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P L AY | E AT | S H O P | R E L AX | E X P LO R E
Go East FOR UNFORGETTABLE ASIAN ADVENTURES
COVER LINES THIN BOLD COVER LINES SWEDISH LIGHT FUNBOLD FOR ALL SEASONS COVER LINES
BOOK BOLD MEMBER SHARES EXTRA-SPECIAL HOLIDAY
A Year in the Life of an RCI Platinum Member Ever wondered what our highest tier membership has to offer? Nowâ€™s the time to sample the lifestyle of an RCI Platinum member and experience its exclusive collection of benefits...
A Taste of the high life Your evenings and weekends will never be the same again. Enjoy living your holiday lifestyle all year round with a FREE tastecard membership with RCI Platinum. Benefit from dining discounts in more than 6,500 restaurants, and savings on cinema tickets, days out, hotel stays and much more!
Travel with peace of mind When it comes to your big family holiday the last thing you want to worry about is losing belongings. As an RCI Platinum member your travel essentials, such as luggage, wallet and keys, can be tracked wherever you are in the world through MyTAG. So you can relax!
Capture treasured holiday memories On your return, enjoy looking back on your holiday memories. As an RCI Platinum member you can take advantage of exclusive discounted rates with Branded Memories’ selection of photo books and albums. It’s the perfect way to share your holiday memories - and get you in the mood to start planning your next getaway.
Save with Member Rewards While making the most of your membership, you’ll be rewarded with up to £20 on selected bookings. Use the credit that you have built up on your account throughout the year on other RCI products and services. That’s not all! There are plenty more benefits exclusive to RCI Platinum members.
Take your membership to the next level, you deserve it!
Upgrade for just £49
Simply visit RCI.com
Terms and conditions: RCI reserves the right to vary or amend the benefits available. Some benefits may be subject to availability. tastecard is exclusive to UK residents only. Please visit aboutrci.co.uk/platinum/terms. RCI Platinum is not available to RCI Lite members.
IS THE OFFICIAL TRAVEL PUBLICATION OF RCI
DIRECTOR OF MARKETING AND PUBLICATIONS
Will Hall MANAGING EDITOR
Claire Williams EDITOR
Helen Foster EDITORIAL AND PRODUCTION EXECUTIVE
Leigh Connelly STUDIO MANAGER
Helen Gurney DESIGN TEAM
I’ve been spoilt with holidays this year, but the highlight was taking my 88-year-old father off to the glorious Algarve. We had great adventures together every day, from sailing out into the mesmerising Benagil Caves, to scrambling about the spectacular cliffs of Ponta da Piedade - where we are pictured above taking a rest! It was the first time on the Algarve for us and we loved every minute of it; the local people were exceptionally friendly, the beaches were truly stunning, and the local dishes delicious. We’ll be heading back. It’s a long wait for summer - and why wait when there are so many fabulous winter getaways to break up the monotony of the dark winter months? In this issue, we’ve got together lots of ideas for a sneaky seasonal escape. Where better to get into the Christmas spirit than a very festive Finland? See page 26 for our diary plan for a perfect weekend in Lapland, because it is ‘doable’ as a short break. With Santa waiting for your knock on his door, husky sledding, reindeer herding and festive food to be enjoyed, you will have a fun start to the season. If you want to feel some sun on your back during the chilly months, go east to warm up in some of the most beautiful destinations in the world. Our cover feature on page 14 is an inspiring guide to the fabulous fusion of past and present you will find in our recommended destinations across South East Asia. Closer to home there is just as much sun to be found in the Canary Islands, where the proximity of the islands to each other means that you can embark on a spot of island hopping to enjoy a multi-destination adventure in one stay. Turn to page 46 to see how it’s done...
Helen Foster, Editor EV@RCI.com EDITOR’S PICK: Winter Wonderland, page 26
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Charlotte Semark Ginny Knight Trevor Lewis Charlie Hayes MARKETING MANAGERS
Shelley Burton Jo Smith CAMPAIGN MANAGERS
Gemma Gregory Rachael Noam Gabriella Ilia Sonal Patel Kara Keating MARKETING EXECUTIVES
Leia Unwin Danielle Millar Rebecca West COVER PHOTO
The paper contained within this publication is sourced from chain-of-custody certified suppliers, to ensure sustainable production. Please recycle. Endless Vacation, The RCI Magazine, is published twice a year by RCI Europe. Original articles and contributions may be reproduced or transmitted only with written permission from the Publisher. No responsibility is accepted by RCI Europe for any losses or other consequences resulting from advertisements or other material appearing in this publication. While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in Endless Vacation, no responsibility can be accepted for errors or omissions. Information is correct at time of going to press (August 2017). RCI Europe reserves the right to accept or reduce advertisements at its discretion without assigning any reason for doing so. All offers are subject to terms and conditions, and limited availability. © RCI Europe 2017. For full terms and conditions see rcitc2.com
Autumn / Winter
CONTENTS F E AT U R E S
UNFORGETTABLE ADVENTURES IN SOUTH EAST ASIA Where past and present meet in beautiful places
A WEEKEND IN LAPLAND A three-day plan of festive fun
HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF RCI EXTRA HOLIDAYS Learn from a happy RCI member
40 FOR YOUR INDULGENCE ONLY A spa menu for four countries
A GUIDE TO ISLAND HOPPING IN THE CANARIES See more of the islands in just one stay
VEGAS - A WINNER! Vegas wins over our RCI Guide as a family destination
TOURING THE VINEYARDS OF MÁLAGA AND TARRAGONA Sip and sample the wines of sunny Spain
SWEDEN: SUN OR SNOW Holiday fun in all seasons
I N E AC H I S S U E
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EDITOR’S NOTE WELCOME NEWS COMPETITION
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Ask our experts
Welcome You might have noticed a new face heading up your Welcome, so let me introduce myself. My name is Andy Liggins and I have been with RCI for 15 years. I am looking forward to working with my RCI colleagues, across Europe and around the world, to continue to bring you as much flexibility, choice and value as we can. Each year, many of us have a list of things we’d like to see and do. For us travel lovers, holidays feature high on that list as the most rewarding way to spend our time. If you haven’t yet filled this year’s adventure quota, let this issue of Endless Vacation magazine be your guide. On page 12, you’ll see a host of our affiliated resorts in Spain and the Canary Islands which have undergone extensive refurbishment upgrades. At RCI, our focus on quality is unwavering, and we are proud to share news of these wonderful resort enhancements with you.
To help deliver the holidays you deserve, we send our Guides out on discovery visits to learn about the activities and facilities you can enjoy in different destinations so they can share that knowledge during your holiday planning. Among the places visited this year are the Netherlands, Finland, Spain and Egypt. After visiting a Landal GreenParks’ resort in the Netherlands, RCI’s Dee O’Riordan said: “The woodland resorts are magical. I would recommend these holidays for rest and relaxation, with a splash of adventure!” Check out RCI’s new Blog on RCI.com/Blog Our Blog, written by RCI staff and travel writers who are passionate about travel, is packed with inspirational ideas on many different kinds of holiday experiences. And see page 26 for an expert’s guide to a short break in festive Finland to get you in the Christmas mood.
Andy Liggins, Vice President Operations, RCI Europe, Middle East and Africa Landal GreenParks
THANK YOU FOR CHOOSING RCI Visit RCI.com
or call us today!
MEMBER SERVICES: 0845 60 86 380 6 AU T U M N / W I N T E R 2 0 1 7
RCI TRAVEL: 0845 60 86 121
A helping hand
Friends who care to share How often have you said to friends ‘You’d just love it’? If you are part of something, such as RCI membership, that your friends and family would love, do you care enough to share it? Pauline and Tom Crozier have owned at Kilconquhar Castle Estate and Country Club (0493) for 30 years and have enjoyed a world of holidays using their RCI membership. “We love the freedom to travel, while knowing you will always get good quality accommodation, wherever you go with RCI,” said Pauline, pictured above left. “We bought timeshare to exchange it and we have travelled the world with RCI, most recently celebrating my 60th birthday on Australia’s Gold Coast.” The couple’s friends, Carol and Tom Maclaren, bought a Kilconquhar timeshare in Elie, Fife, six years ago. They liked the area so much, they recently moved just down the road from their timeshare, where they regularly holidayed. “We now want to spread our holiday wings,” said Carol. So when Pauline recommended RCI membership as the best way of doing this, Carol was delighted. “We would hear Pauline and Tom talking about exploring different places all over the world with RCI and now they are helping us to do the same. And as Pauline told us, the quality of the accommodation is terrific.” Because the friends used RCI’s Recommend A Friend programme, they now each have £50 credit on their RCI accounts to put towards their next RCI holiday treat. If you have a timeshare-owning friend who deserves to enjoy the RCI leisure lifestyle, see page 25 to find out how easy it is to bring them into RCI membership.
RCI.com is your one-stop shopping window to get the advice you need to research and book the Exchange Holidays you deserve. The help library is available 24/7 on RCI.com to provide you with all the guidance you need to manage your membership and Exchange Holiday planning. You will also find a library of colourful videos, designed to help those new to RCI, and those who need a refresher in using RCI membership, to get the best value from their purchase. In less than four minutes, the Welcome to RCI, RCI Points Explained and RCI Weeks Explained animated videos, with member commentary, show you how to deposit and exchange with RCI. Visit RCI. com/weekshelpuk or RCI.com/ pointshelpuk to view the videos. Visit RCI.com now - it is the ultimate source for all your Exchange Holiday planning needs.
Have you been framed? If you have caught some of your happiest Exchange Holiday moments on camera still pictures or videos - we would love to see them. You might become the stars of the RCI.com screen, RCI Facebook or RCI brochures if your pictures or video are chosen to be shared with your RCI member community in this way. Please send your best shots and footage to tinyurl.com/rcimemories
Changed your contact details recently? Update your email, phone numbers and address on your account on RCI.com - or give us a call - to be sure you receive all your RCI news.
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Giving you extra
City sights for less From quirky Helsinki to action-packed Orlando, we have selected some great urban tours and attractions in some of the world’s most fascinating cities to give you yet more travel choice. RCI and City Discovery have teamed up to bring you great value ‘buy before you fly’ attraction and tour rates, giving you peace of mind and the convenience that comes with knowing exactly what you are doing once you arrive on holiday, with not a minute to waste. If you are an RCI Platinum member, you benefit from savings of up to 20% on selected bookings. To ensure you get the most out of every minute of your holiday sign in to RCI.com and click ‘My benefits/Member Benefits’, followed by ‘Book tours and attractions tickets’. Check out these RCI.com pages to explore the exciting activities awaiting you when planning your next city getaway. Take advantage of the low-cost rates available to you as an RCI member.
