though we were only to make it work for 5 days}. Starwood seamlessly arranged our airfare and all transportation throughout our stay. 

They entertained our children with putt-putt, feeding iguanas, and visiting ruins while we gave our owner testimonial. 

They hosted a cocktail party to meet and greet all the families and couples who were taking part in the video shoots. They talked to us. Got to know us. Asked us questions about what we loved and what we didn't love about vacation ownership with Starwood. Even more impressively, they listened to and responded to our responses. 

When shooting our little bits and pieces they were respectful of our time. They ensured we were truly enjoying our time away and didn't want to monopolize it {very thoughtful considering they'd paid to get us there for this distinct purpose}. 

But I think what impressed me most was how above and beyond the resort staff and the Starwood Vacation Ownership team went to make it all a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

On the evening of our arrival we were escorted to the beach and allowed to individually release sea turtles into the ocean. No pictures were allowed, of course, because it would startle the hatchlings who have only a two day supply of food in their bellies to make it out to sea. We each held two little bitty sea turtles, named each one, and released them into the surf by the light of a full moon. 

Truly a once-in-a-lifetime moment! 

So yes, when the cameras started rolling I had absolutely no problem gushing about the resort, how safe I felt in Mexico, or our over all vacation ownership experience.  

Of course, the amazing view from the wall of windows in our room helped.

The gorgeous grounds, pools, water slide for the kids {including my third child - the hubs}, and poolside margaritas didn't hurt. 

Enjoying a bonus break with my family didn't hurt either.

But in the end, it's not the Heavenly Bed or the amazing locations that makes vacation ownership work for us {though they certainly influenced our decision to buy} - it's the people. 

The people at the resorts who bend over backwards to make sure you have everything you need. The other owners with whom we inevitably enjoy talking with by the pool. The customer service people at Starwood who answer my myriad of questions politely and patiently. And the awesome creative team who coordinated this excursion and made our family feel like absolute rock stars. 

In the end, it is the people who make the difference. The people who keep you happy, relaxed and wishing you could afford just one more week!  


Again, just to clarify, I am not being compensated for this post in any way and certainly cannot guarantee that vacation ownership with Starwood will ever result in a free trip to Mexico for you. This was simply my experience and reflects my honest opinions.

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