Hang on!!!


Hang on!!!

Table Rock Lake is an O'Connor family favorite especially while staying at Wilderness Club at Big Cedar. Dad was trying to shake the family off the tubes when this picture was taken. We all hung on!!!! Ten years and counting making memories at Table Rock Lake. There are many fine resorts we stay at in and around Branson every year....Thank you RCI!!!

-Timothy O. from Crystal Lake, IL

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My Family Surprise


Imagine my surprise when all my family - our son John, wonderful daughter-in-law Patty, daughter Joyce, and my gorgeous grandchildren: Jay, 25, Mike, 21, and Melissa, 20 could all come down here to Florida to visit us. I exchanged into a beautiful resort only 10 minutes away with just a month's notice. We went to the Keys, saw alligators, took boat rides, and ate at some of the finest restaurants. I'll remember this forever and so will my loves.

-Elizabeth A. from Hartford, CT

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Georgia mountains on my mind


Before going on a vacation with my family I always read the reviews. I focus on travelers looking for the same things I do: family friendly, a variety of activities, and great outdoor adventures. In addition, I like to call the resort staff and speak with someone from the area.

I called Country Hideaway at Mountain Lakes and spoke with the sweetest lady. I felt an immediate reassurance that this was the right place for my family and our guests.

Our unit was clean and well stocked, with a wooden deck overlooking a perfect lake. I fished each morning as the coffee brewed. Hummingbirds, ducks and geese were our pets for the week. We had the run of the place with water slides, a country store, a clubhouse with every amenity possible, trails, horses, etc. My son loved swimming in a lake without alligators! The fireworks for the 4th of July (one week early for resort guests) were picture perfect over the lake...we watched from our deck. The area boasts the town of Helen, the Blue Ridge Parkway, loads of state parks and waterfalls...too much to name. We had our first whitewater rafting trip on this vacation; pure joy! We long to return to the mountains...we booked our Christmas Holiday at another resort, this time in North Carolina. I'll let you know how that goes!

-Susan R. from DeBary, FL

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Unexpected "Thank You" from a Teen


"Mom thank you so much for bringing me on this vacation!" my thirteen year old daughter said as we left the lodge. Nearly speechless, I couldn't say anything else but, "You’re welcome." We had a great time visiting Yosemite National Park and the giant Sequoia trees on the way. We played a family-modified game of miniature golf at the resort and enjoyed some videos they had available for our use. Our white water rafting trip on the Truckee River capped off the experience. While my daughter will remember the things she saw and did, I will always remember what she said. It made all of my planning and paying worthwhile. So often I feel like we are dragging our kids on vacation and they fight and complain so much. It was really nice to hear gratitude for a change.

-Cassandra R. from Cedar City, UT

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Canyon Lake - Texas sunset and family fun


Canyon Lake - Texas sunset and family fun

Each evening, sitting on the spacious porch of our resort, we were treated to a blaze of glory with varying degrees of color every evening. Summer sunsets overlooking Canyon Lake are gorgeous! Our family of 5 loved the different colors and intensity every evening! What a way to relax.

-John M. from Succasunna, NJ

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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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An Orlando Convert!


Paul MI’ll be honest – Orlando originally wasn’t on the top of my “places where I’d like to holiday” list. I always preferred the buzz of a city – eating in one-off restaurants, digging for records in little independent music stores, and soaking up the atmosphere.

But a few years ago, things changed. When it came to choosing a vacation destination, there was a new dimension – a child. That’s right. We had welcomed a beautiful little boy, Cal, and a year later, we decided that we might be able to stay awake long enough to make it to the airport and onto vacation. It was far from a certainty, but we took the risk. After weighing up flight length from New Jersey, kid-friendliness, and chance of sunshine, Orlando was the best choice.

And I have to say…what a fantastic choice it was! We ate at nice restaurants with no frowning at the request for a high-chair. We took things at our own pace and enjoyed fantastic amenities at our resort. We went to a couple of theme parks and acted like kids. It really was a great family vacation.

Three years on, we’ve been back four times. We arranged a family reunion with both sets of doting babysitters (sorry, grandparents) and also met good friends from England with their toddler. We’ve had so much fun, enjoyed excellent food, found countless bargains at the outlet malls, and “ooh’d” and “aah’d” at the theme parks and shows.

Best of all – I even found an awesome record store.

This week on the RCI Blog, we’ll be sharing stories and photos from RCI subscribing members who have also visited Orlando. Be sure to come back to read about their vacations!

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Cancun and the Riviera Maya: I dare you to get bored!


When planning your vacation, you first have to ask yourself: what kind of experience am I (are we) looking for? Honeymoon, anniversary, shopping, family-focused, adventure, history, theme parks, good for teenagers, health, relaxation? There are so many kinds. But wouldn’t it be great to have it all in one vacation? Believe me, you will when you visit Cancun and the Riviera Maya!

