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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Park City's Winter Wonderland


Utah

This old mining town has sure built itself up into an incredible getaway.

At first light you were schlepping a plastic bin through an airport security line. Now, the only line you’re worried about is which of the pitched white curves of Deer Valley’s Ontario Bowl to ski down—still untracked, it should be noted, at two in the afternoon. Visiting Park City is like slipping through a rabbit hole: It’s a quick, convenient and a true getaway. This historic mining town, just 40 minutes from the Salt Lake City airport, beguiles you with its downtown full of top-notch restaurants and galleries, and then tempts you with a trio of world-class ski resorts. Welcome to wonderland, Alice.

THE SERENDIPITY OF SILVER
While many ski towns try to manufacture charm, old Park City’s nearly abandoned boxy Wild West storefronts and frilly Victorians were waiting in mothballs, courtesy of the miners who chiseled more than $400 million worth of silver out of the surrounding Wasatch Mountains in the 1800s. Today, Park City’s fairy-tale Main Street twinkles with lights and brims with activity. Since the skiing here is considered less challenging than at neighboring resorts like Snowbird and Alta, the clientele tends to be of intermediate skill—couples and families looking for a well-rounded experience that includes shopping, dining and relaxing.

Pack snow-proof footwear, because this is a town for strolling. On foot, you’ll discover a warren of diversions tucked above, below and along Main Street and Park Avenue. Browse Bahnhof Sport for skiwear, Chloe Lane for designer jeans and Mary Jane’s for funky women’s clothing and accessories. A free trolley travels Main Street if you find yourself loaded down with packages.

Two dozen art galleries showcase everything from local watercolor landscapes to western bronze statues. Start with Phoenix Gallery, an airy, three-story space that provides a perfect backdrop for the contemporary mixed-media sculpture on display.

Shops and galleries seem to be outnumbered only by restaurants. It’s not easy to find a bargain, but the financial hit is worth it for some memorable meals. Rustic chophouses serve chile-rubbed prime cuts; trattorias could hold their own in Tuscany. The name on locals’ lips is Shabu, where you can cook your food in sizzling broth at the table. The atmosphere is fun and informal, and the “freestyle Asian cuisine” playfully pairs flavors, like sake-steamed sea bass with black bean and garlic paste.

Despite what you may have heard about Utah’s bewildering liquor laws, nightspots abound as well. Those wishing to close out a day on the slopes with a cocktail need only pay a nominal “membership fee” to get in to most clubs. Whether your tastes lean toward meeting for martinis and appetizers (Jean Louis) or drinking beer and dancing until dawn (Harry O’s), you can find it in spades in Park City. In Utah terms, Park City is “Sin City,” and the town takes pride in that nickname.

UP ON THE SLOPES
Above all, Park City is a ski town. Its fortunes were transformed from silver to snow in 1963, when a local mining company opened Treasure Mountain to skiing. Photos at the Park City Museum show zealous skiers traveling through old mine shafts and surfacing in soot-covered parkas on mid-mountain slopes.

Today Park City has 3 ski resorts, all regularly deluged with the dry-as-dust Utah snows that drift down the east side of the Great Salt Lake. Few ski hills are as centrally located as Park City Mountain Resort. To hit the slopes, all you need to do is hop on a chairlift downtown and soar over the city up the mountain. On the way down, skiers and snowboarders still schuss past the occasional mining relic. This 3,300-acre resort is especially well suited for families, thanks to its great location, abundance of ski-in/ski-out lodging, diversity of runs and teen-pleasing terrain parks (even lighted for night-riding) that routinely win kudos from snowboarding magazines. Near the base is the Alpine Coaster, a 2-person roller coaster that blazes downhill.

Four miles north, The Canyons has quietly become one of the largest ski areas in the country, with 3,700 acres of terrific bowls, gullies and ridiculously long, mellow cruisers. It's still expanding: 300 acres of aspen glades were added in 2008 around the new Dreamcatcher chairlift. And there's a growing village at the resort's base, though guests staying there might feel a bit isolated from Park City's other attractions.