Every year we acquire additional accommodation in stylish resorts and dreamy places to give you even more choice when planning your RCI Extra Holidays. Take more time to explore the destinations you know and love, but don’t forget to check out the ones you have yet to discover... By being clever in the way you use your RCI membership, you can either take more great value Extra Holidays for yourself each year, or you can book accommodation as an Extra Holiday to take family and friends away with you. The best news is, you don’t need to use up any of your weeks or points to enjoy an extended stay for yourself, or accommodation offering privacy for an extended holiday party, as Extra Holidays are available at great value prices exclusive to RCI members. For inspiration, see page 34 where RCI member, Maria Musgrove-Wethey, shares how she gets the most from RCI Extra Holidays. Why not buy a Guest Certificate to give family and friends an RCI Extra Holiday treat too? See page 38.
Thanks for your patience! We see even more of our members are going online at RCI.com to plan and book their Exchange Holidays - and using a wider range of mobile devices to do this, from mobile phones and tablets to desktop computers. Because we want your RCI Exchange Holiday planning experience to be as easy and as much fun as possible, whatever device you look and book on, we have been investing in making your RCI.com site mobile-friendly - or mobile responsive as it is known to the ‘techies’! So thank you for your patience and understanding while this work is carried out. We hope you will be happy with the end result.
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Thanks to everyone who took part in our Endless Vacation spring competitions! The winner of the Snap Happy competition was Michael Lorigan, from Tipperary, Ireland. His photo of his family reunion in Iceland was the judge’s favourite. Michael wins a 7-night stay at the Hard Rock Hotel in Tenerife, plus £1,000 spending money. The runner up was Linda Crook, from Huntingdon, who wins a Kindle Fire HD8 and, in third place, is Tudor Moldovan, from Romania, who wins £50 in Amazon vouchers. Also congratulations to Carole Spencer, from Surrey, who correctly answered ‘wood-fired’ in answer to our Tresco (0591) competition.
Carole will be hot-footing it to Tresco, in the Scilly Isles for a week’s stay as her prize. Don’t miss out! You could be living the life of luxury in Tenerife, with £1,000 to spend. Turn to page 10 to enter the latest competition. E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 9
CO M P E T I T I O N
Why I I ve my Timeshare Send us a snap of you and your loved ones enjoying your holiday at an RCI-affiliated resort and you could WIN one of three great prizes!*
7-night family holiday at Pearly Grey Ocean Club (1786) in Tenerife worth £1,200, PLUS £1,000 spending money! Spend 7 nights revelling in the luxury of a fabulous one-bedroom seafront apartment at the stunning coastal resort, Pearly Grey Ocean Club, in Tenerife. The apartment sleeps four people, and has a fullyequipped kitchen
Kindle Fire HD 8 with 8” HD Display, Wi-Fi and 8GB worth £129.99
Amazon vouchers worth £50
SUBMIT YOUR PICTURES BY 31 OCTOBER 2017 FOR A CHANCE TO WIN!
*For full terms and conditions please visit rcitc2.com. Entrants must be 21 or over and must be RCI members. Entry confirms participant’s agreement to be bound by the terms and conditions. Competition is governed by English law. Prize stay excludes
CO M P E T I T I O N
About Pearly Grey Ocean Club
The resort enjoys an exceptional village location in Callao Salvaje, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and offering fabulous uninterrupted views of the picturesque island of La Gomera. The fresh and modern apartment and clifftop suites are awash with features built to a stylish design and comfort for you to enjoy the most relaxing holiday yet. And with a packed entertainment calendar, two sundecks with chic Bali beds and an ocean-view bar and restaurant, you can swim, lounge and feast to your heart’s content. Finish off the day at the Edge Terrace Bar which is an ideal place to watch a sunset. It has stunning panoramic views, cocktails and great food. • See page 12 for details of Pearly Grey’s stylish resort makover.
HOW TO ENTER Visit facebook.com/RCI and post your favourite photo along with a caption telling us where it was taken and why it was so memorable. Email us at EV@RCI.com
Write to: The Editor, RCI Europe, Kettering Parkway, Kettering, NN15 6EY, England, UK.
Christmas and New Year dates, and Prize must be taken by 21 December 2018. Booking dates are subject to availability, and reservation must be made at least six weeks before travel. Prize cannot be exchanged for cash or any other alternative.
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Quality Reigns in Spain While a great location will always be attractive, it’s important for resorts to invest in the upgrade of guest areas to ensure that the quality standards their owners and RCI members expect are maintained. Your annual maintenance fees are used to pay for resort refurbishment work, and the benefits are there for all to enjoy. A number of our affiliated resorts across Spain and the Canary Islands have carried out upgrades recently. Here are just a few examples of those resort transformations.
Pearly Grey Ocean Club (1786) The RCI Gold Crown Resort in Tenerife is undergoing a major upgrade, with all the studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments in the hotel being completely refurbished to high standards, and with the latest technology. The resort’s seafront apartments are also being refurbished, the first of which are already available.
Apartamentos Tropical Park (2403) With a fabulous location just 137 metres from the beach of Callao Salvaje, this Tenerife resort is undergoing a massive €6 million refurbishment programme that will see the whole resort given a new look. All the one-, two- and three-bedroom units will be upgraded, and the property is due to reopen as a modern resort complex, with a host of on-site amenities, in November 2017.
Vigilia Park (2802) In Puerto de Santiago, in the heart of Los Gigantes in Tenerife, Vigilia Park has undergone major refurbishment, covering the accommodation and all guest areas. Upgraded furnishings give the apartments a modern feel, particularly the walk-in ‘rain’ showers. Plus, the restaurant and bar, mini-golf, Petanque, childrens’ play areas, and even the pavements, have all been renewed.
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Crown Resorts at Club Marbella (2404) Crown Resorts has invested more than €1.7 million in the major refurbishment of its resorts and apartments, including the upgrading of apartment interiors and the creation of its Sapphire Collection, a superior apartment product equipped with quality furnishings and fittings. Crown Resorts, located in Calahonda, Málaga, plans further investment in refurbishments in the future – embracing the challenge of enhancing the holiday experience for guests.
Club Las Calas (1448) The 145 apartments at this RCI Gold Crown resort in Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote, have had a €2 million lavish upgrade. Kitchens have been refitted with high-spec appliances and beautiful Silestone work tops, bathrooms have been modernised to a high standard, all wiring and plumbing has been renewed, and en-suite shower rooms have been added to most of the two-bedroom apartments. Having retained its RCI Gold Crown status for 16 years, Club Las Calas is set to keep its crown as one of the most popular resorts in the Canary Islands.
And there are more... Other RCI-affiliated resorts investing in recent upgrades include:
ONA Club Bena Vista (1464), Málaga ONA Aucanada (2821), Mallorca Apartamentos Fenix Beach (2930), Almería ONA Club Novelty (3902), Tarragona Habitat Playa Romana (2848), Castellón Crown Resorts at Club Calahonda (1878), Málaga La Pinta Beach Club (2568), Tenerife Holiday Club Sol Amadores (8695), Gran Canaria Club Marina (2378), Tenerife
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Unforgettable Adventures in South East Asia BY L E I G H CO N N E L LY
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A visit to South East Asia is one of mind-blowing, eye-opening and wondrous proportions. Encompassing a multitude of countries and cities, each offers a unique and diverse culture, all flaunt a riot of colour and a fusion of cultures past and present. We can’t promise you’ll ‘find yourself’, but you will find the adventure of a lifetime.
COUNTRY OF CONTRASTS: 1. The Taal Volcano. 2. A Birdwing butterfly. 3. A trike taxi driver in Manila. 4. Manila City.
Tagaytay, The Philippines Situated on the island of Luzon, the Philippines’ largest and most populous island, Tagaytay is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. It’s between a 90-minute and a two-hour drive from the country’s capital region, Metro Manila. The spectacular scenery, and greenery, is certainly a draw. From various points in Tagaytay you can view the extraordinary Taal Volcano and Lake Taal, both are somewhat unique. Lake Taal is formed from an ancient crater measuring around 47 miles in circumference - this is known as Tagaytay Ridge, and the city itself sits upon it. Within the lake sits a volcanic island, recognised as the world’s smallest active volcano. The island has a small lake at its centre, within which sits a small volcanic crater. A Russian doll set of volcanos - it’s a geological wonder. You can take a 30-minute boat trip to the volcano in the centre, from where it is a 45-minute hike to the top if you are feeling energetic, or rent a donkey. Picnic Grove is a must visit. A pretty, verdant area, with huts and picnic pavilions nestled into the slopes, it’s perfect for a relaxing family day out. There are great views across Lake Taal, which the adrenaline junkies can enjoy while taking a zipline between two mountains. But if you prefer to be seated than to fly like Superman, there’s also a cable car. Other activities include an eco-trail, butterfly sanctuary and horse riding. E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 1 5
For children and kids at heart, Sky Ranch is worth checking out. This amusement park is home to a 63 metre-high ferris wheel aptly named the Sky Eye. A trip to the capital should feature on your itinerary, for sure. Known as the ‘Pearl of the Orient’ Manila is bustling and buzzing, a collision of old and new, where neither a cloud-piercing skyscraper, or a stunning 18th-century church is out of place. Besides shopping, eating, practising your haggling at the street markets, and generally soaking up the city atmosphere there are plenty of attractions. The walled city of Intramuros was built during the Spanish Colonial era, 1521-1898. In its time it was the most exclusive area of Manila, its high walls built to protect the upscale residences and their moneyed residents. Wander the streets by foot or by horse and cart, and you’ll come across various points of interest, such as Fort Santiago, the oldest Spanish fortress in the Philippines, having been built in the 16th century for Spanish conquistador, Miguel López de Legazpi. José Rizal, the Philippines’ national hero, was held prisoner here prior to his execution in 1896, and today a feature of the citadel are gold footsteps embedded into the floor, showing his final journey from the cell to the place of his execution, Luneta National Park. Also known as Rizal Park, today it is home to the Rizal Monument, and is also worth a visit. San Agustin Church is impressive to see, it’s the oldest church in the Philippines and features a huge façade and wonderfully ornate interiors. Try to make time to visit The National Museum of the Filipino People too. The Neoclassical building is attractive in itself, and houses a wide variety of artefacts which chronicle thousands of years of Filipino history. 1 6 AU T U M N / W I N T E R 2 0 1 7
A FEAST FOR ALL SENSES: 1. Fountain in the gardens of Fort Santiago. 2. Fruits and vegetables on sale in Tagaytay. 3. The 16th century Fort Santiago. 4. Tagaytay’s picnic grove, with views of the tiny Taal Volcano. 5. Adobo. 6. Lumpia. 7. Lechon kawali.
