AUTU M N / WI NTE R 201 8
P L AY | E AT | S H O P | R E L AX | E X P LO R E
What Our Members Love FROM BLAZING BEACHES TO EXOTIC EXPLORATIONS
MOUNTAIN HIGHS IN US NATIONAL PARKS THE WONDERS OF SPAINâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S WHITE COAST
Discover just some of the perks of going Platinumâ&#x20AC;Ś
Visit RCI.com/perks to read how the Littleworts benefit from RCI Platinum membership. 2 AU T U M N / W I N T E R 2 0 1 8
N I AG A R A FA L L S
If you’re looking to enhance your lifestyle and treat your family and friends to some fabulous days out, then RCI Platinum is definitely for you. For the price of a £50 membership upgrade, you could benefit from hundreds of pounds in savings each year on leisure activities and travel perks. Take a multi-year RCI Platinum membership and SAVE EVEN MORE!
Benefit from the following: FREE tastecard+ (worth £79.99) Discounted tour and attraction tickets Up to 50% off airport lounge entry FREE luggage tracking pack Travel discounts PLUS, receive up to £20 back on selected bookings and build credit on your RCI account.
Upgrade your membership by visiting RCI.com/upgrade
Terms and Conditions: RCI reserves the right to vary or amend benefits available. Some Platinum benefits may be subject to availability. Please visit RCI.com/platinumtc for full terms and conditions. RCI Platinum is not available to RCI Lite members. E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 3
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
Natasha Hegarty VISUAL COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER
Many of our members are now sharing their RCI Exchange Holiday stories with us and we really enjoy learning about how they are using their RCI membership to enrich their lives. We are thrilled to be able to bring you actual RCI member holiday experiences in this issue which we hope will give you ideas to bring more adventure to the way you holiday. In our cover feature on page 16, four RCI member couples share their favourite holiday hangouts, taking us to Lanzarote to dance, Tenerife for the golf and other sports, while exploration of the exotic features in travels to Vietnam and Thailand. The story of a friendship spanning four decades is told on page 34, together with the part timeshare holidays have played in bringing the friends together. Sharing is something of a theme in this issue, as RCI Platinum members, Lynn and Alan Stewart, are delighted to share all the fun and value they get out of their timeshare using RCI membership. By using the RCI Recommend A Friend programme, they introduced their nephew, Gavin, to a world of RCI holiday choice and more. Check out page 51 for details of how the programme works. The choice our members have using RCI Exchange Holidays is never more evident than in the contrast of destinations available. Hungary is unveiled as a beautiful beach location on page 60, while our feature on page 45 takes you on a road trip through the wilds of three of America’s most iconic national parks. On page 64, I answer some frequently asked questions from members on our RCI Facebook page - take a look, as you might pick up a few tips to help you get away on a wonderful winter break, or summer escape for 2019!
Helen Foster, Editor EV@RCI.com
EDITOR’S PICK: A Shore Thing, page 60
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Charlotte Semark Ginny Knight Trevor Lewis HEAD OF MEMBER MARKETING
Shelley Burton PROGRAMME MANAGERS
Sonal Chauhan Rachael Noam CAMPAIGN MANAGERS
Gemma Gregory Leia Unwin MARKETING EXECUTIVES
Kara Earl Rebecca West Sian Waldie 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 2018). 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 2018. For full terms and conditions see rci.com/ev-terms
Autumn / Winter
CONTENTS F E AT U R E S 16
WHAT OUR MEMBERS LOVE Our members tell us about their favourite holidays
28 HOT PLACES TO CHILL Laid-back vibes in Mexico’s Cancún, and Costa Rica 34 FOREVER FRIENDS Two couples who met on holiday 40 years ago share their story 40 WONDERS OF THE WHITE COAST Read about holiday highlights in Dénia and Benidorm 45 ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGHS Take a look at US national parks: Glacier, Grand Teton and Yellowstone 52 TIME TO SHARE Recommending a friend – or family member – to RCI proves a hit
56 SAIL AWAY WITH US You can choose to cruise in three ways with RCI 60 A SHORE THING Enjoy Lake Balaton for a summer beach getaway 64 DEAR HELEN Your Endless Vacation Editor answers your burning questions
I N E AC H I S S U E 4
6 WELCOME 7 NEWS 12 COMPETITION 14
40 E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 5
New for Weeks Members
Welcome Now is a great time to book your 2019 holidays and, with RCI, you have hundreds of destinations across the world to choose from. So be sure to plan ahead to give yourself the best chance of getting away on your perfect holiday. Take a look at guidance on how to use RCI.com for your online resort searches and booking on page 10 to make sure you are getting the most from your membership. This issue is packed with stories from our members about how they use RCI membership and we have given you the details around some of those services used to get more time away. On page 38 you can see how Extra Holidays deliver great-value breaks, together with our discounted Late Deals on the back cover. The good news is you don’t need to use your weeks or points for these cash holidays. Why not try a holiday that takes in several iconic destinations in one trip? Maybe a cruise! See page 56 for three different ways you can cruise with RCI Travel†, including putting your weeks and points towards the cost of your high seas adventure. Whether winter sun or summer fun - enjoy your travels.
Have you got a big occasion coming up that you want to celebrate with a special holiday? Or maybe there is a resort you want to visit that has a trading power value greater than your own deposit. At RCI we are always looking for ways to enhance your holiday experiences and to make it easy to book the holidays you really want. You now have the option to combine your weeks over 24 months, as well as the standard 12 months, for a fee. This gives you more opportunity to take holidays in destinations that might have been out of reach before, and the flexibility to holiday when it suits you. Remember, if you are a Platinum member, you will receive a £15 member reward every time you combine your deposits. Visit RCI.com for more information.
Andy Liggins, Managing Director RCI Europe, Middle East, Africa and India
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 8
RCI TRAVEL†: 0845 60 86 121
Join our Online Community Since its launch in June 2015, the RCI Facebook page has generated more than 670,000 ‘Likes’ worldwide and, within Europe, it is now a vibrant community of more than 35,000 Facebook members. If it is holiday and travel inspiration you are looking for, then look no further than facebook.com/rcieuro Join our community to see how others like to holiday. Our FB Friends are active in showcasing the amazing holidays they are enjoying around the world, with pictures to spark your imagination and fascinating stories of wonderful holiday getaways to places you may never have considered visiting, or even heard of. We all need a little reassurance to step out of our holiday comfort zone and you will find it on our Facebook page. Visit often to see our regular posts which will bring you up-to-date with the latest news, and ‘Like’ our page to view the latest exclusive member offers. Each week we’ll update you on the latest from Our Blog, where travel experiences are shared in colourful stories. Plus you’ll get a reminder to enter our Endless Vacation magazine competition to be in with a chance of winning a holiday.
Care to Share
If you’ve enjoyed some fabulous RCI Exchange Holidays let others take inspiration from the best of your experiences. Share wonderful moments of your RCI getaways with your fellow members by posting your story on facebook.com/rcieuro and you might find yourself in the magazine or blog!
Look and Learn Do you feel you need to know more about how to use your RCI membership to get away on great RCI Exchange Holidays? We now have a selection of videos to help you do just that. To make sure you are getting value from your RCI membership, we have made a number of tutorial videos for both weeks and points members. You will now find a growing number of fun, short and simple videos full of tips and guidance in our Help Library on RCI.com. Our animated characters will walk you through the different stages of your RCI holiday planning and booking journey, from the introductory Welcome to RCI, to RCI Weeks and Points Explained videos. Visit your Help Library regularly to watch out for new videos in the coming months, so you can learn how to get the best out of your RCI membership.
Especially for You You can manage your RCI account online so you can really get ahead with your holiday planning. When you sign into your RCI.com account now, you will see all of your key membership benefits, as well as your latest offers. Just click on the ‘Offers and Benefits’ link in the top navigation menu to view the great deals you could be enjoying.
Sign in Made Easier!
RCI member, Penelope Schofield, shares a holiday memory.
How often do you forget usernames and passwords when signing into sites? You’ll be pleased to know you can now use your email address as your username to sign into RCI.com. Simply call an RCI Guide on 0845 60 86 380 to request this update to your account for a username you’ll never forget! E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 7
A Luxe Lifestyle If you’re visiting Malta for a special occasion, or just want to add a little more luxe to your travels, Azure Ultra’s yacht charter experiences let you venture beyond the ordinary to discover the captivating Maltese coast. Your captain and stewardess take care of your needs, while you sit back and savour every moment at sea, aboard one of four sleek vessels moored at Grand Harbour Marina in Birgu. Smaller parties of six can enjoy a full day aboard the Miss Moneypenny, a Sunseeker Portofino, which sleeps two guests if you’re looking to extend your sea time. Prices range from €1,950 for a full day (just €325 per person) to €12,865 for a week. For larger celebrations, round up 11 friends and board the Mio Amore, a Sunseeker Manhattan, to revel in the Mediterranean lifestyle with a lavish party at sea for the day for €4,700 just €427 per person. Day charters include lunch and fuel for a 30 nautical-mile round trip. Popular itineraries include quaint Marsaxlokk, or
the coastal gems Gozo and Comino. For an overnight stay for two to six people (depending on the vessel) you can sail to Sicily. To ensure the good times flow, talk to your concierge at Golden Sands Island Residence Club (D698) to tailor your Azure Ultra adventure with your dedicated charter specialist. Not checking in at this resort? Visit AzureUltra.com for more information.
Making a World of Difference The Christel House charity has been changing the lives of impoverished children across the world for two decades. Established in 1996 by Christel DeHaan, pictured, founder of RCI, Christel House is RCI’s charity of choice. Here are some reasons why you should consider giving to Christel House. From its first centre opening in Mexico City in 1998, there are now centres in India, South Africa, Venezuela and the US, helping more than 4,000 students. Its 350 professionals are dedicated to helping poor children grow into confident, healthy, hard-working and ethical people who are now graduating and sourcing good jobs for a positive future. The charity’s administration costs are paid by Christel DeHaan, so 100 per cent of donations are used directly for the benefit of the children. Every year, RCI donates, and sponsors an international golf event to raise funds, while many of our industry associates are generous supporters of the foundation. Kristen Matthews, a 2010 Christel 8 AU T U M N / W I N T E R 2 0 1 8
House graduate and now a PR officer, said of her life: “At Christel House everything changed for me. I went from being unhappy and unlucky, to being the happiest and luckiest kid ever! I was taught values, morals, etiquette, communication skills, emotional intelligence, how to be happy everything.” To learn more about Christel House and its work, or to donate directly, visit justgiving.com/christelhouse
RCI Giving Back The staff at RCI are a passionate crowd of people. They love travel and are certainly in the right jobs, helping our members to get away on holiday. They are also very caring when it comes to social responsibility, which has given rise to a long tradition of ‘giving back’ at RCI. We call that programme Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and events initiated by RCI’s UK CSR team and staff in Kettering and Cork have enabled them to give back to the local community, and to commit to the CSR mission statement of ‘Travelling Together for a Better World’. Here are some examples of the ways in which staff at RCI’s European headquarters in Kettering, Northamptonshire, support their local communities. In 2017 our Kettering staff chose MIND Kettering (ketteringmind.org.uk) as their local charity of choice. • A total of £4,200 was raised through various events such as a 10K run, onsite car wash and cake sales. • One notable event was the 24-hour Cycleathon, during which participating staff ‘cycled’ the equivalent of Kettering to Munich on static bikes, raising nearly £1,000. This year we are supporting another local charity, Cransley Hospice (cransleyhospice.org.uk) and one of our main events has been a Head Shave, for which two brave staff members agreed to have all their hair shaved off, sponsored
by their colleagues. This event alone has raised more than £1,700 so far. There will be more such activities to come throughout the year. As a company we strive to be ‘Green’, from utility savings within our offices and recycling clothes for the local Air Ambulance Service, to sending old spectacles overseas and collecting supplies for the local food bank and many other initiatives we haven’t got the room to cover here. We like to think it’s not just our members who can count on us - but our wider community too.