The area's toniest accommodations can be found sidled up to Deer Valley Resort, a mile south of downtown Park City. This exclusive mountain prides itself on elite customer service and amenities. To prevent lift lines and give skiers plenty of elbow room, ticket sales are limited. Trail grooming approaches high art, and snowboarding is prohibited. Mid-mountain restaurants cater to the upscale clientele with dishes like grilled Atlantic salmon with orange hollandaise; the resort even markets its own line of signature foods (cilantro-lime glaze, anyone?). On sunny afternoons, after their 2-hour lunches, guests contentedly sip blueberry mojitos on The Beach, where Adirondack chairs are lined up in the snow.

The 1,825 acres of ski terrain at Deer Valley gets better every year. Guests tend to gravitate to those delightful corduroy groomers, leaving the wide-open steeps and glades for accomplished skiers off the Empire and new Lady Morgan chairlifts.

Not that you need more variety, but the scissor-sawed peaks ringing the horizon are home to more than a half-dozen additional ski resorts. These include Alta and Snowbird at the south end of Salt Lake City in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Robert Redford's Sundance near Provo, and the virtually undiscovered expanses of Snowbasin and Powder Mountain north near Ogden.

THE DETAILS

Bahnhof Sport: 693 Main St.; 435-645-9700

Chloe Lane: 556 Main St.; 435-645-9888

Mary Jane’s: 613 Main St.; 435-645-7463

Phoenix Gallery: 508 Main St.; 435-649-1006

Jean Louis: 136 Heber Ave.; 435-200-0260

Harry O’s: 427 Main St.; 435-655-7579

Park City Museum: 528 Main St; 435.649.7457; www.parkcityhistory.org

Park City Mountain Resort: 435-649-8111; parkcitymountain.com

The Canyons: 435-649-5400; thecanyons.com

Deer Valley Resort: 800-424-3337; deervalley.com

The Olympic Nordic Center at Soldier Hollow: soldierhollow.com

Utah Olympic Park: olyparks.com

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Jeffersonville: A Little Vermont Ski Town


Schussing down the Green Mountains is sublime, but so is strolling the snow-covered streets filled with galleries, bakeries, brewpubs and more in this quaint ski town.

"It’s very sweet,” the no-nonsense waitress at Jeffersonville's Mix Café warns a mother and two preteens about their menu choice. They've taken a break from Facebooking on their iPad to debate ordering the crème brulée French toast with "drunken" blueberries. The trio nod and order it anyway—why not? The Mix's particular twist on French toast is said to be the best in Vermont, and almost everyone who gathers here, from Carhartt-clad farmers to snow bunnies in Bogner, has probably earned the calories.

Sweet but also surprising: sort of like many Green Mountain ski towns themselves. Jeffersonville is the home of Smugglers' Notch. At one point, there really were smugglers in Smugglers’ Notch. Early-19th-century outlaws ferried embargoed British goods and later, during Prohibition, booze from Canada through this narrow pass in the Green Mountains. Today Smuggs is best known as a family-friendly ski resort with 3 interconnected mountains and 1,000 acres of terrain, a 2,610-foot vertical drop and an average annual snowfall of 322 inches.

You won’t find high-speed quads or gondolas at Smuggs—and that’s just the way locals like it. Slower chairlift rides means fewer people on the hill at one time. The toughest trails, such as Black Hole (the only triple black diamond in the Northeast), Liftline and F.I.S. wriggle down from Madonna Mountain, while Morse Mountain is a gigantic playground dusted with snow. Smuggs even has its own mascot, Mogul Mouse, and Burton Riglet Park for very young snowboarders.

For a non-ski option, visit ArborTrek for a zip-line canopy tour. The 2-hour Wild Winter Ride takes thrill seekers on a high-flying adventure through snow-covered treetops.

