P L AY | E AT | S H O P | R E L AX | E X P LO R E
SPIRITS SOAR IN ALPINE AUSTRIA BEYOND THE BRIGHT LIGHTS IN LAS VEGAS
gourmet society 1â€‚SUMMER 2019
RCI Platinum members now enjoy a FREE 12-month gourmet society membership (worth £79.99) giving them access to discounts at over 6,500 restaurants across the UK. Members receive 25% off their total bill, including drinks; 50% off food alone or 2-for-1 meals.
What’s more, as an RCI Platinum member, you also benefit from: Discounted tour and attraction tickets Up to 50% off airport lounge entry FREE luggage tracking pack Travel discounts
Upgrade your membership today and SAVE hundreds of pounds each year. Visit 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 2
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 enjoy travelling further afield on holiday, with increasing numbers of you heading off from the UK to exotic long-haul destinations the world over. Which is why we are taking a look at what India has to offer in our cover story on page 18. Resort developers tell us that their guests are looking for authentic regional experiences, as well as sultry sands and sparkling seas. Holiday experiences don’t come any more authentic than in India. In this issue we peruse some beautiful Goan beaches which benefit from being in close proximity to many cultural treasures, such as night markets, shops selling eclectic trinkets and mangrove-lined creeks. While in the foothills of the Himalayas, the ‘Queen of Hill Stations’ Mussoorie - will transport you to a spiritual and magical land of lush forests, waterfalls, temples and truly traditional villages. I love a fabulous shore - that has a bit more to offer - and on page 48 I share some of my personal favourites in Spain, Greece and Portugal. Like all our holiday ‘hotties’, these destinations are blessed with magnificent landscapes, quite unique to those countries and well worth exploring when you want to get up off your sun lounger and get under the skin of the country you are visiting. The shores of Finnish Lakeland, Hungary and Canada are amazing locations in which to spend a week or two, as you will see on page 54, while on page 34, RCI member, Janine Hemblade, shares her stories of world travel with RCI which are an inspiration to have as much fun as you can while learning about the world. Be sure to make the most of your timeshare ownership by stepping out of your holiday comfort zone to discover a world away from home.
Helen Foster, Editor EV@RCI.com
EDITOR’S PICK: A Worldwide Adventure with RCI page 34
4 SUMMER 2019
Ginny Knight Trevor Lewis Alex Hutchinson HEAD OF MEMBER MARKETING
Shelley Burton PROGRAMME MANAGERS
Sonal Chauhan Rachael Noam CAMPAIGN MANAGERS
Gemma Gregory Leia Unwin Kara Keating MARKETING EXECUTIVES
Rebecca West Sian Waldie Danielle Millar 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 (April 2019). 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 2019. For full terms and conditions see rci.com/ev-terms
2019 CONTENTS F E AT U R E S 18
INSPIRATIONAL INDIA India’s best, from Goa’s glistening shores to Himalayan peaks
30 THE GREEN HEART OF ITALY Uncovering three remarkable destinations in Umbria 34 A WORLDWIDE ADVENTURE WITH RCI RCI exchangers share their exciting world of travel 38 THE VARIETY OF VEGAS The art and history beyond the bright lights 44 HIGH ON A HILL IN THE AUSTRIAN ALPS Summer heaven in Austria 48 SUN SEEKERS’ SENSATIONS Seashores with sand and something more
54 LOVING LAKESIDE LIFE Waterside fun in Hungary, Finland and Canada 60 THE GREAT OUTDOORS IN GRAN CANARIA Enjoy some winter sun in the Canary Islands 64 HAPPY CHILDREN, HAPPY HOLIDAY Family fun in the great outdoors at Landal GreenParks I N E AC H I S S U E 4
6 WELCOME 7 NEWS 8
MORE RESORT CHOICE
10 PREVIOUS COMPETITION WINNERS
HOLIDAY SNAPSHOTS COMPETITION E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 5
Spread your holiday cost
Welcome By now, many of us will be thinking of jetting off on a summer getaway. It’s said that there is no better pickme-up for when you get back from a holiday than to start planning your next one. So in this edition of your magazine we are exploring some great destinations for a perfect winter escape because we all like having something to look forward to. Take Portugal, Spain or Gran Canaria, for example. These are just three of the winter sun destinations featured in this magazine where you can soak up the sun, whatever the time of year. The beautiful beaches in these places are a given. But there are so many activities to enjoy beyond the beach, such as golf on the Algarve; city attractions - old and new - to be found in Málaga and enjoyed even in the winter months; and the charm of the Canarian cobbled streets in Gran Canaria. RCI celebrates its 45th anniversary this year. We are really proud to have been sending our members on holiday for almost half a century. It’s a business we at RCI love being in, but we wouldn’t be here without you, so I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our members for making this milestone birthday possible.
RCI Flexipay is new for you. Have you seen an Extra Holiday you like the look of, but don’t want to pay for it right away? Using the RCI Flexipay payment plan you can book it when you see it - paying just 25% of the holiday cost upfront and then spread the rest of the payments in up to 12 monthly instalments. The last payment must be made 56 days before your departure date. Not only are you spreading the bulk of the payment in more manageable amounts each month, Flexipay is interest free so you will pay no more than the actual cost of the holiday itself. You must have an email address to use the payment plan, and then all you have to do is to call one of our Guides who will set up the plan for you. Check out our holiday deals and set up your Flexipay plan by calling 0845 60 86 380. Full terms & conditions apply. Visit RCI.com/ev-terms
Andy Liggins, Vice President Operations, RCI EMEA
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
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Join your RCI community Check out the new RCI Community Page on RCI.com - it has been built especially for you! This is a place where you can share your own RCI holiday experiences with other members, as well as taking a look at what others are doing. Membersâ€™ RCI exchanges come to life in a gallery of holiday pictures and you can share too! A simple link lets you upload your own RCI Exchange Holiday photographs to our system from where they may be selected to feature on your new Community Page, as well as in other RCI member communications. Your Community Page
will evolve as our members send in, not only photographs, but short holiday video clips too - everybody loves to watch holiday videos! To connect to the RCI online community, you will find links to the RCI Facebook and Instagram pages so you can follow, like and share our posts.
Be inspired Check out Our Blog on RCI.com/blog for great holiday ideas, as well as top tips, from both RCI and our members, advising you how to get the most out of your RCI exchange programme. Because there are almost 200 blogs posted on this page we have introduced a key word search function on the home page to take you straight to the type of information you are really interested in. The blogs are written by RCI members, staff and travel writers - though we really want to share our membersâ€™ own RCI holiday stories and so would love to hear from you with yours. Just send an email with a couple of pictures to EV@rci.com. You can also
Pass it on If you are no longer able to use your timeshare and RCI membership, we have a plan in place to help you pass it on. You can transfer your timeshare to family members or friends, who have probably enjoyed holidaying with you and using it - and they may even take you away on holiday with them so you can still enjoy the comforts of timeshare. You will need to transfer your timeshare deeds
subscribe to the Our Blog Newsletter in just a single click; supply your email address and look forward to receiving your monthly newsletter - free of charge to be sure to catch the latest blogs.
separately from your RCI membership. Once the deeds are transferred, we have made it easy for them to take over your RCI membership too, by giving them discounted fees when they join. The new owners can choose from one, three or five years of membership - simply direct them to RCI.com/mtspx to sign up. Timeshare is a gift which keeps on giving, which means it is worth thinking about passing yours on before all other options. Call an RCI Guide on 0845 60 86 380 for more information. E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 7
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More Resort Choice Each year, the signing up of new resorts to your RCI Holiday Exchange programme is our number one priority because we know that giving you even more choice of destinations and accommodation is what you want from your timeshare ownership, and from us. We are pleased to be able to tell you that RCI brought as many as 172 new resorts into its Holiday Exchange network last year, giving you some fabulous new options for how and where you can holiday. Here are just some of our top picks to give you an idea of the quality and variety of stay experiences we are working to bring to you.
SkiStar Vacation Club Åre Village (DH81) A real Scandinavian mountain experience awaits you in this resort, situated at the heart of Sweden’s historic lakeland town of Åre. Staying here, you are within walking distance of the piste, shops, bars and restaurants everything the lovers of a great ski adventure could want. When the snow melts, the landscape is spectacular and the place is perfect then for cycling, walking, exploring and just loving having time to spend in the great Swedish outdoors. The accommodation comprises one- to three-bedrooms, having a full kitchen, balcony and a sauna, as well as all the home comforts you’d expect.
Domina Borgo degli Ulivi (DL69) Your idyllic Italian holiday starts here in this stylish lakeside resort located on Italy’s Gardone Riviera, benefitting from panoramic views of Lake Garda. The apartments have partial kitchens and furnished balconies or terraces overlooking pretty Italianate gardens. On resort there are two swimming pools and a high level of service, from being able to order fresh bread
8 SUMMER 2019
each morning to booking a relaxing Shiatsu massage for a relaxing end to a day’s walking, cycling or horse riding in the picture-perfect Italian countryside. A new build, the resort is constructed from natural stone and wood which are characteristic of the area and is designed to blend in with the landscape and the traditional villages round about.
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Holiday Club Vierumaki Golf Resort (DH75) Not just a fantastic experience for golf enthusiasts, this resort in the bustling town of Vierumaki in Finland will open your eyes to a country which has a very distinct character. Two 18-hole golf courses and an 11-hole par-3 training course will sharpen your golfing skills, while the tennis courts will give you another way to burn up your holiday energy. There are lots of child-friendly activities on resort too, plus
several dining options, from going formal for a special night out, to a casual buffet. The town is just an hour’s drive from Helsinki airport and, surrounded by the natural beauty of southern Finland, is a great summer getaway and ideal for cross-country skiing in winter. Amidst the country’s splendid wilderness, you might be surprised to find a nightclub, sports bars and a vibrant nightlife in downtown Vierumaki.