Working with local education establishments is important to RCI. Our staff regularly host CV and interview workshops for secondary school students and attend career fairs to help prepare them for going out into the world of work. We also give students work experience opportunities, giving them responsible jobs. Both RCI Kettering and Cork offices have employed undergraduates in HR, Marketing and Finance to give them hands on experience of working in a large international company. The feedback from the students is very positive; they say it helps them greatly in deciding which road to take on their career path, as well as giving them a good work ethos. E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 9
Helping You To Go On Holiday RCI.com is your ultimate holiday planning tool, designed to help you get the best value from both your timeshare ownership and RCI membership. Check out our user tips and updates to be sure you’re not missing out.
Top tips when using RCI.com ~~ Our Resort Directory showcases all RCI-affiliated resorts. To see current availability, sign in and use the holiday search facility on your account homepage. ~~ Your username and password are case sensitive. Also, make sure there are no spaces at the start or end when you enter them. ~~ If you can’t remember your details, use the ‘forgotten username / password’ link on RCI.com. You’ll find helpful information on how to recover your sign in details. ~~ Are your contact details correct? You can update your details on RCI.com. Sign in, go to ‘MY ACCOUNT’ (top right of screen) then ‘Edit Account Info’. ~~ When you are browsing RCI.com, click on the RCI logo to return to your account homepage.
What’s new on RCI.com? Compare Resorts When you’re looking at a list of available resorts on RCI.com, you can select up to four resorts to compare the facilities and available activities
they offer. Tick the ‘COMPARE’ box to add to your shortlist, and you will get the option to ‘COMPARE FEATURES’.
TripAdvisor From your feedback, we know many of our members find TripAdvisor invaluable when researching holidays, so we’ve partnered with TripAdvisor to feature their reviews on RCI.com. You can filter to see just RCI member reviews, or reviews from all guests, at your chosen resorts. Help your fellow members by leaving a TripAdvisor review for resorts you’ve stayed at. It is simple to do; read our online Help Library guide: ‘How To Write A Review’ if you want some guidance.
Have you seen your latest offers? Sign into RCI.com to see your offers and benefits: some are online exclusives. You’ll see the link to your offers and benefits on the main navigation menu of your online account. Offers change regularly so keep checking back!
Win an iPad with RCI.com! Book any RCI Exchange, Extra Holiday or Late Deal online at RCI.com by 27 September 2018, and we’ll enter you into a prize draw to win an iPad 9.7" 32GB.* *Win an iPad prize draw: To enter, members must have booked an RCI Exchange Holiday, Extra Holiday or Late Deal online at RCI.com between 00.01 GMT on 09.09.18 and 23.59 GMT on 27.09.18. The winner will be drawn by 12.10.18 and notified within seven days. For full terms and conditions visit: rcitc5.com 1 0 AU T U M N / W I N T E R 2 0 1 8
CO M P E T I T I O N
Be a Star
Competition Winners! t
The winner of the Be a Star Competition was Linzie Bottomley from Lancashire. Her photograph of her family at Orange Lake Resort (0670) in Florida was the judges’ favourite. Linzie wins a seven-night stay at Club Las Calas (1448) in Lanzarote, plus £1,000 spending money.
2 nd The runner up was Elizabeth Awujoola from Berkshire who wins a Kindle Fire HD 8.
In third place, is John Williams from Derby who wins £50 worth of Amazon vouchers.
Don’t miss out on our latest competition! You could be spending seven nights in the beautiful Domina Zagarella Sicily (D722) in Palermo, Italy, PLUS £1,000 to spend on your holiday. Turn to page 12 to enter. E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 1 1
CO M P E T I T I O N
Happy Holiday Moments How would you like to WIN one of three fabulous prizes and appear in a future edition of Endless Vacation magazine? All you have to do is enter our competition by sending us a photograph of you, with your family and friends, enjoying your happiest holiday moments, while on an RCI getaway.
1 ST P R I Z E A 7-night holiday for four people at Domina Zagarella Sicily (D722), in Italy, worth up to £900, PLUS £1,000 spending money! Nestling in the cliffs in the coastal town of Santa Flavia in Sicily, the resort enjoys spectacular views over the sparkling sea. This four-star resort, set in beautiful Mediterranean gardens, boasts accommodation with a classic Italian design. On resort there is plenty to do. Enjoy two swimming pools, a gym, a diving centre, and three restaurants - one à la carte - serving traditional Italian and international dishes.
2 ND P R I Z E A Kindle Fire HD8 with 8’’ HD Display and WiFi worth £89.99
3 RD P R I Z E Amazon vouchers worth £50
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TO E N T E R : Email us at: EV@RCI.com with your photo along with a caption telling us where it was taken and why it was so memorable, or write to: The Editor, RCI Europe, Kettering Parkway, Kettering, NN15 6EY, England, UK. Or you can send us a Facebook inbox message at Facebook.com/rcieuro. Submit your photo by 30 November 2018. For full terms and conditions please visit RCI.com/ev-terms. 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 must be booked by 31 January, 2019, and prize holiday must be taken in April (excluding Easter), May, June, September or October 2019. Prize is 7-nights accomodation in a unit sleeping 4 (privacy for 2). Prize cannot be exchanged for cash or any other See some past alternative.
competition entries from members enjoying their RCI Exchange Holidays!
CO M P E T I T I O N
7 nights at Domina Zagarella Sicily!
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More Holiday Choices Here at RCI, we are committed to delivering choice and flexibility to our members so you can enjoy even more fabulous holidays. Here are just some of the new holiday options we bring to you. Six of these are in Vietnam – turn to page 20 to read about how members, Beverly and Anthony Rhodes, enjoyed a recent holiday in this beautiful destination.
Karma Minoan (DL70) Sun worshippers who want to get away from it all, will love Karma Minoan (DL70) in Crete. Close to the pretty seafront town of Agios Nikolaos, all 23 rooms boast panoramic vistas of the Aegean Sea, Mirabello Bay and the rocky coastline. If you can tear yourself away from the pool, head to the Karma Spa where you can indulge in local organic Cretan treatments, before rounding off a perfect day in the Amphora restaurant for a delicious dinner and a glass of local wine.
Karma Borgo Di Colleio (7865) Karma Borgo Di Colleio (7865), nestled in the Tuscan Hills and surrounded by lush green woodland, is a beautiful and historic resort. There are 12 spacious villas in the main building, and 50 apartments situated in former farm buildings, all uniquely decorated, in traditional Tuscan style. Guests can enjoy beautiful countryside, relax by the pool, or enjoy excursions to Pisa, Florence, Lucca and Volterra, which are within an hour of the resort. Other new Karma resorts available for exchange include Karma Manoir des Deux Amants (8788) and Karma Residence Normande (2572) in France.
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FLC Grand Hotel Samson (DJ25) and FLC Samson Beach & Golf Resort (DJ24) FLC Grand Hotel Samson (DJ25) and FLC Samson Beach & Golf Resort (DJ24) in Thanh Hóa, Vietnam, are beautiful new resorts that share both unrivalled ocean views, and state-of-the-art facilities. These include the largest saltwater pool in Vietnam, heated hydrotherapy whirlpool spas and an indoor pool. There is also an on-site 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, a children’s club and a casino to keep you busy day and night.
FLC Luxury Vinh Phuc Resort (DJ26) Surrounded by the lush Vinh Phuc plain, FLC Luxury Vinh Phuc Resort (DJ26) is located in Hoàng Xá, close to Vietnam’s spectacular Red River. Nature enthusiasts will love this well-placed resort to appreciate the beautiful surroundings and peaceful landscapes. On the resort, there are plenty of sporting activities to get involved in, as well as a
luxurious spa complete with a Himalayan rock salt sauna. Bliss! Other new resorts in Vietnam include, FLC Quy Nhon Beach & Golf Resort (DJ23), FLC Grand Hotel Quy Nhon (SG65) and FLC Grand Hotel Ha Long (DJ27). Our members now have 23 resorts in Vietnam available as RCI Exchange Holidays. E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 1 5
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Playtime on Lanzarote After s of We are RCI Platinum members and know how to r 30 yea lice use the exchange system. Owning four weeks at ,A Club Las Calas (1448), right at the heart of Puerto travel trick del Carmen, it was always our intention to use RCI a and P y’s love membership to travel. We’ve exchanged into Nashville, ne Florida and all over France and Poland. However, for Kear zarote Patrick and myself, our hearts remain in Lanzarote. Our or Lan ng f son and daughter both own timeshare at Club Las Calas tro is so s ll the and have RCI membership, thanks to all the happy holiday fa memories made there. that o ey I have always loved to dance and it was that passion, aces th d, it l p together with our commitment to religious pilgrimages, which isite have v ut as has taken Patrick and I around the world. Dancing still takes o us off on holiday, only now we are dancing and singing our way stands ourite around our little island paradise of Lanzarote! ir fav . e h t I love the nightlife on Lanzarote. Our resort is next to all the ation shops, bars and restaurants along Puerto del Carmen’s waterfront, destin which is ideal for us. There are Irish pubs where I can line dance to the folk music played, while you can find just about every type of live music in the bars of Puerto del Carmen; it’s a real party town. For ballroom dancing, you can’t beat the Hotel San Antonio on Pocillos Beach, just a five-minute walk from the Music Hall Tavern. Getting around the island is easy as well, as the taxis are really cheap. For Patrick it is about fitness, so he would rather run around the island. During one jogging session he found himself on a nudist beach... I asked him what he did and he replied “I ran faster!” He likes to visit Club La Santa (0963), which has excellent sports facilities and is used by Olympic athletes for the Iron Man Challenge. Patrick even won a half marathon for his age group! Another bonus for us is that the beautiful churches on this gorgeous island are open all day, as we often like to pay a wee visit. There are some fabulous walks you can do, and our favourite is just up behind Puerto del Carmen. There are lots of zig zag steps and the villas get more and more magnificent along the way, as this is where many wealthy residents live. I’m not surprised, as the views out to sea from here are out of this world. We like to keep on walking along the coast, watching the boats coming and going as we walk. It is a simply lovely and relaxing way to spend some time. The shops are also worth a good walk! I typically stock up on sun dresses and jewellery. There are big stores, but I favour the small boutiques where I find unusual one-off things that you wouldn’t see anywhere else. You can’t love Lanzarote and not have noticed César Manrique’s architecture and low-level buildings. It gives the island such a fresh look with all those clean lines and white walls. It is all in keeping and very different from other places. Plus, you can always depend on the weather, which makes it all look even more gorgeous!