Après-ski, it’s hard to beat a slope-side Long Trail Ale at Morse Mountain Grille or the moules frites at the Hearth & Candle; both are right in the resort’s village. Feel like a drop of vodka or rum? Duck into Smugglers’ Notch Distillery. The rest of Main Street, and pretty much the whole town, stretches east from there: At 158 Main Restaurant & Bakery, you’ll find such kid-friendly fare as grilled cheese and chicken fingers, while the Jeffersonville Country Store (sells Betty Boop lamps, wooden trains, Bove’s pasta sauce and Lake Champlain Chocolates.

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Skiing Lake Tahoe


Two states, 15 ski areas and endless entertainment ring American’s favorite Alpine Lake.

In the 1950s, alpine skiing in America was a fringe, foreign sport and Squaw Valley an unknown rocky seam in the Sierras, high above Lake Tahoe. Then Squaw founder Alex Cushing implausibly launched—and even more implausibly won—a bid to host the 1960 Winter Olympics, a move he later admitted was little more than a marketing stunt for his fledgling ski area. Those Winter Games became the Sierras’ coming-out party, showing the world that America could more than rival the Alps. Skiers discovered that the saw-toothed range ringing Lake Tahoe ponies up more altitude than Innsbruck and way more snow than Chamonix.

BIG, BOLD SQUAW

Squaw Valley USA never looked back after those 1960 Olympics. It’s one of the nation’s leading ski areas, with 4,000 acres of steep bowls and granite knobs just 6 miles from Tahoe’s northwestern shore. Its precipitous runs have appeared in so many ski movies that the region has earned the nickname Squallywood.

But really, Squaw has everything. A network of more than 30 lifts leads to loads of sunny cruisers and intermediate tree skiing, too. You can glide to a mid-mountain ice rink at lunch, and at day’s end practically ski right into a steaming hot tub (if you happen to be a guest at the Resort at Squaw Creek). Then nab a table at the Six Peaks Grille, where chef Chad Shrewsbury uses molecular gastronomy techniques similar to those pioneered in Europe’s top kitchens. Luckily, you don’t need to understand his craft to enjoy it.

UNHERALDED ALPINE MEADOWS

Just 2 miles south of Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows sits in its big sister’s proverbial shadow, with fewer lift lines and plenty of elbow room. This is the locals’ favorite ski area, and it seems content to stay out of the spotlight: Its day lodge is utilitarian, and its biggest stars are the ski patrol dogs that are trained for avalanche rescue. They’ve become such popular icons that patrollers hand out baseball cards with canine stats: Bridger, a 62-pound golden retriever, “likes powder, practicing my search-and-rescue techniques and rolling in the snow.”

Alpine Meadows skis big, with short traverses leading to huge expanses of terrain that you didn’t even notice on the trail map. There’s also plenty of inbound terrain that’s accessible via short hikes along the ridge. “What’s really great about Alpine is that only about the middle third of it is lift-served,” says local Paul Ehreewil as he glides off the Summit chairlift. “Don’t be afraid to just get out and explore.”

NORTHSTAR PUTS ON THE RITZ

Tahoe never had the ultra-luxe lodging of, say, Aspen or Vail. But that all changed when Northstar-at-Tahoe opened the mid-mountain Ritz-Carlton Highlands. Nestled in a grove of ponderosa pines, the surprisingly unobtrusive hotel is patterned after grand mountain lodges like Yosemite’s Ahwahnee, with a soaring central “living room” that fuses beams, stone and natural light. Sunny patios are just steps from Northstar’s slopes, which offer everything from wide groomers to hard-charging bumps.

The Ritz-Carlton also includes a gondola to shuttle guests from the hotel to a recently built pedestrian village at Northstar’s base. The village is a perfect fit for this pleasantly mellow ski area: an idyllic family gathering spot with casual restaurants, shops and gas “bonfires” clustered around a skating rink.

THE SOUTH'S HEAVENLY VIEWS

Skiers and snowboarders line up like slalom poles along Heavenly’s California Trail to pose for snapshots. Perched 3,500 feet above the south shore, this run delivers the most glorious view: glittering blue Lake Tahoe, laid out in its entirety before you. Put simply, Heavenly Mountain Resort is huge. Its 4,800 acres of terrain stretch across Nevada and California and offer base areas in both states (when’s the last time you saw a “Welcome to California” sign tacked to a slope-side tree trunk?). Most folks seem content with Heavenly’s ample cruisers (meticulously groomed to wide-wale corduroy), which leaves areas like Milky Way Bowl—with its perfectly spaced pines and chalky snow days after a storm—blissfully empty even on a busy afternoon. Save some time in your ski day to check out the mid-mountain tubing park, one of the speediest and friendliest in the West.

