Friday, October 7, 2011 by
As we boarded the Scandinavian flight to Östersund from Stockholm to reach our RCI affiliated resort, Holiday Club Åre, a strange sense of wonder washed over me. Sweden consists of tens of thousands of lakes and our picture perfect resort had cottages on the Aresjon Lake and Olympic ski slopes with an extensive network of lifts and pistes as the backdrop. August is the height of summer for the Swedes and with 16 hours of daylight, our town was a downhill mountain bike paradise.
Biking families are armoured in colourful bike gear, children and dog in tow. They come hurling downhill on the rough dirt track on the bald terrain of Mt. Areskutan, the tallest peak in Sweden.
We tried hiking on a dedicated trail admiring the mesmerizing scenery and once the cold got to us we enjoyed the sauna in the room to renew our nerves.
Every cottage can take two bikes from the clubhouse and there are beautiful, dedicated tracks all along the serene lakeside. The club has various activities like table ice hockey, a bowling alley and video games. I especially enjoyed the meandering waters of the pool with Jacuzzis at different levels, a water slide, and different saunas. Our contemporary two bedroom cottage was in Nordic décor with one bedroom, bathroom with attached sauna, a well equipped kitchen, and a lounge with plasma TV opening on a huge deck overlooking the lake. A flight of steps takes you to the upper level where there is a sitting room with a TV and a bedroom with four bunk beds. The resort is attached to the picturesque railway station which has a huge supermarket from where we picked up our groceries.
We walked to the medieval main square called Åre Torg which is surrounded with quaint shops, cafes and restaurants. The ski lift station is also located there. As we climbed up the cable car we saw the town disappear under us and the jaw dropping scenery envelopes you. The cable car drops you at a point from where you take a short trek to Mt. Areskutan and you can sip a coffee in the restaurant. Fierce winds engulfed us and we had to negotiate a steep gradient to get to the summit. Whew! What a view. The spectacular sweep of valleys and towns below gives you a miniscule feeling. We let out a collective gasp as we made our way back to the secure cable car station.
There is a quaint chocolate factory 2 kilometers away where you can taste all the different chocolates they make. In the other direction is the cute town of Duved with a lovely church…
We took an overnight train to Stockholm, a city that consists of fourteen islands connected to each other over pretty bridges, and our hotel was strategically located from where you can walk everywhere without taking any public transport.
We walked to the Bohemian Island of Gamla Stan founded in 1252 where Baroque buildings jostle for space with hip cafes, beer bars and curio filled shops. The narrow, cobbled streets are bustling with tourists. The Royal Palace also on this island offers a collection displaying the vast wealth in more than 600 rooms. Its intention seems to give expression to the nations pride and tradition.
The sweet smell of waffles from a bakery pervades the air. A buzzing bar beckons us to taste the 22 varieties of freshly brewed Sweden beer. I enjoyed the chocolate flavoured beer. We also peeked into medieval art galleries and saw facades of pastel coloured buildings with interesting bistros in their gangways.
Shopping! Yes who can do without that the bubbling pedestrian streets of Drottninggatan (the Queen Street) and Vasagatan, which run parallel to each other. The huge stores of local brands like H&M and Lindex have a good variety. The street of Götgatan and the Sofo area is also lined with an unordinary assortment of trendy stores.
Exhausted with emptying our wallets running through the town shops, we were magnetically attracted to walk towards the verdant island of Djurgården to recharge our batteries. Vast vistas of greenery on this huge island makes you wonder at this space dedicated to cyclists and joggers to have their sport in this breathtaking oasis. This almost gives a center stage position which Djurgården richly deserves. We relaxed under a huge maple tree waiting to change its colour…
The strip of Baltic Sea running in is dotted with medieval gullets, modern yachts, cruise ships and chic cafes on the marina floating on wooden jetties. The backdrop of the church steeple makes it a panoramic setting.
As we savoured our last meal in a lovely, modern Italian restaurant near our hotel called Vapiano, we were enthralled with what Sweden had to offer us and thanked RCI for lovely memories we took home.
- Bina T. from Mumbai, India
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 by
My family exchanges for a ski week in Canada every year and we are never disappointed! Every resort we've gone to (yes, every one) has been a wonderful experience; high quality resort, friendly fellow-vacationers and very helpful RCI staff. We'll sometimes get the exact week/location we want, sometimes try someplace new and it's always a trip to remember.
