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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It'll never top Mexico


Our first RCI vacation took us to Playa del Carmen on the Yucatan Peninsula. We were excited to be able to exchange our timeshare in the Berkshires for a vacation outside of the US in order to give our two young boys some exposure to other cultures. We rented a car so that we could explore the surrounding countryside and possibly see some of the Mayan ruins while in Mexico. The resort was nice enough and offered a number of activities... The food was great; we tried a number of different options and the kids even tried some new things (a small miracle). The resort’s many pools provided some variety as we spent a chunk of time swimming and joining in on some resort-sponsored pool football...

-William H. from Coventry, Connecticut

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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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Relaxation or Adventure? Key West is great for both!


Emily SA few months ago, my boyfriend Blake and I planned a trip down to Key West. After a lot of research (on my part!), we arranged for our accommodations, booked our flights, and began our trip.

We flew into Miami and, at the urging of many articles and reviews, we opted to rent a car to drive to our resort in Key West instead of hopping on another plane – wow, were those authors and reviewers right! The 3+ hour drive on Highway 1 from the Florida mainland to Key West, while lengthy, was incredible! The views of the water were incredible, especially when we went over the Seven Mile Bridge.

After arriving at our resort in Key West, we headed over to a restaurant for dinner and then over to Mallory Square – an open area on the water with all kinds of street performers and vendors – to see an amazing sunset. If you want a front row view, get there early because it gets very crowded!

Our next few days were filled with catching some sun at the resort’s pool, seeing the action on Duval Street and exploring the town. We rented bicycles on two of the days to help us get around quickly to all of the Key West must-do’s: Southernmost Point, the Ernest Hemingway Home, the Key West Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters Museum. Another Key West must-do, in my book, is breakfast at Blue Heaven on Thomas Street – great setting and even better food.

Key West is a wonderful vacation destination. Whether you want to just relax by a pool and watch beautiful sunsets or take small adventures exploring the town – or a combination of both – Key West has it all! Come back to the RCI Blog this week to read stories and see photos from RCI Subscribing members who vacationed in the Florida Keys.

 

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Timeshare is the best thing we have ever owned


For Christmas four years ago, we took both of our sons and a significant other to Kauai, Hawaii. We spent the whole week taking helicopter rides, which was awesome. The best way to see the beauty of this gorgeous island. We also went snorkeling, to a luau, toured every inch of this gorgeous island, took a boat ride around to the Na Pali Coast, swam in waterfall pools, the list goes on. The resort had a lanai for both rooms that overlooked the Pacific Ocean. We hated to go to sleep and woke up very early every morning to sit on the lanai to watch the sunrise. The weather was absolutely perfect and the resort was wonderful. It was a Christmas dream vacation to be in the most beautiful place in the world with our grown children and friend. We want to go back and recreate the whole week because it is the one trip that we can never forget. Owning our timeshare is the greatest purchase we have ever made. We have been to all of the Hawaiian Islands and Kauai has been the most special.

-Richard K. from Bells, Texas

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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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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 first vacation through RCI


My husband and I purchased our timeshare while we were vacationing alone. The following year we took our 2 daughters and a friend on vacation with us to the Sheraton Vistana Resort in Orlando. Since our previous vacations had always taken place in hotel rooms we were anxious to see their reaction when we arrived. We gave them the key to our villa and told them to go open the door while we grabbed luggage. We waited outside. When they walked into the villa we heard screams. They came running out and the look on their faces were priceless. They were so excited about staying in a 2 bedroom villa at a luxury resort for a week instead of a cramped hotel room and so were we!

-Bonnie R. from Richmond, MN

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Florida Vacation


We went to Summer Bay Resort near Orlando, Florida and absolutely had the best time. My daughter and I took my 2 grandkids and we went to Walt Disney World. My grandson, Jordan, turned 4 while we were there and had a little birthday party at the resort. He had such a wonderful time. It rained almost everyday while we were there but we made a good trip out of it even with the rain. Summer Bay Resort was the most awesome place to stay and such a beautiful resort. We loved it so much that we are going back next month to celebrate my granddaughter's birthday as well. Her name is Taylor and she will be 2 years old. This trip was by far the best trip I have ever been on through RCI.

-Deborah M. from Denver, CO

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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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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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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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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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Blowhole


Blowhole

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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Our 2011 Arizona vacation - Sedona Pines Resort


Loved this resort! Participated in Zumba and water aerobics. Took the Verde Canyon Railroad trip and an extreme jeep tour! Drove to the Grand Canyon for a day, while staying at this resort. Loved Sedona so much that we purchased another timeshare at their sister resort.

- Nancy and Steve F.

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