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How to Rock the Rockies


Rockies

A wintery Lake Louise, in Banff National Park near Canmore.

The Canadian Rockies are such a majestic sight that even the most jaded traveler will turn into the one who takes photographs from the airplane. There are 5 national parks in this part of the Rockies, and the peaks are a must-see destination for outdoors enthusiasts.

CANMORE, ALBERTA

Just an hour’s drive from Calgary, Canmore is considered a commercial hub in these parts, with more than 70 restaurants and unique shops. One of these is the Ammonite Factory, which specializes in jewelry made of ammolite, also known as Alberta’s official gemstone. The unusual menu at Crazyweed restaurant includes Vietnamese meatballs, spicy Indian noodles, and Moroccan roast chicken. The Trough, an intimate spot downtown, serves rack of lamb and Alberta beef tenderloin. An equally tasty but more reasonably priced meal can be found at Mountain Mercato, a specialty food market with a café that dishes up soups, salads, and paninis.

All that food is fuel for the real star of the area—the skiing. Canmore underwent a much-needed rebirth to prepare for the 1988 Winter Olympics. Three top ski spots are nearby: Nakiska (the setting for the Olympic alpine events), Lake Louise and Mount Norquay—the only one with night skiing. Lake Louise and Norquay, both in Banff National Park, have recently added winter tube parks, where speed freaks can zip down the mountain on rubber tubes (then use the lift to go back up).

PANORAMA, British Columbia

Panorama, 2 hours southwest of Banff, has one of the largest vertical drops in North America (4,000 feet). Skiers and snowboarders fly down the slopes by day and night. Those who prefer lower-altitude activity should check out the Panorama Nordic Centre, at the base of the mountain. After exploring the miles of cross-country trails, skiers visit the Hale Hut, known for its hot chocolate.

For a proper drink, stop by Greys Restaurant at the Earl Grey Lodge, and stay for dishes such as rainbow trout and flank steak tacos as well as a lovely selection of wines (many Canadian). T Bar & Grill, in the Pine Inn, is the spot for slope-side casual dining.

FAIRMONT HOT SPRINGS, British Columbia

Fairmont Hot Springs has what may be one of the best locations an active person can ask for—it’s situated in the Columbia Valley, between the Rocky and Purcell mountain ranges and Columbia and Windermere Lakes. Those hot springs are found at the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, where an outdoor pool, open year-round, is fed by mineral-rich waters. A dip in thermal waters is sure to soothe sore muscles after a day on the slopes. Panorama’s 14 trails all funnel to this resort, and your ski pass gets you into the pools for free.

Options for après-ski dining abound. The latest is From Scratch, which has become a favorite for its gourmet pizzas, pork ribs, and Thai curry. Hoodoo Lounge & Grill holds several all-you-can-eat nights (crab on Tuesday, ribs on Friday); accompany your meal with the locally brewed Arrowhead beer. For a more upscale experience complete with killer views of Mount Nelson, head 20 minutes north to Elements Grill at the Copper Point Resort, in Invermere. If the weather cooperates, you can dine outdoors on the patio or even enjoy a poolside cocktail.

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Fun in Fort Lauderdale


This seaside Florida town has moved far beyond its former spring-break-hotspot heyday.

When in Fort Lauderdale, it never takes long before you hear a reference to the city’s once apt (and recently reinterpreted) motto: “Where the Boys Are.” That 1960 movie about a gaggle of Midwestern college girls who came to Florida’s Gold Coast for unfettered fun inspired countless spring break pilgrimages to Fort Lauderdale.

 

Winter months see fewer visitors, even though temperatures hover around 75 degrees. A recent spate of luxury hotel openings has transformed a once-uninspired beach town into one of South Florida’s most sophisticated destinations.

