Myrtle Beach – Something for Everyone


Mark K. - Travel Stories and RCI NewsOver the years, Myrtle Beach has always been one of my most favorite places to visit. While it seems like the area changes almost every time I am there, there is always something for any person of any age to enjoy. Whether you want to sit on any of the 60 miles of wide sandy beaches, play on one of the over 100 golf courses including some designed by famous golfers (Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Greg Norman), or enjoy a great meal at one of the 1000+ restaurants, Myrtle Beach has it all.

 

Not being the avid golfer, I tend to lean towards the beach and restaurants when I’m on vacation with my family. One of my favorite places to go is Broadway at the Beach. Built around a lake, this shopping center has almost 20 restaurants, over 100 specialty shops, nightclubs, and theaters. One of my wife’s favorite places is Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. For the kids, there is a Ripley’s Aquarium and the WonderWorks attraction, which is in a building that appears to be upside down!

 

Another place for shopping, restaurants, and entertainment is Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach. Barefoot Landing is home to the House of Blues, a mirror maze, the Barefoot Princess – for sightseeing and dinner cruises that leave directly from the Barefoot Landing marina, and much, much more.

 

Even though Broadway at the Beach and Barefoot Landing are two of the best places for shopping and dining, the one place in my opinion that is a must-see is the main strip (Ocean Boulevard) and the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and Promenade, which is over a mile long. A recent addition to the boardwalk is the SkyWheel, a gigantic wheel that is 18 stories high with glass-enclosed gondolas that can hold up to six people each. On the boardwalk, there is also a full service Jimmy Buffet's Landshark Bar and Grill on an observation deck overlooking the ocean.

 

Great food and relaxation with family can never be beat, and Myrtle Beach is a place that can provide all that and more. Come back to the RCI Blog this week to read stories and see photos from RCI subscribing members who have visited Myrtle Beach.

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Las Vegas – An amusement park for adults


Michael M. - Travel Stories and RCI Updates

There’s so much more to Las Vegas than what is portrayed in films like Ocean’s 11 and The Hangover. As a matter of fact, I’ve been there a few times – for vacations and work-related events – and I can honestly say that I feel as though I barely scratched the surface of things to do. Here are some of the highlights of my trips, plucked from recollection, which I would recommend to young and old alike.

 

Casino-hotels on The Strip are home to world-class restaurants of every possible cuisine and extravagant buffets for those on a budget. During my stays I’ve eaten at more of the buffets than the fancy restaurants, but I’ll never forget dinner at Le Cirque – a high-end French restaurant in Bellagio. What made that dinner special, in addition to the food, was the unobstructed view of the famed Fountains of Bellagio, an attraction not to be missed. Prime Steakhouse (same location) also has views of the fountain and will make for an unforgettable dinner. Fancy restaurants aside, my most memorable dining experience was at an all-night buffet at Caesars Palace, where a late night grilled cheese had me drooling...not because of the taste but, rather, because actress Eva Longoria was sitting only a few tables away!

 

After fuelling up with a delicious meal, I was either off to see one of the incredible, Cirque du Soleil shows like, “Love” or “O” (both of which were amazing) or I burned off calories by visiting any one of the dozens of nightclubs Las Vegas has to offer. Almost all of the prominent hotel/casinos on The Strip have at least two nightclubs, lounges and/or bars – all great for meeting people or spending time with friends or a loved one. If my group wasn’t in the mood for a show or dancing we’d certainly have a blast shopping – the Miracle Mile Shops boast a variety of stores and boutiques for the label conscious and frugal alike.

 

There really is an abundance of activities and attractions located in and around Las Vegas; you can even take a quick trip to see the Grand Canyon…but we’ll tell you more about that another time. For now, enjoy this week’s stories and photos dedicated to Las Vegas on the RCI Blog!

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Bahamas Vacation 2005


We took my entire family to Abaco Islands in the Bahamas and decided to get married on a beach. We drove to all the different beaches, until we found the one we liked best, and went to the restaurant across the street for the reception. The restaurant was really nice, and when we told them we were having 40 people for a sit down steak dinner, they cordoned off the patio and put our wedding CD in the intercom for all the guests to listen to "our songs." We loved the ocean and when we got home, we saw the beach where we were married was rated as one of the 10 best in the world. (It was number three on the list!). Thanks RCI for a great wedding and honeymoon!