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Colourful culture in Vietnam We have been members of RCI for 30 years and have exchanged all over the world, including Malaysia, Mexico and most recently, Vietnam. It was an incredible holiday in a completely different culture and we got to see so much of it. We took our daughter, Rhiannon, and her partner Adam with us and stayed in Da Lat, which is a mountainous region twice the height of Mount Snowdon, so the altitude did take some getting used to. We like to hire a car to explore, but the driving in Da Lat is mad and visitors have to pass a test to drive! We got taxis everywhere, which is a cheap way to travel and it meant we were putting money back into the locals’ pockets. The Vietnamese culture is no more evident than in the Ancient Night Market which is full of local people wearing traditional conical hats, selling produce grown in the mountains. Staple products include artichoke tea, coffee – the coffee grown in Da Lat is some of the most expensive in the world – food and flowers. The Vietnamese cuisine is delicious. Their diet is so healthy, with dishes made up of fruit, vegetables, noodles and rice, though it did take us a while to get over the lack of sugar! One day, we visited the Trúc Lâm Monastery by getting the cable car down from the nearby Robin Hill. The view across the lush pine forests as we descended was stunning, and the journey was so tranquil. When we arrived at the Monastery, one of the Monks came out to talk to us and he said he had been living there for 28 years, which was quite impressive! From our resort, we could hear them singing and the gong chiming in the evening, which was so calming. Our beautiful resort, Terracotta Resort Dalat (DE46), was in a perfect location. Vietnam is famous for silk embroidery. We went to XQ Da Lat Art House to see the artists hard at work hand stitching silk and selling ES: their creations; where their magnificent silk TU R N E ADV left) ZING top , embroidered paintings are housed. You m a AMA ise from d A kw rket. (cloc Night Ma and have to see it to believe it - some of the t ly a er Da L , Bev . Silk nnon masterpieces are worth billions. A visit to Trang our a Rhia h N ng ony. he Po Anth ery. T a Lat. Cu Lan village showcased the minorities’ id o r emb ear D ade n tribal way of life. Handcrafted items Casc were on offer creating employment for younger generations. We hired the resort mini bus and the driver took us on many trips - Nha Trang on the South China Sea was one of them. The journey took four and a half hours through spectacular mountainous scenery, traditional villages and the incredible paddy fields, where the rice is grown. We also came across so much wildlife - including water buffalo, Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs and mountain goats. We ended our holiday on my daughter’s 25th birthday with a day in Saigon, where she asked me when we were going to book our next RCI adventure! E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 2 1
Dreaming of Phuket Over our 30 years as RCI members we have taken around 21 exchanges, as well as several son’s r e h s trips back to our home resort in Marbella, It wa king which we love. After my son’s amazing ac backp res backpacking tales, I decided that Phuket was tu where I wanted to go for my 60th birthday, so adven rred we exchanged well in advance. Ian and I decided at spu h t to stay away from the busy cities, so we made the el Carm nd gorgeous LHC @ Allamanda Laguna Phuket (4973) a our base. Thailand is such a stunning place, I can Smith tner, r barely describe just how incredible it is. We got out her pa ake and about every day – we are not really ones to lie on a ot Ian, t g-haul beach – and it was still the most relaxing holiday we’ve on ever had. their l oliday h You can’t go to Phuket and not explore its famous dream et. surrounding islands. We took a speedboat to Maya Beach k on Ko Phi Phi Island where ‘The Beach’ was filmed, and the to Phu view of the huge rocks jutting up from the water as we sped through the turquoise sea up to the beach was spectacular. It was busy, with everyone trying to get the perfect picture, but a really pretty place – with moored boats bobbing on the water. We also had a day of cycling on Koh Yao Noi which is the best way to see the real Thailand. We cycled through sleepy villages and saw the locals fishing and rice farming, and got to see the rubber plantations as well. We ended the day with a traditional Thai meal with some friendly locals. It was a great day, and the routes are easy enough for all abilities. If there is one thing to do while in Phuket, it’s the Phang Nga Bay kayak tour through the sea caves into the hongs or secret gardens. It was the highlight of our holiday and I can’t recommend it enough. We kayaked around the islands – including the famous James Bond Island. Learning about the history and seeing the bat caves is an experience I’ll never forget. On the tour, we took part in the religious Loi Krathong ceremony, which is a smaller version of the Festival of Light that takes place every November. We created traditional Thai bouquets made of banana leaves with a candle inside and we set them off to float in the water at dusk. Kayaking alongside the candles was beautiful and very peaceful. It was also awesome to see the plankton illuminate the water at night. Back on dry land, there is so much to see and do. The night markets are the place to be in the evening for families to enjoy food, entertainment and shopping. Through the day, you will find delicious Thai food cooked and served on food carts on the beaches and streets. It is a really reasonable way to eat, and there is always somewhere to stop off for a refreshing cocktail along the beach. I have some amazing memories from our holiday in Phuket. Beautiful sights, friendly locals and some of the best food we have ever eaten. 2 2 AU T U M N / W I N T E R 2 0 1 8
L I N rom OCA ef kwis NG L eir G OI E T: (cloc re th repa K P H U ) Locals p Yao Noi. t h f o top le nets in K ya n Ma g fishin and Ian o Bay. Loi l a e g Carm Phang N ames ny. J h. remo Beac ng ce o h t Kra d. Islan Bond
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en ave be h r e ch l Flet for around l i G nd ife te Len a ng in Tener eir favouri . yi l th me holida nd it is stil er all this ti rs a aft 17 yea estination yd holida
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Always fun on Tenerife Tenerife deserves the title of ‘Island of Eternal Spring’ as the weather is great all year round, which we love. There is so much to do, you’ll never be bored, no matter what kind of holiday you’re looking for. Gill and I like to walk most days and you can walk from Los Cristianos all the way to Costa Adeje, which is great. There are so many bars and restaurants along the way, there are plenty of opportunities to stop off for a cold drink and to people watch. My real passion is golf so I always try to get at least one game in. Buenavista in the north and the championship course in Adeje, are both brilliant, but one of the most impressive courses is La Tecina, which is on the island of La Gomera. : The views from the course are beautiful and on a clear Y A D I HOL Hill TIO N top left) day you can see Tenerife with Mount Teide rising up in C A m ALL eide. e fro lf kwis unt T the distance. You can get the ferry over to the island and (cloc ound Mo g mini go ar layin trails Gill p méricas. they organise everything for you – the crossing, the d n a A las Len La ya de from taxi, the golf and the overnight stay at a hotel. After in Pla Tenerife a golf s of ist érica enav View a. Bu de las Am a day on the course, we get the cliff lift down to the r e m Go laya se. P cour local village for dinner. It is a typical Spanish village . t h at nig where the locals all eat outside and chat in the evenings, which is an enjoyable way to end the day. We like to make the most of our holiday and have been quad biking, jet-skiing, go-karting and boating – all while holidaying in Tenerife. There are a few different places to go quad biking, but the most interesting place is up in the hills – you get a lot dirtier there! There is also a crazy golf course in Playa de las Américas which is really worth a visit and is a good laugh – it’s also the only place that Gill can beat me at golf! There are some wonderful places to eat and plenty I can recommend. Restaurante Habibi is a Lebanese restaurant which has a delicious menu and overlooks the beach, and El Rincón del Pollo de Adeje is a great venue. You can get chicken, chips and a beer for two people for less than €20, which will set you up well for hitting the nightclubs. The south of the island is really lively, so if a bustling nightlife is what you enjoy, there’s no better place. Be prepared to haggle in shops – especially if there are no prices on the items. You can easily get leather items for 50 per cent off what the shop workers tell you at first, so you can grab a real bargain if you’re not shy! Tenerife really is a fabulous holiday destination, with plenty to do and perfect weather; you couldn’t ask for more.
SOMETHING EXTRA FOR YOU! If you’ve been inspired to get away by our members’ stories, but are all out of Deposit Trading Power or points, don’t forget you can always book an RCI Extra Holiday. These are holidays at great value prices which you can book for cash - you don’t need weeks or points to enjoy them!
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STAY WHY NOT TRY ONE OF THESE RESORTS?
Hollywood Mirage Club 2429
Club Casablanca 1668
“Lovely holiday here with the family. All staff were excellent. We loved the live tribute bands. We enjoyed the walk down to the front and a courtesy bus will take you to Playa de las Américas. Taxis are cheap, if you don’t want to walk back up the hill. Plenty of good restaurants close to the resort.”
member review: “Very nice two-bedroom apartment.
Club Marina 2378
Apartamentos Tropical Park 2403
member review: “The staff were courteous. The
“Everything was excellent in the hotel. Thank you for the daily entertainment, for the excellent meal we had in the restaurant, and a special thanks to Fernando in the restaurant. Our room was neat and tidy, and the staff were very helpful.”
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Well furnished with a full kitchen. The on-site restaurant, although basic, was good value and drinks weren’t overpriced. Plenty of restaurants in the area, but it is very hilly. Good, varied, entertainment. Orchid Garden is nearby and worth a visit. We would definitely return.”
apartment was beautifully presented, spacious and clean. Callao Salvaje is an ideal location. It’s a quiet resort but not lacking in good restaurants and cafés. It is well served by local buses to Los Cristianos and Los Gigantes. An ideal place to relax and explore.”
PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK (21); THE KEARNEY FAMILY (1); THE RHODES FAMILY (1); CARMEL SMITH (1); LEN & GILL FLETCHER (1).
Club Las Calas 1448
Diamond Club Maritima 1850
member review: “We have been visiting this resort for
member review: “We had a fabulous fortnight at Club
the past 10 years and cannot find a better place to stay. Clean and tidy, good food and drink and only a few minutes’ walk to the seafront. Shop on-site and opposite the resort.”
Maritima. We stayed in a two-bedroom apartment, which had a new shower room, which was a bonus. The accommodation was clean and well decorated. Beds were comfortable. We would definitely go back again.”