 

These days, a more fitting mantra for Fort Lauderdale’s sun-spackled stretch of endless waterways (more than 300 navigable miles in total) would be “Where the Boats Are.” With 100 marinas and boatyards and more than 40,000 resident yachts, it makes sense that the city has also been dubbed the Venice of America. Wherever you find a perch along the waterfront, a wake will surely roll your way.

 

WATERY WAYS

The best way to get your feet wet is to hop on the Water Taxi, which plies the Intracoastal Waterway and New River, making 13 stops from the Galleria Mall and Las Olas Boulevard to the Convention Center. The most impressive stretch of the Intracoastal is known as Millionaire’s Row, showcasing manicured properties with lavish mansions and yachts moored out front.

 

Ride the Water Taxi to the end of the line and get off at Riverwalk, which hosts the Urban Market every Saturday, selling everything from handmade soaps to Peruvian street food. The waterfront esplanade runs alongside several downtown highlights, including the Museum of Discovery & Science, home to an IMAX theater and the largest living Atlantic coral reef in a museum, and the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, displaying works by American Impressionists and visiting Latin American artists.

 

The Jungle Queen offers several fun family outings to explore the area’s waterways, with the requisite touch of kitsch that makes it a local institution. Every evening, the two-story riverboat leaves the Bahia Mar Beach Resort on a tour of the river and canals, ending at a private riverside location where a buffet and alligator show are on the menu. It’s a sit-back-and-soak-it-all-in kind of affair, with the captain providing commentary along the way.

 

PEDALING AND DOG-PADDLING

For something less sedentary, rent a beach cruiser bike from Fun Rentals for a few hours to explore the 2 miles of promenade along the ocean. The showers every few blocks make a cool-off swim in the ocean all the more appealing.

 

Another prime place to take a dip is the W Fort Lauderdale hotel, where Sunday pool parties, open to the public, draw hipsters to what’s arguably Florida’s sexiest pool (in the hotel’s lobby, you can peer through portholes cut into the ceiling above for views into the pool).

 

Pedaling back south, turn west at the Las Olas Bridge to access the Finger Islands—narrow residential streets with names like Isle of Venice and Fiesta Way. Here, canals that were dredged in the 1920s are lined with a patchwork of old Florida bungalows (disappearing fast) alongside enormous Spanish Mediterranean mansions.

 

Take a break at Colee Hammock Park, just off Las Olas Boulevard, where kids kick soccer balls and families picnic and strum guitars under banyan trees and rustling palms.

 

SHOPPING THE BOULEVARD

The city’s most sociable street, Las Olas Boulevard, is lined with establishments that range from diners and trendy restaurants to needlepoint shops and European couture. Seek out shops like Blue, the outpost of Key West jewelry designer David Symons. His organic pieces are displayed alongside eclectic beach finery such as colorful sarongs from Kenya. During the 1970s, the owner of Moda Mario dressed the stars of Miami Vice. Nowadays, the real-life yacht set stop by for prêt-à-porter European clothing and hard-to-find brands for men and women. Celebrity of Las Olas is a sure bet for swimwear, with an ever-present sale rack of good buys. And follow the scent of molten chocolate to Kilwin’s, an ice cream and candy shop whose peanut-brittle waffle cones take the cake.

 

If you’re visiting on a Sunday, be sure to hit the Gourmet Farmers Market. Residents catch up on neighborhood news while browsing the handful of tented stalls. Though the range of products is small, the quality is high: The guacamole guy pounds his dips to order, with a mortar and pestle used by the indigenous people of Colombia. From Argentinean empanadas filled with ham and cheese to ceramics from Provence, the items for sale here are as diverse as Fort Lauderdale’s residents.

 

Tony Kantorski pulls his red pickup truck alongside the market every week. In the back are coolers holding grouper filets, Key West pink shrimp and a Florida favorite: stone crab claws that he’ll crack open for you with the back of his ice scoop and serve with a spot of lemony mustard sauce. You’ll get about 6 big claws for $10, a bargain compared to restaurant prices. It’s a high-life indulgence served in laid-back Florida fashion—much like Fort Lauderdale itself these days.