 

- Melody E. from North Las Vegas, NV

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Hawaiian Wedding 2007


My husband had been an RCI subscribing member for many years before we met. We used the unit at his home resort a few times, but after our engagement on Feb. 14, we decided to go to Hawaii for our wedding...We stayed in Kona for 4 days before island jumping over to Maui for a week. Both resorts were wonderful. Two days before flying back home to Virginia we got married on the beach. Just us, the minister, a photographer, and two sea turtles who crashed the ceremony. It was truly the trip of a lifetime. Almost two years later we are beginning to plan another vacation through RCI, this time to Walt Disney World for our new son.

 

- Russell K. from King William, VA

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Thanksgiving with the Christel House Cousins


Becky A., Director, Christel House

By: Becky A., Director, Christel House

 

My first real job out of college was at RCI.  I started as a vacation guide 22 years ago.  As a small town girl from the middle of Indiana, working for RCI opened my eyes to different people and cultures and created a broader view of the world for me.  I learned to embrace and celebrate cultural diversity.  After all, isn’t that part of the magic of traveling to a new place?

 

In my role at Christel House, I love working with RCI and all of the timeshare companies that support our efforts.  But, my favorite thing is spending time with our kids. I personally know most of the young people you’re hearing from this week on the blog.  Some of them have been to the U.S. to attend a summer leadership camp and have stayed at my house on numerous occasions.  They are part of my extended family and like all families, we have special traditions, including an annual Thanksgiving feast.  Only, our feast takes place in August at the end of camp and green bean casserole is nowhere on the menu.

 

We give thanks the Christel House way, with Indian flat bread, guacamole, curry, tacos and other “family” favorites from the across the globe. The kids each pick a food from their home country that they would like to share with their Christel House “cousins”.  That’s what they call each other – they may be from different countries, but to them, Christel House is home and we are all family. 

 

The kids do all of the cooking.  My job is to make sure no one cuts themselves or burns the house down – they aren’t used to sharp knives or cooking on a stove that has more than one heat setting.  The end result is a humble meal made from the most basic of ingredients.  Yet to me, it is far better than a gourmet meal in any five star restaurant.  It isn’t just about the food.

 

Just like with lots of families, some of the best conversations take place around my kitchen table.  The kids take so much pride in sharing their unique customs and traditions with each other.  It is something we all have, regardless of whether we are rich or poor.  They also love to find the common threads that run through all of our cultures. That’s what happens when people of different backgrounds come together through travel or over a shared meal; it breaks down barriers and promotes mutual understanding and respect.  And, that is the magic of what happens in my kitchen each August.

 

A photo of me and the “cousins” cooking our Thanksgiving dinner.

A photo of me and the “cousins” cooking our Thanksgiving dinner.

 

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A Life Saved...now our best "Buddy"


STORY CONTEST WINNER!

 

We were vacationing on Grand Bahama October 2010. One evening, my husband was out by the seawall of Mayfield Beach & Tennis Club and heard some whimpering below. He discovered a dog, stranded on some rocks with the tide filling in around him. My husband lifted the dog to safety. He looked thin and hungry, so we fed him that night (and of course, he returned the next day!) We fed him again and gave him fresh water. My husband contacted the Humane Society of Grand Bahama to pick him up. There was something in that dog's eyes that spoke to us. In our 30 years of marriage, we never owned a dog...even though my husband has been hinting at getting one for several years. The next day, my husband Leo went to the Humane Society to visit the dog and donate some food. They took a picture of him and the dog with our camera. When we returned home, I contacted the Humane Society of Grand Bahama via email and attached a picture of Leo and the little "Potcake" (they tell us it's a mixed breed indigenous to the Bahamas). I asked if it was at all possible to adopt this dog, and can we get him up to the northeast? I wanted to surprise my husband and bring the dog here. They were so accommodating! When Leo told me he also contacted the shelter about adoption, I immediately had to contact the humane society again and tell them I wanted to keep this a surprise for Leo...to please tell him that the dog has either been adopted, or is not medically ready to transport yet. They played the game so well...and within a couple of weeks, our little Buddy was on his way to us. The first leg of his trip was on a private pilot's lap from Grand Bahama. When he reached Ft Lauderdale, a foster mom picked him up and brought him to her house (she attached a lovely note on his crate to us saying that we had a "real special dog" here). The foster mom brought him back to the airport the next morning and after a stop in Atlanta, I finally got to meet our little Potcake at our local airport in CT. My son and I brought him home. When we brought him in the house, my husband was in shock...really didn't say much, just kind of fell to the floor, and the dog and him rolled around playing with each other. I had a lot of support from friends, so they all entered the house after the initial homecoming to wish Leo and our little potcake "Buddy" well. He really is the sweetest dog and best Buddy ever!

