Dining In: Brazilian Beans Hit the Spot


It's easy to make tutu a Mineira in your timeshare kitchen

BY REGINA SCHRAMBLING

The national dish of Brazil, feijoada, involves many hours and many steps as well as black beans, several meats, rice and side dishes. But cook local in the state of Goiás (home to the Brazilian capital, Brasília, and several hot-springs resort towns) and you’ll get that pork-and-black-beans satisfaction much faster. The region’s signature dish, tutu à Mineira, is the ultimate refried beans with bacon. Black beans are thickened with flour made from cassava (aka manioc) and topped with sliced sausage and hard-cooked eggs. You can eat the dish with a grilled pork chop, but it’s always matched up with bitter greens, like collards or kale. 


Tutu sounds like dance wear, but it just means mashed beans (canned are fine) with cassava. Though you can use regular flour, cassava is worth the hunt: It adds a hint of sweetness and makes the texture closer to that of polenta.

Tutu à Mineira         
Serves 4
        5 thick strips fatty bacon, diced  
        2 medium onions, diced
        4 cloves garlic, chopped 
        Salt
        6 cups cooked black beans (4 15.5-oz cans)
        ½ cup cassava (tapioca) flour 
        Hot sauce to taste 
        1 cup precooked linguica or chorizo sausage, cut in ½-inch slices
        2 large eggs, hard cooked, shelled and cut in ½-inch slices   
        2 scallions (green onions), green part only, thinly sliced

PLACE bacon in a heavy pot over medium heat and cook, stirring, until fat is rendered and the bits start to crisp. ADD onion and garlic; sprinkle with about 1 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring, until soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. DRAIN beans, reserving liquid, and add to the pot. Continue cooking while mashing with a potato masher until beans are fairly smooth. LOWER heat, stir in reserved bean liquid and slowly add cassava flour. Cook, stirring, until beans thicken. Add more salt and hot sauce to taste. Meanwhile, heat chorizo slices in a small skillet over medium heat. Spread beans onto a platter, top with sausage and egg slices, then sprinkle with scallions. SERVE hot with cooked kale, collard greens or broccoli rabe.

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Acapulco's Second Act


Mexico's original beach town has reclaimed its old-school allure.

Long before Cancún or Los Cabos or the Riviera Maya were even specks on the tourist map, Acapulco reigned as Mexico’s coastal queen. Acapulqueños have recently worked hard to restore Old Acapulco and the Costera, and posh resorts and malls have risen in the newest neighborhood, Acapulco Diamante. The result is a thoroughly modern vacation destination rich in culture and history. Now is the time to visit—or revisit—the place where Mexico’s tourism fame was born.

OLD ACAPULCO

In the early Hollywood days, Playa Caleta and Playa Caletilla, on the western shores of Acapulco Bay, saw the most action. Today, the ’50s have returned with the restoration of the beachfront Hotel Boca Chica. The designers faithfully retained the mid-century architecture and the tiny Coco Wash disco, which has become the hippest hangout in town. Chef Keisuke Harada creates platters of sushi and Kobe burgers for happy hordes at the hotel’s restaurants; on weekends, locals pull their yachts up to the dock and linger for hours over mescal martinis.

With Boca Chica grabbing attention, travelers are also being lured to the palapa-shaded fish shacks on Playa Caletilla. Here families gather beneath blue umbrellas, and water taxis take swimmers to the clear waters off Isla Roqueta, just 10 minutes away. At the nearby Plaza Alvarez (also called the zócalo), elderly gents study their newspapers at sidewalk cafés as kids scamper around the filigreed bandstand. Across the street, fishermen lay out their nets beside docks where party boats collect passengers for sunset sailings.

In the winding streets high above Old Acapulco, sightseers gather at La Quebrada to witness the famed clavadistas, or cliff divers. During the show, a lone diver poses atop a jagged, precipitous cliff. Below, waves crash against rocks before settling into a small swirling pool. In the blink of an eye, the diver swoops toward the sea. Onlookers applaud as he emerges from the water, and another duplicates his feat.

THE COSTERA

Most visitors to the Costera devote the sunlight hours to lounging poolside, browsing in arcades and malls and playing in the bay. Pint-sized fun-seekers enjoy the rides at Papagayo Park and the waterslides at CICI waterpark.

As evening sets in, families head to the Hard Rock Cafe for burgers and ribs. Partygoers seek out tables at Paradise or Beto’s, among the best of the clubs on the sand, or retire to high-end restaurants and discos in the hills. Horse-drawn calesas (carriages) clomp along the Costera, delivering dancers to Baby ’O, one of the best-known discos. And fireworks and laser beams shoot over the bay from the hilltop clubs until dawn.