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Tenerife calling…


Nicole MHaving been to Tenerife several times (check out one of my other blogs about Tenerife here), I thought the family should really try somewhere new. However, once we decided what we wanted from our winter break – which was all about having fun in the sun with the children – we knew we were looking for sand, sea and somewhere to relax with the extended family group we planned to take. We agreed that Tenerife ticked all of those boxes. A bonus of returning to one of our favourite holiday hotspots was the feeling that we wouldn’t have to put time and effort into discovering the area and finding out what there was to do during each day of our stay. Tenerife is truly a home away from home for us, so we knew from the moment we stepped off the plane exactly how we would be spending our time on the island.

For this holiday, we stayed on the Golf Del Sur and quickly got into a nice routine. It was beach in the morning – visiting Playa Del Duque most days, which was the beach we’d discovered a couple of years before and liked for its nearby shops and charming cafes and restaurants. You can’t beat family fun under the sun on the beach. We had lots of laughs building sandcastles and playing cricket. (If you are looking for a smaller, more intimate beach, Los Gigantes is an ideal choice). The afternoons found us back by the pool at the resort, where the grown-ups recovered from the exertions of beach cricket and relaxed completely, while the children spent hours in and out of the pool.

Siam Park, a water park, is a must. Our children are six and three years old and they loved the excitement and adventure of the water park’s slides and activities. And the adults in the group managed to sneak off for a little thrill seeking of their own on the larger water slides. We pre-booked our tickets to the park through our resort which made it so much quicker to get in and find a good family ‘base camp’ spot for the day. Getting away from water-based activities, we loved Jungle Park, a zoological and botanical park, which made for a good day out.

Tenerife has much to offer all age groups. It is a small island and easy to get around – either in a car or by taxi. There are tiny villages tucked away in a world of their own where you can always find a cafe in the shade of a village square; quiet restaurants and chic shopping in the old towns or lively bars on beachfront promenades. All this, and abundant sunshine. It really is tough to top Tenerife as a great all round, year-round, family holiday destination. There’s still so much more that can be said about Tenerife and the Canary Islands. Come back to the RCI Blog this week, where you’ll get to find out what other RCI subscribing members did during their trips to the Canary Islands!

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Orlando, Florida – The right mix of sun, water and breeze


Manju S. - Vacation Stories from an RCI Associate

Warm breezes welcome guests as they arrive, taking away the winter blues from those of us traveling from up North. Lighter clothes, a slower pace of life and plenty of fun activities – a great escape from the office chatter.

 

We stayed at Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake Resort in nearby Kissimmee, which was one of the many beautiful resorts in the area. We started to unwind by playing golf and lounging around the pool. The pools are kid-friendly and there are many surrounding play areas to keep them busy.

 

Our resort was close to Walt Disney World – a great benefit when traveling with kids. One day, we traveled to one of the theme parks and the fun rides kept all of us entertained. The next day, we went to SeaWorld Orlando…it is amazing to see the sophisticated interaction between humans and animals! SeaWorld had a lot of space to sit, eat and walk around. We enjoyed the evening show "A Sesame Street Christmas". The script was good and the actors really brought life to the characters!

 

I enjoyed every moment in Orlando. The sun warmed the heart, the water got the body moving and the breeze soothed the soul. Orlando really gives a great opportunity to go back in time, to being a kid again!

 

Want to learn more about Orlando? Come back to the RCI Blog this week to read stories and see photos from RCI subscribing members who have visited here!

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Any season is the right season to visit Vermont


Brad P. - RCI Sweepstakes and Social Media NewsI’ve been traveling to Vermont for almost 20 years now and I have so many fantastic memories of my times there.  I first started my relationship with the Green Mountain state as a teenager when I used to trek up North in an attempt to find the most rigorous and challenging ski trails. With more than 15 different mountains and resorts, Vermont offers a wide variety of options for all kinds of skiers and snowboarders, no matter what your skill level.