In Cancun you can stay at a resort surrounded by beautiful turquoise water and soft white sands, combined with the warmth and kindness that Mexicans can offer to their guests. Looking for all day activities? You can swim with dolphins, rent a boat to go fishing, or even sail on a yacht! You can do some shopping at the malls, where you will find major international brands. You can also have lunch or dinner on Kukulcan Boulevard – where you will find restaurants with regional, national, and international cuisine. And if you are looking for a night out on the town, Cancun is home to some of the most unique night clubs in the world!

If you love to have close contact with nature and history, you can stay at a resort in the Riviera Maya or Playa del Carmen, only about 40-50 minutes away from Cancun International Airport. There are so many activities, you are sure to find something that appeals to you and those you are traveling with: snorkeling near the beautiful coral reefs, swimming in underground rivers, or golfing on courses designed by world-famous golfers. You can also visit Xel Ha, an aquatic theme park, great for kids and adults! And don’t forget to visit the famous theme park, Xcaret, and archaeological park where you can enjoy swimming at amazing cenotes, see animals and learn about the Mayan history. You can also travel to Tulum to see ancient ruins –  personally, I don’t think there is any other place in the world where the moonlight reflects brighter off the sea than it does in Tulum. If you are looking for more history, head to the “magical” Chichen Itzá (NOT “chicken and pizza”!), a popular tourist destination where you can see a breathtaking Mayan pyramid. Finally, to end a perfect day, walk through the Fifth Ave. strip where international cultures mix to offer an array of food, wine, shopping, and music.

There’s no place in the world where you can enjoy all this and much more! Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be sharing stories and photos from RCI subscribing members who have visited Cancun, the Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen and some of the attractions I told you about above. Come back to the RCI Blog to hear about their trips!

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Spring 2011 at Branson, MO


Spring 2011 at Branson, MO

Our first family vacation at Branson, MO. The picture was taken at the resort itself, French Quarter. The trees are blooming and the weather was so good. We enjoyed our family vacation.

-Carmela T. from Houston, TX

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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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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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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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Wonderful Mazatlan


I am a retired family practice physician who first visited Mazatlan in 1967. We flew our plane from Albuquerque, NM and had a BALL. Mazatlan was much smaller then and the airport was just north of the downtown area. Since that time, my family (now minus the kids) has gone every year since 1980...and can't hardly wait till the next year to come for a re-visit to Mazatlan. The people are most friendly, the seafood is excellent, and  there is now a abundance of very good restaurants. Pueblo Bonito Resort at Emerald Bay has unbelievable food and rooms, and a friendly and attentive staff. We highly recommend Mazatlan for your next Mexico visit.

- Charles & Donna P. from Bonita, CA
 

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Best Relaxing Spot


This is the best place for family and friends to get together and have the best time together...

My family spent the first Christmas away from home at a Massanutten resort spot and had the best time ever. We spent time together remembering all of our other holidays together and how much fun this spot is for family to just have a great time. It was so nice that the snow even came on time to make it a picture perfect holiday. Even getting through the blizzard to reach our destination spot was made easy by the resort staff...

- Deitra S. from Baltimore, MD

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Winter in the Berkshires


Winter in the Berkshires - We take our whole family on vacation. I only go to resorts that allow dogs.

 

We take our whole family on vacation. I only go to resorts that allow dogs.

- Lisa S. from Rolla, MO

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Phoenix


My trip to Phoenix, Arizona was incredible. It was the first trip that I took with my daughters off the east coast. The resort was beautiful and the change of scenery was spectacular. We went to several national landmarks. It was a great experience for my family to see the other side of the country. I did not know how hot it was going to be in August but the resort had water misters, another new experience for us, and double pools. We were given a 3 bedroom lock -out which gave us ample space.

- Laurie K. from Waller, TX

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Take a Seat and Relax, Vermont Style!


Smugglers' Notch Resort truly offers an amazing family vacation and as this photo shares...the views are priceless!

 

Smugglers' Notch Resort truly offers an amazing family vacation and as this photo shares...the views are priceless!

 

- Brian H. from Charlotte, NC

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Maple Syrup in Vermont


We visited Vermont during late September to realize my lifelong dream of seeing the New England leaves turning. We found a little jewel of a farm near our mountain-top resort that shared their love and family history of riding out on a horse with a cart in the freezing winter snow to tap the nearby acres of sugar trees for sap which was then boiled down (in the family sugar shack) to yield this rich tasting, amber nectar... delicious maple syrup!

 

We visited Vermont during late September to realize my lifelong dream of seeing the New England leaves turning. We found a little jewel of a farm near our mountain-top resort that shared their love and family history of riding out on a horse with a cart in the freezing winter snow to tap the nearby acres of sugar trees for sap which was then boiled down (in the family sugar shack) to yield this rich tasting, amber nectar... delicious maple syrup!

 

- Michele M. from Lynnwood, WA

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Top of Stowe


This was one of my family vacations were we stayed at The Seasons Resort in Warren, Vermont and took day trips to the sites. One of the trips was to the top Stowe.

 

This was one of my family vacations were we stayed at The Seasons Resort in Warren, Vermont and took day trips to the sites. One of the trips was to the top Stowe.

 

- Joann M. from Cornwall Bridge, CT

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