LHC @ Allamanda Laguna Phuket 4973
Terracotta Resort Dalat DE46
member review: “This was my second visit. The resort
member review: “One of the most spacious and
still maintains the same quality and ambience that I enjoyed on my first visit. We will stay here again next time.”
beautiful villas we’ve stayed in in Da Lat. Beautiful view of the lake and magnificent flowers. Love the tranquillity and the beauty of the place. The resort is away from the busy town, but they provide free shuttle buses to and from town, several times a day.”
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 2 7
Hot Places To Chill Costa Rica and Mexico may sit 1,566 miles apart, as the crow flies, on the isthmus connecting North and South America, but these fabulous destinations share a tropical holiday idyll which makes for an exotic escape. B Y R O B I N M C K E LV I E
ith a jaw-dropping natural grandeur and a swathe of culture, these colourful countries are alluring year-round beach escapes offering shores we dream of, a myriad of water sports and many other activities to be enjoyed away from their sunny coastlines.
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Costa Rica cool The Guanacaste province of the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica is famed for its pristine beaches, bountiful rainforest and perfect climate, while much of the local Tico culture survives. You can still see indigenous cowboys performing in ranch rodeos, while the village of El Jobo has retained its old
A PIECE OF PARADISE: (opposite) El Jobo Beach, Costa Rica. (clockwise from top left) Windsurfing at El Jobo Beach. Puerto Carrillo’s sandy palm tree-lined beach. Carrillo Beach, Guanacaste. Waterfall at Tenorio Volcano National Park, Costa Rica.
fishing village character. Beaches are the main attraction and one of the finest is El Jobo Beach, a dreamy strip backed by lush tropical jungle set in a spectacular location on the El Jobo Peninsula, kissed on three sides by the Pacific Ocean. Lazing on the beach is enough for many, but if you want to get active the region offers everything, from world-class windsurfing and kitesurfing at nearby Salinas Bay, to golf, horse riding and adrenaline pumping zipwire rides. Separating El Jobo from the laid-back hideaway of Puerto Carrillo to the south, is Santa Rosa National Park, a star of the country’s impressive conservation drive. It’s more Jurassic Park, being home to rare dry tropical forest and sea turtles. Inland, the Rincón de la Vieja National Park is a
wildscape where pumas, jaguars and sloth bears roam wild. The literal highlight is Santa Maria volcano, which soars to a height of 3,772 metres. Puerto Carrillo, is a canton in Guanacaste Province and is a Costa Rican oasis, having only 500 inhabitants and a very active fishing fleet. You can join them fishing for the legendary local billfish. The starched white palm-lined sands of the Carrillo area offer plenty of space for everyone to unfurl their towel on their own piece of beach paradise. You can also snorkel from many of the beaches to offshore reefs where a world of brightly coloured coral and exotic marine life awaits. If you want to get away from the modern world, visit the rocky El Roble with its own waterfall and cooling pools, or palm-fringed Playa El Sur lying just a boat ride away. E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 2 9
SUNNY ESCAPES: (clockwise from top) A beach in Zona Hotelera. Playa Delfines. Chichén Itzá. Colourful boats on Isla Mujeres. Playa Forum at sunset.
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PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK (11).
Mexican magic Over on the Caribbean Sea, glorious beaches and epic sunsets are blessings that Mexico’s Cancún also boasts in abundance. It’s hard to imagine that a sunny oasis offering yearround warmth and now attracting millions of visitors annually was, as recently as the 1970s, little more than a sleepy fishing village. Today, Cancún offers a tantalising taste of both worlds. Its downtown is a modern city and its resorts come blessed with every creature comfort and luxury you could imagine. At the heart of its appeal, however, remains those unspoiled sandy beaches which are fringed by clear waters and tempting offshore islands, all to be found here on one of the most famous holiday seas in the world. The centre of the tourist action is in the Zona Hotelera. It sits on a 13.5 mile-long island that reclines on the edge of a lagoon and is renowned for having some of the best strips of sand in the Americas. The most famous beaches include central Playa Tortugas, the less developed Playa Delfines, and a beach with bustling nightlife, Playa Forum. We are talking puffy white pristine sands, aquarium clear waters and a myriad of water sports. You can kayak or paddle board close to shore or bounce out across the surf, waterskiing or jet skiing. Some of the best surfing lies around the Bahía de las Mujeres, while further from shore deep-sea fishing awaits those in search of big sports fish, such as marlin (both blue and white) and sailfish. Diving and snorkelling are popular too in waters alive with everything, from brightly coloured tropical fish and playful turtles, to looming rays and giant whale sharks. You can even head out to swim with these thrilling shark leviathans – a real once in a lifetime experience. Punta Nizuc, to the south of the
main resort action, is an oasis for snorkellers, while on the Isla Mujeres lies the El Garrafón Natural Reef Park where you’ll find some superb scuba diving spots. You can swim with dolphins here too. There is plenty to appeal on land as well. Culture vultures can get to grips with the mighty Mayans at the Museo Maya de Cancún, a history and archaeology museum housed in a slick new building. Golfers will be in heaven with the many worldclass courses – a star attraction is the Greg Norman-designed course at Playa Mujeres – while the balmy temperatures are a key draw out of season. If you are looking for a more adrenaline pumping experience how about freefall parachuting or a 25-metre bungee jump that hurtles you headfirst towards the turquoise seas? You can spend weeks just enjoying idyllic Cancún, but if you want to delve further there are numerous day trip options. Prime among them is Chichén Itzá. Standing here surveying the Yucatán Peninsula’s most famous Mayan remnants is a sublime experience as you swirl back over a millennia. There is always more to discover in both Mexico’s glorious Cancún and Costa Rica’s remarkable Nicoya Peninsula. You can just enjoy a stroll along a paradise beach, followed by a sundowner as you savour a burning sunset, or head off to splash around in the ocean, explore a hidden cove or delve into a beguiling historic gem.
Protect Your Holiday! To give you peace of mind, our protection products allow you to safeguard your RCI Exchange Holiday. If you ever need to cancel your holiday, we will refund your trading power or points used, so you can put them towards a future booking.
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STAY ALL - INCLUSIVE IN CANCÚN, MEXICO
Sunset Marina Resort & Yacht Club 5237
Dreams Sands Cancún Resort & Spa by UVC D830
“Sunset Marina was a great resort. Staff were extremely friendly and accommodating. The resort was clean and welcoming. Highly recommend. The rooms were like the pictures posted. There were no hidden fees. All inclusive was optional, which was the appeal for my family, as we did not want all inclusive.”
Sunset Royal Beach Club 4363
Royal Holiday-Park Royal Cancún 1334
“Great staff. Great service. Great shows. Good food. Very family friendly. Room serviced every day. Concierge service was outstanding. We had a private dinner for two on the beach and the attention to detail for the setting and service was unbelievable.”
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“Our family had an amazing time at Dreams Sands Cancún. The food and service were excellent. We especially enjoyed the preferred lounge with Armando Vega. He made a personal connection with you and we enjoyed visiting each night.”
“My friend and I were at the Royal Holiday-Park Royal, Cancún for a week and everything was perfect. The resort and facilities, the food and most of all, the friendly staff made it a wonderful time for us! I would definitely go there again.”
ALL - INCLUSIVE IN GUANACASTE, COSTA RICA
Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica by UVC D829
Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica by UVC DC14
“Perfect in every single way - accommodation, facilities, food and most of all, staff. Everything greatly exceeds expectations in every single way. Costa Rica is absolutely beautiful the Garden of Eden here on Earth.”
“Beautiful landscape, nice pool and beach. The staff were superb and they made our trip fun and relaxing - they greeted us with a big smile no matter what time of the day. Great resort and superb services!”
RCI Travel† - book with confidence and peace of mind. With ABTA and ATOL protection, RCI Travel† has you covered on your flights, car hire, and much more!
Call 0845 60 86 121
For more resort information, and to book, visit:
R CI.com Or see page 6 for contact details.
E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 3 3
BY H E L E N F O S T E R
Who’d have thought that a random meeting of a group of youngsters on holiday in Mallorca in 1978 who got together for the week, would have been the start of a friendship that sees the two couples holidaying together 40 years on? It did, and here’s their story...
ere it not for Susan’s husband, Brian, causing a bit of a splash by trying to throw Susan into the swimming pool at the Hotel Bella Colina in Mallorca 40 years ago, the two couples would most likely have been ships that pass in the night. But as lively 19 and 20 year olds, Brian and Susan Collie’s swimming pool fun broke the ice so Kim and Martyn Edgar joined in and the rest is, as they say, history! The couples are now planning their next holiday - using Susan and Brian’s timeshare and RCI membership - to celebrate what will be 41 years of friendship next year. 3 4 AU T U M N / W I N T E R 2 0 1 8
“After the pool incident, we just clicked and so hired a car together for the rest of the holiday,” said Susan. “We have been best of friends ever since. We live in Aberdeen and our friends live in Newcastle, however, we have kept in touch throughout the years and make sure that we get together every year in Newcastle.” In recent years the friends have grown closer as unfortunately, Martyn developed a health issue that meant he had to give up work five years ago which made going off on holiday difficult. Susan and Brian stepped in and, being RCI members, knew they could use their membership to access spacious
MEMORABLE EXCHANGES: (clockwise from top left) Around the pool 40 years on. Kilconquhar Estate and Country Club (0493). Mallorca, where the friendship blossomed. The beautiful villa in Pollença, Mallorca.
holiday accommodation to enable them to take Kim and Martyn away with them. Sharing time “We bought our first timeshare and became RCI members in 1986,” said Susan. “We now own a week at Four Seasons Vilamoura (2062) in Portugal, a week at Kilconquhar Estate and Country Club (0493) in Fife, Scotland, and a week at Pestana Palms (2829) in Madeira. We also share a timeshare at Macdonald Spey Valley Resort (1848) in Scotland with my brother. So we are able to take many holidays each year.” Though the couple always go to their much-loved Madeira timeshare every year, they use the Kilconquhar Estate and Country Club ownership to get more weeks away with RCI, as it has a high-value trading power. “We get a lot of weeks holiday out of that ownership as it has a deposit trading power of 27,” Susan explained. “You must understand how to work the RCI system. Trade up and down, look out for the RCI deals and sales, plus use the RCI Extra Holidays, which are cash only bookings. We got an RCI offer on a week’s stay at an RCI
Gold Crown resort in Spain for an exchange trading power of only four! “This year Brian and I got four weeks holiday in Portugal, four weeks in Madeira and three weeks in Spain at an RCI Gold Crown resort - all out of our Kilconquhar week’s ownership and the deposit trading power it gives us. “Last year we went to Florida for seven weeks using our combined trading power to book multiple Exchange Holidays, plus additional weeks of holiday booked with RCI Extra Holidays.” Time to travel Moving into retirement, the Collies take more holidays, and take their friends with them. “Brian and Martyn are like brothers. When we realised the extent of Martyn’s illness we were determined he and Kim should not miss out on their holidays and as we love spending time with them, being able to use our timeshare to take them away with us is a bonus for us too,” said Susan. In September 2014, the couples enjoyed a holiday using RCI exchange when Susan and Brian booked a villa in Pollença, in a return E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 3 5
MAKING MEMORIES: (clockwise from top left) Views in Nerja, Costa del Sol. The four friends pose for a photo, pictured from left are Brian, Kim, Martyn and Susan. The couples in Nerja. The ancient streets of Pollença. (below) Kim and Martyn enjoying a meal.
to Mallorca. “We told Kim and Martyn all they needed to do was book their flights. In 2016, using RCI exchange, we got a villa in Nerja, a beautiful resort town on southern Spain’s Costa del Sol. It was gorgeous, high up on a hill, overlooking the town and the ocean beyond. We now plan to go away with Kim and Martyn every two or three years.” The shared holidays mean a lot to Kim and Martyn, as Martyn explained: “Susan and Brian are always going off all over, we can’t keep up with them. It is great to be sharing some of those holidays with them.
