Enjoyments in Myrtle Beach


Myrtle Beach

There's so much happening at once in this popular Southern vacation spot, you'll feel like you're tackling yet another of its popular humongous buffets.

From toddler to tween to retiree, there’s a fun park or miniature golf haven in Myrtle Beach to suit everyone. Rollercoaster fans hit Freestyle Music Park while aquatic types tackle the slides at Wild Water & Wheels. Engine hounds race carts at Nascar Speedpark and miniature golfers take swings at Mutiny Bay. For old-school versions of all the above, try the nearly half-century-old Family Kingdom.

At the southernmost end of the new boardwalk, rent fishing poles and tackle from the 2nd Avenue Pier, a family-owned joint. The best biking is around the Market Common or Myrtle Beach State Park. Joggers, walkers and beachcombers avoid the summertime crowds when they hit the shore between sunrise and breakfast.

Serious golfers do well at any of the area’s courses, but the ones that regularly snag accolades are Barefoot Resort’s Dye, Love and Fazio courses, Dunes, Tidewater, and TPC of Myrtle Beach. While those courses can cost $100-plus a round, the well-loved Heritage Club, 40 minutes south on Pawleys Island, can run half as much.

Spa goers rave about the getaway in the North Beach Plantation community—Cinzia, The Spa at North Beach Plantation. With a saltwater whirlpool and internationally themed massages, it’s the region’s crown jewel.

And for a blast from the (distant) past, visit Medieval Times’ Myrtle Beach Castle to watch swordplay, falconry and a jousting tournament over a roast-chicken feast.

SHOP
Find the best of the worst cheap T-shirts and snow globes at Wings or Eagles, or visit the grandfather of them all—the gargantuan, 6-decade-old Gay Dolphin Gift Cove on the boardwalk. The area’s bounty of outlet malls keeps bargain hunters busy. The 2 Tanger Outlet malls alone include the likes of Banana Republic, Coach, Nine West and more. And the Coastal Grand Mall, with more than 170 shops, is one of the state’s largest.

Anglers revel in the Bass Pro Shop. For a traditional Southern souvenir, check out the hand-tied hammocks at the Original Pawleys Island Rope Hammock.

EAT (LOTS!)
Myrtle Beach has a crazy number of huge buffets, most offering more than 150 different dishes. These massive dining rooms can easily handle the busloads of hungry visitors who descend on them before heading off to nearby attractions. Places like The Original Benjamin’s  and the Great American Steak & Buffet Co. offer local flavors like Calabash-style fried seafood and “chicken bog,” a Low Country dish of rice, chicken and sausage. The buffets are good value, but you might miss out on the nuances of Southern hospitality and home cooking.

DOWNHOME SOUTHERN
Barbecue joints like Big D’s Bar-B-Que Barn or Little Pigs Bar-B-Q lack frills but serve up perfect pork platters, hushpuppies and barbecue and slaw sandwiches. For a more traditional Southern supper, dine on crab casserole at one of the few waterfront dining spots on the beach: the more than 80-year-old Sea Captain’s House.

Just south of Myrtle Beach is Murrells Inlet, lined with restaurants, bars and a marina. Visitors stroll the marshwalk, carrying their drinks as they move from one spot to another to catch live music and enjoy straight-from-the-water appetizers. Sports lovers head to the Market Common’s upscale King Street Grille, while club goers check out the evening scene at Broadway at the Beach.

Epicureans no longer get short shrift on the Grand Strand. The best options are the mod SeaBlue for small plates that start at $10; Greg Norman’s Australian Grille for surf and turf; and Pawleys Island’s High Hammock for nouveau renditions of Southern seaside favorites like shrimp and grits and crab cakes. The Cypress Room at the Island Vista serves upscale versions of downhome food and fresh catches; Divine Prime is the place for dressy steaks.

MUST-TRIES
If you have access to a kitchen, visit the Mr. Fish seafood market for fresh-off-the-boat shrimp. The Crab Cake Lady sells handpicked, hand-shaped crab cakes. Go to a Piggly Wiggly to stock up on grits, ham hocks and peanuts for boiling. The farmers market sells fresh produce on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Finally, don’t miss the Sunday gospel brunch at perhaps the coolest joint in town—the House of Blues.

 

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Myrtle Beach Bounty


Myrtle Beach

Tame Myrtle Beach’s array of enjoyments with a game plan.

