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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XYZ


My husband and I traveled to Malaga, Spain for my very first European vacation. Having traveled the world before we met, my husband was eager to show me one of his favorite countries: Spain. It did not disappoint! Eating late and afternoon siestas make for my kind of place! For a portion of our trip we stayed at Los Amigos Beach Club Playamarina in Malaga - a great place to relax and then drive around the countryside and take in the Mediterranean. They had a night club there and we'll never forget the singer who was joking around with the audience while his fly was undone and his shirt sticking out of the zipper. We all thought at first it was on purpose but then he just kept singing about 5 more songs and we're all laughing and snickering. He finally caught on and nearly fell off the stage laughing from embarrassment. It was hysterical. With all of the beautiful architecture, wonderful food, and gorgeous weather, THIS is what I remember from Spain?! Yes. It was really funny, but maybe you had to be there?

-Kristin F. from Albany, Oregon

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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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My Enchantment with the South of Spain


Southern Spain remains close to the top of my “Great Places to Go” list in Europe. Maybe that's because it has what seems to be never-ending sunshine, miles of beautiful beaches, and quaint villages with pretty whitewashed houses. Whatever the reason, the southern part of Spain has appeal, and a lot of it.

Malaga is an excellent vacation destination in southern Spain. Some of the greatest places to visit in and around Malaga are: the Costa del Sol, Costa Brava, Marbella, Torremolinos, Benalmadena, Fuengirola and Puerto Banus. These are some of the most treasured tourist areas in all of Spain.

Also of special interest in Malaga is a town called Mijas. Mijas is one of the most enchanting examples of an Andalucian village, with narrow streets bordered by brilliant white houses and squares bursting with orange blossoms.

Don't feel you have to stay on the coast. Ronda, located north of San Pedro in the hills, is well worth a visit. It's a city in an exceptionally beautiful, natural setting on the edge of an abrupt rocky precipice. In the quiet back streets, you'll find old houses with flower-filled courtyards and the amazing Palacio de Mondragon. It is said that the first ever bullfight on foot took place there. The town's most famous landmark is its bridge. At over 300 feet high, it spans the gorge that once divided it.

To cover this area of Spain and not mention golf would be unfair. After all, it is one of the primary reasons why people come to this part of Spain – especially during the off-season. There are nearly 60 golf courses in Andalucia, 30 of which are along the Costa del Sol. There are magazines available (written in English) that detail the courses and their location. Be sure to call ahead and reserve tee-times!

This week on the RCI Blog, we will be sharing stories and photos from RCI subscribing members who have travelled to Malaga, Spain. Come back and take a look!

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The beaches of Brazil’s Florianópolis


Traveling to Florianópolis and plan to head to one of the 42 beaches? Check out this article from Endless Vacation® magazine for suggestions on which ones you should check out.

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Brazil’s Fortaleza has the best of both worlds…


If you are looking for a vacation in Brazil that combines the buzz of a big city, but also the relaxation of a sunny day on the shore, look no further than Fortaleza! This article from Endless Vacation® magazine is filled with a lot of interesting info that can help you plan your trip there!

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Beautiful Beaches and Great Food in Brazil


FabianaWhen we began planning our beach vacation in Brazil, we wanted to go somewhere that would be fun for our 3-year-old son as well. We decided to visit Fortaleza, a city that offers attractions for all tastes and ages.

Being able to take advantage of all the Fortaleza has to offer requires a lot of planning! Fortaleza offers a vibrant and varied nightlife every night, as well as remote beaches such as Canoa Quebrada and Morro Bronco. Both are worth visiting to experience their enchanting sand dunes and colorful cliffs from a romantic buggy ride. Praia do Futuro is another beautiful beach.

Beach Park is a must-see attraction for those with young children. It is the largest water park in Latin America and is located in Porto das Dunas, with over 20 fun and exciting attractions – from refreshing water fountains to water slides that are as high as a 14-story building – spanning an area of 35 thousand square meters.

To experience the region’s unique delicacies, enjoy a lobster in de Meireles Beach. For other regional specialties such as baião-de-dois and carne de-sol, visit the Varjota neighborhood.

Fortaleza is a destination that will leave you filled with nostalgia and longing to return at the earliest opportunity.

This week on the RCI blog we’ll be sharing photos from my trip, as well as articles about Brazil from Endless Vacation© magazine. I hope all of this will help you plan your next vacation in Brazil!