EAT FILIPINO FLAVOURS The food of the Philippines is as varied as its heritage and its residents. Filipino food was prepared by Malay settlers, but 300 years of Spanish rule left its flavour behind, with the Spanish also bringing influences from other colonised countries, such as Mexico. Chinese and Cantonese immigrants also brought plenty to the pot and the western world adds a dollop of itself to most cuisines. The outcome is a unique food fusion sure to tantalise the tastebuds. Here are a few dishes you should try: Adobo - this refers more to a style of cooking than one particular recipe. The word adobo is derived from a Spanish word meaning sauce or marinade. Raw meat, often pork or chicken, is marinated in vinegar, and sometimes with the added ingredients of paprika, garlic, bay leaves and black pepper, and soy sauce.
appetiser. However, there are sometimes fillings inside which you wouldnâ€™t expect, such as banana.
Lumpia - similar to a Chinese spring roll, and indeed derived from it. Thin crĂŞpe pastry encases chopped vegetables and minced meat, and the roll is then deep fried, creating a moreish savoury snack or
Pancit bihon - a second favourite to white rice, which is served everywhere and with everything, these fine rice noodles are often served with vegetables and pork, chicken or prawns.
Pork - this meat is extremely popular across the Philippines, and seeing a whole suckling pig spinning on a spit is normal. Favourite pork dishes include: lechon kawali (deep-fried pork belly) or deep-fried pork knuckles.
The Cameron Highlands, Malaysia The Cameron Highlands is a lush, green spot of Malaysia, situated in the state of Pahang. This hilly region is the highest in mainland Malaysia, and is named after British Colonial explorer, Sir William Cameron, who reported back to England with news of this mild region, perfect for growing tea and strawberries. The area also has a quintessentially old English feel, with restaurants and hotels donning Tudor-style cladding, while the genteel tradition of afternoon tea is very much ingrained in its culture. Forest hiking is the main reason most people visit, and with a backdrop this glorious, itâ€™s not hard to see why. Various trails start from Tanah Rata Village, where you can purchase a trail map to keep you on track. Trail four takes you to Parit Waterfall, and is one of the easier and more popular routes, and trail ten takes you up Mount Jasper, taking around four hours. A visit to one of the many tea plantations is worthwhile. BOH Sungai Palas Tea Estate is stunning to look at, with green tea bushes as far as the eye can see. A tour guide will tell you the story of the plantation, and show you all the best viewing points. You can then sample the produce in the restaurant. You could also take a tour combining the BOH Tea Estate with a visit to the Mossy Forest, otherwise known as Cloud Forest. Located on the slopes of Mount Brinchang, low-level clouds blanket the area. Early in the morning, you can witness the whole forest covered in a dense cloud. This moisture encourages the growth of moss, and so the trees are covered in it. Itâ€™s also the ideal condition for orchids, ferns and pitcher plants, and there are various wildlife to spot, including beetles, frogs and snakes - all basking in the chilly atmosphere. 1 8 AU T U M N / W I N T E R 2 0 1 7
CULTURAL COLLISION: 1. The distinctive architecture of the Cameron Highlands. 2. Strawberry farm. 3. BOH Sungai Palas Tea. 4. A tea shop on the BOH Sungai Palas Estate. 5. The Cameron Highlands. 6. Lontong. 7. Mee goreng mamak. 8. Rendang.
PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK (26), iSTOCK (2), ALAMY (3).
MALAYSIAN MUNCHIES The phrase ‘Sudah Makan’ - which means ‘Have you eaten already?’ in Malay, is as common a greeting in Asia as - ‘How are you today?’, so you can expect to hear this when wandering around areas with restaurants. In Malaysia, food is a big priority, and a way of life - with many locals choosing to eat out more often than cooking, as it’s cheaper than buying ingredients. Plus, they much prefer to meet up with friends and eat in restaurants with outdoor seating - what can beat al fresco dining? Again, Malaysian food reflects the multi-ethnic make up of its population, those being Malay, Chinese and Indian people. Many of the population are also Muslim and so pork is uncommon. Typical dishes include: Lontong - rice is a staple in Asia, and Malaysia is no different. Lontong is made of compressed rice, which is wrapped and cooked in a banana leaf and then cut into bite-size discs which are often served with peanut satay sauce dishes or coconut milk-based soups. Another popular rice dish is nasi lemak, rice cooked in coconut milk and served with either nuts, hardboiled eggs, curry or chilli sauce. This is traditionally a breakfast dish.
Mee goreng mamak - this moreish yellow-noodle dish has prawns, beef or chicken, vegetables, soy sauce and eggs - a kick of chilli spices things up. Rendang - a favourite, particularly during festive seasons, this spicy chicken, beef or lamb dish is often described as a curry, but locals will argue it’s very different. Meat and spices are submerged in coconut milk, and simmered until the liquid evaporates.
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The Cameron Highlands is the primary producer of strawberries within Malaysia, with most strawberry farms being concentrated around Tanah Rata. Raju’s Hill Strawberry Farm is popular and even if you have no desire to pick your own berries, you can indulge in something delicious from the café. Jam-laden scones are always a good choice, but you can also opt for strawberry juice or even strawberry-flavoured coffee. Other attractions to enjoy are: Rose Valley, which has more than 100 varieties of roses; Cameron Lavender Garden - a delight for the eyes and nose, and the Butterfly Farm, which features a walkway with free-flying butterflies, as well as other colourful insects. From the Cameron Highlands – the city of Ipoh is around an hour’s drive, and well worth the journey. Ipoh was once the centre of the world’s tin industry. After recovering from this change, the city has dusted itself off and is becoming more popular with tourists. There is plenty to see, and it’s also a foodies’ haven. Set in a valley, Ipoh is surrounded by limestone cliffs and caves, many of which have been turned into temples. Perak Tong Cave Temple is a popular choice, it was founded in 1926 by a Buddhist priest and features an almost 12-metre-high Buddha, as well as various colourful murals. Within the city there are lots of pretty buildings to view - the Town Hall is impressive, built in 1916, this gleaming white Neoclassical building is popular for wedding snaps. The Railway Station is also stunning, it’s built in the ‘Raj’ style and is often referred to as Ipoh’s Taj Mahal. Whilst in Ipoh, make sure to try it’s most famous export - white coffee. Coffee beans are roasted with palm oil margarine, and then the resulting coffee is blended with condensed milk, creating a delicious velvety texture. 2 0 AU T U M N / W I N T E R 2 0 1 7
SUN, SURF AND SPIRITUALITY: 1. San Agustin Church, Manila. 2. Perak Tong Cave Temple. 3. Kuta, Bali. 4.Traditional dancers in Ubud.
Bali, Indonesia Topping the wish list of many a holidaymaker, from budget-conscious backpackers to those looking for luxe, Bali is the epitome of island idyll. Pure white sands offer a palm-fringed canvas upon which to paint the holiday of a lifetime, while the turquoise waters lapping the grains welcome surfers, snorkelers and divers alike. The island is also popular with those seeking spa, or alternative therapies, and is of course well known for its gorgeously green tiered rice paddies, and its myriad of unique temples. In short, it has sun, sea, spirituality and a whole lot more. An easy way to explore the island is to hire a driver, which costs around £50 per day. Here are just a few places to add to your itinerary... Kuta, Seminyak and the other beach resorts on the southwest of the island are popular with those looking for relaxed days on the sand. Jewel-coloured beanbags and parasols speckle the long white ribbons of sand, and you can expect to find an abundance of restaurants, cafés, bars and shops. The beaches are good in both areas, and are popular with those looking to ride the waves, but there is certainly a difference in ambience. Kuta offers a very lively nightlife, and the shops are what can be expected from most popular holiday destinations, selling t-shirts, car stickers and the like. Seminyak is by no means quiet, but has a rather more moneyed feel, with a mixture of designer shops and small boutiques, plus a multitude of fine-dining restaurants with international chefs at the helm - it’s considered the more stylish of the two areas. After some much-deserved beach time, relaxing and winding down from the stresses and strains of everyday life, perhaps you are ready, or at least open to the idea, of the spiritual awakenings Bali has become famed for. If so, head to Ubud, considered E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 2 1
the island’s cultural heart. Ubud is the Bali depicted in the best-selling book and film, Eat, Pray, Love, where we see the protagonist cycling through the greenery. Tegallalang Rice Terrace offers postcardperfect scenery, creating the ideal photo opportunity - or simply the chance to gaze in awe at the tiers of green, the sloping valleys and the abundance of coconut trees. You can sample a green coconut drink, made by the farmer who owns the land, or buy a hat woven from coconut leaves... Why not? There’s plenty more to see here too. Ubud Royal Palace, or Puri Saren Ubud, is a focal point of the area. It’s a fantastic example of traditional Balinese architecture and, in the evenings, it plays host to extravagant and colourful dance performances. Located close to the palace is Ubud Art Market, where you can pick up silk scarves and light-weight clothing; hand-woven bags, baskets and hats; paintings, ceramics, lamps and an Aladdin’s cave of other treasures. You could wander these stalls for days. Ubud Monkey Forest is a must visit. Watching the grey long-tailed macaque monkeys swinging around is a highlight, but wandering around the forest looking at the moss-covered temples and statues is also pretty impressive. Close to Ubud, around three miles away, is the Goa Gajah, or Elephant Cave, Temple, a significant Hindu archaeological site with rock wall carvings, historical relics, fountains, bathing pools and a meditational cave. Dating back to the 11th century and built as a spiritual haven for meditation - it is a very special place to visit. The area may feel a little mysterious, with the open mouth which acts as an entrance looking somewhat menacing.
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PICTURE-POSTCARD PERFECT: 1. Elephant Temple Cave. 2. Family of monkeys in the Ubud Monkey Forest. 3. Tegallalang Rice Terrace. 4. Tempe manis on rice. 5. Lawar.
EAT BALINESE BITES Indonesian food has a lot in common with Malaysian cuisine, with much dispute over the origins of each dish. We say... It’s all delicious! However, as an island, Bali does have its own flavours which combine those of Chinese, Indian and Indonesian influence and cooking methods. Unlike the rest of Indonesia, you’ll find less beef dishes in Bali, as the majority of the population are of the Hindu faith. Be sure to get a plateful of our favourite dishes: Tempe manis - fermented, sweet soy bean is sliced wafer thin, and fried in coconut milk and sometimes fried in garlic and chilli. It’s a sticky sweet bliss which is suitable for both vegetarians and vegans.
Lawar - one of the island’s most famous dishes, lawar is made differently from place to place, with ingredients including grated coconut, shallots, green papaya, green beans, a variety of spices, pork and also pork blood. The open minded will be rewarded with a sensation for the tastebuds.
STAY WHY NOT TRY ONE OF THESE RESORTS?
Sunrise Holiday Mansion 5369
SVC at Subic Holiday Villas 7526
MEMBER REVIEW: “In close proximity to breathtaking views of a truly spectacular venue, Lake Taal.”