Laguna Termal Resort and Spa (DH79) Embraced by the Sea of Marmara and the Aegean on Turkey’s Balikesir Province, this resort offers its guests both healing and history. Situated in Çaygören Dam, the resort is surrounded by lakeland scenery and restorative thermal waters. Turkish Baths, spa, massages and a myriad of wellness treatments make this place perfect for a pamper break. The spacious onebedroom apartments accommodate parties of four, have full kitchens and lake views from their balconies. Children are also catered for in this family-friendly resort. Off resort, guests are free to roam two of Turkey’s largest sandy beaches at Ayvalik, relax in the nearby Degirman Bogazi Nature Park, or explore the many ancient ruins, including Bergama which once served as the ancient Greek and Roman cultural centre of Pergamon. And not forgetting Mount Ida, of course, a site steeped in mythological mystery. E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 9
CO M P E T I T I O N W I N N E R S
Everyone’s A Winner Here at RCI, we love treating our members and finding different ways to say “thank you” for continuing to holiday with us. For those who are long-time readers of Endless Vacation, you’ll know we run a competition in each issue, but there are often other competitions and prize draws throughout the year, featured in our emails, newsletters and on our website, RCI.com Our members have won holidays, prize money, vouchers and lots of other fantastic prizes. We thought we’d put their names in lights to show that members do actually win!
Here are some of our recent lucky winners... Endless Vacation Autumn/Winter 2018
Happy Holiday Moments Picture Competition
Joanna Tansey from Preston was our deserving winner. Her photograph of her daughter, Phoebe, and the swimming pigs in the Bahamas on an RCI Exchange Holiday was the judges’ favourite. Joanna won a 7-night holiday at Domina Zagarella Sicily (D722), in Italy, worth up to £900, PLUS £1,000 holiday spending money.
“I’m absolutely delighted to win this photo competition! RCI has a presence in so many unusual destinations that I’m happy my photo was chosen.” 10 SUMMER 2019
The runners up were George and Lynne Perry from Wales, who won a Kindle Fire HD8, worth £89.99.
“Getting the Kindle as a prize was the icing on the cake after such memorable holidays.”
In third place was Anne-Marie Robbins from Dorset, who won a £50 Amazon voucher.
“I’d just like to say thank you for our Amazon voucher prize!”
Christmas Prize Draw During the Christmas period, we ran a prize draw for members who upgraded to RCI Platinum membership. Three lucky winners whose names came out of the hat won some great prizes:
etwood Jane Fle a n wo EWIS JOHN L
£500 RD GIFT CA
ghes Emiel Huan n wo N AMAZO
£500 RD GIFT CA
e Lewis Lawrenc a n wo BOOTS
“Winning the John Lewis gift card was a big surprise and I was thrilled!”
“What a lovely way to bring back some sunshine in the winter, by winning a prize draw following our upgrade to Platinum membership. We also thought it was epic that the RCI Guide was as excited to give us the news as we were to receive it.”
Bumper Giveaway In October last year, our bumper Points Prize Giveaway saw four members winning a free exchange, their maintenance fees paid for a year, plus free Points Protection.
ATS CONGR OUR TO ALL S! R WINNE
The lucky winning members were: Gloria Tarry, Juhani Kotilainen, Rodney Clempson and Nicholas Daw.
E N T E R O U R N E W CO M P E T I T I O N – S E E OV E R L E A F E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 1 1
CO M P E T I T I O N
Holiday Snapshots HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO WIN ONE OF THREE FABULOUS PRIZES? All you have to do is enter our competition by sending us a photograph of yourself, with your family and friends, having fun on an RCI getaway.
IPAD AIR, 64GB WITH WI-FI, WORTH £479
£1,000 HOLIDAY SPENDING MONEY
AMAZON VOUCHERS WORTH £100
We’d love to hear all about your holiday and for you to share your experiences with your fellow RCI members. Don’t forget to tell us where your picture was taken and send it in... You never know, your story could be featured on Our Blog, or in your next issue of Endless Vacation magazine. Your holiday memories could help inspire other RCI members to book fantastic holidays in places they may never have thought of!
CO M P E T I T I O N
HERE ARE JUST SOME OF OUR MEMBERS ENJOYING THEIR HOLIDAYS WITH RCI... Denise Jowitt: “We are pictured on our second visit to Las Vegas to celebrate my 60th and my son’s 30th birthdays.”
Corwynne Whitehead: “Beautiful Madeira. We stayed at the Pestana Miramar and it was an amazing holiday - thanks RCI!”
Tricia Prout: “We were loving our spring break at the King’s Creek Plantation in Virginia USA.”
TO ENTER: Post to Facebook.com/rcieuro UPLOAD to RCI.com/community 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. WRITE TO The Editor, RCI Europe, Kettering Parkway, Kettering, NN15 6EY, England, UK WHICHEVER WAY YOU CHOOSE TO ENTER, MAKE SURE YOU SUBMIT YOUR PHOTO BY 21 JULY, 2019. 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. Prizes cannot be exchanged for cash or any other alternative.
E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 1 3
Connect With Us Our members are coming together to share, like, love and laugh on our popular RCI Facebook and Instagram pages. You will find links to our social pages on RCI.com, as well as embedded in your RCI email communications and Endless Vacation magazine, so there are plenty of ways to connect with us. There are many routes into this lively online community. RCI Facebook now has over 711,000 fans globally. Its posts being a mix of RCI member memories, stories and holiday photos, RCI competitions, news and special offers, as well as holiday inspiration with highlights of, and links to, the latest Our Blog stories each Wednesday and Friday. Here, it’s all about engagement with other RCI members, who often offer tips and advice on how they booked their holidays with recommendations on where to go and what to do once you’ve arrived. Here are a couple of our top Facebook posts...
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RCI Instagram page now has almost 3,000 followers worldwide. It is packed with pictures of beautiful destinations all over the world to ignite your wanderlust and get you reaching for the pages of RCI.com to book your next getaway. Whether you love sandy shores, cityscapes, or the rolling hills of the countryside, you’ll be adding more destinations to your holiday wish list! You will also find travel quotes to inspire you and links to our latest blog posts twice a week. Share your photos with others who love to travel using the #RCImemories tag. Below are a couple of our most popular Instagram posts.
Because social media is open to everyone out there who is passionate about travel and loves their holidays, you will also ‘meet’ some interesting people outside your RCI community. Visit facebook.com/rcieurope to join the conversation and check out instagram.com/rcieurope to get into the holiday fun. If you want to send us your holiday photos to inspire other members, upload them to our Community Page at RCI.com/community E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 1 5
More for you on RCI.com Holiday planning and booking should be easy and enjoyable. That’s why we have introduced more enhancements to RCI.com which can also be accessed when managing your online RCI account by following the link from the ‘Help’ menu.
Be holiday ready With more than 4,000 resorts to choose from, there are so many amazing destinations where you can spend your time doing all the things you love to do on holiday. Use the ‘Help’ menu to click through to our online Holiday Search to discover the many different destinations where you can ski, play golf, relax on a distant shore, hike in the mountains or explore ancient towns. Insider tips, resorts comparison and search tutorial videos packed with step-by-step guidance to help you find a getaway that ticks all your boxes will ease your RCI holiday discovery and booking journey. Get back to your resort search quickly at a later date by saving your shortlist to Favourites or open an Ongoing Search and let us do the searching for you. For a cocktail of inspiring insights into different destinations, together with useful information such as the year-round weather in the featured destinations, visit our Holiday Ideas section.
Never lose your username again To make it easier for you to sign into your online member account, your RCI.com account username will now appear on your monthly account statements, as well as in most of the emails you receive from us. Just scroll to the end of your email where you will see your username. Rest assured, our security measures ensure that your account and password remain secure.
Print your own member ID card Should you find yourself without your RCI membership ID card - and needing it - all you now need to do is to log into My Account on RCI.com to find directions to print off another one, there and then.
New to RCI or need a refresher? Our new Welcome Centre is packed with useful links and information, all in one place. It will help our new members get the most from their membership, while reminding existing members of all the ways you can get more from timeshare ownership with RCI membership. Don’t miss out...
Here to help you
1. Faster access to our videos, designed to inspire and navigate you through your RCI.com journey, which are now all in one place. See a new video highlighting the many additional RCI member benefits you can enjoy. 2. Extra How To Guides will take you from depositing weeks or extending
your points, through to holiday searching and managing your bookings, in a few simple steps. A new Key Word Search makes your RCI holiday planning even easier by letting you search by typing in a single word. For example, typing in the word ‘holiday’ will turn up links to the content associated with booking an RCI Exchange Holiday. 3. Click through to Offers and Benefits so you don’t miss out on our latest deals and discounts. Because we are looking for new offers all the time, it pays to watch this space!
Let us know what you think... We want to know how RCI works for you, so we can do everything we can to provide you with a great holiday planning experience on RCI.com. Look out for the blue Feedback tab on the right-hand side of every page on RCI.com. Member feedback has fed into some of the enhancements highlighted here, so do let us know what you think because your opinion matters.