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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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Hawaii Vacation


Hawaii Vacation

This is a gorgeous picture of our three boys exploring the coral reefs along the North Shore of Kauai.

-Mary M. from Gilbert, Arizona

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Family Vacation to Kauai


In May 2011, our family of eight enjoyed a trip of a lifetime to Kauai, Hawaii. We were celebrating our daughter's birthday, our anniversary and Mother's Day. We had a fantastic time at the Wyndham Kauai Beach Villas. The two units we had accommodated all of us very comfortably and the location was superb. Besides enjoying the pool and the beautifully landscaped gardens at the condo, we also enjoyed visiting several beaches, the Waimea Canyon, the Spouting Horn, Wailua Falls and Opaeka'a Falls. One of the highlights of our visit was the helicopter ride we booked through the condo. It took us over the Na Pali Coast and the Waimea Canyon, into an extinct volcano and over several majestic waterfalls. What awesome memories! We'd love to go back!

-Darlene A. from Red Deer, AB, Canada

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Kauai 2012


My husband and I were blessed to be able to take our daughter, son-in-law and grandsons, ages 15 and 12, to Kauai this year.  It was me and my husband's third trip to Hawaii, but it was the first time for our guests, as well as, their first ride in an airplane.

Our grandchildren were a little apprehensive about going somewhere without their friends, but this quickly turned out to be a vacation of a lifetime for them as well. Kauai is a beautiful island.  Where else can you go and see spectacular sunsets and daily rainbows. Often double rainbows at that. The tour of the Na Pali Coast was breathtakingly beautiful.

At the end of the trip, our 12-year-old grandson was already thinking about a return next year.  He asked his mom and dad "If I make all A's on my report card, can we come back next year?"

-Janice H. from Gainseville, Georgia

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Kauai – a great vacation no matter what side of the island you are on!


Elizabeth D

Hawaii’s island of Kauai easily ranks as one of the most beautiful and tranquil places on earth.  For outdoor enthusiasts, both the North and the South sides of Kauai offer awesome activities.  Having stayed on both the North and the South sides, it's really difficult to say which is nicer as they each have a unique appeal.  Typically people shy away from the North side of the island in the winter because it tends to be rainier.  Nonetheless, it boasts lush, green vegetation, beautiful beaches, panoramic golf courses overlooking the ocean and awesome views of the island's many waterfalls. 

The North side of Kauai is home to the start of the incredible Na Pali Coast that attracts people from around the world to hike its rigorous 17-mile trail overlooking the coastline.  Another North side favorite destination is the Kilauea Lighthouse.  It too has breathtaking and is incredible for bird watching as it is located on a wildlife preserve. 

The South side is about an hour drive from the North side of the island. The South side tends to be less rainy and slightly warmer than the North side and is a perfect destination any time of the year.  The South side is home to magnificent beaches such as the beautiful Poipu Beach Park which is known for its excellent snorkeling.  In addition, it’s common place to see monk seals and sea turtles at this beach.  Families find it a great beach to spend the day at as it not only offers calm swimming conditions, but it is also home to convenient picnic facilities.

Evenings are equally tranquil in Kauai as the island offers spectacular sunsets.  In fact, there is no better way to end the day on Kauai than to take in a sunset from one of Kauai’s many beaches!

If you’d like to read more about Kauai and see some spectacular photos of the area, come back to the RCI Blog. We’ll be sharing stories and photos from RCI subscribing members who have traveled to this amazing island all week long!

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Bringing My “A” Game


Angela BA few weeks ago I was approached by Christel House to be a guest speaker for Career Day.  I was told I would present to two classes of fourth graders.  I had been to Christel House Academy in Indianapolis several times volunteering, to help with administrative items for teachers, and also for their fall family event, which RCI sponsors, but this would be my first time as a guest speaker.

When I arrived, I was seated with three other guest speakers, one of whom was Josh, an ex-marine double amputee. And I thought to myself, the kids would be in awe because he was a marine and I would really need to bring my A game to keep their attention!

Each class had approximately twenty students. Since I work in the vacation business, and Christel House is one of Wyndham’s Charity of Choice foundations, I wanted to focus my presentation on how we engage our associates to continue to create vacation dreams for our members, and the importance of organizations giving back to the community where they are located.

Since I was speaking to students and RCI is about vacations, I decided to include a geography quiz within my presentation, so that I could reward the students who answered the geography questions correctly.  The photo below is from one of the classes I spoke to, where in the end, I gave each student a Frisbee with the RCI logo on it!