As you cruise down Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, you’ll pass buffet barn after barn, each with a sign shouting “170 items!”, “150 items!” or “200 items!” The owners hope that diners will rush in from nearby beaches to load up on barbecue, fried seafood, “chicken bog” and piping hot hushpuppies. These Southern-flavored all-you-can-eats are kitschily entertaining, rather tasty and a pretty good deal.

The same can be said of this coastal portion of the Palmetto State. There are so many different things to sample in the Myrtle Beach area—miniature golf, spas, musical revues, shag dancing, outlet shopping, amusement parks, beachcombing—that you might feel as if you’re tackling a monster buffet. So pick up a plate, decide what you’re craving and see how much you can pile on, given your limits. Here’s the best of all Myrtle Beach has to offer.

WELCOME TO THE GRAND STRAND
Myrtle Beach is the main hub of what’s known as the Grand Strand, some 60 miles of shoreline, small towns and strip malls, running from Little River at the North Carolina border southward to Georgetown. Towards the southern end is Pawleys Island, which became a warm-weather getaway back in the 1700s for plantation owners seeking cool beach breezes. In the same century, pirates (like Edward Teach, a.k.a. Blackbeard) hid out in the coves, barrier islands and marshes around Little River. One hundred years later, Civil War blockade runners did the same thing. All along this stretch of coast, miles of fine sand, dunes fringed in sea oats, and ragged maritime forests rife with wax myrtles and live oaks are set off by the ever-changing blues of the Atlantic Ocean. At the turn of the last century, developer F.G. Burroughs and his sons capitalized on the area’s appeal by building a railroad that barreled into Myrtle Beach.

Decade by decade, Myrtle Beach blossomed. The first golf resort and the waterfront Pavilion opened in the 1920s. By 1950, the rebuilt Pavilion had its own lavish carousel. Soon an 11-acre, Coney Island-flavored park had sprung up, with sweets shops, hot dog joints, soda fountains, ice creameries and attractions (miniature golf, Ferris wheels and bumper cars) that stretched along Ocean Boulevard. Flat-roofed motels sprouting giant cement pelicans, shells and the like were joined by high-rise resorts. And beachfront bars were crowded with people doing the “shag,” a Low Country dance in which partners hold one hand, then slip-slide across the floor. And that free hand? Well, you’ve got to hold your drink, now, don’t you?

PAST MEETS PRESENT
Today, Myrtle Beach is transitioning into a carnival of a different sort. Yes, the beaches are still beautiful, but now the buildings stand 20-plus stories high and are squeezed shoulder-to-shoulder along Ocean Boulevard. Resorts have indoor water parks and spas. The old Pavilion is gone, but there’s a new, mile-long boardwalk in its place. Many of the mid-century motels have been refreshed, and their old-time cement accessories now hold vintage appeal.

Inland, a former Air Force Base has recently been refashioned as a shopping hub/neighborhood called the Market Common, where you can get a superb steak at Divine Prime, walk or bike Valor Park or check out the sales in stores like Anthropologie and Pottery Barn. At the entertainment complex Broadway at the Beach, Ripley’s Aquarium draws crowds to its walk-through tank tunnel and baby animal exhibit, and MagiQuest fulfills kids’ Harry Potter dreams with interactive wand play. The Carolina Opry, the first of the revue-style shows in the area, won the Governor’s Cup for the state’s most outstanding tourism attraction a while back. And there are now more than 100 highly ranked golf courses.

In the old days, things were a little wilder here. In recent years, however, reinforced helmet laws and noise ordinances have tamped down “Bike Week,” and stricter decorum and rental policies inhibit the former spring break rowdiness. These days, Myrtle Beach is showing its mainstream persona year-round, and adding affordable luxuries to the picture. Maybe that explains the 14 million-plus visitors who appear annually.

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The Slopes of Utah


Park City Utah

Ski areas abound, making Utah a true winter wonderland—whether you’re a beginner or a former Olympian.

It seems that your plane has barely touched down at the Salt Lake City airport and you’re already riding a lift into the winter-white wilderness. Of Utah’s 14 ski resorts, 11 are less than an hour’s drive from the airport. Several are clustered together, offering a combination of activities and terrain for a wide range of abilities. Here’s an overview of what you’ll find.

AN EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES
Just 29 miles from the airport is Snowbird, which has a range of slopes for skiers and riders. It’s connected to skiers-only Alta, right next door. The two combined have 4,700 acres of powdery paradise. For chilling out après-ski at Snowbird, the place to be is the Cliff Spa, which has a view-filled rooftop pool and hot tub.