The Help Library on RCI.com is where our members go for a little extra guidance. Take a minute to check out recent enhancements designed to make using RCI membership an easier business. Look out for:
Inspirational India India is a country of great diversity. From its glistening shorelines to its highest peaks, the country is a patchwork quilt of the most incredible holiday experiences. We explore two of the best of them in this article. BY N E E L I M A VA L L A N G I
BOHO VIBES: (Clockwise from left) Palolem Beach at sunset. Dream catchers on Arambol Beach. Kayaks in the mangrove-lined creeks of Goa. Colourful and fragrant spices to buy in Anjuna Flea Market.
oa, India’s sunshine state, has long been a paradise for hippie travellers, loving its famed golden-sandy beaches and laid-back vibes. Today’s Goa combines Portuguese-era influences with modern Indian culture and is quite unlike anywhere else in the country. After taking a look at some of the best of Goa’s beaches, we head up to one of India’s highest mountain kingdoms, Mussoorie, known as the ‘Queen of Hill Stations’. Hidden in the Himalayas, the towns up in these mountains will fascinate with their history and mystery.
Gorgeous Goa Blessed with a stretch of stunning coastline peppered with forgotten ramparts, abandoned forts and fringed by villages that still retain their rustic charm, there’s more to the tiny state of Goa than meets the eye. You can get lost in the iconic Latin Quarter of Panjim, kayak in the mangrove-lined creeks or stroll around in Goa’s colourful cultural hotspots, but Goa’s sultry beaches are the real showstoppers here. Even as Goa gets more popular with each passing year, this tiny pocket of paradise E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 1 9
GORGEOUS GOA: (Clockwise from top left) Calangute and Arambol Beaches are typically Goan, while the Maruti Hanuman Temple in Panjim is spiritual India. There are many activities to enjoy, such as parasailing on Baga Beach.
has managed to retain its laid-back charm and rich natural bounty. The beaches are the main draw, however, combined with the state’s natural splendours, including stunning wildlife as well as coastal and evergreen forest landscapes, and its unparalleled cultural legacy, Goa offers an intoxicating escape that is unique to India’s smallest state. Calangute & Baga Beach Flocked to by many holidaymakers, Calangute, known as the ‘Queen of Beaches’, and the adjacent Baga Beach, form the beating heart of 20 SUMMER 2019
Goa’s bustling beach scene. Soak up some sun on the endless loungers or indulge in a variety of water sports, such as parasailing, and jet-skiing. By night, the many food and drink shacks lining the beaches transform them into a shoreline party scene. For those inclined to party hard, the famous Tito’s Lane is the hub of Goa’s celebrated nightlife and is just a short walk from Baga Beach. On Wednesdays, visit the nearby Anjuna Flea Market, a creation of the early hippies that is now a vibrant market for everything, from cheap trinkets to quirky fashion. The Saturday Night Market at Arpora is also a great place for an evening’s
entertainment, packed with energy and an eclectic collection of wares. Arambol Beach After the word got out about north Goa’s dreamy shores, the hippies quietly moved up the coast. Arambol offers a glimpse of the original bohemian spirit, as the locals have helped preserve the authentic Goan culture and village atmosphere. Lush green forest and gentle hills with splendid views border Arambol’s exquisite coast. The long sandy stretch is relatively quiet, often filled with small groups of people joyously singing to the tunes of a banjo or the beat of a drum. True to its image as a burgeoning hippie idyll, many alternative
healing therapy sessions, crystal shops, meditation and yoga retreats can be found here. Away from the beach, explore the colourful Hindu temples of the villages nearby, spend a quiet afternoon under the shade of trees or take a refreshing dip in the fresh waters of Sweet Water Lake. Panjim & Fontainhas Just a short drive from the beaches, Old Goa’s Colonial-era monuments and Fontainhas’ colourful Latin Quarters prove to be a fascinating cultural excursion, both of which are World Heritage sites. So, when you want a change from warm seas and golden sunsets, head to one of the
COLOURFUL CULTURE: (Clockwise from top left) Live music on Arambol Beach. Colourful Portuguese houses in Panjim. Pretty restaurant on the beach. The golden sands of Miramar Beach.
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INDIAË‡S BEST: (Clockwise from top left) Goan cuisine, barracuda fish curry with coconut milk. Mainapi Waterfall on the Salaulim River in Netravali. The secluded Butterfly Beach can only be reached by boat. Sunset on Palolem Beach.
few Latin Quarters in Asia at Fontainhas, sequestered within the capital city of Goa, for an unforgettable date with Portuguese culture. Home to Portuguese colonisers during the 18th and 19th centuries, Fontainhas today is an enticing melange of brightly coloured colonial houses, bougainvillea-adorned narrow lanes, stunning azulejo (blue glazed ceramic tiles using Portuguese traditional patterns), and name plaques that hark back to the Portuguese culture. Classy, historical and striking, Fontainhas is a quiet refuge within the bustling state of Goa where art 22â€‚SUMMER 2019
lovers and history aficionados can spend a contemplative day. Visit one of the many art galleries, go for a guided walking tour through old lanes exploring colonial homes, indulge in a ceramic tile-making activity, or sit down for a quiet evening at one of the many places with live music. From iconic Goan cuisine to modern European fusion fare, the food scene in Panjim is too good to miss. If you find yourself craving a fiery sunset, head down to nearby Miramar Beach which is frequented by the locals, or the more popular Dona Paula Avenue with its
spectacular views of stunning rocky outcrops along the western coast. Palolem Beach The charming palm-fringed Palolem Beach fits somewhere between the extravagance of Baga and the eccentricity of Arambol. While the beaches of north Goa are always bustling and vibrant, south Goan beaches are much more relaxed. With its beautiful bay and shallow waters conducive to long swims, Palolem is the star of the south, striking a good balance between providing adequate amenities and retaining its natural charm. Make this your base to explore pretty but undeveloped beaches nearby. The quiet Patnem Beach is easily accessible on foot from Palolem, while the secluded cove of Butterfly Beach can only be accessed by boat. Thereâ€™s also a good chance of sighting dolphin pods during the boat rides.
When a change of scenery is needed, escape to the waterfalls in the jungles of Netravali or spend a morning bird watching in the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary. Cavelossim & Mobor Beaches With crystal clear waters and a gorgeous white-sand beach, Cavelossim is where you should head when you want to cool down; it is a perfect getaway for swimming in the quiet waters or enjoying light water sports, such as parasailing and windsurfing. Not many beaches today have retained the original charm of laid back, old Goa, but Cavelossim has managed to keep its aura surprisingly intact. With few beach shacks that offer food and drinks, the balance is right for those looking to get away from noise but want minimal comforts. Early morning and late afternoon walks come especially recommended here.
MOUNTAIN VISTAS: (Clockwise from top left) The beautiful pine forests of Uttarakhand. Views of the majestic Himalayas, with the hill town of Landour perched in the mountains. Monkeys are a common sight in Mussoorie.
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A PEACEFUL PLACE: (Clockwise from top left) A misty mountain path in Landour. Sunset in Dharamshala city, perched on the edge of the Himalayas and home to the Dalai Lama. Mussoorie cable car trip. Tibetan Mani Wheels ring out during prayers.
Adjoining Cavelossim, a long and narrow strip of beautiful sandbar flanked by the meandering Sal River on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west, is Mobor Beach. It is quieter than Cavelossim and, having abundant greenery, is perfectly suited for contemplative days. Sunsets from the beach are stunning with fishing boats, coconut groves and striking rock formations. The pristine waters and beach also allow for encounters with thriving marine life, such as sea anemones, urchins, starfish and shellfish. Situated at the end of the beach, across the river, the remnants of Betul Fort, constructed in 1679 and later falling into the hands of the Portuguese, offers a mesmerising view of the Sal River merging into the sea. 24 S U M M E R 2 0 1 9
Mussoorie, the ‘Queen of Hill Stations’ Away from the sand and sea, picture this... A lonely path in the moss-ridden woods where the mist hangs like the silver shine on a full moon night. Tall pine trees disappear into that silvery haze and silence permeates every inch of the sylvan forest, except for pleasant bird song. When the haze of mist lifts, endless layers of mountains mark the horizon, where green hills gracefully give way to snow covered peaks. Welcome to Mussoorie, the Queen of Hill Stations. India may be famously known for its vibrant culture, opulent palaces and timeless traditions, but a little-known secret of this incredibly diverse country is its stunning
mountain scenery. With thousands of miles of Siwaliks (Outer Himalayas), Lesser Himalayas and Great Himalayas, India is blessed with beautiful mountain scenery which offers the perfect antidote to the stress of modern living. Located on a ridge at the foothills of the Himalayas, Mussoorie is at a height of 1,880 metres in the north Indian hill state of Uttarakhand. A popular summer getaway since the British colonial times, the pretty hill station is known today for it’s pleasant weather and nostalgic old-world charm, with its luxurious comforts, colonial attractions and beautiful views of Himalayan peaks. Here are some ways you can enjoy the unending gifts of Mussoorie.
you through opulent mansions, atmospheric churches and public buildings that hark back to the colonial times. One of the most famous hill stations in India, Mussoorie, is packed with interesting sights and activities. For starters, a walk from the bustling Mall Road towards the serene Camel’s Back Road shows you two wildly opposite facets of the hill station – a gradual transformation from the glitzy market area to a secluded corner in the mountains. From the Mall Road, a cable car runs roughly 500 metres above Mussoorie to Gun Hill, a popular viewpoint that offers breathtaking views of Himalayan peaks. Arriving at Gun Hill just before sunset affords splendid views over snow-covered peaks on a clear day.
Hill town delights
Getting high on nature
Chosen as an escape from the heat of the plains, the British settled in Mussoorie in the early 1800s, leaving a distinct Victorian influence on the architecture and culture of the place. Today, a heritage walk will take
Jabarkhet Nature Reserve is a privately owned estate very close to Mussoorie, where dense oak and pine forests play home to a variety of Himalayan fauna, including monkeys, leopards, black bear, martens and
RELAXING RETREATS: (Clockwise from top left) Himalayan rhododendrons in spring. The Himalayan Bluetail is one of the many bird species which have made the mountains home. Mossy Falls are off the beaten track. Sunrise from the peaks of Mussoorie.
