The first leg of my honeymoon took us to Orlando - primarily to go to Universal because of my new wife and her life long love of everything Harry Potter. This also gave me a chance to go somewhere I’d always wanted to go - Kennedy Space Centre. Neither disappointed. The hotel though?
After a quick flight over to Manchester from Dublin, we took the million mile walk between terminals to board a Virgin Atlantic flight to Orlando. This was my first Virgin flight and it was superb. From now on, if I can help it I’ll always fly transatlantic with them - great service, food, entertainment systems, everything.
We landed in Orlando and jumped in a cab to our hotel - the Parc Soleil - A Hilton Grand Vacations hotel. We had been travelling for 11 hours and were directed after a too brief checkin to vacation services for our “free gift”. They told us it was $100 and free breakfast for attending something in the sales centre the next morning. I wondered how bad it could be and signed up. I should have known better when they put a $120 hold on my credit card. We headed to the room and slept.
Boy was I wrong. It was an awful two hour sales pitch by a friendly but annoyingly patronising salesman. We were an “elite level couple” and he could “see the love between us”. Maybe it was the cultural differences but our politeness was taken for something else and he was showing us $100,000 time share deals. We told him it was interesting but we’d have to think about it and that’s when it really went downhill. He wanted us to not think about it and sign up there and then, throwing ridiculous hhonours points deals at us in the process.
We politely declined these offers and he really took it badly. At this point he gave us other plans and we were really getting upset - we just wanted to leave. We pointed out how stupid it would be to sign up to something for 100,000 dollars after an hour and a half and he said people did it all the time. Well those people are morons. And we said as much.
We asked to leave and he said he would get someone to check us out and then another guy came along and started another sales pitch - this time for less money. I couldn’t believe it, but I’m way too polite - luckily for me my wife is not. She demanded to leave and this new guy amazingly took it as badly. Wow, I thought salespeople are supposed to cover their disappointment better. We were shown the door - and we ran for it. What a waste of our time. If you’re ever heading to Hilton and offered this “free gift” turn it down and run. It’s just not worth it. Or be less polite I guess. That might work too.
So that soured the hotel for me - The room was amazing and everything - huge king size suite, with great views. The location is great too. The pool was nice and really big if maybe a little too shallow. The staff did a really poor job of telling us anything about the hotel. I had to search for the gym and only discovered an activity centre the day before we left. We were given free DVD rental but only discovered where to go when we were checking out. They had cheap shuttles to all the big parks so it was ok. Although it never recovered in my book from that awful introduction. But hey, nice pool.
I’ll update this post with links to various other honeymoon posts when I have a chance.