The drive from the airport to Solitude takes about 45 minutes. You’ll find a cute European-style village at the mountain’s base, and 1,500 acres of skiable terrain. Drive 5 minutes more and you’re at Brighton, one of the state’s most popular resorts for families both for its affordability and for its terrain.

PARK CITY RETREATS
Resorts in the Park City area include Park City Mountain Resort, Canyons and Deer Valley. All are less than 36 miles from the airport and have state-of-the-art lifts—including Canyons’ Orange Bubble chair, which has heated seats—and terrain to please a wide range of abilities. What’s more, Park City itself is within 15 minutes’ drive. Its Main Street is lined with shops selling one-of-a-kind fashions and jewelry as well as bars and restaurants of all sorts. A plus: Many buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places, since Park City was founded during the silver boom. A short drive away is Sundance Resort, with 6,000 acres at the base of Mount Timpanogos.

Utah

NORTHERN DELIGHTS
Thirty minutes north of Salt Lake City is Odgen, a former railroad town that’s a hub for outdoor enthusiasts. Three ski resorts are within a half-hour’s drive: Snowbasin, Wolf Mountain and Powder Mountain. The latter, known as Pow Mow, is North America’s largest ski area, offering 7,000 acres of skiable terrain. Even on the busiest days, you can find yourself skiing alone on untouched corduroy. In Ogden itself, consider a visit to iFly, an indoor sky-diving simulator that’s so effective, sky divers use it to train. Farther north but still only 90 minutes from Salt Lake City is family-owned Beaver Mountain.

SOUTHERN GEMS
Utah’s southern resorts, Eagle Point and Brian Head, are a bit farther afield. Three hours south of Salt Lake City, they deliver reliably good conditions all season long, with plenty of fresh powder.

 

NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.

 

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Atlantic City Revival


Nearly a century after its Prohibition-era heyday, the boardwalk is back.

There’s more to Atlantic City’s old nickname, “America’s Playground,” than raucous speakeasies and glittering nightclubs. This New Jersey beach retreat was also once known for a more wholesome brand of fun—namely, great food and spectacular shows. Now, after decades of decline followed by casino-focused development and a post-Hurricane Sandy revitalization, a new playground has emerged that mixes some of the old, Prohibition-era delights with more modern pleasures.

FRESH TRACKS
In his book Boardwalk Empire, on which the HBO series is based, historian Nelson Johnson writes that Atlantic City blossomed in the 1920s because of its accessibility. Ninety-nine trains, including 11 of the 16 fastest in the world, cruised in and out of A.C. each summer day. The city eventually evolved into a car-centric town, but rail travel returned in 2009 with the launch of the double-decker ACES train, which runs from New York City on weekends and is a far cry from the dreary casino buses (think leather seats and drink specials).

HISTORY SAMPLER
If you arrive in time for lunch, pop over to the White House Sub Shop, a favorite for its overstuffed sandwiches. The walls of this workingman’s deli, which opened in 1946, are plastered with photographs and memorabilia from A.C.’s past, including glossies signed by a zillion Miss Americas and a towel used by Frank Sinatra during his last show at the Sands. Dozens of friendly cooks whip up cheesesteaks and hoagies, using fresh bread supplied by the folks at Formica Bros. Bakery across the street.

When you’ve reached your caloric capacity, take a stroll down the boardwalk to Garden Pier, just north of the Trump Taj Mahal. Here the Atlantic City Museum awaits, with exhibits about the Steel Pier’s diving horses and the very first Ferris wheel. The boardwalk itself has few of the legendary hotels from Prohibition days, but near the Tropicana you can peek into the old Ritz-Carlton (now the Ritz Condominiums). It was from the Ritz’s ninth floor that crooked political boss Enoch “Nucky” Johnson ran the city in the 1920s. “Nucky had leased the entire floor from where he reigned as the ‘Czar,’” writes Nelson Johnson. With his silk robes and hedonistic lifestyle, Nucky turned the Ritz into a “lavish temple of pleasure.”

To get a real taste of old Atlantic City, leave the boardwalk and hit the traditional eateries. Several celebrity-chef restaurants have opened in town—including the Borgata’s Bobby Flay and Wolfgang Puck establishments—but locals will still point you to Dock’s Oyster House. Dock’s has been run by the same Dougherty family since it first opened in 1897, and they often greet you at the door. The dining room retains its old-world feel, with a pianist playing standards from behind the bar and a menu that still lists the same century-old hits: fried oysters and crab cakes.