MEMBER REVIEW: “Very quiet, great for those who just want to relax.”
One Tagaytay Place C384
Astoria Plaza Suites 7773
MEMBER REVIEW: “Nice resort with excellent spa service amenities.”
MEMBER REVIEW: “In a prime location for shopping and eating out.”
Greenhill Resort 3196
Medewi Bay Retreat 6302
MEMBER REVIEW: “Spacious apartment, nice weather and breathtaking views.”
MEMBER REVIEW: “This resort is nestled within a small village, giving you a true Bali experience.”
RCI.com For more resort information, and to book. Or see page 6 for contact details
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Share RCI Holiday Fun! Recommend a friend to join RCI and earn £50.*
It’s easy as 1, 2, 3…
1 2 3
Your friend signs up at rci.com/rfrl and includes your RCI Member ID RCI enrols your friend You both receive your £50* credit
Visit RCI.com/rfrl *To be eligible to receive an RCI credit worth £50, the timeshare owner you refer must join and be accepted into the RCI Weeks Exchange Programme. The Credit can only be used as payment for selected RCI products and services and cannot be refunded or converted to cash. The credit will be valid for a period of six months from enrolment. We reserve the right to amend, extend and/or withdraw this offer at any time, without prior notice. Visit rcitc6.com for full terms and conditions.
A Weekend in Lapland L A P L A N D O F F E R S A VA R I E T Y O F F E S T I V E F U N F O R T H E W H O L E FA M I LY. H E A D TO F I N L A N D TO B E G I N YO U R S E A R C H F O R S A N TA , A N D R E D I S C OV E R B OT H YO U R I N N E R C H I L D, A N D YO U R C H R I S T M A S S P I R I T. 1
BY M A RY A N N E E VA N S
emember when Christmas was a’coming and the geese were getting fat and you woke up with that toe-curling, stomach-crunching feeling of almost painful anticipation? And now it’s been replaced by a rush of ‘must get the turkey bought’, ‘how many of the children’s friends are coming?’ and ‘how many mince pies can I get away with?’ Well, believe me, you can go back to the excitement of your childhood. All you need do is take a 2 6 AU T U M N / W I N T E R 2 0 1 7
winter’s weekend break in Lapland. Lapland offers a very different winter holiday experience, so it’s best to go there with a little knowledge of what to expect. The northern winter lasts for seven months, with the sun only appearing for five hours a day. Temperatures drop well below freezing, but dress appropriately and you’ll be fine in the warm sun and dry air. If you do get cold during the day, there’s always a hot sauna waiting for you at your resort. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to
witness the greatest show on earth. When the velvety skies are crystal clear and the stars shine brightly, the Northern Lights may come out to play. Aristotle believed the aurora borealis was glowing air gushing out of cracks in the sky; others saw it as the sign of God’s fury. Today’s scientific explanation is just as amazing: hot ionized gas from the sun hits the Earth’s magnetic field, producing more than 1,000 times the electrical power of the world’s largest power plant. The skies light up with huge flashes of colour swirling rapidly across the roof of
A FAIRYTALE WELCOME: 1. A Sámi man cooks up a feast in his lavvu. 2. The northern lights from an aeroplane en route to Finland. 3. Father Christmas and Rudolph. 4. A warm welcome at the sauna. 5. A child husky sledding.
the world in an auroral substorm. See all this, and more, on a winter break in Lapland. Day One: In winter, Santa and his busy elves will take centre stage, if you have young children. It doesn’t matter if Christmas has passed at home; Santa Claus lives in Lapland all year round. The logic of time escapes young children who believe in fairy tales, and a world where there really can be two Christmases a year. E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 2 7
Save Santa for the second day, and start with those friendly creatures who take him at extraordinary speed around the world. You won’t meet the special flying reindeer but you will get close to these half-domesticated creatures whose snowshoe-like hooves carry them lightly over the deepest snow. They’re tended by the Sámi, the indigenous people who live in the area that is now divided between Norway, Finland, Sweden and Russia. For over 5,000 years, the Sámi have fished, trapped animals and led a semi-nomadic life herding reindeer. It’s a great visit learning about the solitary life of a Sámi reindeer herder, helping feed the animals by hand, and taking endless pictures of yourselves with these very photogenic creatures. Some farms offer reindeer driving lessons, and reward your efforts with a ‘reindeer driving licence’. If you’re in Lapland between February and April, a reindeer race is a must-see. The best racing reindeer are legendary and run like the wind, but not all share that competitive spirit. You could impress your children - and yourself - driving a team of huskies. Teams of six dogs pull you along, children safely in the sleigh while you ‘drive’ them from the back, hoping that the breakneck speed will not hurl you from the driving seat. It’s exhilarating and gives you a real sense of achievement, though the huskies and the organisers know exactly what they are doing. Take to a modern snowmobile and you speed along as fast as a car; mini snowmobiles offer independence to the youngest, and reassurance to their parents - the snowmobiles are
ICE & NICE: 1. Reindeer take a break from pulling sleds. 2. A Kota. 3. A Sámi man with reindeer. 4. The Santa Claus Village, Rovaniemi. 5. Husky dog sledding. 6. The Santa Claus village lights through the trees.
PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK (3) ALAMY (3).
tethered around a tree. If the wilderness beckons for the whole day, a snow safari by reindeer sleigh or snowmobile takes you deep into the forest. The sun sparkles brightly on the snow and picks out ice-covered trees that look more like frozen sculptures. You come to a hut shaped like a tepee, the Sámi’s Kota. Stop the reindeer, turn off the snowmobiles and the silence is broken only by the sound of branches cracking under the weight of snow and the snuffles of the reindeer as they nuzzle the earth for lichen. The Kota’s steep roofs stop the snow settling while a central hole allows the smoke out. Inside there’s kindling and wood for a fire to cook sausages on sticks then eat them with potatoes served with a mix of dill and sour cream. It may sound simple, but after a morning outside it makes a magnificent feast, 5
setting you up for the ride back through the blue twilight. Day Two: As every Finnish child knows, Santa lives just outside the far north city of Rovaniemi, where the frozen world of the Arctic Circle begins its path to the North Pole. The snow-covered Santa Claus Village gleams with brightly-lit buildings. Twinkling fairy lights cover the Christmas trees marking out paths that take you past the huge thermometer showing how cold it is, past small slopes full of excited children on toboggans, and up to the Reindeer Park. A red pillar box stands outside Santa’s Post Office which receives over half a million letters each year sent from all around the world. You’ll find Father Christmas himself (Joulypukki) in the 6
E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 2 9
Christmas House where he lives and works, and more importantly, hands out presents, helped by his band of merry elves. The room is full of old-fashioned furniture with a huge map of the world and a clock that he stops for one night so he can deliver presents around the world. Santa hasn’t always lived here; his original home was at Korvatunturi Fell inside the Urho Kekkonen National Park near the eastern resorts of Pyhä, Salla and Kelorinne. The location remained secret until 1927 when Finnish radio host Markus Rautio (Finland’s ‘Uncle Mac’),
today head out for some sightseeing and shopping for items you can’t find at home. In Rovaniemi, a walk along the riverside path follows a reindeer’s head layout of the city designed by the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. You’re led to the Arktikum Museum and Science Centre, a modern building whose huge glass atrium dramatically reflects the sky and the river. Here the story of Lapland, the Sámi way of life and their rich folklore, times of war, and more pertinently, times of climate change, unfolds in a series of exhibitions that packs a few punches about the harsh environment and the future. 2
revealed his true whereabouts. You can safely hike along well-marked trails to the three peaks of Korvatunturi Fell, but you must tell the Finnish Border Guard as it lies next to the Russian border. This seeming brush with danger could be just the thing to turn a sceptical teenager into a Father Christmas fan. Day Three: Lapland is about much more than sports and Father Christmas, so 3 0 AU T U M N / W I N T E R 2 0 1 7
The northernmost resort of Saariselkä lies just south of the vast expanse of Lake Inari, sacred to the Sámi people. In Inari itself, visit the Siida Museum, a stunning place where you’re drawn into the landscape, the way of life of the Sámi and the animals which share this part of the planet. You walk through the seasons marvelling at nature’s sheer diversity, and leave with a very real understanding of how nature and man co-exist.
FESTIVE TREATS: 1. Handmade slippers for sale. 2. Inside Santa’s home, The Christmas House. 3. Joulutorttu. 4. Koskenkorva vodka. 5. Inside the Santa Park in Rovaniemi.
Inari is a centre for craftspeople who cure leather and make belts and bags, carve bone handles for knives, weave brightly-coloured cloth, and plait strands of silver-tin alloy for bracelets. Who can resist those bright red felt slippers with upturned toes that mould to your children’s feet, particularly when you’ve seen them being made just as they have been for centuries? Or hand-carved wooden platters, and jams made from wild lingonberries and the elusive cloudberry? Lappish goods are sold in every town and resort, but make sure the ones you buy carry the Sámi Duodji certificate, guaranteeing authenticity. Christmas isn’t Christmas without festive foods; in Finland the Joulupöytä (Yule table) takes centre stage. Feast on raw, salt-cured salmon served with sour cream and onion; herrings pickled in an astonishing variety of ways; slow-baked ham; potatoes with dill, and a selection of casseroles. Try the bright red carrot casserole and don’t miss the rich, sweet, almost honeyed swede variety with a crisp crust. Desserts start with rice porridge with cinnamon, raisins and sugar, and end with joulutorttu, small sweet pastries filled with home-made plum jam. It’s all washed down with beer, mulled wine, and for the brave, the Koskenkorva vodka so loved by the Finns. You met the reindeer, talked to Santa Claus and have seen the Northern Lights. There are mysteries left and there is magic out there in Europe’s greatest wilderness. You just have to go and find it.
STAY WHY NOT TRY ONE OF THESE RESORTS?
Holiday Club Yllas 1 2418
MEMBER REVIEW: “Easy to find all winter activities, we indulged in husky sledging, reindeer sleighs and downhill skiing.”
MEMBER REVIEW: “This resort is stunning in winter, in an unspoilt and peaceful location and surrounded by woodland and lakes.”
Nearest airport: Kittilä
Nearest airport: Kuusamo
Holiday Club Kelorinne 3498
Holiday Club Saariselkä 3553
MEMBER REVIEW: “Great to have access to fire huts where you could cook your food over an open fire and socialise with other holidaymakers.”
MEMBER REVIEW: “Here, the borders to Norway, Russia and Sweden are accessible by road and just a day’s outing.”
Nearest airport: Kuusamo
Nearest airport: Ivalo
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Holiday Club Kuusamon Tropiikki
Holiday Club Pyhä 3554
Holiday Club Salla 3939
MEMBER REVIEW: “The nearby walking trails are great for both professional walkers and families taking a stroll.”