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Our holiday in Pollença was the best we’ve ever had. The villa was jaw dropping; we walked in and were stunned. The location was so peaceful - all we could hear was a donkey braying - and yet we were close to the ancient Old Town of Pollença which was a charming place to wander around. We have never had a holiday that was so relaxing. And it took us back 40 years to when we all met there for the first time. It felt like we’d been together only the week before, as the years melted away. “There is an excellent fresh food market in the Old Town and Brian is such a good cook, so we lived on barbecued fish and prawns! It was also lovely to see the bougainvillea and other flowers that are beautiful but struggle to grow in our gardens at home.” The Nerja holiday also made a lasting impression on Kim and Martyn. “Again, the villa was gorgeous and spacious, this time perched up on a hill with great views against a dramatic backdrop of mountains,” said Kim. “The town was stunning. Large awnings
SIZZLING SHORES: (clockwise from top left) Florida’s Key West. Pestana Palms, Madeira (2829). Brian and Martyn barbecuing in Spain. Café in a port in Madeira. (below) Susan and Brian.
across the streets kept you in the shade while you wandered around the quaint little shops. We were serenaded by a guy playing Spanish classical guitar and he was really good so we spent a long time just listening. It was all quite a unique experience.”
November, followed by Christmas and New Year in Madeira; then we visit other sunny destinations after that. We don’t do Aberdeen winters. We are now considering Hungary and Finland as summer destinations. There’s such a lot of the world we haven’t seen yet.”
PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK (6), SUSAN COLLIE (10).
Back to the beginning Not surprisingly, the friends want to return to where it all began. Susan, a former travel agent and a great travel organiser, has plans... “Our deposits are in with RCI already for next year, to get maximum trading power by banking early. Now we are excited to be going back to our favourite spot, where we met, and taking another look at the Hotel Bella Colina.” Susan is already planning future holidays. “We have exchanged the world over: Hawaii, skiing in Colorado, California - we had a fabulous coastal drive taking in San Francisco. We stay home all summer long, and then we are off in the winter. We kick off with a stay in Portugal in
Treat Your Friends To A Holiday For only £41, you can buy a Guest Certificate to get your family and friends off on a fabulous holiday.
E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 37
Book your Extra Holiday for the best price! PRICE MATCH
Our fantastic Extra Holidays are available in beautiful resorts from only £249 a week. If you book any European Extra Holiday before 30 September and you see it cheaper within 24 hours on Hotels.com, Travel Republic, Booking.com or Expedia.com, we promise to match the price!* Book before 30 September 2018 Here is just a selection of some of our favourites,
there are many more available.
Golden Sands Island Residence Club (D698)
Macdonald Spey Valley Resort (1848)
Pine Lake Resort (1857)
Terms and Conditions: Extra Holidays displayed are accommodation only and do not include travel or any other expenses. Not all resorts are available for all months. All prices are subject to change. Details correct as of 15/08/18 but 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 and Price Match details, please visit rci.com/ev-terms. *The Price Match is available until 30th September 2018 in relation to European Extra Holidays rental bookings which cost £249 or more. The Price Match offer is available once you have made and paid for a confirmed booking
Village Heights Golf Resort (7514)
Villea Village (5895)
Club Las Calas (1448)
£389 per week
£249 per week
Sunset Harbour Club (1759)
Sunset Bay at Torviscas (1193)
Club Monte Anfi (7515)
£379 per week
Crown Resorts at Club Marbella (2404)
Macdonald Villacana Resort (1847)
Macdonald Doña Lola Resort (1689)
October 2018 – May 2019
Availability is limited - so book today!
Visit RCI.com or call 0845 60 86 111 to book
of holiday rental accommodation through RCI’s Extra Holidays brand and where you can subsequently show that the same accommodation is available to the public for the same period through another specified supplier at a lower price to that charged to you by RCI. You must submit your claim for a Price Match to RCI via telephone or online Chat within twenty four (24) hours of confirming the Extra Holidays booking to which the claim relates. In the event that we accept the Price Match claim, we will refund the difference between the price you have paid for your Extra Holidays booking and the lower price of the comparable booking to your RCI account, which can then be used on future Exchange or Extra Holiday bookings, Guest Certificates or renewals, where applicable. Visit rci.com/ev-terms for full terms and conditions. E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 3 9
Wonders of the
A long-standing holiday favourite, Spainâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Costa Blanca is the perfect retreat for beach dwellers and old town wanderers alike. BY C H A R L I N I C E
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he sun shines down on this 120-mile stretch of coast for the majority of the year with the cool sea breeze taking the edge off the heat in the summer months. The terrain is varied and provides ample opportunities to explore. From sandy shorelines to traditional fishing villages, the White Coast is an ideal year-round holiday destination for those looking to embrace the best of iconic Spanish hot spots, while also discovering some charming hidden gems along the way. Benidorm As popular today as they were 60 years ago, Benidorm’s Blue Flag beaches, outdoor activities and bustling social scene continue to entice holidaymakers to Spain’s east coast. Renowned for stunning scenery and a varied nightlife that includes everything, from bingo and karaoke, to club nights and festivals, Benidorm is a great holiday destination for all ages. Boasting a selection of world-class beaches, two of Benidorm’s most famous are Playa de Levante and Playa de Poniente. Perfect for sunrise and sunset respectively, these two locations offer soft golden sand and a wealth of activities between them. Playa de Levante is a more lively spot with water sports aplenty, rows of sunbeds for sunbathing and beach-side cafés for lunch. Playa de Poniente is still well-equipped, yet quieter and ideal for evening swims before watching the sunset illuminate the skies. As well as relaxing on the beach, Benidorm offers a host of outdoor activities that will take you away from the beach and into the mountains for a change of scenery. The Downhill Bike Ride takes participants on a thrilling 19-mile descent that’s suitable for all levels of cycling ability. Gliding downhill at a self-set pace, you will travel through traditional villages while getting a whole new perspective of the coastline below. After a day of cycling, finish the day off in a local bar for a well-earned refreshing drink. If cycling doesn’t appeal, why not try Segways? Perfect for uphill climbs, a trip on
FUN IN THE SUN: (clockwise from left) Sunset at Playa de Levante. Bright lights of Benidorm at night. A Mediterranean balcony overlooking the sea. Palm-lined golden sands of Playa de Poniente.
E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 41
houses and historic churches are waiting to be discovered along your winding ramblas, and there are lots of boutiques where you can find one-off souvenirs to take home to remind you of your holiday. There are also plenty of inviting eateries ready to provide a true taste of Spain. Head to Tapas Alley for a selection of small plates that will appeal to every palate. Local specialities include classic paella that’s perfect for sharing, and horchata – a cold, sweet drink typical of the region that’s made from tiger nuts and traditionally served with pastries.
a Segway is a memorable experience and a unique way to see the sights. Trips are run in small groups, led by a knowledgeable tour guide; this is a mode of transport that requires minimum effort to reap great rewards. An ideal family destination, Benidorm’s pleasing climate lends itself to outdoor fun suitable for the young and young at heart. Aqualandia Waterpark is one of the region’s most popular attractions and features over 20 rides and areas which include Europe’s highest standing slide and the world’s highest capsule slide - for the brave. Located in an area of outstanding natural beauty, the park is equally equipped for thrill and chill seekers alike. The charming Old Town of Benidorm is home to pretty cobbled streets and authentic Spanish architecture. White
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Dénia To the north of Benidorm lies Dénia – a port city where an imposing ruined castle takes centre stage on a skyline where the mountains of the Montgó Natural Park provide the backdrop. With a diverse history that paved the way for the Dénia of today, the city is home to eclectic architecture and an expansive marina. From rocky coves to sandy shores, Dénia is one of Costa Blanca’s most appealing bases for visitors looking to experience a sense of the old-world charm the region was once renowned for. Dénia’s beaches are somewhat quieter than those of Benidorm, though just as remarkable. With some 12 miles of golden sand to choose from, the beaches north of the harbour offer a little more in the way of atmosphere and activities, while those to the south are perfect for rest and relaxation.
PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK (9).
Les Rotes is a pretty area to explore. The rocky coves are ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving for those who want to get close to the local marine life, and there’s a large selection of restaurants and bars to enjoy a bite to eat and a cocktail or two. Surrounded by Mount Montgó Natural Park, there’s no shortage of hiking trails on offer for those looking to see Dénia from a whole new height. At 753 metres above sea level, the nature reserve is home to over 650 varieties of flora and fauna. The park is also home to a range of wildlife, from eagles to badgers. Mount Montgó itself is renowned for its unique shape and is often described as ‘the elephant’ whose body looms from the sea and sprawls impressively across the skyline. There are many hiking trails available, all of which guarantee stunning ocean views – look out for Ibiza which is visible on a clear day. Dénia’s cosmopolitan marina has long been a draw for visitors. This picturesque part of town is full of bars and restaurants perfectly placed to watch the boats bob up and down on the water. Home to vessels of all shapes and sizes, there is the option to take up water sports in the summer, as well as boat trips further afield. Direct ferries to the Balearic Islands run from here several times a week making day trips to Ibiza possible. Alternatively, the vibrant city of Valencia is only 90 minutes away by bus. With plenty to see and do, this is a perfect excursion to experience Spanish city life. Must-see attractions in Valencia include The City of Arts and Sciences – a feat of contemporary design which houses a science museum, IMAX cinema and planetarium, opera house and marine park. Explore Central Market for the best in local produce before taking a trip to Turia Gardens; a park that has been created on the site of the old Turia River bed. Benidorm and Dénia are two of Costa Blanca’s best-loved areas and it’s easy to see why. With at least 320 days of sun each year, there’s never a bad time to pack a bag and pick a beach to escape from it all. “Y Viva España” indeed.
