Family Holiday Fun in Mazatlan

What better way to connect with family than to spend a week together in Mazatlan, on Mexico's west coast, and with the Christmas holiday as an added attraction. With El Cid El Moro Beach Resort as our base, three generations enjoyed an all-inclusive vacation, which made sure our grandsons never went hungry! The beach itself provided sunny days of swimming, ping-pong, water sports, and parasailing for a perfect view of the city, the coast line and the nearby islands. Shops and restaurants, within easy walking distance, made life easy for the older generation. One day we all boarded a catamaran and sailed to Deer Island, passing sea lions that lazed on the rocks, oblivious to our squeals of delight. We swam, snorkeled, rode the giant banana, kayaked, and picnicked on the beach until the magnificent sunset told us it was time to return to reality.

Christmas Eve is one of the biggest celebrations of the year. We traveled by local bus to Juarez Street in the heart of the city. Over 100 stalls at the outdoor market provided souvenirs, tee shirts, leather goods, pottery, and every food imaginable from goat to chicken feet (not legs)! The Mexicans shop there every day, but for us it was an unusual treat. Nearby the cathedral shone with its majestic spirals and stained glass windows. Christmas carols pealed from outdoor speakers and decorated Christmas trees reminded us of the holiday. A cantina lodged in the park somehow seemed out of place until we remembered where we were!

We slept with our balcony door open to hear the breaking waves and see the gorgeous sunrises. We were up at dawn every day, as we did not want to miss a thing: kids, parents, and grandparents alike.

-Karen I. from Greenwood, SC

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Divine Girls Trip!

Upon opening the door to our room, my friends gasped at the sight of our accommodations! I had booked an Extra Vacations Getaway, requesting at least three bedrooms. The suite had this and so much more. Puerto Vallarta, our huge and beautiful suite, the balcony right over the beach, and the resort being an all-inclusive was an experience out of this world. I took five of my best friends and they were in total awe of the accommodations and location we were treated to through my RCI subscribing membership. It's still one of my favorite trips.

-Dixie R. from Dalzell, IL

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Most Beautiful Sunset

Most Beautiful Sunset

This photo was taken on the resort's beach and was one of the most beautiful and romantic sunsets we have ever seen.

-Paul W. from Arena, WI

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Puerto Vallarta – The Convergence of Contrast

Jozef WPuerto Vallarta, a city rich in culture and excitement, is a wonderful location to relax while still offering the opportunity to experience adventure. What strikes me each time I visit Puerto Vallarta is the meeting of opposites.

It has always fascinated me that a location so well known for Mexican culture can also feel so American. Puerto Vallarta is one of the top spots abroad, where some Americans choose to settle down after retirement. This speaks to the fact that many of the people in Puerto Vallarta speak English, as well as, Spanish. There are also many American-style stores and restaurants to enjoy.

However, if you are looking to experience traditional Mexico, head into town. There you will find Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, which was constructed in the 19th century. Near this church you will find an open air market to shop for local crafts. Don’t forget to head a bit southwest of the church to find the newly remodeled Malecon, a boardwalk in Puerto Vallarta. The Malecon is teeming with life, from shops to live statues to impromptu fire shows… the Malecon offers it all!

Puerto Vallarta is located on Banderas Bay, the third largest bay in Mexico. You can swim in the warm ocean water, as most of the resorts are located on or near the beach. You will also see cruise ships docking into the ports, which can make for a nice evening activity, watching as the sun sets on the horizon.

Another benefit of Puerto Vallarta is the easy access to the ocean while still maintaining the enjoyment of the Sierra Madre Mountains. The Sierra Madre Mountains are within easy access if you’d like to add some adventure to your trip. There are opportunities to partake in adventurous activities such as ATV riding and hiking. Spend the day in the lush mountain jungles as you explore the rivers and trails that Puerto Vallarta has to offer.

Want to hear more? Come back to the RCI Blog this week, where we will be sharing stories and photos from RCI subscribing members who have visited Puerto Vallarta as well.

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Once In A Lifetime

My boyfriend of three years and I decided to take a spontaneous vacation in July. We were in our early 20's and living together for a little less than a year. We found a fantastic deal and booked a trip to Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Our excitement was palpable.

As a young couple in love, off we went to Cancun International Airport on our first trip to Mexico, to an all-inclusive resort and to a beach not on the US eastern coast. We were thrilled to just be away together in such a lovely place.