MEMBER REVIEW: “The Reindeer Park offers snow-shoe walks, snowmobile trips, night-time reindeer safaris and husky driving.”
Nearest airport: Rovaniemi
Nearest airport: Kuusamo
FLIGHTS WITH RCI TRAVEL† Fly to Helsinki, and book your onward flight to the nearest airport to your resort. Here are some guide prices for Finnair’s daily flights from London Heathrow via Helsinki: KUUSAMO From £249
IVALO From £239
KITTILÄ from £372
ROVANIEMI from £229
Why not combine your break with a city stopover in Helsinki? Call 0845 60 86 121 for a tailored flight option to match your holiday plans. NEW FOR 2017 – Direct flights from the UK launching in November 2017 to Rovaniemi and Ivalo. Terms and Conditions: Flight prices are a guide only as of 28.07.17. See rcitc2.com for full pricing and departure details. †RCI Travel is operated by ICE Europe Ltd (ICE) trading as Our Holiday Centre and uses the name RCI Travel under licence from RCI Europe. RCI Cruise and Resort Holidays are brands and services operated and provided by RCI Travel. RCI Europe is a separate entity and does not supply any travel services and is not responsible for any of the products or services sold by RCI Travel. ICE is an ABTA bonded company. Registered office: 79 College Road, Harrow, HA1 1BD. Registration number 3793995. All bookings with RCI Travel are subject to their booking conditions. Not all RCI Travel products are available in all countries.
RCI.com For more resort information, and to book. Or see page 6 for contact details
E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 3 3
How To Make The Most Of RCI Extra Holidays Maria Musgrove-Wethey has been an RCI member for 25 years. Here Maria explains why she books RCI Extra Holidays in addition to her exchange weeks, for even more family fun. BY M A R I A M U S G R OV E -W E T H E Y
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Value your exchanges Being a business owner and a mother, life can get fairly hectic. Taking the time out to relax with my husband, Robin, and my daughter, Isabella, is so important to me. Twenty five years ago, I purchased four weeks of timeshare at Diamond Club Maritima (1850), in Lanzarote. Having these weeks each year helps commit me to taking this time, otherwise it would be easy to put holidays off. I have never actually been to my home resort, having bought timeshare simply to be an RCI member, and be able to make exchanges. Today, I won’t hear a word said against timeshare. I believe it’s all about knowing the system. If you make good purchasing decisions and deposit quickly to get the maximum benefit, you open up a whole world of adventure. My weeks are valuable to me. If I’m paying my maintenance, and exchange fees, I want to make sure I get the absolute best holiday I can get with my trading power. When I can get an Extra Holiday for around £195*, it makes sense to keep my exchange weeks for a special holiday and make the most out of a good-value Extra Holiday. When I start searching for my next holiday on RCI.com, I leave the filter open to show me exchanges and Extra Holidays that way I can make the decision as to which is better value for me. Also, sometimes the check-in dates suit me better on a specific Extra Holiday. I’ve even been known to book two weeks of Extra Holidays and only actually use 10 days - because the savings on the flights make this worthwhile and it’s a simple way to travel at my family’s convenience. Trust in quality I do the majority of my holidaying with
FAMILY ADVENTURES: 1. Maria, Robin and Isabella in Antigua. 2. The family in Madeira.
RCI, because I want stress-free holidays. If I were to go on the internet and search for holidays in Malta in November, for instance, the information I’d get back would be overwhelming. I find it hard to know where to start and I simply don’t want to spend my time trawling through pages and pages of information. I forget which holidays with RCI have been exchanges and which are Extra Holidays, because the quality is always the same, and I’ve come to rely on that. I don’t want to have even the slightest concern about what to expect when I arrive somewhere. Will it be clean? Will there be a reception if I’m arriving late at night? With RCI accommodation - I don’t have to worry.
Give the gift of a lifetime
Let your friends and family share all that’s great about an RCI Extra Holiday by buying them a Guest Certificate. Go online or call 0845 60 86 111 to learn more. Weeks members: RCI.com/weekshelpuk Points members: RCI.com/pointshelpuk E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 3 5
EXTRA HOLIDAY FUN: 1. Maria, Robin and Isabella in Antigua holding cacti. 2. Isabella about to windsurf in Mallorca.
When I’m booking an Extra holiday with RCI, I do sense check the price on a comparison site, and it’s always competitive - so I don’t see the point in scouring the net, when I can book with confidence and comfort on RCI.com. Give your friends something extra In the past, I have booked Extra Holidays and purchased a Guest Certificate to transfer them to a friend or relative. In 2007, we were going on holiday to Madeira with another couple and had initially planned to share an apartment at the Pestana Miramar (5440). In the end, we decided it made more sense for everyone to have a bit more space. I looked to see what Extra Holidays were available and managed to find a studio apartment at Pestana Village (3725), which shares facilities with the Miramar, for only £100. They were 3 6 AU T U M N / W I N T E R 2 0 1 7
absolutely delighted. You couldn’t get one night in a good hotel in Madeira for that price. To top it off, they were actually upgraded to a one-bedroom apartment too! Another instance was when I transferred an Extra Holiday to a friend, who went to the Macdonald Doña Lola Resort (1689), in Málaga. She was so impressed with the quality of the resort, and could see the value in the timeshare product - so much so that it encouraged her to look into purchasing. She spoke so highly of the resorts that I visited myself in May of this year. Try something different Back in 2014, when perusing RCI.com, I came across an Extra Holiday in Saint Lucia, at Smugglers Cove Resort and Spa (C373) for only £179. This resort is mandatory
all-inclusive, and though I’d never been all-inclusive before and would have to cover the fees, at the time the currency exchange rate on dollars was great, and I was getting two dollars to every pound. This made the all-inclusive even better value, and we had
a fantastic time. My daughter, then nine, particularly enjoyed the all-inclusive board basis, and I soon discovered that she could eat more than me! We’ve had so many wonderful holidays with RCI - here’s to many more.
WHAT ARE RCI EXTRA HOLIDAYS? At RCI, we listen to our members. We want to help you to get the Exchange Holiday of your dreams, time after time. To do this, we rely on our members to deposit. The earlier our members make their deposits, the more choice there is for everyone! However, to give you even more choice and flexibility, we also secure extra accommodation each year to satisfy demand, which we offer in the form of great value, RCI Extra Holidays – all because your vacation means the world to us. Can you travel within 45 days of booking your holiday? If so, don’t forget to check RCI.com for great-value Late Deals, which are discounted Extra Holidays available last minute. *Price is based on a Studio/Hotel apartment as a Late Deal within Europe. Late Deals are discounted Extra Holidays typically available less than six weeks before check-in.
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Explore Europe with RCI Extra Holidays From only £269 per week*
Take a look at six of our fabulous European resorts, just waiting to be discovered. Availability is limited so hurry and book today! Remember, you don’t need to use your weeks or points to book these holidays. Available Oct - Dec 2017 plus selected resorts are also available in 2018.
*No week deposit/exchange or points required. Extra Holidays are accommodation only and do not include travel or any other expenses. Not all resorts are available for all months in 2017 and 2018 - for up-to-date availability visit RCI.com. All prices are rounded to the nearest currency and are subject to change. Details correct as of 14.07.17 but are subject to change and availability may be limited
COSTA BLANCA - SPAIN
ONA Ogisaka Garden
Royal Park Albatros Club (3941)
Royal Blue Hotel and Spa Paphos (DG78)
£279 per week
ISLES OF SCILLY
Karma St. Martin’s (DB57)
Anezina Village (4806)
Nostos Village Mandatory Half Board (RA12)
Visit RCI.com or call 0845 60 86 111 to book
during peak times and school holidays. All bookings are subject to availability and Terms of Membership, booking conditions apply. We reserve the right to amend, withdraw or extend this offer without notice. For full terms and conditions including pricing, please visit rcitc2.com
Vegas - A Winner!
For your indulgence only Wherever you find yourself in the world, there’s a spa treat waiting in the wings to soothe you. So add a little me time into your plans for the ultimate indulgence - you are on holiday after all. BY LO R R A I N E LOV E L A N D
elaxation usually ranks pretty high on the list of things to do on holiday. And let’s face it, there’s something rather inviting about whiling away a day enveloped in a fluffy white robe, luxuriating within the cosy confines of a spa. With the majority of treatment menus overflowing with plenty of options to preen or polish, to transform or treat ailments, therapies today offer so many more experiences beyond the steam room. Throw in some modern medicines and specialist therapies, and your spa options just got a whole lot more interesting. 4 0 AU T U M N / W I N T E R 2 0 1 7
Here are four sensational spa destinations that will leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated with that healthy holiday glow. For healing… Choose Hungary Hungary is a spa and wellness mecca with a multitude of spas and hot springs to delight. Make your first stop the natural thermal lake of Héviz - the world’s largest of its kind, resting on the picturesque shores of the freshwater Lake Balaton. Take a dip in the healing waters, which are believed to cure rheumatic conditions, and relish in the tingling sensation as the tension
LAKESIDE RESTORATION: 1. Héviz, the world’s largest natural thermal lake. 2. Deep cleansing mud wrap. 3. Traditional Hungarian thermal bath in Budapest.
in your muscles simply melts away. As you paddle amid the water lillies floating atop the dazzling turquoise lake, the temperate waters and hypnotic blue skies are enough to ease the mind and soul. To really let the medicinal powers work their magic, a Hungarian mud wrap treatment at one of the area’s spas is essential. It’s a case of out with the old as a sea salt exfoliation, enriched with mud and a capsicum peptide, rejuvenates your skin. The deep cleansing mud and wrap is then applied, followed by a soothing scalp and body massage to provide you with some muchneeded moments of bliss. Open year round, temperatures never drop below 22 degrees celsius in winter, so whether you’re inspired for a summer of serenity or want to kickstart your wellness in winter, hot foot it to Héviz to languish in
its warming waters. If your intention is to jet off for a week of pure rejuvenation, add a few days on to your trip to spend some time exploring and restoring in Budapest - Hungary’s spa capital. The region lays claim to more than 2,000 years of bathing rituals. Doctors even prescribe spa visits for medicinal purposes, so you know that this is a destination that takes health and wellness very seriously. Time to follow doctor’s orders then, and there’s a plethora of options to choose from in the city, including Turkish and Roman baths, and even ‘sparties’. If you tend to get restless with resting, a ‘sparty’ comes complete with DJs, acrobats and ballet performances to keep you entertained while you chill out in the open-air pools. Now that sounds like our kind of chill out session. E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 41
HYDRATING OASIS: 1. Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. 2. Shea butter scrub for soft hydrated skin. 3. Indulge in a hydrating facial.