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STALLS FOR DAYS: A market in Uttarakhand is the perfect place to pick up a souvenir or some ingredients to try a local recipe.
barking deer. Depending on which season you visit, you can be privy to blooming rhododendrons and over 300 varieties of flowers in spring, a stunning vista of snow covered peaks during the summer, a white wonderland in winter and a dreamy, rainsoaked solitary escape during the monsoon. Whether it is the flora you’re interested in, or you want to take a peek at one of the many camera traps fixed in the jungle, a guided tour with a local expert comes highly recommended. For the more independent and adventurous, maps and trail markers can lead the way. Crisscrossed by several fascinating hiking trails, a day spent in the jungles of Jabarkhet Nature Reserve will rejuvenate every tired muscle in your body in a way that only nature can. One of the best ways to admire the beauty of Mussoorie is on foot. For the intrepid flaneurs who are undaunted by long walks in the hills, there are plenty of other interesting hikes around. Lal Tibba is the highest point of Mussoorie and a popular attraction in the nearby Landour area from where one can see a vast array of several snow-clad Himalayan peaks. Just over four miles from Mussoorie, Cloud’s End is an old private estate housing a 180-year old resort amidst a 400-acre densely forested refuge which is open to visitors for a small fee. From Cloud’s End, a moderate but intriguing three-mile walk through the lush forests of Benog Hill to Jwala Ji Temple 26 SUMMER 2019
will take you through a charming trail where birds and trees will keep you company until you reach the peaceful summit point. Geography buffs can take a detour from Mussoorie to visit the crumbling remains of the former residence of Sir George Everest, the first Surveyor-General of India, who also lent his name to the world’s highest mountain. For the more daring, a short driving distance from Mussoorie, Nag Tibba is a delightful hike to a 3,000m-high mountain where rolling meadows, oak forests carpeted with wild flowers and phenomenal sunrises, as well as sunsets, over the prominent Himalayan peaks can be enjoyed, along with lots of peaceful solitude. Cultural charms Barely three miles from Mussoorie is the sleepy mountain town of Landour where time has stood still since the times of the British. Sequestered within lush green Himalayan cedar and pine forests, Landour was a cantonment area during British rule and still retains colonial influences which are apparent everywhere in the form of atmospheric British cottages to the fascinating stories behind the names of streets and buildings. The alluring mix of nostalgia and nature in Landour, as well as a strict aversion to commercialisation, makes it an enticing escape from the milling crowds of Mussoorie. Whether it is walking aimlessly
HIKING FOR VIEWS: Nag Tibba Trek is a delightful hike with rolling meadows, carpets of wildflowers and beautiful sunrises and sunsets to be enjoyed.
around the forgotten forest paths or losing yourself in the historic churches, cemeteries and cafĂŠs, Landour has magnificent nature and intriguing culture written all over it. Inspiration hangs heavy in the mountain air at Landour, no wonder so many illustrious authors have made it their home over the past few decades. Almost two miles from Mussoorie lies the historic Happy Valley where the Dalai Lama first settled after fleeing Tibet. Later, the Dalai Lama moved on to nearby Dharamshala with his entourage but he left behind a thriving settlement of about 5,000 Tibetan refugees. Today, the place rings with the notes of Mani Wheels (cylindrical Tibetan prayer wheel on a spindle), Buddhist chants and fluttering prayer flags. An oasis of peace within the lofty trees and mountains, Happy Valley is a great place to go looking for some calming spiritual influences. Chasing birds & waterfalls For a place situated high up in the hills, it is only natural that the surroundings are endowed with several cascading waterfalls hidden deep inside gorges and canyons. While Kempty and Bhatta Falls are thronged by hundreds of travellers, there are hidden and offbeat falls, such as Jharipani and Mossy that require some hiking to reach. Your efforts will, however, be rewarded with pristine pools, gorgeous streams and
thundering cascades. At a time where waking up to the sweet chorus of birdsong is becoming increasingly rare in urban areas, Mussoorie offers plenty of opportunities to listen to the harmonious songs of nature. Surrounded by several nature reserves, such as Bird Sanctuary adjoining Rajaji National Park, Jabarkhet Nature Reserve, Benog Wildlife Sanctuary, and other protected areas which encourage the breeding of many Himalayan bird species, you will hear the many different bird songs, especially early in the morning and late evening. A visit will be sure to leave you in awe of the colourful and delicate winged creatures. Find your paradise Even though Mussoorie is one of the most popular hill stations in India, it remains a wonderful destination for a mountain holiday, thanks to its healthy climate and a plethora of escapes deep in the spellbinding hills and forests. Depending on whether you feel like mingling with the crowd or getting away from it all, Mussoorie will charm you into falling in love with its wonderful scenery and mountain life. Enlist the help of a local guide or go off the beaten track on your own, and you will be able to find secrets that will form magical memories for years to come. E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N â€‚ 2 7
STAY WHY NOT TRY ONE OF THESE RESORTS?
GOA & MUSSOORIE
Karma Royal Palms 3594
Karma Royal Monterio 3820
“Excellent resort and service. The staff are very well trained and courteous. Apartments, gardens and the swimming pool are well maintained. Excellent for a family holiday.”
member review: “We felt at home during our stay in
Sterling Karwar C768
Hill Stream Resort DC85
“Nature lovers will definitely love this resort. For people who want to combine their holiday with visiting temples, then this is the place to stay.”
28 SUMMER 2019
the resort, as team members were very friendly, pleasant and helpful. They made us comfortable with their caring attitude to ensure that we enjoyed our stay.”
“Very helpful staff, excellent food and a very peaceful atmosphere. Our studios were spacious and very tastfully decorated.”
Sterling Goa - Bardez D034
Sterling Corbett DC63
member review: “We had a fantastic experience
member review: “The resort is in a quiet location.
PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK (19); ISTOCK (2)
at this resort. All the staff were very warm, cooperative and welcoming. They took very good care of us - a real wow factor. Wonderful service.”
Club Mahindra Binsar Valley
The river is a short, comfortable walk from the resort. The rooms are comfortable, and staff are very welcoming and helpful - food on offer is both buffet and à la carte, which is great.”
Club Mahindra Corbett
member review: “This resort is a paradise for
member review: “Overall the experience of staying
nature lovers. Various tourist attractions, such as Bageshwar, Kausani and Ranikhet, are within a reasonable driving distance. The staff at this resort were very good.”
at Corbett was good. With the location and the surroundings in tune with nature, it was a perfect holiday for us.”
RCI.com For more resort information, and to book. Or see page 6 for contact details.
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The Green Heart of
Prepare for a change of pace when you arrive in the rolling hills and valleys of Italy’s Umbria region. Put the finish line out of the picture and simply click pause, because you will want to take things slowly, as Umbria reveals its many beautiful charms. BY J E A N E T T E PA R K I N
he ‘green heart’ of Italy charms visitors with its wooded peaks, hilltop towns and amber sunsets. Its attractions are subtle, letting the slow burn of love for this region wash over you as you discover the meadows of wildflower carpets, the delicious cheeses and meats unique to Umbria, and castles that have stood for a millennium. Take ‘slow’ Italy at the speed it deserves in these three remarkable destinations. 30 SUMMER 2019
Perugia You have to run your finger a long way down the list of Italy’s biggest cities – past Catania, Padua, Rome and Milan – to find Perugia, the capital of Umbria. The manageable size of this medieval city, which sits on the River Tiber, is a reflection of Umbria itself: easy to get around; peaceful and just as charming as neighbouring Tuscany, but less expensive; and ornately decorated by history and culture.
STAY UMBRIA Domus Volumnia Residence A476 Carpediem Assisi Living Club 3573 Castello Izzalini C649
R CI.com For more resort information, and to book. Or see page 6 for contact details.
TIMELESS UMBRIA: (Clockwise from top left) Perugia town. Fontana Maggiore in the Piazza IV Novembre. Eurochocolate Festival. Local Umbrian vineyard.
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SPELLBOUND BY SPELLO: (Clockwise from top left) Spello from a distance. City Gate and walls. Italian delicacies such as cheese and ham. Beautiful cobbled streets.
Even in summer, you won’t find crowds of visitors in Perugia, and in autumn and spring this university city will feel like it’s yours to explore. Take your time to examine the ancient façades around the Piazza IV Novembre, where the Fontana Maggiore provides a tranquil, trickling soundtrack to your slowly sipped latte. Browse the shops at leisure along the Corso Vannucci before taking a rest in the delightful Giardini Carducci, which sits atop the fortress of Rocca Paolina. Little remains of the original building, though you can take a closer look at its skeleton as you ride the famous underground escalators that connect the lower town with the historic centre. Summer in Perugia is known for its musical feasts, but October claims the delicious schedule of the Eurochocolate Festival, devoted to the city’s production of Baci and Perugina chocolates. Should you miss the sweetest festival in Italy, the museum and chocolate factory of the Perugina Casa del 32 SUMMER 2019
Spello With its neat vineyards, rolling landscapes and cypress-crowned hills, Umbria’s beauty compares easily with that of Tuscany. However, the advantage goes to Umbria when it comes to travelling to and from the region’s tourist areas. For example, just 30 minutes by road from the city of Perugia is the ancient hilltop town of Spello. Of course, we’re bypassing Assisi here, the birthplace of St Francis and a magnet for tourism. That’s exactly what we mean to do, in this unhurried look at Umbria, where Italian tradition, food, customs and daily life tick by without the coach crowds that flock to Assisi’s many attractions. Spello is a walled town with Roman roots and its pace is dictated not by umbrella-wielding guides and tight sightseeing schedules, but by the dawdling ding-dong of church bells and the steady click-clack of knitting needles, as locals spend a productive afternoon in the sun. It isn’t a tourist town, though there’s enough to fill a day in Spello.
PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK (12). ISTOCK (1).
Cioccolato are open year round. As if you needed reminding that Umbria’s culture is wrapped in dramatic countryside, you need only gaze out from hilltop Perugia, across the olive groves and wooded slopes of the region, where your next destination awaits.
DAZZLING ORVIETO: (Clockwise from top) Medieval town of Orvieto sits on a rock like a king on his throne. Cathedral of Orvieto. Understreet caves. Orvieto grapes and wine.
The church of Santa Maria Maggiore houses an absorbing fresco cycle while the streets are made for simply walking, understanding and smiling. If you want more of a hike, the Olive Grove Path runs by Spello on its long, winding and sometimes hilly route between Spoleto and Assisi. While it’s certainly not the fastest or most convenient way to visit Assisi from Spello, it is certainly a bracing adventure into the spellbinding landscapes of this ancient land. Orvieto At just 90 minutes by road from Perugia and Spello and 35 minutes from Ficulle, Orvieto has the power to take your breath before you set foot in the city’s streets. Perched high on an isolated slab of volcanic rock, like a king on his throne, the dramatic setting of ageless Orvieto is a sign of good things to come. From afar, and indeed, up close, the cityscape is dominated by the cathedral. For hundreds of years, the intricate Gothic face of the Duomo has lured dedicated worshippers and travellers through its giant bronze doors and into the cool, lightscattered interior of this religious treasure, where painted angels linger on the ceiling. The quiet off-season period is a great time to give this masterpiece the calm reverence it demands.
The art-laden Palazzi Papali is another attraction worth seeing during a winter visit. Much like every other town and city in Umbria, pleasure stems from the simplest of things, such as strolling after dark in medieval lanes and finding a bar to enjoy a glass of exquisite Orvieto Classico wine. Heating up the cooler months is the Umbria Winter Jazz Festival, which runs in Orvieto from late December into early January. Top global performers and fans of this toe-tapping musical style get to enjoy a series of concerts in some of Orvieto’s most visually stunning venues. These attractions, plus the many walking tours and opportunities to purchase crafts from local artisans, only scratch the surface of Orvieto. Beneath the streets are caves and tunnels that served as escape routes during sieges, or simply a place to keep pigeons! Join a guided tour to delve deep into the rich, story-filled and ever-surprising fabric of this glorious part of Italy. E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 3 3
A Worldwide Adventure With RCI RCI member, Janine Hemblade, and her husband John, bought timeshare at Sunny Coast Resort Club (1201) in Malta 20 years ago, purely so they could become RCI members. Once they caught the exchange bug, they joined the RCI Points programme using another ownership with TradeWinds catamaran cruises. BY JA N I N E H E M B L A D E , R C I M E M B E R 34â€‚SUMMER 2019
ON THE SEAS: (Clockwise from left) Catamaran in the water. Janine and John on board a TradeWinds’ catamaran in the Grenadines. Janine and John at Victoria Harbour, Vancouver Island.
ohn and I exchange every single year and have never been to our home resort. We bought timeshare so we could join RCI to travel all over the world with it, from the US to mainland Europe, and beyond. We live on a boat in Kent, as we have always loved the water and sailing, which for us means our RCI exchanges on the catamarans have been some of our best holidays. TradeWinds is a brilliant way to holiday. The boat is crewed, so you have a Captain and a First Mate who do all the cooking, making it an all-inclusive holiday. The food and service is like a first-class experience at an upmarket resort, with as much to drink and eat as you like. It’s so laid back - all you need to pack are your swimsuits, shorts and flip flops! The great thing about RCI is the flexibility. For our holiday this year we are getting the best of both worlds by exchanging into a resort and going on a catamaran for the second week. We’re visiting the Caribbean island of St Maarten, which we discovered
after visiting it while out on a cruise, and loved it so much we wanted to go back so we can explore the beautiful island properly. We plan to do the same thing in November, only we will be staying in Orlando for a week on an exchange, and then flying to the Bahamas, from where we will take a TradeWinds’ catamaran to cruise for a week. We have had so many amazing exchange experiences with RCI - on dry land too. Vancouver Island, out in the northeastern Pacific Ocean, was another RCI exchange that stands out for us. The scenery there is idyllic, we found so many wonderful parks and gardens to wander around and explore. Victoria Harbour is known as one of the most beautiful harbours in the world, and it really is spectacular. From there, you can take a boat out on whale-watching trips where you will spot a number of marine animals and sea birds. For wildlife lovers, you’re never far away from a beautiful animal, so make sure you take a camera so you don’t miss anything! E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 3 5
We holiday a lot in America as a family, but we love Orlando the most. Although my daughter, Laura, is now 32, and my niece, Emily, is 26, we all still go to Orlando together. Laura and Emily head straight off to the Walt Disney World and Universal Studios parks, but John and I enjoy shopping, sunbathing, and visiting Wild Florida, which is a small park just outside Orlando with a zoo where you can have one-to-one encounters with the animals. There are some unusual creatures there and I actually got to hold a sloth, which was an incredible experience! We love Wild Florida because it is so quiet and laid back, in contrast to the busy theme parks. I recently took five of us out to Orlando on a girls’ holiday for lots of fun in the sun. As well as myself, Laura and Emily, two of my best friends, Donna and Anne came too. We had such a great time together, and we
had such comfortable accommodation using our timeshare. We try to make the most of our timeshare weeks, as family holidays are really important to us. We are planners, so we always deposit as soon as we can and start to plan our RCI Exchange Holidays a year in advance to get the best possible resorts, in the destinations we really want. In all the years we have been travelling with RCI, we have never had a bad experience with our accommodation or destination, they have all been exceptional. We definitely prefer being in an apartment, rather than a hotel - it’s just much easier and a more comfortable experience. You can please yourself when you get up, and take your time about starting the day; you can cook in your resort or choose to go out to a restaurant for dinner, the options are endless. It is such a relaxing way to holiday.
UNIQUE EXPERIENCES: (Clockwise from top left) Meeting sloths in Wild Florida. Playful porcupines at Wild Florida. Victoria Harbour, Vancouver Island.
36 SUMMER 2019
Share your love of holidays and earn £50!* Do you have a friend you’d like to recommend to RCI? With over 4,000 resorts worldwide signed up to our exchange programme, your friends may already own timeshare at an eligible resort but are currently missing out on the benefits RCI membership can bring.
How often have you said to your friends:
“You’d have just loved it!”?
Simply visit RCI.com/friend and we’ll put £50 on both your accounts* *Terms and conditions apply. See RCI.com/ev-terms for more details. E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 37
From taking in the art scene to digging deep into the cityâ€™s history, there is much more to Las Vegas than its famous bright lights. RCI member, Sharon Spriggs, shares her own Vegas holiday highlights. BY A N D R E A B E N N E T T
BEYOND THE CASINOS: (Clockwise from top left) Crystals at CityCenter. Henry Moore’s Reclining Connected Forms at the Crystals. Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas. Bamboo Pool at The Cosmopolitan.
t is not a new idea that you might visit Las Vegas just to see the shows, eat in celebrity-dining hot spots and shop, rather than gamble. Below are some of the best things to do beyond the casinos. See some art The casino hotels on The Strip have invested in important public art. Treat yourself to a self-guided gallery tour of Crystals, a Daniel Libeskind-designed space at CityCenter where you can see pieces by Claes Oldenburg, Jenny Holzer and Henry Moore, to name just a few. But one of Crystal’s best secrets may be Akhob, an unmarked permanent installation in Louis Vuitton Maison by light artist James Turrell. Visitors sit in a light-filled room that is one of the most meditative sanctuaries on The Strip. Reserve in advance for a free visit. One of the most unexpected fine-art collections is in the Frank Gehry-designed
Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. Behind its silver façade you’ll find LA artist Peter Alexander’s massive glass-shards pyramid sculpture, Sugar. Inside the hospital itself, a contemporary gallery sells pieces of art for the benefit of both artist and hospital as part of the clinic’s art programme to use art to enrich and inspire the lives of its patients, visitors and staff, as well as the wider community. Live by the pool Lying by the pool is hardly lounging these days, with the many poolside activities. The Boulevard Pool at the Cosmopolitan springs to life at twilight, when ‘dive-in’ movies play on the 19-metre marquee, and concerts are held featuring live bands playing an unusual mix of music. At Encore at Wynn Las Vegas, the adultsonly Encore Beach Club is high-end glamour, though the crowd that flocks to the pool E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 3 9
A FOODIE’S DREAM: (Clockwise from top left) Le Cirque, the Bellagio Hotel’s colourful dining experience. Carson Kitchen, where the food is rock ‘n’ roll. Traditional dim sum. P. F. Chang’s Bistro serves up dishes that are freshly made each day.
depends on the event. Pay for one of the 26 cabanas, outfitted with flat-screen TVs and refrigerators, to be private. On the eighth floor of the Waldorf Astoria, formerly known as the Mandarin Oriental, anyone can gain entry to the spa-like pool scene for the price of a cabana rental (price varies, but includes mini-smoothies, frozen fruit and a flat screen TV). Go old school The Mob Museum will take you back in time to the days of the city’s organised crime lords. Among its showpieces is a piece of the bullet-ridden wall from the St Valentine’s Day Massacre. Fans of the atomic age won’t want to miss the National Atomic Testing Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate that brings to life the goings-on at the Nevada Test Site, 104 kilometres out of town. You can join a theatre presentation that simulates what it was like to watch an atomic explosion, complete with shaking seats. 40 SUMMER 2019
Eat up If you want to start with a fine dining experience, then head for Le Cirque in the Bellagio Hotel. It boasts a Forbes five-star rating and serves exquisite French cuisine created by restaurateur, Sirio Maccioni. The dining room is a rainbow of colour and the service is very attentive. There are many Chinese restaurants in Vegas’s Chinatown, and a few more on The Strip. With a farm to wok philosophy, P.F. Chang’s serves dishes freshly made every day at prices that are easy on the holiday budget. Its culturally-inspired dishes include Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine. If you have a taste for something more trendy than traditional, you should head off to the 60-seat Carson Kitchen by the rock ‘n’ roll chef, Kerry Simon. Celebs and rock royalty flock here for crispy fried chicken skins with smoked honey (nothing costs more than $20). You may have to wait for a seat, but you’ll be happy you did.