Farther down Atlantic Avenue, you’ll find an even greater culinary landmark: The Knife & Fork, founded in 1912. It’s housed in an idiosyncratic, Flemish-style building that was first a private club and then a speakeasy until federal authorities raided it. In 2005 the Knife & Fork was purchased by the Dougherty family, of Dock’s fame, and given a makeover. It still serves traditional beef and reef fare, but the revamped menu also offers modern twists like Kobe sliders and Asian slaw.

MODERN THROWBACKS
Not all of the “vintage” establishments in the city are old. The Chelsea, a 1950s-style boutique hotel, opened in 2008 as the first non-gaming resort on the boardwalk in the casino area. Retro lamps and art deco mirrors accent the rooms; the two restaurants were developed in part by Philadelphia restaurateur Stephen Starr. Teplitzky’s is a chic diner and bar straight out of The Jetsons, while Chelsea Prime resembles an old-school steak house with its leather booths and black-and-white photos of 1940s A.C. The tall windows with sweeping ocean views make a perfect backdrop for a succulent T-bone.

Old-school revelry is also making a comeback. Check out the free parade put on three times a day Wednesday through Sunday by the Showboat casino, with dancers, acrobats and singers wearing feather boas and colorful costumes. Showboat may not be the spiffiest casino on the boardwalk, but you won’t find a more entertaining tribute to the glory days of the Steel Pier.

NEW TOUCHES
Had enough history? Head to the Pier Shops at Caesars, where you can browse the latest fashions at high-end boutiques (Gucci, Ferragamo) and marvel at the Water Show, a dramatic display of fountains, lights and music. Take a break in the Adirondack chairs on the mall’s third floor (which has great sunset views, by the way), then wander over to the outlet stores on The Walk.

As with shopping, Atlantic City’s entertainment scene has also gotten a serious update. With new casinos popping up across the country, the gaming industry is growing more competitive, and Atlantic City is trying to keep up with the changes by improving its other attractions. So far, the work has paid off. The city has now drawn big-name performers like Bruce Springsteen, Shakira and Lady Gaga, with more consistently on the horizon.

If you don’t have tickets to a show, you’ll find plenty of action at one of the many nightclubs and lounges. Exhibit A: Harrah’s Pool. By day, it’s a huge, watery oasis of hot tubs and palm trees. Come evening, DJs are unleashed and it transforms into an aquatic dance club with mini-cabanas and an MTV Jersey Shore vibe. The nearby Borgata also has several popular clubs and lounges with nightly DJs and live bands.

And to help you recover from your big night out, Atlantic City has tons of spas. Opt for the seashell massage ($125) at Showboat’s Vive Day Spa, which is like a hot stone treatment, but with a shore twist. The South Jersey shore, that is.

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Coastal Cali Drive


Cruising down the California coast may well inspire a lifestyle change.

SanDiego

When people talk about Southern California, they’re usually referring to the idyllic, 130-mile strip of coast between Los Angeles and San Diego. The “California Riviera,” as it’s often called, is as much a lifestyle as a location. People here live outdoors—even, it seems, when they’re indoors. To see California beach culture at its best, start your drive 40 miles south of L.A., among the surfers and volleyball gods of Orange County’s Newport Beach. Then cruise down toward San Diego, about 90 miles farther.

NEWPORT BEACH
Stop in Newport Beach for a bike ride along the 3-mile-long Balboa Peninsula. The flat cycling path cuts between the sand and a row of whimsical beach houses—a simple sea cottage is next to a palazzo, which is next to a tiki hut. Rent beach cruisers for $10 an hour from Easy Ride Bicycle Rentals. The beach is improbably wide and full of dunes; at its south end is the Wedge, a scenic inlet where sailboats and Duffy electric touring boats glide by.

Move slightly inland to sample Newport’s upscale diversions. Key among them is the nearly 400-acre Pelican Hill Golf Club. The Tom Fazio-designed 36-hole course is open to the public. A longtime Newport Coast institution, the club is now surrounded by the palatial, Mediterranean-style Resort at Pelican Hill. Soak up the ambience over an early dinner at Andrea, one of Pelican Hill’s dining rooms. It’s easily one of the state’s finest Northern Italian restaurants.

Leaving Newport Beach, Highway 1 dips and winds along cliffs and past sandy coves. Rather than blasting by all this beauty, set aside an afternoon for Crystal Cove State Park, a protected 3-mile sandy strand backed by 2,400 acres of seaside cliffs and forests of eucalyptus, pine and Canary Island palms. Before you head out on the 17 miles of hiking trails, fuel up at the 3-year-old Beachcomber Café, reportedly the first restaurant in 40 years to open right on the SoCal sand.