For hydration… Choose Arizona, USA So Arizona may not be the first place you would consider for a me-time break. It may surprise you to learn that pampering is big business in Arizona. So make the most of it, and like Goldilocks, try out a few different spas for size. Tucson is home to the legendary brand spas, while the cities of Scottsdale and Phoenix are sprawling with options catering to every taste, from traditional and historic to sleek and glamorous. Then there are the boutique and speciality options, so needless to say, it’s wise to do a little research before you travel. As the proverb goes, it’s all in the name. Carefree, in Arizona is only a 30-minute 4 2 AU T U M N / W I N T E R 2 0 1 7
drive north from Scottsdale and its popular RCI Gold Crown resorts. It is a small town that urges you to slow down the pace and soak up its quaint and tranquil vibes. After a little wander around the town, book a treat at one of the area’s spas, which all offer their own range of signature experiences. The spa at Carefree makes a nice alternative to some of the big hitters in Scottsdale, helping you to heighten your senses and restore a little balance in your life. Following prolonged periods out in the heat of Arizona’s desert climate, a little hydration for the skin won’t go amiss. The Carefree massage and facial make a nourishing choice, but the creamy body butter scrub gets our
MEDITATION IN THE MOUNTAINS: 4. Machapuchare (Fishtail) Mountain in the Himalayas. 5. Ayurveda massage treatment. 6. Ayurveda herbs and roots for treatment.
vote. The vitamin-enriched shea butter scrub will help to banish any dull or dry skin, detoxify and reveal a new you, with silky soft and hydrated skin. However and wherever you decide to spend your time here, the burning orange and ochre ombres of the surrounding Sonoran Desert are made for mindfulness, transporting you far away from the stresses of everyday life. For inside cleansing… Choose India India is home to one of the world’s most sophisticated health systems, Ayurveda, which has been expertly blended with modern-day treatments to curate a programme which cleanses the body from the inside out. So if you feel that you are in need of a
serious health kick, India is the place to start your journey on the road to good living. One of the fundamental principles of Ayurveda is meditation which is a powerful tool that helps to balance the mind and body. There are a whole host of Ayurveda centres in India, from the meditative retreats of the Himalayas to New Delhi’s city spa havens for a retreat away from the hustle and bustle. No matter where you decide, you’ll find yourself being gently lured into the soothing surroundings like a comforting hug. Following an assessment to determine your health imbalances, your course of treatment will be centred on massage, diet and herbal remedies. Diet and nutrition are key to E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 4 3
FROM SEA TO SPA: 1. The hypnotic Albufeira coastline. 2. Thalassotherapy spa. 3. Calming candles and essential oils used in spas.
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before allowing yourself some time out to develop the new, improved and healthier you. For coastal relaxation… Choose Albufeira, Portugal Sun, check. Sea, check. Sand, check. Spas - wait a minute. Spas? Unless you’re a seasoned visitor, this wouldn’t really factor into your itinerary as a must do in Portugal - but it should. Portugal is enduringly popular for a sunshine beach break. Millions of tourists flock here every year to lounge on the neverending stretches of coast, explore a healthy helping of historic towns and villages, and dine on the delicious catch of the day, fresh from the Atlantic’s ‘fridge’. Albufeira, on the southern swathes of
PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK (12); ALAMY (2).
treatment and recovery, and these are individually tailored according to your needs. Six primary ‘tastes’ are typically used, from ‘sweet’, which promotes strength and tissue nourishment to ‘sour’ designed to stimulate digestive powers. Ayurvedic massage is also used to focus on specific problem areas and relieve any aches or pains. Shirodhara is another special technique which uses oils, such as herbalist sesame seed oil. The oil is slowly dripped onto the forehead, targeting the nervous system to restore calm of the mind. While Ayurvedic health is all about balance, so too is your holiday. Wherever you choose to explore for a week, mix it up with some time unleashing all your senses. Discover exotic and vibrant India,
Portugal is a former fishing village with a spa scene waiting to tempt and satisfy your every whim. From sea to spa, thalassotherapy is hugely popular, owing to its main ingredient - sea water. It features intense firming and antiinflammatory properties, as well as minerals which help to detoxify and reduce fatigue bring on the drenching! Ingredients from different Portuguese regions are also used in treatments with benefits that aim to tone, firm, relax, revitalise, hydrate and detox. Searching for a golden glow? Look out for therapies which include blue algae of the sea which will release your skin’s youthful proteins. For a more svelte and toned appearance, sea rush is great for firming up problem areas, while sea pepper oil will help to address any cellulite issues. If you’re a little indecisive, opt for an allrounder treatment, especially anything which features verbena. It is a herb frequently used in homeopathy, and historically believed to have sacred powers which protect against evil. Nowadays, the everyday evils it protects against include anxiety, stress, insomnia and nervousness, which are combatted through its powerful, calming properties. Approach your spa experiences here just like when you dine in one of the glorious harbour-side restaurants. Choose your dish of indulgence by ingredient, rather than method, for the perfect slice of serenity. Spa time to savour While spa destinations present so much variety, they are also universal in their ability to please even the most discerning of spa goers. So build a little treat time in to ease yourself into the laid-back holiday mode we so often crave on our breaks. Have a late or long flight to endure? Book a treatment before you check out of your resort
STAY HUNGARY Abbazia Country Club 5328 Petnehazy Club Hotel 5332
ARIZONA Sedona Pines Resort 4968 Cibola Vista Resort and Spa DC62
INDIA The Resort Country Club 4438 Club Mahindra Madikeri, Coorg 7703
PORTUGAL Hotel AP. Vila Gale Atlantico 2172 Club Albufeira Resort Algarve 2414
For more resort information, and to book.
R CI.com Or see page 6 for contact details.
to boost the wellness factor. A last-minute massage or facial is the perfect remedy to help banish the boredom of the airport wait, bring on a blissful slumber for the flight home and ward off those dreaded post-holiday blues - for just a little longer at least. And wherever your next adventure takes you, maybe it’s time for a new holiday mantra: rest, relax, rejuvenate, repeat. E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 4 5
A Guide to Island Hopping in The Canaries
BY LO R R A I N E LOV E L A N D
Two weeks in the sun is the perfect pick-me-up to help you through the winter months. But most of us start to get restless after the first week. So why not pack in a little more holiday adventure and turn your stay in the Canary Islands into a two-centre experience by hopping over to a neighbouring island? Here are just some routes you could take...
Tenerife At last, you have landed on the island of seemingly eternal sunshine. Check into your resort and hot foot it to the poolside, delving into a good book with a refreshing cocktail in hand. After an afternoon soaking up the rays, adjust to island time with a siesta before dinner. Refreshed and ready to roll, there is so much to see on Tenerife. The sun-drenched shores of Costa Adeje and Playa de las Américas are a perfect mix of beaches, bars 4 6 AU T U M N / W I N T E R 2 0 1 7
and restaurants, ideal for seafront strolls. To explore the more traditional side of Tenerife, Masca and Los Gigantes in the north afford glimpses of quaint village life, as well as extremely moving dolphin- and whale-watching trips. A hop-on, hop-off bus tour of Santa Cruz is an ideal way to make sure you see all the important landmarks in the island’s cultured capital. With a buy before you fly discounted tour ticket, available to members via the ‘My Benefits’ page of RCI.com, 12 stops will take in everything from shopping and historic sites, to parks and churches. It’s an 12 affordable way of getting around Santa Cruz.
for our feathered friends. There’s a good chance of spotting majestic Egyptian vultures and a kestrel in flight, as well as the adorable trumpeter finch. Even if you’re not an enthusiast, it’s a relaxing way to spend an afternoon. A half-day guided tour in a 4x4 around the desert scapes of Sóo, including pick up and drop off at your hotel, is an exhilarating way to see more. Lanzarote is very much about the laze and lunch lifestyle. For refreshment in every sense of the word, the coastal views from Lani’s Restaurant and Café in Puerto del Carmen, provide the perfect ambience for a relaxing lunchtime treat. With a line up starring the likes of succulent scallops, and cheese and fig chutney, the food itself is a feast for the eyes – not to mention delicious.
WHY NOT TRY ONE OF THESE RESORTS? STAY – TENERIFE El Marqués 1698 Pearly Grey Ocean Club 1786
Lanzarote The land of sunshine and cool breezes, Lanzarote is a haven for beach and nature lovers. A volcano tour usually tops the sightseeing itinerary, but variety is the spice of life and it’s fun to mix things up a little on your travels. Bird watching can be fascinating and Lanzarote is a mecca
STAY – LANZAROTE Club Las Calas 1448
NATURAL DELIGHTS: 1. Mount Teide, Tenerife. 2. A pilot whale with her calf, Tenerife. 3. A geyser at Timanfaya National Park, Lanzarote. 4. Papagayo Beach, Lanzarote.
E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 47
CANARIAN CONTRASTS: 1. Jardín Botánico Canario Viera y Clavijo. 2. Puerto de Mogán at twilight. 3. Sioux City Park. 4. Goats’ cheeses in Fuerteventura. 5. The ferry arriving in Fuerteventura. 6. A traditional windmill in Fuerteventura.
Gran Canaria Puerto de Mogán is at the heart of the action on Gran Canaria. An upmarket port with quaint shops to browse; time your visit on a Friday for market day to pick up some mementos, or simply watch the world go by against the backdrop of colourful buildings laden with bougainvillea. Spend a few hours in the harbour where giant fish swim, while boats bob gently on the water. If you’re a budding Alan Titchmarsh, Jardín Canario, towards the north of the island, is the place for gardening inspiration with more than 2,000 lush and colourful plants to admire. With waterfalls, lakes and statues scattered throughout the winding paths, a surprise lies at every turn. In contrast, Sioux City Park is a fun-filled 4 8 AU T U M N / W I N T E R 2 0 1 7
day out if you have little ones with you. Pretend you’re in the wild west with activities and stunt shows, including a bank robbery and a cattle drive. Children can learn how to throw a lasso, visit the petting zoo or, for the real cowboy experience, they can ride a horse. With the shows running all day, no matter what time you arrive there will be some action to get caught up in.
STAY – GRAN CANARIA Holiday Club Puerto Calma 2805
Fuerteventura Fuerteventura has the longest swathe of coastline out of all the Canaries, so to see it all, book a quirky trike tour with Cool Runnings. Either drive yourself or opt for a chauffeur-driven tour to take in all the scenery. Cheese lovers should definitely visit
Fuerteventura, if only to sample the majorero cheese in one of the island’s cheeseries. La Suerte del Ángel is a mediumsized establishment, where you can try three types of goats’ cheese. After a tour, visit the nearby village of La Ampuyenta to dine at La Fabiola, where the Belgian chef turns the delightful dairy produce into local dishes. A TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Winner for 2016, El Cotillo Beach and Lagoons don’t need much of an introduction – so we should let its award status do the talking! El Cotillo Beach boasts rock pools, a harbour, secluded coves and quaint little shops and cafés dotted around. You can easily while away a morning or afternoon here before catching the boat back to Lanzarote.