After settling into a room, squeezing in a little pool time, and enjoying a delicious dinner at the buffet, we decided to take a walk on the beach. Hand-in-hand we went as we took a seat on two loungers under a tiki hut. The stars twinkled above us on this dark night, the ocean lapped the sand, and we enjoyed the silence that surrounded us in this peaceful moment.

I said to my boyfriend, "What a perfect place, what a perfect dinner, what a perfect night." At that moment he replied "It's the perfect time for me to ask you to marry me." I stared in awe as he got down on one knee and opened up a box showing my sparkling engagement ring. I smiled and cried tears of joy as I replied "Yes!” We shared an emotional and happy moment under the romantic sky.

As it turns out, he had done an impressive job asking my parents for their permission, receiving the delivery of the ring, and getting through the airports' security and customs departments. I was excited, beaming, and still in shock when we went to the lobby. We celebrated with champagne as we watched the live Mexican band play along with couples and children dancing about...

We immediately got moved to an oceanfront room and spent the rest of our vacation in bliss as we relaxed, got massaged, sunbathed, dined, drank, danced, and laughed together. During our remaining days, we frequently visited Jack and José who shared in our happiness as a newly engaged couple and new timeshare owners. This was a very special vacation for us and I will never forget the once in a lifetime memories that were created at Ocean Maya Royale.

-Erin D. from Blue Bell, Pennsylvania

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Playa del Carmen is like Paradise

SoniaThe first time I ever visited Playa del Carmen, I immediately fell in love with this magical little town by the beach.

As you walk down the streets in beautiful Playa del Carmen, you will see “locals” from all around the world that decided to stay here for good after vacationing in paradise themselves.

There is nothing like spending the day at the beautiful and famous Mamita’s Beach. It is one of the best beaches in the world. There is plenty of fun to be had for everyone visiting.

Staying in downtown Playa del Carmen is your best bet to experience everything the town has to offer. You will find everything you can think of from local restaurants that serve the best Mexican food throughout the region to upscale gourmet restaurants, led by internationally recognized chefs. There are also small hotels and luxury resorts, as well as cozy little bars and huge night clubs, such as the famous Cocobongo. Everything is right here!

Make sure to stop at Quinta Avenida, located on Fifth Avenue. There are people walking down the street all day long shopping, sipping coffee, eating ice cream, enjoying a cold drink, sitting at the bar or restaurant and going to church.

If you enjoy sports, there are plenty of activities to try during your visit: fishing, snorkeling, and a lot of other water sports are very popular.

There is also a ferry for those that would like to visit La Isla de las Golondrinas (Island of Seagulls) located on Cozumel Island just 25 minutes away. Here you can explore some of the biggest coral reefs in the world.

Whether it’s day or night, there is always something going on in Playa del Carmen. And if you visit, you will have the time of your life right here, and who knows … maybe you will end up becoming a local too! Come back to the RCI Blog this week to read stories and see photos from RCI Subscribing members who vacationed in Playa del Carmen.

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40th Anniversary

We had a beautiful trip driving down the coast of Spain to Malaga. The resort was wonderful and we met some very nice people from England, as well as other counties. They had very good entertainment at night, which we enjoyed. We found a lovely beach restaurant, called Max Beach. We spent our 40th anniversary there, with a lovely table overlooking the ocean, great food and great entertainment. It was a very special week, with lots of sightseeing and fun. The next week we went to Albufeira, Portugal. We had a very memorable and lovely vacation. Ended it all by spending three days in Frankfurt, Germany. My husband surprised me with First Class tickets for all our flights. Who could ask for a better 40 anniversary!!!

-Carolee A. from Mississauga, Canada

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La Vida Bella

Last year I was planning a little trip to France when one of the friends I was to be traveling with decided that she would like to see another country, as they're so close in proximity. I switched gears in the planning and started to research what inventory through RCI was available in bordering countries to France. Wow was I pleasantly surprised at how far the US dollar would go for accommodations in Spain. We searched the Costa Del Sol to serve as a home base when visiting Sevilla, Ronda, Granada, Morocco, and Gibraltar...

After a quick trip to Madrid, we took a train to Malaga, rented a car, and drove to the resort. The directions were exactly as stated online. Someone in our party flew directly to Malaga and was able to check in early without any additional fees. We were all pleasantly surprised with the resort. It wasn't brand new, however, it was very well maintained. We had very comfortable accommodations and a lovely view of the sea. There were eight people in our party ranging from ages 2 to 52, and there was something for everyone. The staff was very attentive to our every need and even provided free shuttle service when requested. As far as the beach, we were so busy visiting Sevilla, Ronda, Granada, Morocco, and Gibraltar that we didn't even miss it. I loved the area and the people of Spain are magnificent. We will definitely return one day and trust RCI to handle helping us with the accommodations.