ACAPULCO DIAMANTE

Perhaps the best evidence of Acapulco’s resurgence lies in the burgeoning Diamante neighborhood. Stretching from the Costera up the steep, winding Scenic Highway, Diamante has legendary discos, championship golf courses, lavish resorts, a concert hall and a shiny new mall.

Several large timeshare resorts are also found on the beaches of Acapulco Diamante, close to attractions like the La Isla shopping center at Punta Diamante, which has lured some of the Costera’s well-known establishments (including the family-friendly yet rowdy Carlos’n Charlie’s). Kids can head to the mall’s Aqua Planet, with bumper boats and mini-golf, as well as displays that teach about water conservation. And at Mundo Imperial, an enormous development with a convention center and hotel, the stars of today appear at the Forum, a state-of-the-art concert hall. With the three sides of Acapulco all in a state of transformation, Mexico’s coastal queen is once again the biggest star on the map.

 

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Branson


I had visited a resort in Branson, Missouri as a guest, not realizing I would have an opportunity to own a timeshare. It was so beautiful, tranquil and welcoming I had to own it. Later I learned how wonderful the area is for sunning, swimming and golf. Many historic cities are nearby to explore. I love my timeshare! It is truly a gift to share with family and friends.

-Barbara H. from Anderson, IN

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Once In A Lifetime


My boyfriend of three years and I decided to take a spontaneous vacation in July. We were in our early 20's and living together for a little less than a year. We found a fantastic deal and booked a trip to Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Our excitement was palpable.

As a young couple in love, off we went to Cancun International Airport on our first trip to Mexico, to an all-inclusive resort and to a beach not on the US eastern coast. We were thrilled to just be away together in such a lovely place.

After settling into a room, squeezing in a little pool time, and enjoying a delicious dinner at the buffet, we decided to take a walk on the beach. Hand-in-hand we went as we took a seat on two loungers under a tiki hut. The stars twinkled above us on this dark night, the ocean lapped the sand, and we enjoyed the silence that surrounded us in this peaceful moment.

I said to my boyfriend, "What a perfect place, what a perfect dinner, what a perfect night." At that moment he replied "It's the perfect time for me to ask you to marry me." I stared in awe as he got down on one knee and opened up a box showing my sparkling engagement ring. I smiled and cried tears of joy as I replied "Yes!” We shared an emotional and happy moment under the romantic sky.

As it turns out, he had done an impressive job asking my parents for their permission, receiving the delivery of the ring, and getting through the airports' security and customs departments. I was excited, beaming, and still in shock when we went to the lobby. We celebrated with champagne as we watched the live Mexican band play along with couples and children dancing about...

We immediately got moved to an oceanfront room and spent the rest of our vacation in bliss as we relaxed, got massaged, sunbathed, dined, drank, danced, and laughed together. During our remaining days, we frequently visited Jack and José who shared in our happiness as a newly engaged couple and new timeshare owners. This was a very special vacation for us and I will never forget the once in a lifetime memories that were created at Ocean Maya Royale.

-Erin D. from Blue Bell, Pennsylvania

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It'll never top Mexico


Our first RCI vacation took us to Playa del Carmen on the Yucatan Peninsula. We were excited to be able to exchange our timeshare in the Berkshires for a vacation outside of the US in order to give our two young boys some exposure to other cultures. We rented a car so that we could explore the surrounding countryside and possibly see some of the Mayan ruins while in Mexico. The resort was nice enough and offered a number of activities... The food was great; we tried a number of different options and the kids even tried some new things (a small miracle). The resort’s many pools provided some variety as we spent a chunk of time swimming and joining in on some resort-sponsored pool football...

-William H. from Coventry, Connecticut

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New found love!


On one of our trips we exchanged into a timeshare in Miami right on the beach. We really enjoyed this gorgeous stretch of sand and crystal clear water, but wanted to explore.

We took with us our long time best friends and their children, then ages 14 and 16. Then headed out early one morning to John Pennekamp State Park on Key Largo.

We taught their children to snorkel and take underwater photos of fish. Right in the park at the snorkel pond. Very safe and very full of neat fish.

We then took the cruise out to the open ocean to snorkel a coral reef.

And here is where it happened.

Just like us, previously, these children fell in love with the ocean and the fish and coral and the world underwater. Mason, our 16 year old, was diving deep and chasing fish for pictures. Becca was in awe of all the amazing colors and differences.