RELAX AND EXPLORE: (clockwise from top left) Typical Spanish tapas. Golden sands and crystal waters of Dénia Beach. Bars and restaurants in Dénia’s Old Town. Overlooking Valencia’s beautiful bay. Arabic Castle keeping watch over Dénia’s port.
E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 4 3
STAY WHY NOT TRY ONE OF THESE RESORTS?
Albir Garden 2827
Sandos Benidorm Suites 2803
Club Atlas Nou Espal 1 2441
“Very modern hotel. Mostly all-inclusive. Plenty of restaurants in the area, serving just about anything. The rooms are good and the beds are comfortable.”
Ona Ogisaka Garden 2928
Parque Dénia Club 3053
“Fantastic location, walking distance to all restaurants, supermarket, bars and even a bakery. Rental of bikes at the hotel was a good idea. Take a ride into Altea and visit the Old Town.”
Set against a beautiful backdrop of mountain scenery with impressive views towards the coast. The resort is ideal for those seeking a peaceful holiday.
Bahia Azul 2587 rci.com:
Bahía Azul enjoys direct access to the clean sandy beach of Playa de las Marinas. Its major feature is a complex of interlinked swimming pools, with a shallow, restricted, children’s area.
“Very good location. Very friendly staff. Nice swimming pool and sauna. This is one of the best resorts we have booked during the last 15 years with RCI. Good service, as it should be.”
“Nice place with a view. We really enjoyed our stay at Parque Dénia Club.”
RCI.com For more resort information, and to book. Or see page 6 for contact details.
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Rocky Mountain Highs BY S T E V E A DA M S
Few holiday destinations offer as much variety as America, but as much as I love visiting its exciting cities, nothing beats the beauty of the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s national parks. I had an amazing holiday taking in Glacier, Grand Teton, and Yellowstone National Parks. E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 4 5
Glacier National Park, Montana Imagine elements of the Swiss Alps, the UK’s Lake District and California’s Yosemite National Park all rolled into one. That’s the best way I can describe the phenomenal impact Glacier National Park, with its 1,600 square miles of beautiful wilderness, had on me. The Alps element was especially evident at Logan Pass, which at over 2,000 metres, is the park’s highest point. The panoramic views from this point, which also marks the Continental Divide – rivers and waterways to the west feed the Pacific Ocean, those to the east head to the Atlantic – are spectacular, with stunning snow-capped peaks towering over Alpine meadows carpeted with wildflowers that roll into the valley below. I hiked a section of the Highline Trail, which starts with a narrow shelf beneath a cliff-face known as the ‘Garden Wall’, before opening out into flower-filled meadows surrounded by towering mountains. It was like wandering through an undiscovered new Eden. You’ll see plenty of warnings about bears, though the chances of encountering one are slim. I certainly didn’t, but came prepared all the same. Bear spray comes in what looks like a mini fire extinguisher, and temporarily incapacitates bears, giving you time to make a sharp exit. I purchased it from a store at Apgar Village, a lovely spot at the southern end of Lake McDonald, which at 10 miles long is the largest lake in the park. Surrounded by mountains in a valley created by glacial carving, it’s the perfect place to take in the park’s beauty, which I did while tucking into ice-cream flavoured with huckleberries, a purple-black fruit that grows locally and appears in everything from pies, jams and pancakes, to lemonade and beer. One of the popular trails is the Avalanche Creek trail, a gentle 4.5-mile stroll through a cedar forest to the shores of Avalanche Lake, a mirror-like body of water overlooked by mountains and littered with broken trees – broken by the phenomenon that prompted 4 6 AU T U M N / W I N T E R 2 0 1 8
the area’s name. Another takes you to Grinnell Lake in Many Glacier, an area in the east of the park. The lake is fed by waterfalls that cascade down from Upper Grinnell Lake, itself formed from glacial melt, and is another absurdly beautiful sight. I got to the viewpoint via a boat ride across Swiftcurrent Lake, a 365-metre hike over a hill, a second boat trip across Lake Josephine and then an easy mile’s walk through woods to the third lakeshore. During the walk my guide chatted about the history, geology, flora and fauna of the area. The most sobering fact he revealed was that the effects of global warming mean the park’s glacier count is now just 25, down from more than 150 when it was created.
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming I had a day-long drive to get used to the idea of leaving Glacier behind. By the time I reached Grand Teton I was more than ready for things to look up. And if anything requires you to look up, it’s a mountain. Or better still three of them, especially when they jut straight out of the earth, their harsh beauty heightened by the lack of any rolling foothills to ease you into the view. The jagged peaks of the Teton Range soar hundreds of metres above Jackson Hole Valley in western Wyoming, and are a truly jaw-dropping sight. The rugged spines of the South, Middle and Grand Teton peaks – originally christened ‘les trois tetons’ or ‘the three
breasts’ by French trappers – gave the park its name and are its natural focal point. They also felt like a constant companion throughout my two-day visit, not least as they peeked down through a foggy heat haze as I hiked near Jenny Lake, one of the park’s many lakes. Like Glacier, you need to get out of the car and explore to really appreciate the park. The good news is that even the slightest effort is rewarded. A gentle 1.5-mile hike from Jenny Lake led me to Hidden Falls, a crashing 60-metre waterfall, while a twomile stroll from Death Canyon trailhead took me through pine forests and aspen groves to Phelps Lake Overlook, a terrific beauty spot offering wonderful panoramas of the glacial
LUSH LANDSCAPES: (clockwise from left) Avalanche Creek. Grand Teton National Park. Bison grazing in Grand Teton National Park. (previous page) Glacier National Park. E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 47
STUNNING SCENERY: (clockwise from top) The Grand Prismatic Spring. Old Faithful Geyser. Lower Falls, Yellowstone National Park. Black bear with cubs. Grand Loop Road. A deer, just one of many creatures living in the national parks.
lake and surrounding forest below. The bear spray thankfully went unused again, but I was lucky enough to catch a distant glimpse of a black bear feeding in the undergrowth, oblivious to the gaggle of excited tourist photographers trying to capture the scene from the road above. Grand Teton is just the place for these types of wondrous moments, but if it’s the wildlife you’re interested in, then nothing beats its near neighbour – Yellowstone.
PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK (7), STEVE ADAMS (3).
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming Yellowstone is probably the world’s most famous National Park. It’s also one of the most incredible places on Earth – some of the landscapes don’t even feel like Earth – with their extraordinary variety of scenery, flora and fauna. Some of it is heavenly, with majestic mountains, wide open prairies and vast meadows. While the bubbling mud pots and steaming geysers could almost be something out of hell! The park is home to more than half the world’s geysers, including Old Faithful, which spurts over 36,000 litres of water up
in the air every 90 minutes or so. There’s plenty to do while you’re waiting, with a walking trail around its companion geysers, as well as a visitor centre, gift shops and the Old Faithful Inn, a fabulous wooden lodge built in 1903. My four days in Yellowstone served up spectacle after spectacle. The park apparently contains 10,000 geothermal features and I was especially taken with Grand Prismatic Spring, a steaming 370-metre-wide lake given its spectrum of colours by the pigmented bacteria that grow along its edges. Like most of Yellowstone’s colourful thermal areas, it can be toured and viewed from a wooden boardwalk that skirts its edges. Everything is well signposted but you must stick to the paths, as the cauldron-like waters reach temperatures of more than 93 degrees celsius. Navigating Yellowstone itself is a breeze, and you can tick off most of its highlights by driving the figure-eight-shaped 142-mile Grand Loop Road, and there are plenty of parking areas that offer access to the top sights. These include Norris Geyser Basin – the park’s hottest, most dynamic area, E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 4 9
and Mammoth Hot Springs. You need to tread the boardwalks to truly appreciate the extraordinary cascading terraces sculpted from travertine, which itself has been deposited by mineral-laden water welling up from beneath the Earth’s crust. The park has 900 miles of hiking trails, striking valleys and soaring mountains, and even its own Grand Canyon, a mesmerising 24-mile chasm of yellow rock overlooked by three waterfalls, including Lower Falls, which
is twice the size of Niagara. But for all the amazing scenery, my favourite thing about Yellowstone is its fantastic array of wildlife. The park is known as the ‘American Serengeti’ for the variety of species that live here, and during my visit I spotted wolves, eagles, osprey, deer, pronghorn and so many bison. It was totally unbelievable – just like all of my experiences in these three incredible national parks.
STAY WHY NOT TRY ONE OF THESE RESORTS?
Meadow Lake Golf Resort 1909
Nenastako Village at Meadow Lake 5994
WorldMark West Yellowstone A411
“We stay at Meadow Lake a couple of times a year and have never been disappointed with the resort. The staff are awesome and the units are comfortable.”
“The resort itself is great for families or adult vacations. It has all the amenities you need and is close to others. The facility off Flathead Lake is awesome.”
The Timbers Condominiums 0027
Jackson Pines 6381
Jackson Hole Racquet Club 0416
“It was a nice place. The staff were very friendly. We would definitely recommend staying here.”
“It’s within walking distance of all great places in Jackson to eat and listen to live music. We had a great time and the place was spacious.”
“A wide variety of amenities on site, including indoor and outdoor pools. The recreation centre has arcade games which children will enjoy.”
“Convenient to enjoy the surrounding area and great to make the most of the on-site tennis courts and swimming pool.”
RCI.com For more resort information, and to book. Or see page 6 for contact details
How often have you said to your friends: “You’d have just loved it!”?
RCI member, Pauline, recently shared her love of timeshare with her lifelong friend, Carol, using RCI’s ‘Recommend A Friend’ programme. As a reward, RCI gave both Pauline and Carol £50 credit on their RCI accounts.
Do you have a friend you’d like to recommend? Ask them to visit RCI.com/rfrl or call us on 0845 60 86 380 Terms and conditions: 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 rci.com/ev-terms for full terms and conditions. E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 5 1
Time To Share BY LO R R A I N E LOV E L A N D
RCI’s Recommend A Friend programme is popular with our members as a way of introducing timeshare-owning friends and family to the benefits of RCI Membership, as well as getting a reward of £50 credited to both their own RCI account, and that of the new member. RCI Platinum members, Lynn and Alan Stewart, introduced their nephew to the RCI way of holidaying and it has worked out well for all concerned.
s many RCI members discover, timeshare exchange is a fabulous opportunity to holiday with added extras that don’t always come as standard with an off-the-shelf break. With larger living spaces, superb selfcatering facilities and lots of on-site amenities to be enjoyed, such as bars, restaurants and pools, timeshare is a real lifestyle holiday. With membership of a holiday exchange company, such as RCI, comes access to thousands of resorts across the globe allowing timeshare owners to get great value out of the flexibility timeshare brings to their holiday planning. 5 2 AU T U M N / W I N T E R 2 0 1 8
RCI Platinum members, Lynn and Alan Stewart, make full use of their membership and, thanks to them recommending RCI to their nephew, Gavin Fulton, he is now following in their holiday footsteps with his own timeshare, which he received as a 21st birthday gift. A taste for timeshare Lynn and Alan Stewart from Glasgow have been timeshare owners for over 30 years. Alan first got a taste for timeshare as a child, having enjoyed family holidays at his father’s home resort, Macdonald Craigellachie Chalets (3845) in Aviemore, the Scottish Highlands.