Orange County

LAGUNA BEACH
The affluent and arty city of Laguna Beach is home to fewer than 25,000 people. With its curving bay and bungalow- and mansion-dotted hillside, it’s like an American version of Italy’s Positano—but with surfers. At Laguna’s center is Main Beach, with its tidal pools and boardwalk; across from the beach are the galleries of Forest Avenue—Laguna Beach has lured artists for more than a century. The town’s Heisler Park has walking paths that drop down to golden sands where you can swim, surf, dive or just explore the tide pools. It’s a great vantage point for views of the rugged coast, human-scaled town and palm-silhouetted sunsets.

Treasure Island Park also has Pacific views to spare. Here, locals work their way through morning yoga routines on the lawns while bunnies can be heard hopping about in the underbrush. After your visit, stop at the adjacent Montage, a Craftsman-style resort that has been wowing travelers and celeb weekenders from L.A. since it opened in 2003. If you book a treatment you can spend some time at the spa, with its open-air relaxation areas, pool deck and oceanfront gym. Or just relax over drinks by the fire in the plush lobby. Views of the Pacific included, naturally.

NORTH COUNTY, SAN DIEGO
The next stop is North San Diego County—known as North County. An easy coastal drive south on Interstate 5 leads to the pretty community of Del Mar, anchored by the Auberge Del Mar resort. The lobby lounge and the tiered decks that hold the Waterfall Terrace and Bleu Bar are social magnets, and the restaurant, Kitchen 1540, is well worth a visit.

End your SoCal road trip in La Jolla, a walkable, Mediterranean-style village with a strong sense of community. The town’s ocean swimmers like to drop their towels on the emerald green lawn above La Jolla Cove and swim out—beyond snorkelers ogling Garibaldi fish—to the half-mile buoy in the bay. Paddlers can rent kayaks and tour the coast’s seven sea caves, while the more daring might sign up at Torrey Pines Gliderport for a 20-minute tandem flight above the sands of Black’s Beach.

When you’re in La Jolla’s oceanfront park, wander south along the coastal path to a tiny cove populated by sea lions basking in the sun. Humans must stay behind the rope: There’s no touching allowed. But from here you can admire (and photograph) the sea lions enjoying their version of the SoCal lifestyle.

Southern California Coast

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Cozumel – Adventure and Relaxation in One


Kristina W.Walking through the small streets of Playa Del Carmen, the excitement was building. We were heading towards the ferry terminal that would lead to our Cozumel journey. The process of using the ferry as transportation was quite simple and enjoyable. It was a beautiful sight to see the island coming into view as we felt the calm waves of the ocean rocking the ferry. Upon arrival on Cozumel, transportation to the resort was easy. The island of Cozumel is not an overwhelming size as it is roughly 30 miles long and 10 miles wide. There is one main road that circles the island, so if you choose to rent a car it is pretty easy to navigate.

Once you get settled in, be sure to check out the amazing water sport activities, like snorkeling. The largest reef in the Western Hemisphere, the Mesoamerica Reef, can be explored while staying in Cozumel. The ocean is crystal clear which makes for some fantastic sightings such as tropical fish and turtles.

Back on the island, the town of San Miguel offers many unique shopping prospects. While we were visiting, we enjoyed a night out in Cozumel with a phenomenal dinner at a local restaurant. Additionally, Cozumel provides many choices for spa treatments. Whether you are looking for a relaxing vacation, or an exciting getaway full of adventure, Cozumel offers the perfect trip for any family.

We’re continuing to share RCI subscribing members’ Cozumel photos. Stay tuned, there’s more to come!

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Sedona Springs Resort


Thanksgiving 2010 will live in our memories forever...Driving through the uniquely beautiful Oak Creek Canyon leading to Sedona, we were treated to light snow, which magically transformed the walls of the canyon into a wintry tapestry of many colors. As we entered Sedona from the north, the weather cleared and the sight of red rock formations against a cerulean blue sky literally took our breaths away. We exchanged for a unit listed as 1 bedroom. What a wonderful surprise it was to discover we had a two story unit with a large kitchen, a living room with a fireplace, and a half bath downstairs. An even greater surprise awaited as we scrambled up the stairs. We were greeted by a huge bedroom, double bathroom with spa tub and a loft. Everything was up-to-date and top quality throughout the resort. The indoor pool was a surprise for the children. We knew we would be very comfortable here. Everyone was happy and ready to plan our week...