-Kristina G. from Mulberry, Florida

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Malaga, Spain – So Much To See And Do!

I hope you enjoyed reading about Malaga and the surrounding areas this week on the RCI Blog! I’d like to close this week out with one final blog about my trip to Malaga. Enjoy!

I travelled to Malaga last November for what would be an unforgettable trip. We checked in at Club La Costa at Marina del Ray and were pleasantly surprised with our one-bedroom accommodations. The living room was full of light, everything was clean and tidy, and we had a large balcony overlooking the coast! We used the balcony to enjoy amazing sunsets at night and to feel the refreshing sea breeze in the morning, when I would have my cup of coffee.

Since we were only there for a few days, we decided to plan small day trips so that we could see a lot of the area. We rented a car with the help of an amazingly kind and helpful receptionist at the resort. The first night, we were a little tired, so we went to nearby Torremolinos, where we enjoyed a wonderful Pulpo a la Gallega (octopus with potatoes in hot sauce) and a good Rioja bottle of wine.

The next day, we headed toward Grenada and reached the city of the Alhambra in just a few hours. There, we shopped and enjoyed amazing views of the churches, squares, avenues, and gardens. We had dinner at an Arabic restaurant on Calle Elvira – a small street where you can find pieces of fine art, collectables and souvenirs. At the end of this street, a little square overlooks the Alhambra. In these places you can feel all the charming fashion of Andalusia.

On our third day, we visited Gibraltar. This took a couple of hours by car, but was well worth the drive. The weather was almost perfect – sunny and warm. We enjoyed the view of the rock, with its narrow streets and its duty-free shops. In the afternoon we moved to the west. After passing the city of Algeciras, and the amazing hills where the myth of Hercules’ columns were set, we reached the town of Tarifa, a small city set on a long sandy beach. This is the European surfer’s paradise. We had dinner at a delicious small restaurant in front of the pier.

On the fourth day, we decided to go to Marbella. We roamed the street of this fashionable city and then we headed to Puerto Banus. Here there is a pier where you’ll see many luxurious yachts. In front of the pier is a street full of couture shops. After a quick stop back in Marbella for some ice cream and a walk on the promenade, we went back to Malaga to enjoy our last dinner before we had to head back home.

As you can see, there is so much to do when visiting Malaga. This was my second trip to Andalusia and I am sure I’ll come back again and again!

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Texas Relatives

As suggested by an RCI Vacation Guide, we visited Galveston, Texas. I met one of my cousins and her family that I had not seen in over 30 years. We grew up in upstate New York. We visited Lake Jackson where they lived and many of the sights in the area. One great memory was eating local BBQ - finger lickin' good! People were so friendly that we went back again through another RCI exchange. It was one of our best exchanges, with the beach across the street from our resort. May not sound like much to some, but it was a wonderful experience connecting with relatives that had moved far away.

-Joyce M. from Enfield, CT

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Florida in July

We spent the Fourth of July in Florida. My daughter and my three grandchildren went with me to Hilton Grand Vacations Club in Orlando. I did an exchange through RCI about ten months before to book the July 4th weekend.

We had no problem finding the resort and checking in. While I checked in, the others checked out the pool, shops, and activity center...Our unit was one building away from the pool and activities. We had a three bedroom, which was actually a two bedroom with a lock out unit. This was great for my two oldest grandkids. They had a place of "their own." The whole unit was very roomy for all of us. The kitchen was fully equipped, as you would expect from a Hilton resort. This resort is close to International Drive, which has many nice restaurants, so we ate dinner out several times.

Fourth of July we drove to Cocoa Beach and spent the day there and stayed for the fireworks on the beach. It was a great day and only a little over an hour drive to get there. We were back to the resort by 11:30 p.m...

The next few days we spent at the resort relaxing. The pools were large with a fountain and a waterfall and plenty of lounge chairs. We played shuffleboard and there was a nice playground for the kids. There was a bingo game one day by the pool. I won a beach towel and $5 gift certificate for the snack shop...

Altogether this was one of our best vacations. The resort is beautiful and I was glad to get it through RCI. If anyone has a chance to exchange into this one, go for it!

-Carol S. from Charter Township of Clinton, MI

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Our Mexican Memory

For our anniversary many years ago we decided to fly away without our girls and have some special time with just the two of us.

What a grand idea that turned out to be. The resort we stayed at in Cancun offered everything we wanted and needed for the two of us to renew our relationship, in every way.