CHA Students

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“Work hard. Believe in yourself. Set goals. Surround yourself with good people."


Becky ABecky A., Director, Christel House Indianapolis

A few weeks ago, I attended the very first graduation for our Christel House Drop Out Recovery School (DORS) here in Indianapolis. It is a program where adults, age 18 and older, can earn their high school diplomas (not a GED) and college credit at a local community college at the same time. We launched the program in August 2012, and in our first year, have approximately 175 students ranging in age from 18 – 53.

Our first graduating class consisted of 5 students, four women and a man. They ranged in age from 19 to 34 and had 9 children between them.  All of them have struggled to make ends meet on minimum wage pay and were searching for better lives for themselves and their families. Life is tough, but even more so when you don’t have a high school diploma. The average high school graduate earns $8,000 more a year than a person without a diploma. That extra $8,000 a year means the ability to put food on the table, buy diapers for babies, put gas in the car and pay the electric bill each month. It also translates into an extra $300,000 in earnings over a lifetime. It has a significant impact on a family’s quality of life and on a person’s own self-worth.

Each of our graduates had a dream to earn their high school diploma. As I watched them march in to “Pomp and Circumstance,” wearing their caps and gowns, I thought about how much courage it must take to return to school after not having a positive experience the first time. All of them juggle jobs, families and school work. It has been an uphill battle, but they didn’t give up. They were not looking for handouts. They were willing to put in the work to improve their lives.  They just needed a place to do that. That place is Christel House.

As I congratulated them, each one told me how hard they worked to achieve this milestone in their lives. The young man told me there were days he just wanted to give up and would think about blowing off class, but his classmates would text him and tell him he needed to come to school. One of the young women told me that she was deeply grateful to our principal, Emily, who was both tough on her and her biggest champion. She gained the self-confidence she needed to understand that she can do anything she sets her mind to do.  That young woman is going on to study at our local community college now.

The commencement speech was delivered by Christel DeHaan, the founder of Christel House and co-founder of RCI.  She shared with the graduates her thoughts on how to live a successful life. Work hard.  Believe in yourself. Set goals. Surround yourself with good people. Good advice coming from anyone, but most poignant because of who was speaking.

I’ve heard Christel DeHaan give that same advice many times before and I’ve seen her live it.  My first job out of college was at RCI and I am fortunate to work with her at Christel House.   You may not know this, but RCI was started in her living room nearly 40 years ago. She set goals, worked hard and surrounded herself with good people. What started as a home-based, fledgling business is now a leader in the vacation ownership industry and a multi-national company that sends millions of people on vacation around the world each year. 

“Work hard. Believe in yourself. Set goals. Surround yourself with good people.” It works. I hope our graduates carry that advice with them throughout their lives.

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View From Above


View From Above

Fabulous vacation location. Very close to everything. I won't stay anywhere else.

-Kathleen S.

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New York


New York is one of my favorite vacations and staying at The Manhattan Club made it so. We were so close to everything that we walked most of the time. We love New York!

-Dixie L. from Goddard, Kansas

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Red River, New Mexico


Red River, New Mexico

Taking some of the most beautiful (and exciting) roads in the U.S., we visited the fascinating town of Red River, that resembles many parts of Austria I have visited. It was in the 40's and 50's in August. One of the best vacations we've ever taken!

-Charles S. from San Antonio, Texas

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Ballooning Kissimmee


Ballooning Kissimmee

Up early on the first morning of a July week in Kissimmee, Florida in 2011 allowed us to enjoy a quiet cup of coffee on the beach as the balloonists floated by. The mirrored surface of the lake provided the perfect opportunity for the mirror image! We really love vacation relaxation!

-Timothy A. from Farragut, Tennessee

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Summertime, summertime…


Emily S.Well, it’s finally here! The first official day of summer is this Friday, June 21 (here in the Northern Hemisphere)! To celebrate the start of the summer season – and to help give you some ideas for a summer vacation of your own if you haven’t booked or exchanged yet – we’ll be sharing summertime photos from RCI subscribing members on the RCI Blog all week!

Whether you like your summer vacations filled with relaxation, adventure, or a little bit of both, these pictures can help to give you the inspiration you need to determine where you want to go and what you want to do!

Have you already planned your summer vacation? If so, comment below and let us know where you are going!

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