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Marina Vallarta Las Palmas I Local 3

Written by: Stan Gabruk

So you did it, you’re the proud owner of a new Vacation Club Travel Package for the next 25 years, aka a “Timeshare”! Well welcome to Puerto Vallarta the land that Timeshare built. It’s “Time-Share-Landia” amigos from top to bottom. Most everything you see, taste, feel or hear has roots deep in the timeshare industry in Puerto Vallarta. I mean it’s an amazing thing, but it works very well, thank you very much.

There is a timeshare culture in PV, it permeates into the pours of your skin, then gets in your blood stream. As you look around, it’s pretty incredible, with world class sculpture Boardwalks / Malecons. Coconut tree lined streets with world class and famous Art Galleries, world class restaurants, world class Sportfishing, Hotels, Motels and Hostels and more. You can find Shopping, Doctors, stores and lawyers, you want it, it’s here at a third of the cost. Then you come face to face with the Amazing Bay of Banderas, the Whales, The Manta Rays, Whale Sharks, Marlin, Tuna, Dolphins and Turtles. There is no way you get off that airplane and not get impressed in several different ways, including your senses. You smell the humidity in the air as you feel a warm tropical breeze. The food is spicier than you may be accustomed to. The beer has a stronger alcohol level than say California. The nights run a little later here, as do the mornings. The stress is gone, you like it, you want it, and you bought it amigo. Welcome to Timeshare Landia!

And who was working for those Mexican Hotels selling timeshare like “hotcakes”, well one of them was my brother, guys like my brother would have you agreeing with him and laugh yourself right of your money. I watched him do it. He was good looking, tall and muscular with red hair and a big smile. He started our fishing company before I got here, it was more of an accident than a planned event, but that’s another story. So he would put people on our boats as incentives to push people into purchasing something expensive, they all could afford it. My brother and a hundred other people with different levels of intelligence and ability were all in the same game. There was a delicate balance in those days and many times the “story” was better than the reality when it came to sales.  

There were always upset people, people who signed contracts after a five drinks too many. Or the remorse types, the guy who was so sorry but he had to give it back or his wife would never have sex with him again and he was on his honeymoon! Yikes! The world of timeshare was definitely not a level playing field when it came to anybody.

The famous “90 minute” Presentation

It’s a tough world that “Timeshare”, you don’t sell, you don’t eat. No grey areas, no unemployment, no medical benefits and plenty of grief dished out daily. “There is no pity, in Timeshare City” was a common saying. But if you sold, you got paid well amigo. Imagine you get this guy who walks in the door, he is not going to do anything, but ninety minutes to six hours later he’s signing a contract. Congratulations to the sales person comes in the form of a small two hundred dollar sales bonus, not bad in the 90’s. On a cash deal the “closer” would receive a nice commission of 14%. A Sale over twenty thousand dollars was normal and the payday was nice. These were the days of free money, you know the days when a five hundred thousand dollar house could be purchased for no money down and two hundred and fifty dollars a month was the payment for the first seven years… You remember those days right?

In those days credit cards were flying around the sales rooms like Frisbees. You had to duck or your eye would get put out! People were making money, hotels were building as fast as they could and with people having credit, they spent freely! Boats, Timeshares, Golf Memberships, the money was flowing and all the “timeshare” boats were floating on a tide of pure credit. Honestly it was a great time to be in Vallarta and a closer who was making sales.

And of course the people were just beautiful. I mean like world class model level beauties showing you around the hotel. Then we need to talk about the women! They could just smile at you and you knew you were going to get into some sort of shit with your wife. You’re paralyzed as a man, afraid to speak because you’re on vacation, the one-time of the year you get “lucky” and you don’t want to screw that up in any way. No sir, don’t want to destroy your “Playtime in PV”! But these hostesses know this, so they attach themselves to the wife, ignore the guy completely. This guy thinks he’s out of the woods, but the wife pulls the purse strings and his “playtime” strings.  The girls fall into that space they don’t let men into and it’s a done deal after that. The kids jump in the pool, the wife gets hot guys with no guts walking around the pool checking her out and she’s kinda liking it. Of course you as the man are trying to keep your head from spinning around. I’ll tell you, at that point your neck is pretty much on a swivel or you need to check your testosterone levels. The kids want it, the wifey wants it and at that point you realize that strange sensation is your wallet is your credit card turning into a fork poking you in the ass! That’s right dude, that credit card just turned into a fork, you’re “done”.  Welcome to your new timeshare life.

man wearing a suit sitting in a table showing a contract and where the signer must sign

Some of these girls who were Closers were making five thousand dollars, tax free dollars a week. That’s right, a week! Some even more. They wore gold chains with matching rings and bracelets. Rolex watches were common place, you can spot the real ones. If you walked in the door looking like you don’t have any money wearing four hundred dollar shoes, you were called a “lay down”. The guy who walked in the door looking like he has money, well this guy is a joke, he got a bunch of free stuff to come into a presentation. So he acts like he’s got money, you know the type. The new Closers get those guys.

The Television Series “The Love Boat”, the movie “Night of the Iguana” and Timeshare built Puerto Vallarta to what it is today. Some people, I’m sure you heard the stories how people got “lied to” or “cheated” or, or, or.. There are a thousand stories. But the simple fact is they kept moving forward. Love them or hate them Timeshare saved Puerto Vallarta. When the H1N1 Flu happened the hotels would not let people out of their maintenance fees. They could save the week, but they had to pay the fees. People came anyway, nobody got sick as it was an American disease from Riverside California packing plant. It was safe in Mexico and we knew it, TV was spewing fear.

Now the cities foundation is its hotels. The tourism dollars trickle down into the local society. The money lands in the pockets of employees who support the local industries of all kinds. When tourism is slow or low, the entire city slows by a few steps. But with the results of hotel growth comes people using notaries with documents of homes and businesses changing hands and the quality of life improves. All this because the hotels are expanding because the Closers selling. That’s why Puerto Vallarta tolerates the “Wild West Closers” of the old days. Things were wild, but things were good. The stories of Puerto Vallarta and the Celebrities living in a Mexican Tropical Paradise stirred the imagination of the world.

Now that I’ve written this, there is so much to tell and share about some seriously interesting times. Funny stuff, dangerous stuff and money everywhere, nothing but the best for the “live for today” types. Puerto Vallarta remains one of the top destinations in the world for vacationers from affordable to Elegant, to what would seem like Royal levels of luxury and details.

Now when it comes to these vacation products, I’ve seen and heard those who have nothing good to say about them. Then there are others that think it was the best thing they’ve ever done. All I know is I see more people who used to talk about the vacation club industry like it had a “tail” who have now done an about face. Personally many of my brothers past clients still go fishing with us. Others just come in to say hello, these folks have upgraded several times. Now several International companies are building hotels with vacation packages as fast as you can imagine. There have been several articles about the expansion of the area once again with the announcement of between 28 and 35 new hotels north of the Bay of Banderas. All this expansion, all the money that was made via hotels all sprang from the early days of “Timeshare” and that wild Closer!

So the next time you look at your bar tender, or the grocery clerk, or the cable guy, the vacation package you purchased and use, has a ripple affect you can see in their faces!