We arrived to the lobby at 3pm and when you pull up, there is a large automated door that gives the hotel a very exclusive vibe. Whereas many lobbies in the area feature expansive views immediately upon pulling up, Live Aqua hides what’s inside with a modern entry. The lobby itself is quite impressive, with water features and a two-story area complete with the majority of the restaurants and bars on property.
When we mentioned the hard product versus soft product, this is where it started to unravel a bit. I want to preface this by saying that the experience we had is not uncommon and therefore we will detail what we experienced. While we typically try to remove our personal experiences from reviews to give you the best picture of a typical guest experience, what happened to us was typical of every other guest on property at that time. We also sat in the lobby for a while the next day to verify if what we experienced was indicative of others. We spoke with 10 other people who had the same exact experience we did, or worse.
Within seconds of walking inside, we were approached by gentlemen seated at a desk that features immediate images and rolling TV ads of hotels around the world, part of a “collection”, not Live Aqua hotels, to the right hand side inside the main door of the lobby. They told me to sit down, and yet, the front desk right in front of me told me to proceed to them to check in. I was a bit confused and said I was going to the front desk. The gentleman asked Max, “what’s her problem?” Max stated that we were not interested in timeshares, we just wanted to check in, to which, the gentleman said “we don’t sell timeshares, we only work at the hotel and are here to help you”. Not only did we find out later that they were completely lying to us, but they did the same thing to everyone and lured people into a “VIP breakfast” and then told them they weren’t allowed to leave because it was too late once they had committed to this breakfast. We watched this unfold the next morning when a couple was told at their “breakfast” next to us that they now had to proceed to a presentation. The couple resisted and the gentleman told they don’t have a choice because they were already on his list. Those poor guests who did not fight back spent the next 2-4 hours of their vacation in a timeshare presentation with the same employees asking me what my problem was. Regardless, in all the commotion, I did start crying and somehow managed to get through the check in process and off to our room sans a welcome beverage, water or anything else 5-star. To say this was an unpleasant experience would be a dramatic understatement. While not everyone had a confrontation like I did, I would argue that being signed up for a timeshare presentation under the guise of a VIP breakfast the next morning is significantly more inappropriate and, frankly, despicable for a 5-star property than the bizarre confrontation I had that resulted in my tears and feeling guilty over brushing off a supposed-employee of the hotel.
As a pro tip for you, when you enter the lobby, go straight to the front desk. It can be a bit confusing to identify who the timeshare people are because they don’t announce themselves and they do not dress any differently than the bellman or front desk staff, but just trust me. Go to the front desk, do not sit down with anyone who approaches you in the lobby. If you are approached for a “VIP breakfast” or ANYTHING else that seems too good to be true or unusual, just be aware that it is a timeshare presentation that you will not get any value for your stay from. Unlike other hotels where the staff professionally (or sometimes aggressively) tries to get you to join a presentation in exchange for a free night or activity, this property does not comp rooms, offer free excursions or anything truly of value and the timeshare sales people lie about their job at the property to get you to agree. We did hear someone who was promised two free massages after they sat through the scam of a breakfast + presentation, only to find out that it was actually a buy 1, get 1 free massage. We were traveling with two friends who were almost roped into the “VIP breakfast” by a gentleman claiming to be a manager wanting to dine with them. When I ran up to our friends to ask them why they were with the timeshare guy, they were upset because the gentleman had told them he was a manager. Unless you are genuinely interested in doing a presentation, our guidance is to really just avoid the lobby area for the duration of your stay.
Apart from the horrendous experience of check in, the lobby is the central point of the hotel. The majority of the restaurants are attached to the lobby, as well as the shows at night.