- Russell M. from New Hyde Park, NY
Saturday, July 23, 2011 by
Both RCI® Weeks and RCI Points® subscribing members now have the ability to upgrade their standard RCI membership to RCI Platinum membership. Of course, I’m sure the first thing that probably comes to mind is “How much does it cost?” and “Is it worth it for me?” At only $55 USD per year, you shouldn’t have to think twice about an RCI Platinum membership. Here’s why: the membership offers a wide array of great exchange and lifestyle benefits that can more than help offset the cost of the upgrade and simultaneously add value to your RCI membership.
For example, as an RCI Platinum member, let’s say you book two Extra VacationsSM getaways or combine deposits twice; you would earn $50 USD in Platinum Rebates that are automatically credited to your RCI account. That would almost cover your entire RCI Platinum membership cost right there. Plus, with discounts of up to 50% off dining, golf, ski, and more, you’re bound to find great savings around where you live or travel. The savings you make here could surpass the cost of your upgrade.
However, in my opinion, it’s the non-monetary benefits that mean the most, but often go unnoticed. Take Unit Upgrades, for example. This means you can choose to be automatically upgraded from a 1 bedroom unit to a 2 bedroom unit if, within two weeks of check-in for your exchange vacation, a larger unit is available at that resort. Booking a larger unit on your own typically requires more Deposit Trading Power or Points, but with RCI Platinum membership, an upgrade to a larger unit is complimentary. It’s kind of like being upgraded to first class on an airplane. There’s also Priority Access which allows RCI Platinum members to be among the first to access specially-acquired Exchange vacations in cities like Chicago, San Diego and Miami. Staying a week in one of these cities could easily cost thousands of dollars, but with RCI Platinum membership, it’s just the cost of a standard exchange.
To discover more about the RCI Platinum membership or to upgrade, call your RCI Vacation Guide today. Have you upgraded to RCI Platinum membership already? If so, please comment below and let us know what you like the most.
Monday, June 27, 2011 by
We just returned from a wonderful stay at Silverleaf Hill Country Resort in Canyon Lake, Texas. There were wild deer (or not so wild) near our building every day. I put in a request early with the resort to be placed on the same side of the FM hwy 306 as the amenities since we had children with us. Not only did they follow thru with the request but they put us in the Presidentials nearest to the lake with beautiful views. We also had our own pool there so we did not have to go up to the main area every time for the kids to swim. Staff was very friendly & helpful. Condos very clean & modern. Beds were 'very' comfortable & I have a Select Comfort bed at home. We rented a ski boat & Jet ski one day at the Marina...very nice on the water. Had 2 road trips to San Antonio & it wasn't too bad a drive. Overall this was a GREAT vacation spot!!
- Jennie G. from Rayne, LA
Thursday, May 26, 2011 by
I am a Mother of five and Grandmother of 11. My children live on opposite coasts and I live in NC. I exchanged two weeks with RCI for the Massanutten Resort in VA during New Years and gathered my flock together from Florida to California. We spent a wonderful New Years together, which by the way is also my Anniversary :) The resort was wonderful. It had everything my family needed or could want. From the ski school for the kids to the massages for those who literally hit the slopes hard.
- Mary H. from Jacksonville, NC
Tuesday, May 24, 2011 by
A couple of years ago we exchanged our Hilton Head week for a week in Massanutten, Virginia. That resort is awesome! It was the best family vacation we have been on to date. They have a fantastic water park right there on the premises. We were there right at the beginning of skiing season, so we were able to play putt-putt on the resort golf course and then go snow tubing later in the day. The unit we stayed in was fantastic also. It was newer and very clean. There was something to do each and every day. We were never bored. We would definitely take another RCI exchange to Massanutten, Virginia!
- Alesia M. from Pataskala, OH
Saturday, April 30, 2011 by
Whenever I tell people I work on Endless Vacation magazine, their typical response is “wow, it must be so fun reading about traveling and great destinations all day.” And the truth is: it is! I can’t help but picture myself sitting on the beach in the Dominican Republic, skiing the fresh powder in Lake Tahoe, walking on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, or taking a zip line in the rain forest in Costa Rica. But I have to admit, every time one of our issues goes to print, I get a little sad that we cannot include all of the amazing photos our photographers take while on photo shoots. And mostly, I am even sadder I am not the photographer taking those pictures!