While the winter may be my favorite time to visit Vermont, I’ve also had the opportunity to experience it in the autumn and summer.  I can honestly say that New England during the height of fall foliage is something that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime.  The views of the rolling mountains and hills, filled with different hues of yellow, orange and red, are quite breathtaking. Vermont is also a great place to visit in the summer.  One of my favorite memories was when I visited my sister in July and we spent the afternoon walking the streets of Burlington before ending the day relaxing in a park that overlooked Lake Champlain.

This week on the blog, we’ll be featuring stories and pictures about Vermont from RCI subscribing members.  Be sure to check back throughout the week to get some great ideas and information that can help you plan a trip to the Green Mountain state.

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Park City, Utah – A true, four season destination


Dan "The RCI Guy" - Vacation Travels with RCI TV's Dan "The RCI Guy"I've been lucky over the years... I've lived in some of the most beautiful states in the country. When I was young I lived in Northern California, then we moved to Alaska. I've also lived in Colorado and Connecticut and I've had a job that has taken me to all 50 states... numerous times. Having said that, I think I now live in the best state of all...Utah! You can literally go skiing in the morning and play golf that same afternoon. I love it! And while there are cool cities and towns everywhere in Utah, you have to visit Park City!

Park City is the perfect place - there are three ski resorts within just a few miles of each other - The Canyons, Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley. Each has won their share of International awards. One of the things I love about Park City is its easy access. There is a 6 lane freeway (I-80) that runs right past it and you can actually fly into Salt Lake City International airport and be at any of these resorts within 45 minutes.

Park City has just the right mix of locals and tourists. If you like to shop there is a huge outlet mall out by the freeway exit as well and another shopping center less than a mile away that has new cinemas, the latest stores and good restaurants, too. But the best part of Park City is "Historic Main Street". Park City was built up during the 19th century as a mining town and many of the earliest original buildings are still a part of Main Street. Main Street has a little bit of everything... really unique shops and stores selling everything from your typical souvenirs to high-end furs. There are great art galleries and lots of really quaint, local restaurants, diners, coffee shops and ice cream stores. The one thing you won't find on Main Street is any kind of a chain store or restaurant - I absolutely love it.

Park City is a true, four season destination. I live about 45 minutes away and we play in Park City year round. I grew up in Alaska so I definitely like to hit the slopes during the winter. But I also love photography and, during the spring, the mountains and meadows burst with color as a result of all the spring flowers. During the summer we've enjoyed everything from hot air balloon rides to great rounds of golf and lots of outdoor concerts. Fall in Park City is amazing as all the leaves change colors and everything is blazing in oranges, reds, yellows and greens. This is the time of year that we typically use some of our Points and exchange through RCI to stay at any of their affiliated resorts - we really like The Miners Club at The Canyons.

If you like amazing natural beauty with the fun and sophistication of a classy resort town proud of its history and heritage, you will LOVE Park City.  And besides...it seems like the air is always clean and crisp and the sun a little brighter up here. If you haven't been to Park City you really should check it out... and if you have been here, well... I know you'll be back!

This week on the RCI Blog, we’ll be sharing stories and photos from RCI subscribing members who have visited Park City. Be sure to come back to read about their adventures!

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The Fall is a great time to visit new places!


Jamie W. - Endless Vacation Magazine UpdatesFor me, I have always associated “vacation” with the Spring and Summer months. Beaches, pools, water parks, and that great summer tan is what always got me inspired to travel to new places. However, while working on the fall issue of Endless Vacation® magazine, I realized I am missing out on a ton of fun activities and great places.

One article I enjoyed working on was “Virginia is for Wine Lovers.” I have been to Virginia a dozen times, yet I never had the chance to check out Wine Country. Since I live on the east coast, it is a perfect long weekend getaway. I can just imagine the car ride to Virginia…checking out the great scenery and fall foliage.

While researching this article, I was most impressed with all of the different activities the resorts in the area had to offer: indoor water parks, wine tours, horseback riding, even a Murder Mystery Dinner! It turns out there is a lot more to do on vacation in the fall than I thought, especially if you only have a weekend to fit it all in.