An RCI Member Shares RCI member Sharon Spriggs took her mum on a Stateside holiday for her 80th birthday to the bright lights and blue skies of Las Vegas. RCI has a wide selection of resorts to choose from in Las Vegas, many on or near The Strip, and we stayed at The Grandview at Las Vegas (6923). My husband and I first stayed there over a decade ago, and both my son and daughter, with their respective partners, have also stayed there more recently using RCI Guest Certificates, and were very impressed. On arrival I couldn’t believe how much the resort had expanded since my last visit. I was a little concerned the expansion might be to the complex’s detriment but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The staff at check-in were fabulous. When I asked if we could
have an apartment close to the reception because mum had a heavy suitcase that she couldn’t pull far, they arranged for a buggy to pick us up at reception and drop us off at our apartment and told us to call anytime if we wanted a lift. The complex itself was spotless, and every member of staff we encountered was polite and friendly. The two-bedroom adjoining apartment itself was just wonderful. Mum is an early-tobed and early-to-rise person, I’m the exact
LAS VEGAS LANDMARKS: (Clockwise from top left) Grandview at Las Vegas (6923) is a favourite with the Spriggs family. The big Vegas holiday highlights not to be missed are the Grand Canyon Skywalk, the Hoover Dam and Caesars Palace.
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THE FAMOUS FOUR: (Clockwise from top left) The Venetian. The Bellagio. New York-New York Hotel & Casino. MGM Grand.
opposite so having our own space was perfect. It was airy and spacious, and we couldn’t have asked for anything better. Adjacent to the resort, is the Southpoint Hotel Casino and Spa that has pretty much everything you’ll need, such as several restaurants, a spa, cinema complex, theatre, casino, and so much more. Right outside is a bus stop that takes you all the way to The Strip, and for just £10 for an all-day ticket, it was a bargain and saved us a fortune in taxi fares. The staff at Grandview at Las Vegas were also great for organising excursions, 42 SUMMER 2019
with everything from tickets to the hottest shows, to trips to the local outlet malls and Grand Canyon tours. And, of course, you can’t go to Las Vegas without visiting the Grand Canyon. There aren’t enough superlatives to describe the grandeur of this magnificent natural wonder of nature so I won’t try, but what I will say is don’t miss it off your itinerary and on the way, stop at the Hoover Dam which is equally spectacular. Even if you aren’t into the whole gambling scene there is so much to see and do in Las Vegas, as each hotel is like a little town in which you could spend
PHOTOS: MANDARIN ORIENTAL (1), LE CIRQUE, BELLAGIO HOTEL (1), CHRIS WESSLING - CARSON KITCHEN (1), SHUTTERSTOCK (12). RCI (1).
several hours exploring. The magnificence of Caesars Palace is breathtaking with its huge sculptures and statues of Roman gods and mythical creatures, and the beauty and elegance of The Venetian was a definite highlight of our visit. The replica Bridge of Sighs and the brilliant blue of the river that snakes through the hotel, where you can even have a gondola ride, is amazing. Our favourite however was The Bellagio. The Bellagio is, of course, renowned for the huge fountains at the front of the hotel and the fantastic light and water show set to music that takes place every 15 minutes. What’s not so well known are the exhibitions it has throughout the year and while we were there, there was a Japanese Gardens exhibition which was spectacularly colourful and held a particular resonance for us, as we have family in Japan.
Las Vegas is also famous for its extravagant shows but there are many shows and concerts on that aren’t going to break the bank. Many hotels have small theatres which host an array of performances and so we opted to see some of those, rather than blow our whole budget seeing one show with a big name. We went to a comedy night at the New York-New York Hotel & Casino and a tribute act night at the MGM Grand, although the most memorable and enjoyable for us was at The Flamingo, Las Vegas. It was our last night and we had tickets to see Menopause The Musical, which was hilarious and certainly rounded off our holiday nicely. We found seven days was just right to see all the highlights, although there was plenty to see and do if we’d wanted to stay longer!
STAY LAS VEGAS
HGV Club On Paradise 5426
Bluegreen Club 36 A851
Club De Soleil C616
“The suites were very clean and well maintained, with plenty of amenities and the pool was great. I would highly suggest this resort for families or couples.”
“Close enough to The Strip that you could get there in minutes, but far enough that you’re not in the heart of the hustle and bustle. Shuttle service to The Strip was very convenient!”
“Excellent resort and location in Vegas! Check-in was simple, staff were always prompt with any requests. Great job by everyone and we had a great holiday.”
Protect Your Holiday!
Our holiday protection products give you peace of mind because they safeguard your RCI Exchange Holiday. If you need to cancel, we will refund your trading power or points used, so you can put them towards a future booking.
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 4 3
High on a Hill in the
Austrian Alps BY K E R RY C H R I S T I A N I
Nature pulls out all the stops in the Austrian Alps, and nowhere more so than in Salzburgerland in the summer. Whether you’re skipping Maria-style down a meadow, walking along a mountain-ridge trail to the backbeat of cowbells, marvelling at the world’s largest ice caves or clipping on a karabiner to shimmy up limestone peaks, the views send spirits soaring.
he best way to get a perspective on a city is from a mountaintop. And the views of Salzburg from the 1,084 metre-Untersberg, part of the range of limestone peaks between Austria and Germany in the Berchtesgaden Alps, are spectacular. Reached by cable car, the summit is a short detour from central Salzburg yet feels truly Alpine, with hiking trails fanning out in all directions and paragliders wheeling overhead. It’s particularly alluring on a summer’s day when the wildflowers are in bloom, and a walk is followed by a Brettljause or snack platter at a mountain hut.
High on a hill From Untersberg, Salzburg opens up like a pop-up book. Topped with a 900-yearold fortress, Festung Hohensalzburg, and divided by the turquoise Salzach River with the Austrian Alps as a backdrop, the city is stunning. In summer the web of medieval lanes and stately baroque squares that form the UNESCO World Heritage historic centre are a delight to browse. For a sing-as-you-cycle tour of The Sound of Music film locations, hook onto Fräulein Maria’s bicycle tours. Or get a dress-circle view of this city of domes and spires from the Festungsgasse Balcony trail linking
THE GREAT OUTDOORS: (Clockwise from left) View over Zell am See. A Brettljause board. Untersburg, with Salzburg in the distance.
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Nonnberg Abbey to the fortress. Warm evenings are best spent sipping a cold beer at the monastery-run Augustiner Bräustüben, where folk have been lifting ceramic steins below the chestnut trees in the 1000-seat Biergarten since 1621. Heading out of town, the riverside Salzbeach is where urban meets the outdoors, with activities from canoe polo to open-air cinema nights. A short ride on bus 25 to Hellbrunn takes you to the lavish summer palace built for Prince-Archbishop Markus Sittikus in the early 17th century. The highlight is the Wasserspiele, or trick fountains. Be prepared to get a good soaking as you wander around grottoes and mock Roman theatres. More dramatic medieval castles greet you at Werfen, a 40-minute train ride south of Salzburg. Werfen is also chilled by the world’s largest accessible ice cave, Eisriesenwelt. Cable cars and walking trails lead you to the cave-pitted limestone peaks of the Tennengebirge Mountains. Stepping into these caves is like entering a deep freeze, but it’s worth it to glimpse the majestic and theatrically-lit stalagmites and stalactites, natural formations which rise as high as houses, or fall magically from above. These glistening giant obelisks have been shaped by meltwater over the course of 100 million years. Werfen is also ideal for hiking using the ferrate or fixed rope trails. For views that will make you want to yodel out loud, walk the interactive Sound of Music Trail which starts on Markt in the village centre and heads up to Gschwandtanger Meadow, where Maria taught the Von Trapp children to sing ‘Do-Re-Mi’. Train travel in the Austrian Alps is a joy. Edging south of Salzburg by rail brings you to the broad Gastein Valley. At the head of it is Bad Gastein, a hilly spa town, with an impressive waterfall and art nouveau villas lending it an air of old-fashioned romance. In the 1800s, this was the much-loved retreat of the likes of Strauss and Schubert, who adored its clean air and miracleworking waters, said to cure ailments from 46 SUMMER 2019
rheumatism to respiratory complaints. While it’s tempting to spend all your time lounging in the Felsentherme thermal baths, the mountains beckon. A cable car swings up to Stubnerkogel, where Europe’s highest suspension bridge loops 2,300m above the valley. From here you can view the perennially glacier-capped Hohe Tauern range, which tops out with the Grossglockner peak at 3,798m. More than mountains Close to these mighty mountains is the sophisticated lake town of Zell am See. Summer activities range from swimming in the bright-blue lake and stand-up paddle boarding, to white-water rafting, paragliding, high-level hiking in the Alps, or even summer skiing on the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier. Top billing goes to one of Europe’s most phenomenal road trips, the 48-kilometre Grossglockner Road. Swinging around 36 switchbacks, this helter-skelter of a road takes you deep into the Hohe Tauern National Park, revealing peaks, glaciers, thundering waterfalls and jewel-coloured lakes on almost every hairpin bend. Austria is truly one of the prettiest holiday destinations. In summer, the startling colours that paint the Alpine scenery, combined with the fresh mountain air and fairy tale villages sprinkled around the valleys, make for both a magical and memorable holiday.