But, with RCI’s innovation and dedication to being on the cutting edge of technology, I was more than excited to hear I could help bring Endless Vacation magazine to the iPad in its very own app! Working on the Endless Vacation magazine app for the iPad has been fun and rewarding, knowing that we get to show you even more! The Endless Vacation app for the iPad showcases even more photos in each article than in our printed issue. Not only that, we get behind the scenes footage from our photographers and writers and incorporate those videos into the app to really bring the destinations to life. Plus we added some cool extras like panoramic photos, interactive images and maps, audio clips, fun facts, and links to explore more about RCI affiliated resorts – making it even easier to research and book your next vacation with just the tap of a finger.
Just visit the iTunes® App Store and download the latest issue of Endless Vacation magazine onto your iPad. I hope you have as much fun playing with the Endless Vacation app for the iPad as I had working on it. If you find yourself dreaming about catching some rays in St. Maarten, wanting to watch artisans blow glass in Los Cabos, or find the RCI affiliated resort for your next vacation, then we have done our job. Now get playing!
Endless Vacation magazine is an independent publication and has not been authorized, sponsored or otherwise approved by Apple Inc. iPad and iTunes are registered trademarks of Apple Inc.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011 by
A view of the resort taken from the ski lift during the summer.
- Richard G. from Bowie, MD
Friday, February 11, 2011 by
My husband and I spent our honeymoon in Banff, Alberta in November of 1982. We returned 25 years later for our silver anniversary. We were so happy to have an RCI affiliated resort available to us there. The resort was wonderful, the clubhouse enjoyable, and the unit was clean, well stocked and beautifully decorated. We went cross-country skiing, on the gondola ski lift ride, and sightseeing around Banff. It was a fantastic way to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. Thank you, RCI! We've been members since 1983.
- Michelle S. from Wooster, OH
Thursday, January 6, 2011 by
We have stayed at The Jordan Grand in Bethel, Maine many times. The skiing is great: the lifts and runs are VERY rarely crowded. There's tons of stuff to do there, though we usually prefer to keep our car and stay put at the resort, which has most everything we need now, OR we can use their shuttle bus to get to different parts of the mountain. Young people (as in kids and teens) abound. They love it. Our twenty-something daughters still like to go!
- Diane K. from Summit, NJ
Wednesday, January 5, 2011 by
Our trip Bethel Maine this past April in the mountain and lake area northwest of Portland was a real treat. We were also only 20 miles from New Hampsire and 1-1/2 hours from Vermont. While we were in the "mud season", between the skiing season and heavy tourist season, we had great weather and no crowds. We were able to use this location to visit not only Portland, but Kinnibuck and Kinnebuckport, Augustus (state capital), Auburn (cool falls) and the great county side and history.
On one of our days, we went into New Hampshire to visit Mt. Washington, highest mountail in the eastern US, and explore Northwester N.H. On another day, we went further West to Vermont, visiting the state capital, Montpelier, down to Barre to the Rock of Ages granite quarry and grave stone manufacturing plant (sounds strange, but truly amazing), on to the birthplace and home of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream (saw their ice cream cemetery where all the discontinued flavors are buried...it was a hoot), and back to Maine, all in one day. On another long day, we went to the LL Bean home town and up to the Dessert Island (Bar Harbor & Cadillac Mountain). Our stay at the Grand Jordan Hotel and Ski Resort was wonderful and we highly recommend it.
- Alan W. from Paris, KY
Tuesday, January 4, 2011 by
Our trip began with the expectations of skiing in Vermont and enjoying a wonderful New England ski vacation. Unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate and we were only able to ski for about an hour as there was no snow and Smugglers Notch couldn't make snow faster than the weather was melting it. But this didn't ruin the trip. The resort had other activities that we could utilize and the area was fascinating to explore. We were able to visit the Ben & Jerry's factory and the Vermont Teddy Bear factory. If we'd been skiing we would have missed these great spots. The night time events at Smugglers Notch resort were family oriented and fun to watch. As we'd never been to this part of the country we were able to explore more and even visited an alpaca farm. Beautiful country that we could imagine returning to to actually ski at a future date.