SUNSHINE FUNSHINE: (clockwise from left) Oasis Lakes at The Fountains (4852). Lynn, Kirstie and Robyn on holiday at Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort (6369). Alan and his daughter. The Stewart family at Universal Studios, Orlando.
“Alan bought his own timeshare at just 17 years old, just before we met. I’m so glad he did, as Aviemore is a beautiful part of the world and perfect for family holidays,” said Lynn. “He discovered RCI while working in South Carolina, in the US, and since then we’ve never looked back.” Fun in the sun The couple holiday in Orlando with their two daughters, Kirstie, 19 and Robyn, 12, Florida being a firm holiday favourite owing to the contrast of experiences. “We exchange every October and have all we want in Orlando, both on resort and beyond. If we want relaxation we lounge by the pool, if we want to be active we go off to play golf. Then, of course, there are the theme parks.” One park visit proved particularly memorable when the family were chosen to open the first ride of the day for Harry
Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Universal Studios in Orlando. “We stay close to Universal and use the I-Ride Trolley to get to the parks before the gates open. We like Oasis Lakes at The Fountains (4852) as it’s also close to the premium shopping outlets. It even has a coffee shop for our morning pick me up, and a fabulous Japanese steakhouse restaurant on site.” For their second week, they stay at Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort (6369) which is in close proximity to the Disney parks from where the family can watch the fireworks from their balcony in the evening. Resorts for all ages “Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort is safe and the resort facilities are phenomenal, including nine hot tubs, numerous restaurants, a huge lazy river, and five outdoor pools! One year E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 5 3
we took our friends who also have children, and with the kids being in their teens they wanted some independence. They ate in one restaurant while the adults dined across the lake, so we could still keep an eye on them, as parents do. “It’s worked well for us over the years. We took Kirstie to Florida when she was just 11 months old, and stayed at Holiday Inn Club Vacations At Orange Lake Resort - East Village (8896) with our friends who had just had a baby. It was well suited to us, having plenty of entertainment. “The boys would play golf on one of the four courses, while we could enjoy relaxing with our babies. Fast forward through the years and we’ve made full use of the RCI ongoing search to book resorts that match our needs perfectly, and we’ve always found them to be first class.” It’s also worked for the Stewarts’ special 5 4 AU T U M N / W I N T E R 2 0 1 8
celebrations when they booked an Extra Holiday to head off to one of the Whistler resorts in Canada for a ski break to celebrate Alan’s birthday. “We love to ski and spent five days on the slopes. We also booked a skidoo ride up to the top of the mountains - the vistas were incredible and it made a pleasant contrast to our usual sunshine adventures.” Keeping it in the family With all the holiday fun that Alan and Lynn have enjoyed, the timeshare bug had to catch on in the wider family. When Alan’s father decided to sell his timeshare in Aviemore, a gift idea presented itself. “My brother Gary and his wife Lynn were trying to decide on something special for my nephew’s 21st birthday. With Alan’s father selling his home week, it seemed like the perfect present that would keep on giving. Gavin Fulton, now 23, was more than
FAMILY FUN: (clockwise from left) Oasis Lakes at The Fountains (4852). The Stewarts at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Gavin Fulton, introduced to RCI by Lynn and Alan. Club Vacations at Orange Lake Resort (8896). Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort (6369). Gavin and his cousin on holiday. Lynn enjoying the slopes at Whistler. Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort.
delighted to receive the gift of timeshare. “When they handed me the paperwork, before I opened other gifts, I looked at RCI.com to research all the places I could visit. I work as a joiner in my father’s building company and we work long hours, so our family holidays are much needed to recharge.” Gavin had just returned from the Algarve in Portugal when we interviewed him, where he had found time to visit the Stewarts who had just flown out there on an exchange. “Aunty Lynn and Uncle Alan came out on the day we were leaving, so we caught up for dinner before we flew home.” Looking to the future Gavin said: “I will make full use of RCI exchange, but I will return to Aviemore as it’s great for skiing and only a few hours’ drive from where I live in Glasgow. “Florida is on my exchange list. I’ve got my
eye on Orange Lake where I holidayed with Lynn and Alan six years ago. I was amazed by the facilities which were ideal when spending time on resort, plus you can get everything you could wish for in Orlando. I am so pleased that there is so much choice in the RCI system, from hotel rooms to fully equipped apartments, I love having that variety and quality of accommodation.” Gavin is also looking at an Australian adventure on the Gold Coast and, after hearing about his aunty and uncle’s trip to Canada, he is also considering a ski break at a resort in Whistler, Canada. “Lynn and Alan are my very own RCI-style TripAdvisor, as I use their recommendations to plan my own breaks. They know the RCI system inside out, and Alan has been a huge help in showing me how to add an ongoing search and such. Keeping it in the family is proving very handy!” E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 5 5
A DV E R TO R I A L
Sail Away With Us Cruising is one of the most exciting, and affordable ways to travel. RCI members can choose to cruise in three different ways with RCI Travel†, giving you flexibility and choice as part of your membership. Setting sail has never been easier.
ruising gives you the opportunity to visit multiple destinations, ticking off places that might have been unaffordable as several holidays. The fun carries on in between ports you could be watching a West End-style show in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, dining with the Captain in the Mediterranean, or drinking cocktails at sunset in the Caribbean. You have 47 cruise lines to choose from, offering a total of 25,000 itineraries. Sail with major cruise lines, including Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line with RCI Travel†, so all you need to do is choose how you cruise. RCI Cruise Exchange RCI Cruise Exchange is similar to resort exchange, though you use your trading power or points to pay towards a cruise. Rather than holidaying in one destination, you could be off visiting three or more in one exciting holiday. Cruise Exchange allows you to exchange your timeshare entitlement as a value to put towards the price of a
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cruise, saving up to £1,200 per cabin. With just one exchange you can make savings on up to four cabins, allowing you to share the savings with friends and family. A Mediterranean cruise is a spectacular way to see some of Europe’s most beautiful sights. Spend the day in Rome exploring the
How it works: Deposit your weeks or points to put towards the cost of a cruise. Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean Ship: Jewel of the Seas Destination: Mediterranean Europe – Rome roundtrip Duration: 7 nights Room Type: Balcony Stateroom Per Person Market Rate: £1,699 Saving Per Cabin, based on 2 people sharing: £1,200 Per Person Rate: £1,099
ancient architecture of Vatican City and the dramatic history and ruins of the Colosseum, before boarding the ship. You will then set sail for the likes of France, Spain and Corsica, where you can experience rich cultures and fascinating histories - enjoy wandering around charming streets, before stopping off for lunch and tasting the local cuisine. RCI Cruise & Resort Holidays If you really want to make the most of your RCI membership, consider opting for the RCI Cruise & Resort Holidays package. This package includes a Cruise Pass giving you unlimited access to the world’s most exciting cruises at our exclusive prices. This benefit will save you up to £1,200* per cabin on cruise lines such as Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Viking River Cruises. Within your package you also receive a 7-night resort
How it works: Purchase an RCI Cruise & Resort Holidays package through RCI Travel†. Cruise Line: Celebrity Cruises Ship: Celebrity Equinox Destination: Western Caribbean - Miami Roundtrip Duration: 7 nights Room Type: Stateroom Per Person Market Rate: £1,459 Saving Per Cabin, based on 2 people sharing: £1,200 Per Person Rate: £859
In addition to the Cruise Pass, you’ll also receive the following as part of your RCI Cruise & Resort Holidays package: 7-night worldwide resort certificate £1,500 Savings Credits to use as partial payment towards golf, spa, ski breaks and hotel stays An Experience Pass so you can enjoy savings of up to £1,200 per couple on worldwide escorted tours Unlimited access for friends and family, so they can enjoy great savings too.
E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 57
stay which is separate from your timeshare week. You can choose from hundreds of resorts worldwide, in destinations such as Spain, Mexico, Orlando and Italy. You can also take up to six people with you to a number of selected resorts across the world at no additional charge*. With RCI Cruise & Resort Holidays, you can do it all in one unforgettable getaway! Cash Bookings If you have used up all your weeks and points enjoying RCI Exchange Holidays, you can still book a cruise using cash. The
How it works: Use cash to book the cruise of your dreams. Cruise Line: Norwegian Cruise Line Ship: Norwegian Pride of America Destination: Hawaii - Honolulu Roundtrip Duration: 7 nights Room Type: Oceanview Stateroom Per Person Market Rate: £1,699 Saving Per Cabin, based on 2 people sharing: £500 Per Person Rate: £1,449
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competitive rates entitle you to up to £500 worth of savings on your cabin, leaving you more to spend for when you’re off the ship. Think of all the souvenirs you can buy! For those who want to explore a really beautiful part of the world, a Hawaiian cruise spending more than a hundred hours in port - is one to remember. Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Pride of America will be your home for the duration of this particular cruise, where you will see dramatic volcanic landscapes set against turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean. Think luaus, hula dancing, and lush greenery. A seven-night cruise will set sail from Honolulu, before sailing on to Maui, Hawaii Island, then Kauai - in a trip you’ll never forget. There are thousands of cruises you can enjoy, with savings and benefits everywhere, from the Arctic to the Bahamas. You can tailor your cruise to where you really want to visit. There really isn’t anything like a cruise holiday.
Three ways to cruise Which will you choose? Visit multiple destinations in one exciting cruise holiday As an RCI member, you can choose to cruise using three great-value options, giving you even more flexibility and choice.