After finishing each new issue of Endless Vacation magazine, fellow co-workers typically hear me say “this is my favorite one yet!”…so it is only fitting that I admit this fall issue is one of my favorites. But after seeing what is in store for our Winter issue, I am afraid this one has some tough competition. Looks like I will be packing my bags for fall AND winter!

Be sure to check back on the RCI blog this week. We’ll be sharing stories and photos from other RCI subscribing members who have taken a trip during the fall to experience all that autumn has to offer.

And if you haven’t had a chance to check out the Endless Vacation magazine app for the iPad®, download it now and take a look at our fall issue!



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Sedona, AZ trip


We had a wonderful stay in our RCI unit in Sedona, AZ. We loved the beauty of the region, the access to Ancient Native American dwellings and Volcano National Park in Flagstaff which was an hour away. We explored the region by jeep and took a hot air balloon ride over the region. This is one of the most beautiful areas I have ever visited and one I want to return to often. The restaurants were great and the shops offered many opportunities for shopping. A highlight was a day trip to the Grand Canyon. What a wonderful vacation location and a wonderful RCI affiliated resort with wonderful facilities.

- Duane L. from Winter Garden, FL
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Colorado Trip 2005


We went to Colorado to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. We stayed in Breckenridge and Winter Park. The weather was beautiful. We saw a red fox at the resort in Winter Park and a huge buck laying under trees near the main road to Winter Park. The drive south from Winter Park is beautiful. We had a hot fudge sundae in the little town before the interstate. A memorable time for a special occasion.

- Steve and Joyce A. from Jonesborough, TN
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California Vacation: More than Just a Summer Timeshare Destination


Susie M. - RCI Subscribing Member Vacation ExperiencesIn my position here at RCI, I get to hear directly from subscribing members about their timeshare vacation experiences. A lot of our RCI® subscribing members choose a California vacation for one reason or another, especially in the winter. They talk about the beaches, the wineries, and the good weather — a great combination to warm up any winter. Some of them are planning a stay at a timeshare for a wedding, honeymoon, or anniversary. Some of them are just planning for some time away. Here’s what other RCI members had to say* about their California vacation:

Robert, Palmdale, CA: Our trip to Arnold, California in March was awesome. The Big Trees State Park was just down the road and the kids went snowboarding 20 minutes away. Lots of hiking and fishing. The nearest lake was gorgeous and we saw lots of wildlife. People in the town were really friendly and helpful. The resort was comfy and had a warm feel to it. We want to return there.

Joyce, Salem, NH: My husband and I were excited to plan our exchange trip to Capistrano California.  We exchanged our Cape Cod timeshare for a beautiful two bedroom, two bath timeshare in the Capistrano Surfside Inn. The timeshare was huge and immaculate and the ocean was just across the street.  Also within walking distance was Dante Point which not only had an active harbor and walking areas with fantastic restaurants and shops, but bikepaths as well for those who wanted to bike around the area.  We visited The Mission at Capistrano and walked the small streets with many unique shops.  We chose this place to have a restful holiday and it was, yet there was plenty to do if we chose to do so.  I would highly recommend this paradise area to anyone who wants to vacation in California.  We would definitely visit again, but there are so many beautiful resorts with RCI, we want to try them all.  We love RCI and the wonderful opportunities it offers us in trying new places and seeking new adventures.

Christine, San Bernardino, CA: In the summer of 2007, my husband and I experienced the most wonderful, relaxing vacation week that we have ever had. We decided to stay at WorldMark Angels Camp, California. During the day, we spent time visiting a couple of local wineries and sightseeing. In the evening, we barbecued dinner, relaxed, and escaped the reality of everyday stresses. It was a wonderfully simple and non-hurried vacation and we are looking forward to getting away again in the future!!

* Although we've corrected some spelling and technical errors, these vacation stories from RCI members are otherwise unchanged. They are not meant to inform you about resorts, destinations or about RCI products and services. RCI always recommends that you do your own research when making travel plans.

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