eclektech and I recently returned back from a 4 night stay at the Grande Vista Resort (MVC) in Orlando. Originally I was going to post this as a review but decided to make a blog post instead so that other Insiders could comment if they like.
The Grande Vista is one of my favorite MVC properties and this stay was my 3rd visit to the property. The property is well maintained and staff is very outgoing and friendly. Resort features include basketball, tennis, golf, multiple outdoor pools, spa, fitness center, game room, on-site restaurants and market, in addition to multiple planned activities and events. The resort is located on International Drive near SeaWorld and is also a short drive to both Universal Studios and Disney.
We rented a one- bedroom villa from the Marriott.Com website. Just like many other MVC properties the villa had a fully stocked kitchen, dining area and living room, Master bedroom which included a spa tub, and a nice screened in balcony. By request we had a view of the Resort Lake and each morning had our breakfast on the balcony.
About a week prior to our scheduled stay I received a call from a member of the sales department. Prior to giving me a sales pitch the sales rep asked if there was anything they can do or if I had any special requests prior to my arrival. I did mention my request for having a view of the lake which was honored at check in. Then the sales rep told me they had a special offer if I would attend a 90 minute sales seminar for the Vacation Club. She said if I agreed to choose an early morning session (90 min) they would provide a free breakfast, and give us either a $100 Amex Card or 15,000 Marriott Points. She said it would be a nice way to start the day and we could take the gift card to use for expenses at one of the nearby theme parks. At that point she strongly encouraged me to agree to sign up for a session as they “fill up quickly”. Not knowing our plans I told her I would give it thought and let them know later if it was of interest.
When we arrived at the property the front desk clerk was very friendly and answered all of our questions. After we got our keys she immediately directed us to the sales desk across from the check-in area to receive a “free gift”. The free gift turned out to be a shutter fly photo book offer along with some resort coupons. The sales desk rep then inquired if we wanted to buy theme park tickets and I declined as we had already purchased those online. She then made us the same offer to attend a 90 minute sales seminar for the vacation club (Free Breakfast & $100 Amex or 15,000 MR Points). Again I declined for the moment but said I would think about the offer.
One thing I remember about this property from previous stays is that their sales department will call your room each day about different resort offers like getting a free 5x7 photo from their resort photographer or attending the MVC sales seminar. In the past I ignored these calls and let them go to voicemail. Since we had an interest in having some professional photos taken I did answer some of the sales calls.
We did schedule a photo session with the resort photographer named Stephanie who was very friendly and outgoing. The photo session took about 15-20 minutes and we then were able to review all of the photos she taken and then agreed to purchase a CD with all of the images we liked for $50. My new Insiders Profile Pic is one of the photos taken by Stephanie.
On the morning of our last day I received another phone call from the Sales Department about attending the 90 minute Vacation Club sales seminar but this time the offer was for either a $125 Amex or 20,000 MR Points. Since the offer became more attractive and it was only going to take 90 minutes I agreed for us to attend the 1:30pm session for that day.
The Vacation Club Sales Seminar was being held at the main office near the entrance of the resort. eclektech and I arrived at 1:20pm and checked into the desk. The receptionist took us over to a seating area and told us to help our self to refreshments and someone would be with us shortly. We were then greeted by a sales person who asked quite a few questions about our work and how we travel. He explained at length about how the MVC has changed to a more flexible point system and how the MVC points could also be converted to regular Marriott Rewards Points for hotel stays, air travel, cruises, etc.
About 2:45pm the sales rep said he wanted to show us a model. At the time I thought the model was close by as we got onto a golf cart but the model actually turned out to be a 1 bedroom villa at Grande Vista which was an exact duplicate of the room we were staying with. In my mind I was thinking what a waste of time to show us a room exactly like the room we are currently in. We returned back to the sales office about 3:15pm (already over our 90min session) and then shows us some information on his computer. At that point I inquire about how much longer this would take as we had some other things we wanted to do that day. He starts looking at his phone and doesn’t respond to my inquiry and pulls out some sales information for us to look over and then says he will be right back.
Suddenly I felt like I was trapped at a used car dealer. I looked at my watch and it was now 3:45pm and we had invested too much time without leaving with the promised reward of 20,000 points. The sales rep then returns back with another associate to help push the sale. I was then starting to get a little angry but politely said that we were not interested at this time and needed to go as we had some other things planned for the day. At this point they could tell I was serious about not buying at the present time and said they would have someone to take us down to the lobby to collect the reward for attending.
The sales rep then returned with one of the Sales Managers. The manager then extended us a “Welcome Back” offer which would allow us to return to the Grande Vista or another MVC property in Orlando and stay in a 2 bedroom Suite for $995 for one week between now and March 2016. In order to take advantage of the offer we would have to give them $100 down then, agree to attend another MVC seminar with the same sales rep, and this would also lock us into current MVC Pricing in the event we decided to buy upon the return visit. Still feeling a bit angry that so much of our free time was taken while on vacation I quickly turned down the offer and we finally were able to escape at 4:30pm (90 minutes over the specified time). A few days later I was able to confirm that 20,000 MR Points had been posted to my account. Now that I’m familiar with MVC sales tactics I will never attend another MVC sales seminar.
Despite the MVC sales fiasco we had a really good time at the Grande Vista and would definitely stay there again in the future. Before checking out we had one final voicemail from the Grande Vista sales department (Not MVC sales) where we could return back to the resort within 18 months and stay in the same room type again for 4 nights at an advanced purchase price of $299. Since we had no plans to return to Orlando within that time frame we did not take advantage of the offer. The next time we return to the Grande Vista I think I will just unplug the phone in the room. I don't put up with sales calls at home so why should I when on vacation?