STAY – FUERTEVENTURA Dunas Club 2539
Travel Enjoy a two-centre break and fly from Tenerife to Lanzarote with Canarian airline, Binter, while Fuerteventura is just 25 minutes from Lanzarote by boat, so you can easily spend a full day on the island and be back before dinner! Gran Canaria is just a 45-minute flight from Lanzarote with Binter or Canary Fly. Puerto de Mogán is less than an hour from the airport, so pre-book an airport transfer.
Call RCI Travel on 0845 60 86 121 for the latest options and flight prices as well as many other excursion ideas. See page 66 for more information and visit rcitc2.com for terms and conditions. E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 4 9
Vegas - A Winner!
y mother had dreamt of seeing The Grand Canyon since she was a child, which is why Las Vegas became our holiday destination it was, quite literally, a dream holiday! As a multi-generational party - my partner, Támas, myself, my six-year-old daughter, Maya, and my mother, Zina - we put ‘Sin City’ The Strip, Las Vegas.
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to the test as a family holiday destination. Our first surprise was that showtime in Vegas, is anywhere and anytime for everyone. Maya loved walking around the streets. There were street acts everywhere, it was like a big festival, with so many great-value restaurants. We spent our first days at Grandview at Las Vegas (6923) which was close to the heart
O U R FA M I LY H I T T H E JAC K P OT W H E N W E H E A D E D O F F TO L A S V E G A S TO H O L I DAY TO G E T H E R . V E G A S S CO R E D H I G H LY A S A V E RY FA M I LY- F R I E N D LY D E S T I N AT I O N . BY GABI ILIA , RCI MARKETING TE AM
of Vegas. If you are staying further out, the parking at all the downtown hotels is free. To be closer to the Grand Canyon National Park we moved to the Wyndham Flagstaff (0759) later in the holiday. Downtime downtown Siegfried & Royâ€™s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat in Vegas at the Mirage was thrilling for all of us. At this small zoo you get to see tigers, lions and panthers close up, dolphin shows as well, while Siegfried himself entertained Maya by telling her tiger stories and doing coin tricks. It is worth buying a combined ticket to visit up to three attractions, which we did. The Titanic Experience in the Luxor Hotel fascinated me. I love visiting the one we have back home in Ireland, but this was something else! In Vegas it had the largest reclaimed section of the Titanic held anywhere, plus a beautiful recreation of the shipâ€™s grand
ENTERTAINMENT FOR ALL: 1. Gabi at Cirque du Soleil. 2. Maya with Olaf on the Strip. 2
E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 5 1
FABULOUS VIEWS: 1. Maya peering at the Gondolas at The Venetian. 2. The Vegas High Roller.
staircase. The many stories about the voyage were very moving. The Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay gave us a thrill of another kind. Itâ€™s not your average aquarium - it is a total sensory experience. We spent three hours here. Encased in a maze of acrylic tunnels, we were lost in an ocean of fish and sharks staged in an ancient temple being reclaimed by the sea. The Touch Pool brings you even closer to the marine residents, such as rays, horseshoe crabs and sharks. Like everything in Las Vegas, the shows are out of this world. A holiday highlight for us was the Michael Jackson ONE show by Cirque du Soleil at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. Tickets start at $69 - we paid $100 for ours and would do it again. It was incredible, just like having Jackson back in the room with us! It was totally spectacular entertainment, fusing acrobatics, dance and Jacksonâ€™s iconic music. The High Roller observation wheel is a must for the best views of Vegas and the desert beyond. From a height of 167 metres, which is higher than the London Eye and the Singapore Flyer, it is a breath-taking experience. The trip lasts for about 30 minutes and we had so much fun, 5 2 AU T U M N / W I N T E R 2 0 1 7
with music in our cabin, Maya amused us by dancing around, while a guide on our cabin TV gave us a commentary on the height we were at and what we should look out for below. You can order drinks to your cabin if you are an adults-only party. They say the famous Vegas lights are among the best sights in the world, so we did our High Roller trip by night and were thrilled. Dining out downtown is also a treat. You can find anything and everything in the way of food, from burgers to foods of the world from places as far flung as Japan and Russia. I am up for healthy eating and I was more than happy with the many dining options - especially the chick pea and fish burgers... I went back three times for those. Prices are reasonable too in the majority of restaurants and bars. The biggest show on earth There are many ways you can enjoy the Canyon. By helicopter if you have a big budget, or using the Skywalk if you are short on time - it extends 21 metres out into the Canyon, at a height of 1,219 metres. We bought a seven-day pass for just $30 because the National Park is an incredible place in its own right, and there are many Grand Canyon viewing points around its rim.
GRAND SIGHTS: 3. Maya at the Grand Canyon. 4. The spectacular Bellagio fountains. 5. Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay. 6. The sun shines on Death Valley. 7. The family together on the Grand Canyon rim.
E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 5 3
We couldn’t wait to see my mother’s reaction at her first glimpse - she was both speechless and breathless. It more than lived up to her dreams and we spent 90 minutes at the first viewing point alone. The Canyon is 16 kilometres across and 365 kilometres long. Those magnificent rocks go on as far as your eye can see. The colours of the endless reach of blazing landscape are beautiful. We stayed until sunset and were richly rewarded - reds, bronzes, purples and yellows; it was a kaleidoscope of beautiful colours and to be enveloped in one of nature’s most spectacular shows was a magical experience. A three-hour drive out of Vegas I found what was to become one of my favourite places... Death Valley. It was once filled with water, but now there is nothing there, just crazy cracked ground, sand and heat. It was around 40°C, and I love the heat. 5 4 AU T U M N / W I N T E R 2 0 1 7
It is a national park area and so, like the Grand Canyon, there are many routes to take to explore, viewing points and, at sunset, the whole place completely changes before your eyes as you stand and watch. There is a good information centre with a café I would recommend visiting before you start out. My mother’s dream is now a wonderful memory that we all share and treasure. The many other fabulous things we enjoyed are too many for one article. Let’s say, don’t miss the town of Sedona, surrounded by redrock canyons and known for its vibrant arts community; and the Hoover Dam, only 30 minutes’ drive from Vegas, it is complete with a lakeside beach, perfect for a cooling swim in the desert heat. The Dam generates all the power for the desert home of Sin City and without it there would be no bright lights.
PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK (5); GABI ILIA (9).
HAPPY TIMES: 1. Gabi jumping for joy. 2. Maya and Zina at the Hoover Dam. 3. The blazing red rocks of Sedona’s canyon.
STAY WHY NOT TRY ONE OF THESE RESORTS?
Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Desert Club Resort 0110 member review:
“High-quality resort in a perfect location.”
Bluegreen Club 36 A851 member review:
“Great view of High Roller and the Las Vegas Strip.”
HGVCLUB on Paradise 5426
HGVCLUB on the Boulevard 6300
“Great resort, close to the monorail and casinos.”
Tahiti Village C610 member review:
“Nice, cosy resort with an efficient shuttle service.”
“I’m glad we chose this hotel for our first visit to Las Vegas, as it made our experience even more memorable.”
Club De Soleil C616 member review:
“Close to the Strip, but just far enough to let you relax in comfort and peace.”
Or see page 3 for contact details.
For more resort information, and to book. Or see page 6 for contact details.
2 0 AU T U M N / W I N T E R 2 0 1 7
E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 6
Touring the Vineyards of Málaga and Tarragona
If wine is your tipple of choice, why not sip and sample in sunny Spain? BY QU ENTIN SADLER
Málaga While Málaga might not be as well known as other Spanish wine regions, its wines, once as famous as Port and Sherry, are now enjoying something of a renaissance. Dry wines are made here, but the traditional 5 6 AU T U M N / W I N T E R 2 0 1 7
style is rich, complex, sweet wines made from sun-dried Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel grapes. The best examples - Málaga Añejo and Málaga Trasañejo - are aged for years in oak barrels and make fabulous dessert wines or are delicious when drizzled over ice cream.
FINE WINES AND VISTAS: 1. Dessert wine. 2. Serving wine from the Barrel in Bodegas Málaga Virgen. 3. Beautiful town of Nerja.
A visit to the Museo del Vino Málaga (Plaza de los Viñeros in the city) will tell you about the history of Málaga wines and how they are made. Visit the museum’s website for details on how to contact the wineries and make appointments, which are necessary, as you can’t just pop in (museovinomalaga.com). Here are some of my favourites: Bodegas Quitapenas, conveniently near the airport, makes high-quality wines, including a modern dry white Moscatel. In Vélez-Málaga, on the road to Nerja, you will find Bodegas Jorge Ordoñez whose impressive wines have helped rekindle Málaga’s reputation. Bodegas Bentomiz is a wonderful producer who makes award-winning sweet wines, as well as modern dry styles. They are very well geared up for visitors by appointment. Bodegas Almijara, perched high in the mountains near the village of Cómpeta, boasts stunning views, produces lovely wines and offers tastings and tours. Bodegas Málaga Virgen is the region’s largest producer and also offers tours and tastings. Antigua Casa de Guardia makes wines in the mountains east of the city and serves them straight from the barrel in their amazing city centre bar that’s been unchanged since 1840. Try the 1908 Pedro Ximénez for a truly
memorable experience. The production of modern dry table wines - labelled as ‘Sierras de Málaga’ to avoid confusion with the sweet wines labelled simply as ‘Málaga’ - is concentrated around the beautiful mountaintop city of Ronda. Recommended estates to visit include: Finca Descalzos Viejos, who age their wine in a former convent dating back to the 16th century, Bodega F. Schatz, Bodega Doña Felisa Chinchilla and the quirky Bodega Kieninger who grow Austrian and Spanish grape varieties.
Tarragona is hardly a famous wine region today, but well into the 20th century Tarragona wines were widely exported as alternatives to Port. Catalan flare has ensured that Tarragona produces modern wine styles too, but fortified wines - called Tarragona Clásico - are still important and the best place to experience them is Bodegas De Muller. Based in Reus, very near the airport, De Muller makes a huge range. This includes fascinating communion wines and fortified wines that have been aged for decades in the barrel. Vintages go back to 1851, the year they were founded. Make sure you try their Vermouth; artisan Vermouth is popular in Spain and very different from the big brands. E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 57
SIPPING IN THE SUN: 1. Vermouth served with olives as an appetiser. 2. Vineyard in the mountains of Priorat. 3. Varieties of Cava.