The condo amenities were wonderful, beyond our dreams. Our condo was right across from one of the ski runs and would have made it very nice to walk out the door and jump on a lift and ski down the mountain. The fireplace in the condo was used every night. This was a fabulous trip and we hope to return someday to actually ski.
- Joan V. from Waterford, MI
Wednesday, December 29, 2010 by
My husband and I like to snowmobile. We stayed at the Calabogie Lodge Resort in Calabogie, Canada in February of 2008. The resort is wonderful. Our oldest daughter and seven year old grandson went with us this trip. While we went out each day exploring the wonderful trails around Calabogie, our daughter and grandson were able to enjoy the indoor pool and hot tub. They also went tubing and downhill skiing a short distance near the lodge one day. There was a wonderful restaurant on site "The Duck"...I tried my first cooked duck...it was delicious. We took a trip to the Hershey Chocolate factory nearby and to the famous Wheeler Pancake house. Our unit had a wonderful view of the frozen Calabogie Lake and all the ice fishing huts in the cove. The unit was spacious, but very cozy and warm after a chilly day on the sleds thanks to the gas fireplace. This was not our first visit there and I'm sure it won't be our last!
- Jerry C. from Central Square, NY
Friday, December 10, 2010 by
A view of the mountains at Panorama ski resort in British Columbia.- Beth M. from Pitt Meadows, British Columbia
Wednesday, December 8, 2010 by
We had a wonderful time at Sugarloaf. The resort was fabulous and the skiing was the best in the East! Even our 4 year old had a great time on the slopes!- Sandy T. from Sterling, MA
Tuesday, December 7, 2010 by
We had a wonderful week of blue sky skiing in Lake Tahoe with fantastic views of the Lake while skiing and staying at Lake Tahoe Vacation Resort located right on the lake. The ski bus stops right outside the door, with drop offs on the Nevada side as well as the California side. We stayed at this resort during the summer and winter and it is a great place to stay for year round activities.- Dave W. from Appleton, WI
Tuesday, December 7, 2010 by
A few years back I decided that I wanted to take a last minute ski trip with a friend and my two adult sons. We wanted to go to Colorado, but could not find a match that would work. I stumbled across an opportunity to try a small ski resort in Canada called Panorama in British Columbia. It was a small resort in size, but because of that size it was wonderful. In the evening everyone from guests to staff ended up at the same place for dinner and entertainment. The athomosphere was great and the lifts were not crowded. The best ski trip I have had.
- Mike R. from Gulf Shores, AL
Friday, December 10, 2010 by
We own a summer week at Smuggler's Notch, VT and decided to exchange our float week to introduce our two children to skiing. In addition to being a great summer destination, Smuggler's Notch is an amazing ski resort! The only time we were available to travel was President's Week, but we decided to try our luck and began a search for February Vacation at Smuggs. Then, I broke my foot in January! Things didn't look too promising... until 2 weeks before February Vacation when we got a call that RCI had been able to get us into Smuggler's Notch for President's Week. Not only that, but the unit we got was right in the center of the resort, and right next to the main chair lift! I spent a relaxing week resting my hurt foot and doing scrapbooking (a hobby I love, but rarely have time to pursue); and I was able to stand on our balcony and watch my husband and children learn to ski! We all had a wonderful week!
- Jacqueline K. from Bozrah, CT
Thursday, December 9, 2010 by
We have used our RCI exchanges several times to go skiing in Mont Tremblant, Canada, outside of Montreal. After enjoying the European feel in Montreal, staying at the gorgeous Mont Tremblant resorts is a welcome, relaxing change. It is super place to take kids from the youngest age through teenage years since they can have freedom in the base town of the ski resort. It is a hidden gem, and a great place to ski and enjoy winter activities. I highly recommend using your exchange to visit this great resort area.
- Diane R. from St. Louis, MO
Wednesday, December 8, 2010 by
We exchanged for 2 units and brought another family with us to Boyne Mountain. The resort was wonderful. Our unit was at the base of a mountain with a lift. We were able to ski on/off right from our unit. The staff was friendly and helpful. We enjoyed ourselves so much we have another week, with 2 units, already exchanged for 2010!
- Vicki T. from Fort Wayne, IN