-Christina W. from Mt Airy, MD

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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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Our first vacation through RCI


My husband and I purchased our timeshare while we were vacationing alone. The following year we took our 2 daughters and a friend on vacation with us to the Sheraton Vistana Resort in Orlando. Since our previous vacations had always taken place in hotel rooms we were anxious to see their reaction when we arrived. We gave them the key to our villa and told them to go open the door while we grabbed luggage. We waited outside. When they walked into the villa we heard screams. They came running out and the look on their faces were priceless. They were so excited about staying in a 2 bedroom villa at a luxury resort for a week instead of a cramped hotel room and so were we!

-Bonnie R. from Richmond, MN

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Good eats on the island of Maui


Dan "The RCI Guy" - Vacation Travels with RCI TV's Dan "The RCI Guy"Last year, my best friend asked me to join him in Hawaii to celebrate his birthday. He was going to be staying at a beach house in Paia on the north shore of Hawaii. Since it was still a bit chilly where I live in Salt Lake City, the answer was easy... "yes"!

I've been coming to Hawaii since I was 10 years old...at first it was always the island of Oahu, but over the years I've been able to visit almost all the islands – Kauai (where I own a timeshare), Oahu, Maui and even Lanai.

Our flight landed in Kahului and the beach town of Paia is only about 10-15 minutes east along the north shore. We arrived at night, so I really couldn't see anything, but I could sure hear the surf from the beach house we were staying at. There's something magical, almost mesmerizing about the listening to the ocean surf, especially at night. For me, it easily lulls me to sleep. My first morning was beautiful, the ocean was only 50 feet off the back porch and there were shallow tidal pools where the locals loved to go fishing.

When I go on vacation I love to go off the beaten path and Paia is exactly my kind of place – a local surfing town with VERY friendly people and lots of little, funky shops and restaurants. Some of my favorites were the Paia Fish Market - try the mahi mahi burger with onion rings. Cafe Des Amis serves up great crepes with a fun, outdoor patio. No matter what, take the time to check out Mana Foods. It's the local health food/grocery store and it has the coolest items that you won’t find anywhere else. It seems almost everything in the store is organic – really fun. And if you go during the day you should check out their hot and cold deli. We bought a bunch of the buffalo wings...seriously some of the best wings I've ever had! Finally, perhaps the most famous restaurant on the island is just a couple of miles east of Paia. Mamma's Fish House has been right on the beach for about 40 years and the food is amazingly good. The atmosphere is hard to beat and the service was impeccable. I ordered the wild boar and mahi mahi – fantastic! My friends ordered the macadamia nut crusted mahi mahi stuffed with crab - mmmmm good! Your meal starts with fresh baked bread and a complimentary "shot" of the soup of the day. Mamma’s Fish House may be pricey, but it is well worth it!

Another great spot on the island is Wailea. There are three or four great beaches but my favorite was Big Beach – just ask any of the locals how to get there. Look for local food trucks selling everything from shaved ice to shrimp scampi along the way. Big Beach is just that... BIG! It stretches along the west coast for almost half a mile - the sand is soft and the waves are perfect for boogie boarding or body surfing.

Also on the west coast, but further north, is Ka'anapali. There are a lot of beautiful beaches here and my favorite place is Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop. It's about five miles before you get to town, look for it on the right, and it is HEAVEN! Yes, their pies are incredibly good, but so are their sandwiches and pot pies...everything is amazing!

I LOVE Maui - hope you do too!! Come back to the RCI Blog this week to read stories and see photos from RCI subscribing members who have also visited Maui. Trust me, these photos will not disappoint!

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Our 2011 Arizona vacation - Sedona Pines Resort


Loved this resort! Participated in Zumba and water aerobics. Took the Verde Canyon Railroad trip and an extreme jeep tour! Drove to the Grand Canyon for a day, while staying at this resort. Loved Sedona so much that we purchased another timeshare at their sister resort.

- Nancy and Steve F.

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From Christel House to an internship


Estefany B., Christel House Graduate, Christel House MexicoEstefany B., Christel House Graduate, Christel House Mexico

This year has been a very special year, as I’ve had many opportunities in the tourism field that have helped me grow and learn.  One of those is the internship at Sheraton Hacienda del Mar in Cabo San Lucas, México this past summer.  This great experience was very important for me and my future, the future that I’m working on.

Currently I am studying Planning and Tourism Management at the Tourism University in Mexico City.  The opportunities I had during my internship were more about hospitality and timeshare, but it gave me a general overview of my career.  Thanks to this opportunity, I feel like I am a step ahead compared to my peers.  I know that everyone will have the chance to experience what I did this past summer, but at the moment, I know that I have a better understanding of the industry as a whole.  I had the opportunity to meet people that work in the industry and know their jobs very well and they can possibly help me gain employment in the future.

I’m very thankful to every person who has made this possible for me, without them this would not have happened.