The nearby wine region of Priorat, despite being tiny, is one of the best in Spain, producing some of the country’s finest red wines. This mountainous place is beautiful, wild and rugged and takes its name from the medieval priory at Scala Dei. Cellers de Scala Dei still age their superb wines in the priory’s cellars and they are a perfect first visit in this amazing region. Other wineries to visit include Celler Buil & Giné and Clos Figueras in the village of Gratallops. Both offer tours while the latter also has a restaurant. Torres Priorat is an offshoot of the famous Miguel Torres winery and it makes superb wines in El Lloar. To help plan your trip around Priorat there is an excellent wine route website, turismepriorat.org/en/wine-route. This also covers Montsant, the neighbouring wine region that surrounds Priorat and makes similar wines. Acústic Celler and Cellers Joan d’Anguera are two of my favourite producers here and are well worth visiting.
Sparkling wines Of course Catalunya is also famous for making Cava, Spain’s famous sparkling wine. Cava can be very high quality and is made by the traditional method as used for Champagne. Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, the hub of the Cava 5 8 AU T U M N / W I N T E R 2 0 1 7
trade, is just 43 miles or so north of Tarragona and is home to the two Cava giants, Codorníu and Freixenet. Both have impressive cellars that make memorable visits. Some of the smaller houses also make very fine Cava. My two favourites are Recaredo and Gramona, who show a different, artisan side to Cava and should not be missed.
STAY MÁLAGA Heritage Resorts Marbesa Club 0304 Sunset Beach Club 1469
TARRAGONA Acuasol 2970 Jardines del Plaza 3052 For more resort information, and to book.
R CI.com Or see page 6 for contact details.
PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK (6); ISTOCK (1).
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Visit RCI.com/directdebit and sign up Terms and conditions: Direct Debit can only be set up where your RCI membership expiry date is within two years. Select eligibility rules apply. Direct Debit is applicable to RCI Weeks and RCI Points members only. Direct Debit will be set up to take the annual membership fee in full every 12 months. The discounted annual membership fee by Direct Debit is £59 which is an annual saving of £16. Details are correct at the time of print (August 2017) but are subject to change.
SW E D E N :
Sun or Snow BY M A RY A N N E E VA N S
S U M M E R O R W I N T E R , SW E D E N O F F E R S A R I C H F E A S T OF EXPERIENCES IN ALL SEASONS FOR ALL SORTS! Spend the lazy days of summer swimming and fishing, trekking or foraging; or enjoy a winter wonderland where the energetic can ski and the sensible can sled through the snow-covered forests. And there’s plenty of unusual sightseeing to enjoy along the way.
Lindvallen in Dalarna Province Lindvallen, like all the resorts in Sweden, offers year-round fun. In summer this small town on the western Sweden/Norway border is the best place to unwind. You can walk all day along the well-marked forest paths, visit pretty little villages of red-painted wooden 6 0 AU T U M N / W I N T E R 2 0 1 7
houses, or enjoy some top fly fishing on the Västerdalälven river as it flows from the high fells in the north, down into Lake Siljan. Or why not opt for something a little different and try an organised summer evening safari in a canoe. You’ll get up close to those busy engineers of the animal world, the beaver.
While Lindvallen has downhill ski runs for the experienced, it’s the perfect place for beginners and families. Europe’s largest connected ski area has adventure and snow parks dotted with sculptures of trolls and wild animals where children happily practice to become the next world slalom champion. While they take that particular challenge, you might try the art of cross-country skiing, going at your own pace and glowing with virtue at completing the seven-mile trail through the gently undulating countryside. On the first Sunday in March, nearby Sälen fills up with spectators for the start of the world’s biggest cross-country ski race, a gruelling 56-mile path to Mora. In summer ordinary mortals can take part in the famous mountain cycle race over the same route, but you’ll have to be fit and register early for this endurance test. Abandon all ideas of getting to Mora under your own steam, and instead drive
SWEDEN FOR ALL SEASONS: 1. Ice floes on Lake Vättern. 2. The castle and harbour at Vadstena. 3. Gränna by Lake Vättern. 4. Canoeing. 5. Snow-covered winter apples. 6. Anders Zorn Museum, Mora.
for 90 minutes to the small lakeside town. It’s a delightful place, with steamship cruises on the lake in summer. The greatest draw is Anders Zorn (1860-1920), one of Sweden’s greatest artists who lived in Mora, and left to the town an open-air museum of more than 40 historic buildings, and around 20,000 art objects, including a fabulous textile collection. His home and museum are open all year, but you can only wander through the wooden cabins and houses of Sweden’s past during the summer. The lakes of Sweden Sweden is a land of glorious lakes and they don’t come much finer than Lake Vättern, the second largest in Sweden after its whopping neighbour Lake Vänern. Come here for a lazy day on the shores where the soft waters invite you to dip in or take a rowing boat out into the lake, while the pike, zander, salmon and, for the lucky few, the elusive Arctic char invite you to fish. E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 6 1
from Gränna), there are ruined castles with old stone towers begging to be climbed, and the moated castle in Vadstena stands as a proud reminder of the royal past in this lovely village of flower-covered wooden cottages and winding cobbled streets. Then it’s on to Motala where the early 19th-century Göta Canal ends its epic route from Mem in the Baltic. One of the biggest construction projects ever undertaken in Sweden, it’s now a favourite for walkers, cyclists (the tourist office will tell you where to hire a bicycle) and those who prefer to take a leisurely boat trip. The canal was the brainchild of Baltzar von Platen who also persuaded the government to build the massive fortress at Karlsborg on the western shore. Even in 1819, when the first stones were laid, the castle was an extravagant folly and it was never completed. To the south, Hjo is a bustling harbour-side town of old wooden houses and small streets that fill up in the summer with events ranging from fishing competitions to music festivals.
ALL GO, SUN OR SNOW: 1. Kabinbanan cable car with frozen lake below. 2. A Sámi family. 3. A good catch. 4. Dog sledding. 5. Restaurant in Åre.
PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK (6), iSTOCK (1), GUSTAF EMANUELSSON/FOLIO/LOLA AKINMADE ÅKERSTRÖM/FREDRIK BROMAN/STEFAN ÅGREN/TUUKKA ERVASTI/NORA LOREK/JOHAN WILLNER/CONNY FRIDH/ANDERS TEDEHOLM/TINA STAFRÉN/IMAGEBANK.SWEDEN.SE (10).
Lake Vättern has spectacular scenery, charming old towns and some fascinating, distinctly odd stories. The eastern shore drive in spring takes you through a shower of fruit tree blossoms to Gränna, famous for its pears and striped candy. The quintessential Swedish pleasure of a ‘fika’ (coffee, cakes and a chat) is a must here in one of the many delightful cafés before a trip to the Grenna Museum, which tells the unusual story of the explorer SA Andrée who attempted to reach the North Pole in 1897... By balloon. This heroic but doomed expedition comes to life through diaries, artefacts and blackand-white photos, the most poignant showing the crashed balloon lying on the unforgiving ice floes. It’s open throughout the year, but a visit in winter when the snow is falling and the temperatures drop gives a sense of the sheer idiotic bravery of taking off in a hot air balloon for the frozen ends of the earth. Lake Vättern was the playground and stronghold of medieval Swedish kings. On Visingsö island ( just a 20-minute ferry ride
Åre in Jämtland Province This popular and lively resort is Sweden’s largest downhill skiing area with guaranteed snow from December to May, plenty of cafés and restaurants, and a thriving nightlife. Downhill skiers get the added bonus of a glorious view of the pine-covered hills stretching down to the frozen waters of Lake Storsjön in the distance. Trek through the forests along well-marked paths and you’ll see the reindeer brought in by native Sámi herders for the winter. You can learn to control a team of huskies as they race across the frozen lakes and through the forests; be taken sledding wrapped in furs to a little hut on the mountainside for lunch; be a little more in control on a snowmobile, or take the slow option of a ride on a sturdy Icelandic pony. In summer, the lake gleams in the sun and
SUMMER DELIGHTS: 1. Göta Canal. 2. Karlsborg Fortress. 3. Flower-covered cottage in Vadstena. 4. Hjo Music Festival. 5. The beautiful harbour town of Hjo.
fishermen take advantage of the evening halfdusk as trout leap out on their quest for juicy bugs. Even little children fish from the shore or from a boat with a homemade rod, line and bait, Swallows and Amazon-style. The Kabinbanan cable car ride up the dominating 1,420-metre high Åreskutan Mountain gives you spectacular views over nearby Norway. If you’re energetic, walk back down to Åre through the cool sun-dappled forests of Norwegian spruce and pine trees. The countryside around Åre is famous for its wild produce and for fresh, organic ingredients, which is why one of the most famous restaurants in the world is on a remote estate just outside Åre. Master chef Magnus Nilsson (author of The Nordic Cookbook) produces a 32-course meal in the minimally decorated dining room in Fäviken E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 6 3
which will set you back around 2,800 SEK, or just under £260 per person. If you decide that’s too steep for regular pockets, try a Magnus Nilsson hot dog from his kiosk in town or pizza with local ingredients at Wersens. Pleasures throughout Sweden Wherever you are, take a walking stick and strong bags when you’re walking through the countryside. Sweden operates the Nordic and Scandinavian ‘every man’s right’ law, so you can forage to your heart’s content for mushrooms hidden in the woods,
wild strawberries early in summer, dark blueberries and round, red lingonberries in late summer, and if you’re lucky, tart golden cloudberries. Every town and little village has its own summer festival of music, arts and crafts as the locals come out to play. If you’re here at midsummer, you’ll find celebrations throughout the country, and in August and September the whole nation indulges in crayfish parties. Chairs and tables beside the lake, bibs on, crayfish, bread and cheese to eat, washed down with beer and plenty of schnapps. It’s the perfect time to say skål!
OUT TO PLAY IN A SWEDISH SUMMER: 1. Children picking mushrooms. 2. Lingonberries to be gathered in the sunshine. 3. A crayfish party. 4. Åreskutan Mountain’s rugged beauty. 5. Midsummer celebrations.
STAY WHY NOT TRY ONE OF THESE RESORTS?
Holiday Club Åre 7791
MEMBER REVIEW: “Excellent and charming resort which is only 37 miles away from the town of Åre.”
MEMBER REVIEW: “The best place for downhill skiing in Scandinavia.”
MEMBER REVIEW: “A great resort for someone who enjoys fishing, canoeing and hiking in the wilderness.”
MEMBER REVIEW: “Great place to practice Nordic skiing and snow scooter driving.”
Skistar Vacation Club Experiumtorget C231 MEMBER REVIEW: “A fantastic family resort with plenty to do for skiiers and non-skiiers.”
Skistar Vacation Club Timmerbyn C394 MEMBER REVIEW: “Great location, within walking distance of everything you need.”
RCI.com For more resort information, and to book. Or see page 6 for contact details
E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 6 5
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Published on Aug 23, 2017