Vida Vacations Grupo Vidanta; Vidanta; Vidanta Group; Vida Vacations; Mayan Palace; Private Reserve Travel Collection; Vacation Privileges; The Grand Mayan Riviera Maya; The Grand Luxxe; The Grand Bliss SCAM ALERT: DO NOT ATTEND ANY PRESENTATIONS AT THE GRAND MAYAN, MAYAN PALACE OR ANY RESORTS OWNED BY VIDANTA/VIDA VACATIONS Playa del Carmen Quintana Roo
DO NOT ATTEND ANY PRESENTATIONS AT THE GRAND MAYAN, MAYAN PALACE OR ANY RESORTS OWNED BY VIDANTA/VIDA VACATIONS. THEIR SOLE PURPOSE IS TO RUN TIMESHARE/VACATION PACKAGE SCAMS!!!
In May of 2016, my husband and I were on vacation in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and stayed at both The Grand Mayan and the Mayan Palace in the Vidanta Resort. When we checked in, the hotel representative told us we could receive a 10% discount off of all services and restaurants at the resort during our stay, a free breakfast and $200.00 cash. This was in exchange for attending a 90 minute presentation to inform timeshare owners of mandatory disclosures about the timeshare industry. NO MATTER WHAT THEY TELL YOU, DO NOT ATTEND ANY PRESENTATIONS! We were suckered into it and it turned into a 7 HOUR barrage involving 5 sales agents trying to get my husband and I to purchase a vacation membership at the Vida resorts.
After refusing all offers, Victor Romero was supposed to sign us out and give us the cash as promised. Instead, he offered us yet another vacation package. I explained to him that we did not want to purchase any vacation packages and that, if anything, we wanted to sell the timeshare we already own. With that information, he offered a vacation membership worth $68,800. With the trade-in value of our timeshare at $66,300, we would pay $2,600 and also get a vacation membership. In addition, we would have to pay the transfer fees and Vida would purchase our timeshare. With this information, we agreed on the purchase in order to get rid of our timeshare, which is extremely difficult to do on the open market.
Mr. Romero then had Tania Ivan, who claimed to be an attorney, prepare and sign the paperwork with us. I asked her again if this transaction 100% guaranteed that the timeshare we were “trading-in” would be purchased by Vida and we would no longer be responsible for the maintenance fees. She assured us that once the title transfer company, Equity Acquisition Services (“EAS”), received the deed and other necessary documentation, the sale was guaranteed. On a side note, after reviewing the paperwork when I returned home, it seems as though Ms. Ivan is not an attorney and is in fact just another sales representative.
We returned from vacation 2 weeks later, which is why it took so long to figure out that we had been scammed. In hindsight, I should have researched the companies as soon as I left the presentation but because we stayed at the resort that would be handling the transaction and we had no problems while on vacation, we assumed it was legitimate transaction. However, I still felt I should check out the title transfer company before sending my timeshare documentation.
I was horrified to find HUNDREDS of complaints, scam alerts and fraudulent activity associated with Equity Acquisition Service and the vacation packages being sold at the same resort where we had stayed. The complaints all had the same issue; EAS gives the impression that once they have your documentation and you pay the closing fees, the timeshare is no longer your responsibility. In all of the research online, I found that EAS was demanding additional sums of money to complete the transaction. They would then hold the deeds for a year, not completing any sales of the owners’ timeshares, while forcing owners to continue to pay the maintenance fees. If anyone complained, EAS then offered to sell the timeshare back to the owner at a “discount”. When people complained to Vida Vacations, they did not want to refund the purchase of the vacation membership.
After reading this, I promptly emailed Ivy Palmer, the EAS rep that had contacted me and informed her that I was not going to continue with the fraudulent transaction. Ms. Palmer did not respond to my email. Another representative called me later on that day from EAS and offered to SELL me back my own timeshare for $3,500.00! I told her absolutely not. Somehow the EAS rep was trying to make me believe that even though they do not possess my deed and even though no transfer proceedings had begun, that I would have to “buy back” my timeshare if I didn’t choose to proceed. The contract was signed under false pretenses, with a company that has numerous complaints and cases of fraud against them! There was no way I would send them money and “hope” that my case will be different. Another questionable fact is that Equity Acquisition Services’ board of directors is just one person - Neil E. Paulsen as president, treasurer, secretary and vice president.
I immediately called Vida Vacations to cancel the Private Reserve Travel Collection vacation package attached to this transaction and request a full refund. I have attempted numerous times to cancel this transaction with no resolve. No one has called me back and the few people I have spoken to all pass me on to someone else. To this day, no one has returned my calls or answered my email. This is the typical behavior of an unscrupulous company. Once they have your money, they don’t care what happens. The Riviera Mayan sales office claims that Melina Alarcon has the authority to cancel my service and provide a refund. The number I was given by customer service to reach her directly was a nonworking telephone number.
I suspect after numerous complaints, the vacation package company, currently known as Private Reserve Travel Collection (“PRTC”), changed their name in 2015. PRTC filed a fictitious name registration with the Arizona Dept. of State on Sept. 30th, 2015. PRTC now only has a Facebook page and their own website online. I cannot find any information online about anyone who has booked any vacations through them.
I went to the PRTC Reservation website to check if what is actually offered matches the information we were presented by Victor Romero. I did numerous searches for 2016 and 2017. The deep discounts, nor the availability of 4 and 5 star locations in major cities were shown. There were 2 and 3 star locations, at best, and in outer towns. The information he presented to us was fabricated. Mr. Romero did not show us any of these rates on the actually booking website. We were shown pictures and quoted prices verbally so he could have made up anything and we had no way of confirming it to be true until after our purchase.
Grupo Vidanta is developer of the properties where this vacation membership scheme takes place. The following names of resorts and services are the under their umbrella: Vidanta Group; Vida Vacations; Mayan Palace; Private Reserve Travel Collection; Vacation Privileges; Grand Mayan Riviera Maya; The Grand Luxxe; The Grand Bliss; Sea Garden Hotels; and Ocean Breeze Hotels. They are operating out of numerous locations in Mexico which makes it difficult to pin point who to contact in this ring of deception. When staying there, their sales people rope guests into fraudulent transactions, which is what happened to me and my husband.
I have found nothing but complaints of fraud online involving Equity Acquisition Services and all resorts that are a part of the Vidanta/Vida Vacations membership. They are selling vacation memberships under the disguise of freeing timeshare owners of their monthly fees by offering to buy or “trade-in” one’s timeshare with the bonus of getting a discount on vacation packages. These deceptive practices are unacceptable and the only way to get Vidanta to stop this scam is to let as many people as possible know about our experience.