-Lois R. from Medford, OR

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RCI® subscribing membership benefits that you might not know about


Catherine S. - Cruise Stories and RCI NewsWe love helping to send you, our RCI subscribing members, on vacation!  In order to provide you with even better vacation options and enhancements to your overall membership, we have an established alliance with International Cruise and Excursions (ICE) – which is sometimes referred to as Our Vacation Center.

 

Through this alliance, we’re able to provide you with many benefits that you may already be familiar with:

 

  • The RCI Cruise program gives you the option to purchase a cruise at a reduced price with exchange, or purchase a cruise without exchange (sometimes referred to as “Cruise Extra VacationsSM getaways”) both with the Best Rate Guarantee.

 

  • RCI Cruise & Resort Vacations* offers you the opportunity to receive up to two weeks of vacations in one convenient and flexible package.  You can spend one week cruising to great destinations like Mexico, Alaska or Hawaii, and the second week in an awesome resort destination like Las Vegas or Florida.

 

  • With RCI Vacations*, you can save up to 70% off at select preferred hotels in popular destinations worldwide. Our members can purchase up to five hotel savings certificates which can be used to book hotels and save hundreds of dollars on each stay compared to popular online travel sites.  In addition to the hotel savings certificates, every RCI Vacations package includes a choice of a prepaid cruise, resort or hotel vacation. 

 

  • RCI Platinum® Lifestyle Benefits, including golf discounts, spa getaways and gift certificates, ski packages, an online wine store, tickets to movies, concerts and sporting events, and online shopping. 

 

  • RCI Travel, which allows you to get the best pricing on air, rental car, and hotels, making your vacation planning more convenient!

 

Our alliance with ICE helps us provide you with even greater enhancements to your RCI membership.

 

Have you taken advantage of any of these benefits yet? Let us know what you think by commenting below!

 

 

*Not available to all members

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Cabo San Lucas


I spent a wonderful week in Cabo San Lucas, MX at Pueblo Bonito Resort at Sunset Beach. Pictures can't capture the beauty of that property. Our room was very nice, including the Pacific Ocean view. The food was outstanding in all of the restaurants. I made use of the fitness center, the spa and one of the pools. I found things extremely clean and the service fantastic. It's convenient to be able to take the free shuttle to the other Pueblo Bonito properties in Cabo as well. I can't wait for my next visit!

 

I spent a wonderful week in Cabo San Lucas, MX at Pueblo Bonito Resort at Sunset Beach. Pictures can't capture the beauty of that property. Our room was very nice, including the Pacific Ocean view. The food was outstanding in all of the restaurants. I made use of the fitness center, the spa and one of the pools. I found things extremely clean and the service fantastic. It's convenient to be able to take the free shuttle to the other Pueblo Bonito properties in Cabo as well. I can't wait for my next visit!

- Cheryl from Farmington, MI

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I Love Cabo!


I want to tell you about Cabo! I just loved it there! I was amazed by all the cactus and foothills surrounded by the gorgeous deep blue water. The rock formations and the Arch in the Sea of Cortez are spectacular! Locals said that it only rains approximately 11 days a year. Since I live in Florida, I noticed the lack of humidity and enjoyed it immediately. It was true desert conditions, in the 80's during the day and cooled nicely each evening. This was a timeshare trade for me, staying at the RCI Gold Crown, five-star resort Pueblo Bonito Resort at Sunset Beach. The resort is situated on the Western side of the tip of Baja, on a hillside overlooking the Pacific. This spectacular getaway provides incredible views from hacienda-style villas overlooking a magnificent expanse of private beach and sparkling deep blue sea. This has to be the most fantastic resort I have ever experienced. The luxurious all-suite accommodations along with five ocean-view pools was amazing. Even though the beach there is non-swimmable because of the strong currents, walks on the beach and listening to the pounding waves was breathtaking. There is magnificent dining on property but be certain to make reservations. All the restaurants are very popular, The Spa massages and facials were relaxing and delightful. The resort provides complimentary shuttle golf carts to escort guests around the property. They also offer a shuttle bus to adjacent Pueblo Bonito Pacifica, and nearby (10 minutes) to Pueblo Bonito Los Cabos as well as Pueblo Bonito Rose where you can enjoy full use of all amenities and restaurants. These properties are adjacent to each other and are located on one of the best swimmable beaches in Los Cabos, Medano Beach. This is also near downtown and within walking distance to many shops and restaurants. Be sure to try the tortilla soup at The Office. Best I have ever tasted! And you can dine with your feet in the sand! The marina is also located nearby providing boats for diving, whale watching, deep sea fishing and glassbottom boats with boat tours for spectacular views of Lover's Beach and the Arch.

