Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Myrtle Beach

On Thursday, November 13 we headed to Myrtle Beach. Along the way, we stopped at Murrell’s Inlet, where we walked on a boardwalk through a marshy area that was good bird habitat.

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In Myrtle Beach, we checked into the Compass Cove resort, where we would be staying for the next three nights. We were overjoyed with our room – it had a gorgeous ocean view, and the resort had a wide variety of activities. We took advantage of a lot of them while we were there. We swam in the pool and floated the lazy river. The resort advertised that they had three different lazy rivers, to differentiate themselves from all the other resorts, many of which had their own lazy river. We’d never heard of a lazy river at a hotel, only at water parks. The lazy rivers at Compass Cove were nothing to write home about – just small rings of water with a current running so you could float in a tube. There wasn’t even enough room to pass people. It was still novel and fun, though.

We also played shuffleboard a few times. Brian won the first game, but Sarah quickly caught on, and by the end of our stay, she was a dominating shuffleboard force.

But the best amenity was the easy beach access. Each day, we walked out to the beach for our daily jogs. The beach here was a lot more populated than the section of Daytona Beach where we stayed – particularly on Saturday, when some sort of charity horse ride was going on. Still, we love jogging on the beach, so that was a lot of fun.

On Friday, we went to Broadway on the Beach, a massive entertainment complex consisting of a lake surrounded by lots of stores and restaurants, rides, an I-Max theater, and more. We walked all around, visited lots of the stores, sampled fudge, and partook of happy hour at one of the many bars.

In the lobby of our hotel, the concierge was offering free Medieval Times tickets, so we inquired about that. The concierge told us that a new resort had just opened, and they would give us Medieval Times tickets just for stopping by and checking it out, in the hopes that we’d tell our friends about it. Of course, we knew that this would be a timeshare sales pitch, but for free Medieval Times tickets, why not. We didn’t really have anywhere to be until the next weekend anyway, and the weather was turning colder, so we decided to stay in Myrtle Beach for another three days beyond our initial three, meaning we’d have plenty of time to do a timeshare presentation and take in a showing of Medieval Times. So we signed up.

We went to the timeshare presentation on Sunday. The salesman who was assigned to us could immediately see that we weren’t interested in a timeshare and tried to convince not to waste our time. We politely told him that no, it wasn’t a waste of our time – we’d be happy to sit through the sales pitch for our Medieval Times tickets. Then he questioned our income and even threatened that he’d look it up online, and if we were lying, we’d sit through the whole two-hour sales presentation and wouldn’t get our tickets. Knowing that he was bluffing (how on earth was he going to verify our income online) and also that we hadn’t lied about our income, we told him he could go right ahead. Then he disappeared for a bit, and eventually pulled us into a group sales presentation. When that was over, our salesman was required to give us a tour of the property. He didn’t give us a ride over there, and when we got there, we blew through the property in – no joke – 30 seconds. The tour consisted of, “Here’s the one-bedroom unit… Here’s the two-bedroom… Done.” He would barely even talk to us. Back at the sales center, we got our Medieval Times tickets, along with two free passes to the I-Max theater and a free photography sitting including an 8x12 portrait. Score!

We weren’t able to get another three-night stay at Compass Cove for the same price, so on Monday we checked into another resort further north. This one was also on the beach, and although we only had an ocean view room (rather than oceanfront), it also had a full kitchen, so we were able to cook our own meals. And in the lobby, there was another concierge who wanted us to check out a new resort and tell our friends about it. This one was offering $100 cash, so we signed up.

Tuesday morning, we went to the timeshare sales center, and this time, we got a much nicer salesman. He also realized that we weren’t interested, but he gave us the whole sales pitch anyway and a thorough tour of the property. It turned out to be the most reasonably priced timeshare deal we’ve seen yet, but we still turned him down and walked away with our $100. When the salesman walked away, he said, “Do me a favor and don’t sign up for any more of these. We work on straight commission.”

We’d feel guilty about wasting these guys’ time if their pre-sales model were more honest. If the concierge had said, “Now, you have to be willing to consider buying a timeshare to sign up for the tour,” we would have turned him down – we wouldn’t lie and say we were interested. But of course, they don’t mention timeshares at all when they sign you up – after all, they prey on people who have no interest whatsoever in timeshares, then get sucked in by the allure of “owning your own vacation,” the hard sell, the “today-only” pricing, etc. We have no qualms at all about committing to “come down and check out a new resort” in exchange for $100, free Medieval Times tickets, or whatever.

On Tuesday night, we went to Medieval Times. We got there early and were greeted by a knight in shining armor.

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We had a coupon for free entry to the dungeon, which turned out to be a small room full of gruesome medieval torture devices for stretching, piercing, or crushing a confession out of the accused, guilty or not.

A knighting ceremony preceded the main show, in which the king and princess “knighted” customers who were celebrating special occasions like birthdays.

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We weren’t celebrating anything in particular, other than our escape from the disgruntled timeshare salesman, so neither of us got knighted, but Sarah still got to sit in a throne.

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In the main event, we were rooting for the red knight.

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Every time he accomplished one of the assigned tasks, like sticking his lance through a small ring at high speed, he’d get flowers from the princess and throw them to his adoring female fans, including Sarah. But the main attraction was the food – a half chicken, ribs, soup, and more, all eaten without utensils. Mmm! In the end, the enemy was vanquished, peace returned to the kingdom, and we went home with full stomachs.

The next day, we went to the I-Max theater and saw The Dark Knight. It was fantastic – Heath Ledger was truly creepy on a screen that’s like eight stories tall.

Finally, we went for our photo sitting on Wednesday. We met the photographer at a specific spot on the beach, and he took dozens and dozens of photos of us in all different poses. He had a great demeanor, joking around, putting us at ease, and making us smile, and as we found out later when the photos were available online, they turned out quite well.

On Thursday, we left Myrtle Beach and headed north toward Washington, D.C.


Beaded Banners by Bonnie said...

Hello! Sounds like you had fun. I have a question.......what is the weather like this time of the year in Myrtle Beach? We always go in July.

If you don't mind, email me at fyremonksgal@msn.com and let me know. THANKS!


twoinatent said...

It was chilly the week that we were there -- several days the high was only about 50 degrees. However, the week before the highs had been in the mid-70s. It was generally sunny or partly cloudy. It was also really quiet -- great if you like running or strolling on the beach and lodging was really inexpensive. However, if you are set on sunbathing and swimming, it might not be the best time of the year to visit.