 

- Submitted by: vcegelka

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Where in the world am I?


Well, my parents told me we were going on vacation. I got to the airport --that plane was bigger than the world! We got on the plane and took off. Why did they go soooo fast? I wasn't in that big of a hurry! When we got to Cabo , our resort was the best..Swimming pools and slides and a beach just feet away. Where do I start? Well one day I played in the pool all day. Another day we went to pier and I couldn't believe my eyes---there was Captain Hook--my good friend! Then I tried on several sombreros. Why are they so big! Next day I went para sailing--how fun. While at divorce beach I held 6 iguanas. Mom and dad said NO to bringing one home. I spent another day at my resort. What fun.. This is my story thru the eyes of a 4 year old.

 

- Submitted by: cowboys

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St. Maarten Honeymoon 1996


I had never been on a vacation before...ever. For our wedding gift, my in-laws gave my husband and me two weeks at any RCI affiliated resort. We chose to go to St. Maarten in the Caribbean and it was paradise! We went to two different resorts - equally wonderful - and when it came time to go back home, I cried and begged to live there forever. Three years later we were invited to hear about RCI at a local hotel. Of course we went and bought a timeshare right then and there. Our honeymoon experience was so amazing that we wanted to always have the option of great vacations! Thanks for starting us off right!

 

- Alexis P. from Maple Valley, WA

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Cancun


We enjoyed a wonderful family vacation over Christmas and the New Year in Cancun. There was something for everyone in our group of all ages. Sightseeing, resort activities, fabulous weather, glorious beaches at a world renowned resort - hard to believe all made possible by a reasonably priced exchange fee! Never having ventured out of our area through RCI, we were a bit apprehensive about traveling so far from home. The ease and accuracy of travel planning through RCI made all aspects of planning very enjoyable. We found the hotel staff and local people to be warm, friendly & attentive. Thank you for another great vacation.

 

- Carol W. from Saugus, MA

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Orlando 2009


In January of 2009, my wife and I were able to exchange through RCI for a beautiful three bedroom unit at the Hilton Grand Vacation Club at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. We had been to Orlando many times before, but what made this trip so special was that, for the first time, we did it as grandparents. The unit enabled us to bring our oldest son, his wife, and our adorable grandson, RJ. We had all the space and comfort of home. Although we had always enjoyed the great Orlando attractions with our children, seeing them again through the eyes of a grandchild was extraordinary. Without RCI's exchange program, we never would have been able to do it.

 

- Brian C. from West Sayville, NY

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Orlando 2009


I own at a Vacation Village Resort property so when we went to Orlando, we were going to stay at Vacation Village at Parkway through my home resort. I went to the RCI website to check out reviews on other resorts in the area and ended up staying at the Silver Lake Resort in Kissimmee. The resort has RCI's silver crown distinction and, although we own at a resort with gold crown distinction, we were very satisfied. There was a movie theater and a game room on the property as well as 2 pools. The main pool had a tiki bar and it played the best music...What a great vacation. If it wasn't for RCI's great reviews and details on each resort, we probably wouldn't have had such a great time.