We relaxed together, we enjoyed the beautiful beach with the soft white sand and clear waters and the fabulous views from our suite, and had delicious food in all of the on-site restaurants! One day we even had our dinner served to us, out on the terrace of our room, while the sun was setting.

All the reasons we married 10 years earlier were remembered and we came home with a renewed commitment to each other and our girls! This year we begin our 30th year together, and vacations are still important to us. Time to relax and renew.

-Donna H. from Wernersville, PA

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Tenerife calling…

Nicole MHaving been to Tenerife several times (check out one of my other blogs about Tenerife here), I thought the family should really try somewhere new. However, once we decided what we wanted from our winter break – which was all about having fun in the sun with the children – we knew we were looking for sand, sea and somewhere to relax with the extended family group we planned to take. We agreed that Tenerife ticked all of those boxes. A bonus of returning to one of our favourite holiday hotspots was the feeling that we wouldn’t have to put time and effort into discovering the area and finding out what there was to do during each day of our stay. Tenerife is truly a home away from home for us, so we knew from the moment we stepped off the plane exactly how we would be spending our time on the island.

For this holiday, we stayed on the Golf Del Sur and quickly got into a nice routine. It was beach in the morning – visiting Playa Del Duque most days, which was the beach we’d discovered a couple of years before and liked for its nearby shops and charming cafes and restaurants. You can’t beat family fun under the sun on the beach. We had lots of laughs building sandcastles and playing cricket. (If you are looking for a smaller, more intimate beach, Los Gigantes is an ideal choice). The afternoons found us back by the pool at the resort, where the grown-ups recovered from the exertions of beach cricket and relaxed completely, while the children spent hours in and out of the pool.

Siam Park, a water park, is a must. Our children are six and three years old and they loved the excitement and adventure of the water park’s slides and activities. And the adults in the group managed to sneak off for a little thrill seeking of their own on the larger water slides. We pre-booked our tickets to the park through our resort which made it so much quicker to get in and find a good family ‘base camp’ spot for the day. Getting away from water-based activities, we loved Jungle Park, a zoological and botanical park, which made for a good day out.

Tenerife has much to offer all age groups. It is a small island and easy to get around – either in a car or by taxi. There are tiny villages tucked away in a world of their own where you can always find a cafe in the shade of a village square; quiet restaurants and chic shopping in the old towns or lively bars on beachfront promenades. All this, and abundant sunshine. It really is tough to top Tenerife as a great all round, year-round, family holiday destination. There’s still so much more that can be said about Tenerife and the Canary Islands. Come back to the RCI Blog this week, where you’ll get to find out what other RCI subscribing members did during their trips to the Canary Islands!

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No Worries, Mate

My husband, James and I looked at each other and then grinned as we continued packing for the trip of a lifetime. Finally, it was September 25, 2011, and we were on our way to Australia, a continent halfway around the world. The flying time is twelve-hours from Los Angeles. The trip was booked nine months earlier. We used our Points with RCI and stayed at the Boambee Bay Resort in Coffs Harbour, Australia. We decided to stay in Coffs Harbor, a coastal city on the north coast of New South Wales, about 340 miles north of Sydney...

Coffs Harbour has numerous beaches and high mountains, which delivers incredible vistas. You can enjoy water sports or backpacking and camping. The resort unit was modern, large, comfortable, and clean, and it contained a laundry room. The resort has numerous family activities daily, and behind the resort were the Boambee Bay Creek and the Boambee Beach. The Pacific Ocean spills into the beach so we walked on the Boambee Bay Creek and followed it to the Boambee Beach. We noticed that people were swimming with their family, including their dogs, so we entered the water as well.

We went sightseeing on our own with the help of the Boambee Bay Resort staff, which offered sightseeing suggestions, maps and directions. Our first stop was the Jetty Markets, which sells clothing, gifts and souvenirs. There was also a farmers market. A band played country music and the blues. Our second stop was the Jetty Beach where we watched surfers. We walked the beach and visited a botanical garden. We drove to Woolgoolga, a suburb of Coffs Harbour and visited the beach. We drove down Woolgoolga’s, Beach Street to the whale lookout. Numerous beaches surround Coffs Harbor; on our way to Woolgoolga, on the Pacific Highway, we passed Sapphire Beach, Moonee Beach, Emerald Beach and Sandy Beach.