The Los Cabos International airport is approximately 45 minutes from the resort and is near the quaint town of San Jose del Cabo. I recommend arranging transportation with the resort in advance of your arrival. If you rent a car be certain to drive approximately 30 minutes up the Pacific coast to Todos Santos to visit the famed Hotel California and many other interesting shops and sights in that area.

As you can tell I definitely enjoyed Cabo and certainly recommend that you experience this destination for your next vacation. The people are extremely friendly and accommodating and do everything possible to make your vacation a wonderful memory!

- Janelle A. from Clearwater, FL

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So much to do in St. Maarten


Mark K. - Travel Stories and RCI NewsLast summer, my wife and I, along with another couple, planned a vacation to St. Maarten for a week of sun and relaxation on the beach. We decided to go during July, which is considered their “off season,” so it was nice and quiet. We stayed at the Atrium Beach Resort and Spa, located right on Simpson Bay and close to everything!

 

St. Maarten is a beautiful island with lots to do, see and experience. One day, we went around the island to the various towns and beaches to shop and eat. Another day, we went ocean kayaking to a beach close to our resort. At that beach, there was an outdoor bar with live music. There was even free Wi-Fi, so I was able to get onto the internet from my phone. It was nice to check back into civilization every so often!

 

In my opinion, the one thing you must do when you visit St. Maarten is go to the famous Maho Beach.  This is the beach where the planes fly so close to it, it looks like you can touch them. Located next to this beach is an outdoor restaurant where you can sit, order food and watch the planes fly in.  People we spoke to there had spent hours sitting and watching.

 

After spending 7 days on the island there was still so much to do. I’m looking forward to my next trip back! To learn more about St. Maarten, check out this article from the North America version of Endless Vacation® magazine. Or, come back to the RCI Blog this week, where you can read stories and see photos from RCI subscribing members who have traveled to this amazing island. Trust me, these photos are incredible and really make me want to plan my next trip back.

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Mazatlan, Mexico


I went to Mazatlan in August 2011 and spent two weeks at my home resort  (Pueblo Bonito Resort at Emerald Bay). I had a wonderful time! The personnel was very friendly, helpful, and kind. The food was delicious, the drinks were tasty, the spa there was fabulous! I spent a lot of time in the pools--yes, there are several. I took a tour and ate dinner downtown at the other Pueblo Bonito on the beach. My room was always cleaned well. The entire staff was so supportive in every way. My Mexican vacation was truly that--a great vacation!!

 

- Wilma S. from Westfield, IN

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Florida Vacations - Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa




Discover the rich heritage of Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort with it's Victorian elegance and quiet charm. Named for the natural mineral hot springs found in the area, Saratoga Springs Resort immerses you in history, relaxation and luxury. The resort is a lakeside resort featuring Victorian architecture and great activities. Local attractions include Disney's Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Downtown Disney, Typhoon Lagoon Water park and much more. Transportation to all Walt Disney Resort areas is available by ferry or bus at no additional cost.

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Palm Beach Shores


My husband and I traveled to Palm Beach Shores for our wedding anniversary in 2007. We had the best time and the weather was perfect. For an anniversary present, I arranged for a full body massage for the two of us at the spa in the resort. It was awesome! My husband enjoyed it so much he wants me to learn to massage him from now on! The Palm Beach Shores area is so beautiful, with lots of sightseeing, shopping and the food is great! I would recommend this place for anyone wanting to have a restful and relaxing vacation.

- Patti B. from Hugheston, WV
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Mexico Trip 2007


Our family usually vacations with our good friends. Our first trip to Mexico, was at a spot of their choice. We decided to go back in 2007, using our RCI deposited time. The wife was very hesitant about staying at a "timeshare resort" as her past experience was poor. However, we stayed at the Mayan Palace on the Riviera Maya. Well, safe to say, she was very impressed and no longer worried about the timeshare horror stories. Our friends were also on hand for our 2009 Cancun visit to the Moon Palace Golf and Spa, which was also an exchange through RCI. I do not think we will be able to go anywhere now without them. Thanks RCI, and our friends thank you too.