 

- Reginald M. from Salem, NH

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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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Disney World Trip 2008


It was our son's 10th birthday and we promised him that we would go to Walt Disney World. We stayed at one of the wonderful affiliated resorts there in Kissimmee, Florida and ended up buying a timeshare. It was so great to be able to fix our own meals and the kids could go swimming everyday! We had so much fun and it was so relaxing. We were only 10 minutes away from the theme parks...some nights we could see the fireworks from our place too! It made our son's birthday even better when they gave him a button that said that it was his birthday and everyone at the theme parks all told him "Happy Birthday!" If I had my way we would always stay at a resort for vacation because we can cook our own food, relax, and do laundry so I don't have a whole bunch to do when we get home. It is just like being home, but near a fun place to play too!

 

- Valerie D. from Nampa, ID

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Our Life as Turtles


My husband, Lou, and I sold our home in Long Beach, California in June of 2004. We sold or stored all our personal belongings until we could find a new home. Thus began our lives as "turtles." Meaning, we managed for the next two months with two suitcases each to exist in the Fort Lauderdale area until we purchased a new home. Kind of like a turtle with everything on our backs! For the next few weeks we stayed in four different RCI affiliated resorts in and around the Fort Lauderdale area. Thank goodness we had so many weeks deposited so we could rest our weary bodies during our new home search. Thank you RCI for all your great vacation guides who supported our efforts to find the best places to stay and enjoy as our homes!

 

- Kathleen K. from Fort Lauderdale, FL

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Dining With a Side of History in Washington, DC


Sara C. - Travel Stories from an RCI AssociateOur nation’s capital is a must see for any American.  Recently, I was fortunate to spend a week in Washington, DC taking in as much of the city as I could manage.  While I was there, I was able to tour the Supreme Court, spend time wandering through the United States Capitol Building, visiting Ford’s Theater, the Smithsonian, Mount Vernon (the home of George Washington), and Alexandria with a group of my peers.

 

One of the best parts of any vacation is the food.  The wonderful thing about Washington, DC is that your food comes with history.  We ate at the “Old Ebbitt Grill”, which was established in 1856.  Old Ebbitt Grill hosted several presidents, including Grant, Cleveland, Roosevelt, and many more.

 

We also ate at P.O.V., a restaurant atop the “W” Washington DC hotel, which overlooks the White House.  While we ate, we had the thrilling experience of spotting the Secret Service moving around on the roof of the White House.  It was definitely, “blink or you’ll miss them.”

 

Another place to eat is the Senate Dining Room on Capitol Hill.  Not only will you possibly hobnob with our nation’s leaders, you also need to try the historic Senate Bean Soup and read about its history on the menu.

 

Washington, DC is definitely the place where food and history meet. Do you have any stories you could share about Washington, DC? If so, please comment below. And be sure to come back this week to the RCI Blog to read other stories from RCI subscribing members who have visited Washington, DC!

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Virginia Vacations - Massanutten Resorts




Discover Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, home to Massanutten, a four seasons resort destination. It's the ideal setting for seeking your roots in history, your place in nature, and rejuvenation through recreation. Massanutten has it all, with sking, snowboarding, hiking, kayaking, golf, wine tasting, wildlife, entertainment, and history all onsite or nearby. Check out this video to see all Massanutten has to offer for your next vacation!
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Stowe, Vermont 1983


We have been RCI subscribing members for 30 years, and have enjoyed many fabulous vacations that we would have not taken on our own. One of the best trips was to Stowe, Vermont. It was summer, and we rode the tram to the top of the mountain just to look around. We were not at all prepared to mountain climb. We followed a trail just for fun, and somehow ended up on the top of the mountain with no idea how to get back down. We happened upon a very kind family of hikers who offered us some lunch, we were so hungry and lost! They guided us off the mountain. We became good friends with this family and continue to correspond with them today. They have actually traveled to our home for a visit!