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Hiking in Saguaro National Park


Hiking in Saguaro National Park while staying at a timeshare in Phoenix.

 

Hiking in Saguaro National Park while staying at a timeshare in Phoenix.

- Betsy R. from Waukesha, WI

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Aruba


We had additional points left at the end of the year 2 years ago. We've always heard that Aruba had great beaches and a friendly safe island. But the high season starts at the end of December. We traded our points for a vacation just before the Christmas rush to this Island and found the off season great. There were no great crowds, the restaurants really appreciated our business and so did our resort. The weather was slightly cooler than later but we don't want to burn anyway! We had a great trip and found other people who appreciate the off season travel times. What a wonderful trip, we were able to stay across from one of the best beaches, could walk to a lot of activities and enjoy the activities at our resort and the local area. I'm open to trying new vacation resorts in areas we haven't explored in the past! We can't say enough about the benefits we have with our timeshare.

 

- Anthony B. from Magnolia, DE

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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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It’s Christel House Week on the RCI Blog


Christel DeHaan - Christel House News and Updates

I am thrilled to welcome you to the very first Christel House week on the RCI Blog.  As the founder of Christel House and co-founder of RCI, it gives me immense pleasure to witness the outpouring of generosity that RCI and its employees have shown to the children of Christel House.

 

I could never have imagined what was to come when my family’s living room served as the first RCI “office” in 1973.  As the timeshare industry evolved and business grew, so too, did RCI’s reach.  We rapidly became a multinational company with offices spanning the globe.  And, our corporate culture, including a strong belief in giving back to the communities where we did business, quickly transcended international borders.  That rich culture of social responsibility continues to be a hallmark of RCI’s business today.

 

After the sale of RCI in 1997, I was in the unique position of being able to focus my time and resources on making a difference in the world.  Christel House is my way of doing just that. We opened our first learning center for impoverished children in Mexico City in 1998.  Four more centers in India, South Africa, Venezuela and the United States soon followed.  And, fourteen years later, we continue to grow.  Most of our learning centers are strategically located in third world countries where RCI had much success during my tenure.

 

It also is important to recognize that you, the RCI subscribing members, have played an important role in this story since day one.  Without your patronage of RCI throughout the years, none of this would be possible.  For that, I thank you. 

 

This week, you will have an opportunity to read blogs from some of our students, teachers and even a few RCI employees who have visited our learning centers.  You will also have an opportunity to join RCI in supporting our work.  True to its culture of giving back, RCI will match all donations made to Christel House in 2012 by its members up to a cumulative $25,000.  I invite you to join us as we transform young lives.

 

A photo of me and Christel House students in South Africa

A photo of me and Christel House students in South Africa

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Carlsbad, CA


Even though we are residents of Southern California, we exchanged our timeshare to stay close to home. We stayed at the Grand Pacific Palisades Resort in Carlsbad, CA. This is a very nice resort for families. Everything you could possibly need is nearby. We went about 10 minutes down the road for a nice family day at the beach. LEGOLAND is about a hop, skip and a jump away. Couldn't ask for a better location!

 

- Lori W. from Sun City, CA

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Puerto Vallarta


We have had wonderful experiences in Vallarta. We own four timeshares here and spend a month here every year. This is a tourist town - (almost) everyone speaks English. You can hop on a bus and go from one end of the bus line to the other. No need for anyone to find it difficult to get to one place or another. Many tours are available, from a Jeep tour on the back roads to a walking city tour. Can keep you busy for at least a month.

 

- submitted by "Puerto Vallarta" from Chicago, IL

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28 years and counting


Mark your calendar for week 29 next year. We're all going on vacation to Hilton Head. We bought a timeshare. Those were the words my mother-in-law said to me 28 years ago. I didn't know when week 29 was, nor did I know what a timeshare was but 28 years later, I have come to appreciate, understand, and anticipate week 29. Over the years, we have met perspective spouses, watched our babies grow, celebrated birthdays and anniversaries, and even shed tears caused by family deaths on that beach at Hilton Head. The proverbial circle of life with week 29 as a backdrop. No matter the severity of the winter weather, sunny week 29 was waiting. No matter the stress of our day-to-day jobs, relaxing week 29 was waiting. No matter the 51 hectic weeks between trips, mellow week 29 was waiting. Last year my mother-in-law could not go to Hilton Head because of cancer, but this year she was back stronger than ever. She was ready to treat everyone, especially her new great granddaughter, to ice cream. What lies ahead? Who knows? But what we do know is that week 29, our timeshare, and the Hilton Head beach will be there to soothe our jangled nerves.

 

- Submitted by: worldtraveller

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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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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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