The stereotypical Spring Break — a week in Cancun full of beaches, booze and antics straight out of a Girls Gone Wild video. Many travel agencies and promotional companies offer trips promising these images and more for discount prices, or in some cases, for free. But do the trips live up to the hype?
Each year, Studentcity.com, a nationwide student tour operator that specializes in college Spring Break and high school graduation trips, sends approximately 25,000 students to Mexico and the Caribbean, according to Bryan Lewis, Studentcity’s national sales manager. This year, Studentcity.com partnered with Touchstone Pictures to promote the company’s new movie “Sorority Boys.” College campuses were chosen for Spring Break giveaways in order to publicize the film.
“We looked at each market across the U.S. and chose campuses we felt respond to such a promotion involving a Spring Break giveaway,” Lewis said. “The ‘Sorority Boys’ promotion reached nine different colleges.”
The giveaway reached Boston University, and WTBU radio held a drawing for an all-expenses-paid vacation to Cancun, Mexico. This included round-trip airfare, hotel accommodations for seven nights, selected meals, 56 hours of free drinking and a free movie pass to the opening of ‘Sorority Boys.’ The winner of the trip for two, College of Communication freshman and Daily Free Press staffer Steve Moore, was announced on the radio a week prior to the scheduled departure.
I couldn’t believe that I’d won,” Moore said. “I’ve never won anything before.”
While WTBU and Studentcity.com gave Moore only two days to find a friend to take along, it was still a free trip to Cancun, which does not incite much argument from the average college student. I was the lucky friend.
Despite boasting a trip that was hassle-free, the trip was not without problems. Due to the trip’s hasty booking, we did not have airline tickets upon arrival at the airport. However, after a few minutes of standing around in confusion, Lewis and other Studentcity.com representatives cleared everything up, and we were on our way.
Transportation was provided from the airport in Cancun. However, while we assumed that there would be taxes and processing fees, there ended up being numerous other charges to accompany our “free trip” to Mexico. We purchased a party package for night events that cost $149 and a meal upgrade (we were told it was pretty much a necessity) for $49.
“There were a lot of charges and a lot of money spent that Studentcity didn’t tell us about,” Moore said. “But to have the hotel and flights paid for was a great prize.”
The Park Royal Piramides, our hotel, was situated in a nice area, directly on the water. The hotel boasted two pools, a swim-up bar, water and beach sports and a number of families staying there as well. It was not the typical Spring Break “roach motel.”
Fifty-six hours of free drinking sounded like a deal. However, these drinking hours were enacted during two-hour intervals throughout the day, at area beaches and bars a good distance from the hotel. To make the trek down the beach, we had to jump on a city bus in the sticky, humid weather. Staying at the Park Royal pool was far more appealing.
Parties ran from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. every night. Most partygoers at these particular places were also students traveling with Studentcity.com, so faces became familiar toward the end of the week. All students were provided with all-you-can-drink liquor and beer, as well as free T-shirts and Mardi Gras beads.
When it came to obtaining free merchandise, students went all out. One girl stood up on a bar and began stripping for a free T-shirt that read, “I survived a party at Fat Tuesday’s.” Other girls entered wet T-shirt contests, which turned into runway stripteases, for free bottles of tequila. As students watched the festivities, bartenders made their way through the crowds, spraying shots of tequila into people’s mouths via squirt guns.
Tips played a large part in obtaining the numerous hours of free drinking. While students pay a flat fee to drink all night, bartenders at Cancun’s hot spots rely on tipsy college students to empty their pockets shot after shot.
After seven nights of partying, most students were exhausted. As they boarded a plane at 3 a.m. Saturday morning after a long week, many students agreed it was nice to be going home.
Moore said the trip’s advantages would be enough to bring him back.
“If I won another trip, I would probably go back,” Moore said. “Although I don’t know that I would pay to go again — at least not in the same type of all-inclusive package.”