- Jean W. from Canton, OH
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NASCAR


A few years ago, we stayed at a resort in the Poconos during the week that included Father's Day. My husband had always wanted to go to a NASCAR race and we happened to be near a NASCAR track. So, for Father's Day, I had pre-ordered tickets for us to go to a race nearby. That was probably the best Father's Day present he ever received. During the same week, I realized that we were only about 2 hours from New York City, a place my daughter had always wanted to visit. So, on our way home, we added 2 days to our trip and made another dream come true, for her. All in all, we got more out of that vacation than we originally anticipated.

- Ursula B. from Crown Point, IN
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Fishing in Aruba


Bob E. - RCI Associate Travel StoriesMy family and I have been haven’t missed our annual trip to Aruba for the past 12 years.  Aruba has everything you can ask for in a vacation destination: perfect weather, endless beaches, tubing, windsurfing, horseback riding and so much more. But have you ever thought about going fishing in Aruba?! We have made an annual tradition to go deep sea fishing together, along with friends we have made in Aruba over the years.

Early in the week we pick a day, no worries about weather because, well, it’s Aruba. We take a drive into Oranjestad to find an available boat and meet the captain. On the morning of our trip, we depart our resort at 8:00 am, and when we get there, the boat is ready and waiting.  The mates have the lines set up and ready to go. After only a half hour, the mates rig up the bait and set out the lines. Then it’s a waiting game…

The captain will troll until a fish hits. Be sure to set the line-up of who will land the fish before the first one is hooked. We typically use the timeless classic method of rock/ paper/scissors.

Over the years, we’ve landed everything from mahi mahi, barracuda and yellowfin tuna to sailfish, wahoo and blue marlin. After a long 4 hours at sea, we head back inland.  The mates clean and filet the fish while we sit back and relax.

Once on dry land, we divvy up the day’s catch and only take what we can eat. The rest we leave with the captain and mates to take home to their families or sell to the local restaurants.  We take our share back to our resort, have the chef cook it up and then enjoy our day’s bounty on the beach…

This week on the RCI Blog, we will be sharing stories from RCI subscribing members who have gone on fishing and camping trips. Be sure to check back and read what they had to say!

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Thinking of visiting the Dominican Republic? Try Punta Cana!


German R. - RCI and Caribbean NewsIf you are looking for a great Caribbean destination that has a lot to offer, Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic is the place to be! Tourists from all over the world – including US, Canada, France, Chile, Spain, Germany, Italy and China – visit this amazing hot spot every year. And I can assure you that once your plane lands in Punta Cana, you will immediately start to feel the vibe of this Caribbean paradise. There is even a local band playing live music in the airport!

When you start planning your vacation to Punta Cana, think about the type of resort you would like to stay in. Personally, I like resorts that offer an all inclusive (AI) plan. It’s convenient and I don’t have to worry about continually spending money while I’m there since everything is paid for upfront. Usually the AI plans include: meals, snacks, drinks, activities such as exercise classes, access to tennis courts and/or golf courses and guided hikes, and entertainment like shows, dancing and live music.

If you do go outside an AI plan, Punta Cana offers a wide selection of nice restaurants and dining options that range from local food to high international cuisine.

And I can’t forget to tell you about the beaches! Punta Cana is home to beautiful white sand beaches with blue turquoise water. It’s breathtaking. Beaches I suggest to visit are: Uvero Alto, Arena Gorda, Macao, Cabeza de Toro and El Cortecito. You won’t be disappointed!

One last thing…if you are a golfer, you’ll be happy to know that Punta Cana is considered one of the hottest golf destinations in the Caribbean. There are more than 12 golf courses. I’d recommend Punta Espada, Las Iguanas, La Cana and Punta Blanca.

If you visit Punta Cana, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Make sure to come back to the RCI Blog this week to read about how much RCI subscribing members have enjoyed Punta Cana as well.

Depending on resort and season, all-inclusive fees may cover meals, drinks, tours, transportation, resort activities, resort amenities, services and facilities. Resorts with mandatory all-inclusive fees require the fees to be prepaid at or before check-in. A Member may not be able to purchase food or drink at a resort if he or she chooses not to pay an optional all-inclusive fee. Fees, terms and conditions of packages covered by an all-inclusive fee are determined solely by the resort and are subject to change at any time.

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