- Lee J. from Redding, CA
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Riviera Maya, Mexico 2008


In May 2008, my husband, daughter and son went to the Grand Mayan at Riviera Maya. We had coordinated our trip with my brother-in-law and his wife and daughter who also exchanged a room for their timeshare week. The Grand Mayan had large rooms for ourselves and our adult children to share. There was plenty to do at the resort. We explored the Riviera Maya activities, and even enjoyed some spa treatments. The highlight was celebrating our son's 21st birthday...The most difficult part of the trip was navigating the Mexican highways. I'm just glad that my brother-in-law did all the driving instead of my husband. I also came to understand what a terrible backseat driver I am. Both couples came away from that trip appreciating our own spouses. We had a great time and enjoyed the pampering of a luxury resort. Now to plan another trip...

- Jane K. from Denver, CO
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Cocooned in paradise


We got a room for a week through an exchange with RCI. It was a four hour drive from Chandigarh and away from the hustle bustle of Shimla and next to the Bishop Cotton School and the police headquarters.

We got a room for a week through an exchange with RCI. It was a four hour drive from Chandigarh and away from the hustle bustle of Shimla and next to the Bishop Cotton School and the police headquarters.

Since it was off season, we got a good room (no. 602 on the 3rd floor). The rooms are huge and the furniture, fixtures and fittings in the entire hotel are from China. The bed is almost 9 feet wide (so I was quite blessed not to hear my spouse snoring…but had to really shift to snuggle up). Bathrooms are also very modern and the shower has a massage spout console to ease you after the long walks…

The food is expensive so we rarely ate at the resort. For breakfast we had carried theplas and other stuff and they have a coffee maker. But there aren't many options for food nearby. A good trek uphill takes you to the Ashiana restaurant which is spooky but the food was good and a good value for money. Besides that, you need a vehicle to find restaurants. The bus stand is just downhill at Kalini Chowk which takes you to the Mall.

In the mall you can enjoy a good filter coffee at the India Coffee House…or enjoy the momos (dumplings) and burgers from Krishna Bakery. We stayed for 6 nights and enjoyed all of them. The staff is very helpful and courteous. And though the hotel is cocooned between tall deodar trees, the rooms are spacious.

We took a cab one day and went to Tattapani where the newly opened Hotel Hot Spring Therme and Spa pumps sulphuric water into their small pool and two private pools.
They had a good deal for a full meal from soup to dessert plus use of their very clean and modern spa.

Also since it had just snowed we went to Narkanda which was magical…unlike the crowded Kufri. On the way back, we had a meal (mushroom peas and egg curry) from the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Hotel (The Apple Blossom, Fagu) and it was superb. They have an unobstructed 180 degree view of the Himalayas and decent rooms for a day stay.

No trip is complete in Shimla without seeing the Wildflower Hall. We went for a meal there which was good and ate in an open area facing the mountains. They also showed us their awesome open air infinity pool with a Jacuzzi facing the Himalayas. The meal at Cecil was also good, their apple crumble is divine…

- Shimla from India

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Pacific Shores


We put in a late search for a summer on the beach, and hit the jackpot with a week at Pacific Shores Resort and Spa. We walked through the acres of beautiful, manicured gardens, kayaked in the lagoon with the seals in the mornings, dined at the excellent restaurants, and laid in the hot tub with the lush plantings and soothing waterfalls. Wow. Thanks, RCI.

- Paula H. from Saratoga Springs, UT
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Montreal 2008


My wife and I visited a charming resort situated in the mountains near Montreal. The resort had a small lake, a fantastic indoor pool and spa, and so much peace and quiet. My wife was pregnant at the time, and she loved relaxing in the deep whirlpool bath at the resort.

- Michael S. from Cincinnati, OH
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Hungary: Stylish Fall Retreat


Helen F. - UK and Travel Destination NewsWith ornate Art Nouveau buildings fronting tree-lined boulevards, elegant coffee houses and spas, Budapest makes for a very civilized and gentle fall break. Its interesting shops tucked away down its ancient cobbled streets also provide a great opportunity to pick up some early Christmas shopping. Váci Utca, the city’s main shopping street, houses Hotel Gellért where visitors will be able to relax in some of the most opulent thermal baths to be found anywhere in the world.

This historic city is just a two-hour train journey from RCI’s affiliated resorts in the country’s Lake Balaton region. Away from the buzz of Budapest, the lake is a relaxing retreat with sandy beaches and glistening waters surrounded by scenic wooded landscapes, while the many historic towns close by, with their castles and ancient ruins, remind the visitor of times gone by.

European members can find a whole host of activities and attractions that can be enjoyed in a day trip to Budapest in the September issue of Holiday, the RCI magazine.

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