James did not want to leave Boambee Bay Resort, and he wants to return in the future. Our Australian vacation was unforgettable. If we had it to do it over again, we would extend our trip to 12 days as opposed to 7 days. This was the trip of a lifetime and we enjoyed everything about it. We especially enjoyed the kindness and friendless of the Australian people, and love their mantra “No worries, mates”.

-Bonnit B. from Vallejo, CA

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This beautiful sight is just off the coast of Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Australia. The waters are crystal clear and you can see forever. This is one of our favorite places to vacation. There are golf courses, swimming, beaches and great dining at the resort and close by. It doesn't get any better than this.

-Donna H. from Big Timber, MT

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Family Vacation

Great family vacation. My wife and I were living in China. I had some business in Malaysia and we decided to book a resort in Penang. We flew our daughter and husband to Singapore and we came from Beijing. We drove to Malaysia and spent one week in Penang. I worked 4 days and then spent the week with them scuba diving, eating local cooked food in beach places, trying some restaurants, and generally having a great time. We drove back to Singapore and did sightseeing (zoo, night markets, etc). The main roads in Singapore are easily driven with international signs to mark all details. With maps, it was no problem. I was able to self drive to all my business appointments (to the surprise of the managers!).

- John L. from Boaz, AL

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Ka'anapali Beach Club

Ka'anapali Beach Club


Romantic sunset from the resort terrace!!! Can't get any better!!!

- Robert S. from Gilbert, AZ

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Our Green Vacation

Last year, over spring break our family went to an RCI affiliated resort called Waterside by Spinnaker in Hilton Head, SC. It is a wonderful resort just minutes away from the beach, restaurants, and a great shopping center. I called this our Green Vacation, as we ate healthy, got plenty of exercise, plenty of rest, did without a car, and actually enjoyed it.

Our accommodations were very comfortable and the staff was extremely professional and efficient. This resort had many activities for the children as well as adults - and we participated in them. Across from us was the main pool area and a hot tub where we spent part of every day. At the beach we found many different kinds of creatures like starfish and hermit crabs. It was a great experience for the grandkids because they have never seen sea life like that on a beach since we live in Maryland. The beach at Hilton Head is unique. We enjoyed a very wide beach where we could actually ride our bikes not only to the beach but on the beach, and the water was very calm. This is a great family vacation place. We played golf at several of the area courses, while the rest of the family enjoyed the pool and the beach area. We parked our car when we checked in, rented bikes, and never took the car out of the parking place the entire week. Talk about going green, this is the place. We rode our bikes every evening to dinner to different restaurants, rode bikes to the grocery store, rode on the beach, rode to the shopping center to shop, and took evening bike rides around the area. Make sure you get the child cart attached to the back of your bike; it comes in handy to carry not only tired toddlers, but great for groceries, beverages, and shopping bags. I think on this vacation I lost 5 lbs. instead of putting on 5 lbs.! I never thought I could do without a car for a week, but it was easy being so close to everything. We enjoyed this place tremendously and would suggest it to any of our friends and definitely would go back there. Keep up the great work RCI.

- Kathy M. from Waldorf, MD

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Skier during Full Moon off North Beach Deck

It was a beautiful winter evening at North Beach Resort. It was during the equinox and there was a skier enjoying the weather outside. We have been there several times during winter break with the kids. Lots of fun in the snow.


It was a beautiful winter evening at North Beach Resort. It was during the equinox and there was a skier enjoying the weather outside. We have been there several times during winter break with the kids. Lots of fun in the snow.

- Rita N. from Cottage Grove, MN

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My first trip to Cabo

Melissa V. - North America Vacation TripsI hope you enjoyed seeing the great photos from RCI subscribing members who visited Cabo. Before we end the week, I wanted to take a chance to tell you about my first trip there.

When I first landed in Cabo, I was amazed by the beauty. I was surprised at how many mountains there were and stunned by the gorgeous views.  We started our journey in San Jose Del Cabo, a beautiful town that is very quiet and perfect for relaxation.  It’s got somewhat of a “Beverly Hills” feel; lots of celebrities have houses here.  On one side you have the desert, mountains, and cacti; and on the other side you have beautiful beaches. There are several resorts there to choose from and several places to shop.

If you like a party atmosphere or are more of a social person, then Cabo San Lucas is your place. There is a big mall and a lot of little flea markets for shopping, several great restaurants, and an enormous amount of night life…one place I recommend for a fun time is Cabo Wabo. It’s a great club, where you can dance the night away.

And don’t forget about the whale watching, marlin fishing, ATV tours, surfing, and snorkeling! I highly recommend visiting Cabo. I’m so glad I did and I can’t wait to return!

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