STAY WHY NOT TRY ONE OF THESE RESORTS? Hotel Interstar C395 Alpenland Sporthotel Maria Alm C923 St. Johann Alpenland Resort C922
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DRAMATIC BACKDROPS: (Clockwise from top left) Hohenwerfen Castle, Werfen. Waterfall in Bad Gastein. The Stubnerkogel Suspension Bridge. View from the mouth of Eisriesenwelt. Grossglockner peak. A grotto at Wasserspiele.
Sun Seekers’ Sensations
lthough my heart sings when I find a perfect sun-soaked beach where I can spread my towel and lose myself in the murmuring music of the waves and the pages of a good book, I need that proximity to lots of other interesting places I can explore when the time is right to turn a page of my own holiday story. The Algarve, Portugal A highlight of the Algarve, for me, are the golden rock formations rising out of the bluest of seas at Ponta da Piedade. These magnificent limestone pillars and arches have been sculpted by the crashing winter seas and they give this coast, just two miles south of Lagos, a distinctive beauty. This wild headland is more cultivated for tourists than it first appears. Boardwalks and steps weave along the cliff tops and down into the hidden sandy grottos, allowing you to take in 48 SUMMER 2019
the views along the coast, or by looking up from below, dwarfed by the towering cliffs. With a coast as spectacular as this, a boat tour to view the rock formations and secret beaches from a totally different perspective is a must. The locals who work the boats welcome you aboard with a genuine warmth you’ll find everywhere on the Algarve, while drifting around the rocky arches and outcrops transports you to a surreal watery world; one you will always remember. A bonus is the delightful café and restaurant by the car park at the cliffs where you can get your breath back over a tasty lunch and refreshing drink. You don’t need to work as hard to enjoy the delights of the intimate Praia de Carvoeiro in the Lagoa region. This small beach is sheltered between two rocky headlands and surrounded by pretty fishermen’s cottages, many of which have been transformed into classy little restaurants and lively bars, ideal
W H I L E I LOV E T H E F E E L O F H OT S A N D B E T W E E N M Y TO E S A N D T H E S O U N D O F T H E S E A WA S H I N G OV E R M E , A B E AC H A LO N E I S N ’ T E N O U G H . M Y S H O R E S H AV E TO B E F R I N G E D W I T H I N T E R E S T I N G S H O P S , I CO N I C L A N D M A R K S , A N D B E W I T H I N E A SY R E AC H O F P L AC E S T H AT A R E O OZ I N G W I T H C H A R AC T E R . BY H E L E N F O S T E R
SUN, SEA AND SAND: (Clockwise from top) The sheltered sands of Praia de Carvoeiro. Ponta da Piedade Cliffs are a real landmark.
retreats from the heat of the midday sun. The sands are picture-perfect golden and the sea here isn’t tidal, so great for families. It is also a really short stroll from some of the best holiday shopping you’ll find anywhere. Carvoeiro’s tree-lined boulevards afford a cooling shade while you meander the elegant boutiques and select your fine dining venue for the evening. There are so many beaches to choose from on the Algarve. For example, Alvor Beach is the longest stretch of sand with a boardwalk taking strollers through the Ria de Alvor Nature Reserve with ease, while Praia de Benagil benefits from being close to the iconic Benagil Caves. Being every bit as stunning as its sister beaches, it is buzzing with boat trips taking tourists into the caves, and returning with the thrill of the boats being driven at speed from the sea straight up, high onto the sands - it felt very James Bond!
Málaga, Spain Being a city girl, I don’t like to be too far away from the buzzing hub of civilisation, even on holiday. Málaga, the capital of the Costa del Sol, boasts as many as 20 beaches within easy reach of its city parameter. Playa de La Malagueta, a manmade crescent of yellow sand, is just a 10-minute walk from the lively Promenade of Pablo Ruiz Picasso, which will take you past a host of restaurants, bars, shops E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 4 9
and other activities, where you can sample a little Malagueño culture and cuisine as you go. The 3,000-year-old city port is still evolving today and the Paseo del Muelle Dos, opened in 2011, is a snazzy shopping wonderland and home to Jose Carlos Garcia’s restaurant, the only Michelin-starred restaurant in the city. If this is too pricey for your holiday budget, there are lots of other eateries to suit all tastes and purses. So much in this beautiful city is free, and the Palmeral de las Sorpresas, or Palm Garden of Surprises is a stunning waterfront promenade with children’s playgrounds and activities, endless gardens housing 420 palm trees and 7,400 tropical plants, water features and more. This sleek new addition to the city’s attractions is very different from the ancient favourites, such as the Moorish Alcazaba and Gibralfaro Castle with its neighbouring Roman Theatre, but there are few better places to while away the hours while the sun shines or sets.
SPECTACULAR SCENERY: (Clockwise from top) View from Gibralfaro Castle. White houses of Estepona. Playa de La Malagueta.
Just over an hour’s drive or bus journey from Málaga is Estepona. This exquisitely pretty town nestles behind a stunning beach with its 2.5 miles of wide sands snaking from the port, past the town and beyond. You will find some of the best fresh fish dishes served in the elegant restaurants and traditional chiringuitos along Estepona’s promenade. Often passed over for its glitzier neighbours, you will have a lot more room to spread out on the beaches here, even on the town’s main beach, Playa Rada, which backs onto the promenade. The Old Quarter here isn’t just a step back in time, it is an explosion of invigorating colour, where the bright white walls of the houses are the perfect canvas for the profusion of coloured planters and cascading blooms which adorn the tiny lanes. The town’s plazas are also completely charming places to take some time out to enjoy a tasty Spanish tapas treat sitting on a terrace fringed by orange trees.
Crete, Greece It was a yearning to visit Spinalonga, an island off Elounda in northeastern Crete, that kicked off one of my best holidays ever. Victoria Hislop’s novel, The Island, tells a fictional story of a leper who was sent out to Spinalonga - Europe’s last active leper colony from 1903 to 1957. The lepers have gone but I was moved to be following in their footsteps through the houses, shopping street and church - all there, as described in the book. The ferry over to the island takes about 15 minutes from Elounda and costs around €10. The beaches on Elounda are pretty shingle suntraps and not overly populated. Elounda is a busy little town, complete with a picturesque clock tower and some spectacular seafront eateries. You can’t help but love the way multi-generational families come out to dine together, and how the smallest, noisiest members of the group are made so very welcome by the waiters, waitresses and
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maître d’s. I don’t think I have ever visited a more child-friendly destination; it was wonderful to see everyone so happy and relaxed as they dined out together. Crete is a great place for waterborne exploration. If it is a fabulous, sizzling beach you want, then head for the beautiful seafront town of Ierapetra in southeastern Crete - it is an easy place to drive around - and hop on a ferry to Chrissi Island. Just 25 minutes later you will be in an island paradise of just 17 square miles of the best sand and sea you’ll see anywhere. The only shade is beneath the grassy parasols by the sun loungers, so take some light cotton cover up clothes, as well as your sun screen. Thankfully, there are small beach shacks selling cooling drinks and snacks. Don’t forget that a dip in the azure waters here is a wonderfully refreshing experience.
CRETAN DELIGHTS: (Clockwise from top) Lassithi Plateau Café. Elounda Harbour. Spinalonga Island ruins.
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Back in your rental car, a drive up, and down into the forgotten rural world of the Lassithi Plateau proves a memorable adventure. The area is famed for windmills and Dikteon Andron, the cave where Zeus was born and for which you will need sturdy shoes to tackle the slippery steps. The real pleasure is to take your lunch under the shade of the vines at a tiny café - that serves as the village shop, bar, and community centre - with the local farmers. Communicating largely by using mime, you can spend a couple of fun hours ‘talking’ with the laid-back and lovely people who live here, grow the food you are eating, brew the wine you are drinking and are openly amused by your fascination with their ancient tractors and farming tools! Did I mention the truly breathtaking views? They come as standard in this destination.
Clube Albufeira Resort Algarve 2414 member review:
“Great place with easy access to the Old Town, beach, markets, restaurants and the main bus station, from where you can catch a bus to Lisbon - a ‘must visit’ place.”
Hotel Ap. Vila Galè Atlantico 2172 member review:
“Great resort. Used it as our base and visited many beaches, wineries and towns on the Algarve. This resort has an excellent location close to the beach, and our apartment was very comfortable.”
Crown Resorts at Club Marbella 2404 member review:
“This resort is wonderfully compact, great for a family stay or a holiday with friends. This is a good base from which to explore the area, all you need is a car to visit the many tourist spots nearby. Strongly recommended.”
Sunset Beach Club 1469 member review:
“Ideal for a ‘crash out in the sun’ break, having so many amenities on site and being close to the sea. A supermarket and bus stop are nearby, with frequent services to Benalmádena, Málaga, Fuengirola and Marbella.”
PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK (6), HELEN FOSTER (2).
Nostos Village Mandatory Halfboard RA12 member review:
“Deep blue waters, pale blue skies and beautiful stone paths are only the beginning of your holiday at Nostos Village. Take a dip in an outdoor pool that offers striking views of the Gulf of Skiathos.”