RCI CRUISE & RESORT HOLIDAYS PACKAGE
Use your trading power or points to pay towards a cruise
Great savings on hotels and experiences, PLUS a Cruise Pass saving you up to £1,200* per cabin
Use cash to book the cruise of your dreams at competitive rates
Call RCI Travel† on 0800 587 2688 to find out more
†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. *For full terms and conditions relating to RCI Cruise and Resort Holiday packages visit rcitc4.com
E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 5 9
A Shore Thing With a range of beaches and wide variety of land and water-based activities, the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Hungarian Seaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; of Lake Balaton makes a perfect summer holiday destination. BY S T E V E A DA M S
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f you’re the sort of person who thinks of lakes as quiet, relaxing places, surrounded by greenery and scenery, then it’s probably best not to think of Lake Balaton as a lake. It ticks the boxes in terms of being surrounded by picturesque landscapes and interesting towns and villages, but its size and range of attractions means it has much more in common with a modern seaside resort than a rustic spot to enjoy a picnic, though there are plenty of those too! On second thoughts, make that seaside resorts, plural, as the lake is home to a number of towns and villages, from Siófok, a lively party town that dubs itself ‘the capital of summer’ to the elegant, historic town of Keszthely and laid-back villages near Badacsony, where walking and wine-tasting tours are more the order of the day. The two areas are on opposite sides of the lake, and their differences reflect something SUNNY DAYS: of its north-south (clockwise from left) Port of Tihany. Beach divide, with the sunand flower garden worshippers, water in Balatonfüred. Fisherman sculpture in sport enthusiasts and Balatonfüred. bar hoppers heading for the south shore, while aficionados of history, architecture, scenery and a slower pace of life favour the north. That’s a huge generalisation of course, because there really is something for everybody, whatever side of the water you’re on. Water, water, everywhere... Speaking of water, at nearly 50 miles long and nearly nine miles across at its widest point, Balaton is the largest lake in central Europe and, in many ways, it’s better than an ocean. For starters, it’s shallow at rarely more than
three metres deep and warms up quickly in the sun, with yesterday’s air temperature a good indicator of the warmth of today’s water. Both these factors make it ideal for families to swim and splash about in to their hearts’ content, as does the fact that motorised water sports are banned, meaning there’s no danger of getting caught in the wake of a jet ski or water skier. Fans of the latter do have the option to try wakeboarding though – being towed around a circuit by mechanised pulley – while other activities include windsurfing, rowing, sailing and fishing for the likes of carp, bream and the native fogas, a type of pike-perch. And if all that sounds a bit energetic, you can also take to the water on a sightseeing cruise or one of the many public ferries that criss-cross the lake and give you the chance to hop off and explore places such as Balatonfüred, a lovely spa town on the north shore almost directly opposite Siófok, whose marina is the starting point for many cruises and ferries. The landing stage at Balatonfüred is flanked by two sandy beaches, while the town itself has a grand and glamorous history as the home of Hungary’s first sailing club and the lake’s first medicinal retreat. Sampling the ‘miracle’ mineral water from the drinking fountain in Gyógy tér is very much an obligatory activity. On shore Visiting the Tihany Peninsula is another absolute must-do. A volcanic outcrop that juts three miles into the lake and offers fantastic panoramic views of the turquoise E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 6 1
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and there are plenty of places to hire bikes at reasonable prices. It’s a really great way to experience the area as not only is the lakeshore nice and flat, but there’s a marked trail that runs all the way around the lake. That’s a total distance of 155 miles, so only for the foolhardy, super fit, or Chris Froome. I’d suggest taking things a little easier and picking a section that means you’ll still be able to stand up when you get back. Though if you do need help to recover from your exertions, then a trip to Hévíz, around five miles northwest of Balaton, could be in order, as it is home to Europe’s biggest thermal lake. The warm water, fed by hot springs, is renowned for its healing properties, said to heal skin and rheumatic disorders and bound to rejuvenate even the weariest of cyclists. While we’re on the subject of winding down after a busy – or relaxing – day at the lake, then settling down to a meal and a drink is always a good idea, and if you’re anything like me you’ll want to sample some of the local produce. The region’s wine, which has a unique flavour, courtesy of the volcanic soil in these parts, is especially good, and there’s
PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK (8); IMAGE SOURCE (1).
water and surrounding valley. It’s also home to the region’s oldest medieval village, and the perfect place to take a stroll and take in some history. The natural focal point is the stunning Baroque Abbey Church, which was built in the 18th century on top of a medieval castle and features some fabulously ornate decoration, including a range of frescoes on its ceiling. The rather more modest accommodation of hermit caves is one of the highlights of the Lajos Lóczy Nature Trail, a fantastic walk on well-marked paths just outside the village. The route takes in the peninsula’s two inland lakes and the volcanic crater at Belsö-tó. If you’re prepared to travel a little further, then Tapolca, around 16 miles northeast of Keszthely, is a wondrous place to visit. In a spectacular setting, the town is circled by 14 cone-shaped hills of basalt rock, and has an incredible subterranean cave lake nearly 18 metres underground. As well as boat trips to explore the illuminated blue-green waters, the visitor centre includes a range of exhibits, movies and artworks, as well as a number of children’s activities. Back at the lake, and back on dry land, another popular activity at Balaton is cycling,
plenty of interesting food to choose from too. Whether you choose seaside snacks or a meal in a traditional family restaurant, you’re bound to find something a bit different. At the beach you can snack on corn on the cob, grilled sausages, or lángos, a bread-like pastry topped with the likes of garlic sauce, cheese, sour cream or ham. Hungarian cuisine is typically of the winter warming (goulash) variety, so the menu for your evening meal might include game dishes such as water buffalo, guinea fowl and rabbit. If you like fish then the fogas I mentioned earlier is a great option. Served roasted, it’s best enjoyed with a glass of local wine, ideally at a lakeside restaurant with sunset views across the crystalline water. The perfect end to a day at the lake, for ‘shore’…
STAY WHY NOT TRY ONE OF THESE RESORTS?
HUNGARY Club Abbazia 2833 Club Dobogomajor 4193 Aparthotel Hévíz 3712
RCI.com For more resort information, and to book. Or see page 6 for contact details
LOTS TO DO: (clockwise from top left) Tihany Abbey. Cycling around Lake Balaton. Sightseeing boat in Siófok. The thermal waters of Hévíz. Lángos with bacon and garlic.
. . . n e l e H r a e D
We recently asked our members - through our Facebook page to submit any questions they had around using their timeshare with RCI membership. We got a great response and found that many of our members shared the same queries. On that basis, we thought it would be helpful to share some of those FAQs with you.
How can RCI charge additional taxes after agreeing a price for a holiday?
RCI has no control over any additional fees that the resorts charge for the on-resort facilities, utilities, or taxes as per the law of the country which your chosen holiday resort is in. RCI does not set these additional fees, nor does RCI receive any remuneration or profit from them. When you make a booking through us, however, you should pay special attention to the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;What You Need To Knowâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; section of your booking confirmation, as we do advise our members of anything that comes with their booking at their selected resort, such as any additional charges, in this documentation. 6 4 AU T U M N / W I N T E R 2 0 1 8
Can you trade a timeshare week for a week of cruise?
Using your RCI membership and RCI Travel†, yes you can put your timeshare week towards a cruise holiday. In fact, if you turn to page 56 of this issue of your Endless Vacation magazine there is a useful article explaining the three different ways RCI members can book cruises through RCI Travel†, one of them being RCI Cruise Exchange, which can deliver a saving of up to £1,200 per cabin on your cruise booking. †See page 59 for full RCI Travel terms and conditions.
Why do the prices for Extra Holidays keep going up?
Extra Holidays give members the opportunity to book without using their trading power or points, which means these holidays will work out a little more expensive than your Exchange Holidays. This has always been the case and is the reason why RCI Exchange Holidays are such good value. We also purchase additional accommodation in destinations we know our members want to travel to and where we don’t have sufficient exchange accommodation - which in itself is reliant on our members depositing their weeks into our system so that others can book them. As we have to go out and purchase this accommodation, the prices may seem more expensive, however, we are competitive with online and high street agencies. As with all products and services, the cost of providing the holiday, and therefore the cost to our members, will fluctuate.
If we want to use our week next year, and would like to use another one as well, at the same time, do we book it through RCI or the resort?
If I understand this question correctly, all Exchange and RCI Extra Holidays (cash bookings) are booked through RCI. If you’d like to use your own week, and then purchase an extra week as a cash booking - what we call an Extra Holiday - you will find the prices vary, depending on time of year, size of the unit, etc. If you have enough trading power (weeks members) or RCI Points (points members) then you can book another exchange. E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 6 5
We have got trading power but have never booked with it before. Can we use trading power to book more than a week? I’m guessing we can, as long as we have enough trading power.
Yes, you can book as many weeks as you wish with the weeks trading power that has been assigned to you. For example, if your week has a trading power of 20 and you see a unit for a trading power of 5, then you could book four weeks/ units to use up your full trading power if you wished. Keep in mind that an exchange fee is charged per unit, per week.
We would like to sell our timeshare. How do we go about it?
Help At Hand If you have any questions, don’t forget that in just a few clicks you can access our Help Library on RCI.com/weekshelpuk and RCI.com/pointshelpuk where you will find advice about how to use your RCI membership and make sure that you are getting all your membership benefits. You can also join the RCI community to keep up with our latest news by following us on facebook.com/rcieuro and, of course, you can email me via EV@RCI.com If you need any further help just visit RCI.com and use our Live Chat help, or call an RCI Guide on 0845 60 86 380. 6 6 AU T U M N / W I N T E R 2 0 1 8
We don’t buy or sell timeshare and we would recommend that you first approach your resort to see if they can help. I have looked into this for our members and have written a blog on RCI.com - Our Blog - about selling timeshare and all things to be considered when selling. It’s definitely worth a read before you do anything else. Visit rci.com/blog - and search for the article entitled ‘Sell My Timeshare’ in the Timeshare Advice section.
We are getting RCI Points from eXpectations Holidays. Is this company, and the points it is offering, legitimate?
Yes, indeed, eXpectations Holiday members are part of the RCI Points programme. eXpectations members can enjoy all the benefits of RCI membership, and can use their points to put towards lots of exciting holiday options such as cruise holidays, car hire, hotels and a range of other lifestyle offerings.
Get real value out of your timeshare... A world of holiday destinations and experiences comes as standard with RCI. We want to give you more, with great value prices on a range of holiday extras. Guest Certificates Treat your friends and family with the gift of travel Flexibility to extend If you don’t get round to using your deposit or points, increase your travel window for a small fee Holiday Protection Safeguard your trading power or points should you need to cancel your Exchange.
Visit RCI.com to view your membership benefits or call us on 0845 60 86 380.
Standard membership terms apply. Guest certificates can be purchased for £41 online or by calling an RCI Guide. For pricing and details on how to extend your points/deposit and how to book Holiday Protection, visit our Help library at RCI.com/help-uk E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 67
Jet off with an RCI Late Deal From just ÂŁ195 per week Can you travel within 45 days of booking? If so, then take advantage of our discounted RCI Extra Holidays.
Late Deals: No week deposit/exchange or points required. Not all information is applicable to RCI Lite or Club members. Late Deals price applies to selected resorts when booking for travel within 45 days. For full terms and conditions including pricing, please visit rci.com/ev-terms 6 8 AU T U M N / W I N T E R 2 0 1 8
Visit RCI.com or call us on 0845 60 86 111.