Villea Village 5895 member review:
“The staff go above and beyond to make you feel special. The pool bar serves excellent local dishes, all freshly prepared and delicious, while the area itself is stunning.”
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 5 3
Loving Lakeside Life BY D O N N A DA I L E Y
When it comes to summer holidays, many people tend to head for the seaside. But a lakeside destination can offer all the sand and spade fun of a beach resort, along with a diversity of wonderful scenery, outdoor activities and natural living experiences. There are lakes for sailors, lakes for wine lovers, lakes for mountain junkies and more. These are three of my favourite lakeside destinations in Europe and North America.
Hungary, Lake Balaton The largest lake in Central Europe, Lake Balaton is often called the Hungarian Sea. If you stand on a high point along the shore, looking out across the milky waters to the flat-topped volcanic hills beyond, there’s an open, expansive quality to this popular holiday spot that is indeed reminiscent of the coast. Measuring some 48 miles long and up to 10 miles across, Lake Balaton offers plenty of places to cool off during Hungary’s long, hot summers. The water temperature averages 25°C from June through to August, perfect for lounging in the lake for hours on end. Shallow waters make the southern shore ideal for small children. Some resorts here have artificial sand beaches, and there are paddle boats, playgrounds and other activities that cater for families. In north-side resorts, the lake is fringed with grassy banks for sunbathing, or rock beaches with steps leading down to the water. The deeper waters of the northern side are a delight for sailing, windsurfing and kitesurfing. Since there are no motorised sports on the lake, the waters
are peaceful and wake-free. You can hire a sailboat or charter a yacht with a skipper from marinas in the larger resorts. Or take a lake cruise from the port at Siófok. Each July, Lake Balaton hosts Europe’s largest regatta. The Kékszalag (Blue Ribbon) Erste World Grand Prix is a grand spectacle with hundreds of sailboats racing the 96-mile course around the lake. A traffic-free, dedicated cycle path encircles most of the lake, offering beautiful vistas from many vantage points along the way. You can rent bikes in the resorts. If you prefer two feet over two wheels, you’ll find good hiking trails through varied landscapes in the huge Balaton Uplands National Park. For sightseeing, visit the Festetics Palace in Keszthely, a sprawling Baroque pile with many treasures in its ornate rooms. Nearby Hévíz, which is set around a large thermal lake, is the place to go for lovely spa treatments using the mineral-rich hot springs and therapeutic mud. Historic Tihany, set on a peninsula surrounded by lavender fields, is a good place for pottering about. Its landmark, twin-towered Benedictine Abbey has superb views over the lake. LOVELY LAKES: (Clockwise from left) The turquoise sea of Lake Balaton is best viewed from the Benedictine Abbey. The grounds of the Festetics Palace.
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FABULOUS FINNISH LAKELAND: Sunset over a pier in rural Finland.
Finland, Finnish Lakeland Finland is known as the land of a thousand lakes, but actually there are over 100 times that many. The majority are located in Finnish Lakeland, a vast region that stretches for hundreds of miles across the eastern and central part of the country. This is prime canoeing and kayaking country. The lakes are as diverse as paint splatters, with irregular, twisting shorelines and meandering inlets. Many open stretches of water narrow to rivers and canals that connect them to adjacent lakes. Some lakes are peppered with small wooded islands. It all adds up to a spectacular blue labyrinth of lakes and archipelagos to explore. If you don’t want to row your own boat, there are boat tours and steamship cruises on some of 56 SUMMER 2019
the bigger lakes. Many towns and cities here are built on a lakeshore, a peninsula, or even on an isthmus. Tampere is squeezed between lakes Näsijärvi and Pyhäjärvi, which are connected by the Tammerkoski Rapids. Their hydropower made Tampere an industrial centre in the 19th century, when it was known as the Manchester of Finland. Today Finland’s second city is more happily called the sauna capital of the world, boasting over 30 public saunas. This great Finnish pastime is not only relaxing, but also has potential health benefits. And the friendly, communal nature of the country’s sauna culture makes this a great way to meet people. Rajaportin Sauna, built in 1906, is the oldest public sauna in Finland still in use.
STAY FINLAND Holiday Club Katinkulta 2247
HUNGARY Club Dobogomajor 4193
CANADA Club Cranberry 6149
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PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK (6).
Or see page 6 for contact details.
A wood-fired stove, fed with metre-long logs, heats the massive stones in this quaint little place, giving you a truly traditional sauna experience. If you’re brave, you can graduate to the more invigorating combination of alternating a hot steam with an icy plunge in the lake. Kaupinoja or Rauhaniemi Saunas are good places to give it a try. With its compact centre, Tampere offers relaxing sightseeing strolls. Visit Tampere Cathedral, with its striking frescoes by Finnish symbolist painter Hugo Simberg. Tampere Market Hall is a wonderful place to try the local speciality, mustamakkara, a type of black (blood) sausage that is typically eaten with lingonberry jam. For dessert, head for the café at the top of the nearby
Pyynikki observation tower, where you can sample another local favourite, the Pyynikki doughnut, along with a fabulous view over the lake. For activity holidays, Finnish Lakeland has plenty of options. Resorts, such as Vierumäki, have golf courses, tennis and other leisure sports, along with outdoor activities, including swimming, fishing and hiking. Wherever you go in summer, you’ll have plenty of time to indulge in your favourite activities. This is in the land of the midnight sun, and here it never sets in June and July. As the water warms up, it’s the perfect time for a midnight swim, a round of golf, or simply relaxing in the tranquil beauty of the Finnish Lakeland during the long ‘white nights’. E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 57
Canada, Alta Lake Lakeside lovers have the best of both worlds in Canada. Set high in the Coast Mountains, 78 miles north of Vancouver, Whistler Blackcomb is the biggest ski resort in North America. Beneath its magnificent snowcapped peaks is a summer paradise of crisp, cool forests and sparkling, turquoise mountain lakes. The biggest of these is Alta Lake, on the outskirts of Whistler Village, the charming chalet-style town at the heart of the resort. Running over a mile north to south, it has three swimming beaches along its shores. Rainbow Park is a favourite with families. It has a big sandy beach and shallow waters. Alongside the lake is a large, grassy park with barbecues and picnic tables, perfect for family gatherings. You can join a friendly game on the beach volleyball courts, or rent a canoe or kayak to paddle out for some blissful solitude on the tranquil waters. Thereâ€™s another sandy beach at Lakeside Park. Here there is a play area for children along with picnic tables, barbecues and soft grass, where you can spread a blanket and relax. You can rent paddleboards and other equipment for fun on the water, as well 58â€‚SUMMER 2019
MOUNTAIN SHORES: (Clockwise from left) View of Alta Lake. Fitzsimmons Creek, Whistler. Canoeing on the lake. Alta Lake is a short walk from Whistler Village along the Valley Trail.
as canoes and kayaks. Similar facilities are available at Wayside Park, the smallest beach area on the lake. The beaches of Alta Lake are just a short distance from Whistler Village along the Valley Trail. This splendid trail network stretches over 25 miles to connect Whistler’s neighbourhoods and recreation areas, providing an easy, safe and scenic place to enjoy cycling, skateboarding, running and walking. Whether you’re strolling with your camera or enjoying a leisurely bike ride, you’ll have fabulous views of the lake and mountains from several viewpoints. The trail will also take you to more secluded parks that cannot be reached by car. Alta Lake Park has two fine fishing piers that are great for lounging in the sun or diving off for a swim, especially in the morning sunlight. North of the park, catch the Rainbow Trail for an easy hike to Rainbow Falls, or take a longer, more strenuous
trek, high into the mountains to Rainbow Lake. Another hidden gem is the delightfully named Blueberry Park, on the northeastern shores of Alta Lake. There are three west-facing piers, where you can bask in the sun and the wilderness atmosphere. Hiking trails here take you into deep forest and emerge at splendid viewpoints over the lake. The most dramatic way to soak up the scenery is to ride the Peak 2 Peak Gondola between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, for unforgettable views of British Columbia’s icy glaciers, volcanic peaks and coastal rainforests. Or take a float-plane excursion for glacier sightseeing. There are all kinds of outdoor activities around Alta Lake, from fly fishing to whitewater rafting, and even bear-spotting tours. But you might just choose a bit of summer hibernation, and relax in the glorious lakeside life.
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The Great Outdoors In Gran Canaria The second largest Canary Island packs a real punch. It’s perfect for those craving a vitamin D top-up during the winter months, and for holidaymakers looking for a destination which appeals to the whole family year round. With beaches abounding, Gran Canaria is great for a flop and drop holiday, but that isn’t the only string to its bow. BY N ATA S H A H E G A R T Y
ith a quarter of the island named as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, there’s so much to enjoy away from the bustling tourist spots by the coast if you’re looking for something different. It really is an island of adventure and beauty - a holiday that can be anything you want it to be. 60 SUMMER 2019
Put on your walking boots Leave the flip flops by the pool for the day, put your walking boots on, and get out and explore. Gran Canaria is a beautiful island, best experienced on foot, high up in the peaks where the views are extraordinary and you are surrounded by nature at its best everywhere you turn. The volcanic island has some great mountainous treks for all
STAY GRAN CANARIA Holiday Club Puerto Calma 2805 Holiday Club Vista Amadores 4289 Holiday Club Sol Amadores 8695
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abilities, as well as pretty coastal routes, so it just depends on what view you want, and with its diverse flora and fauna, hiking is a delightful activity. Parque Natural Tamadaba is an 18,500acre national park, filled with indigenous pine trees – the Canarian Pine – and is one of the most beautiful places on Gran Canaria. The park covers a large portion of the northwest of the island from the village of Playa de Agaete in the north, but there are plenty of places to pick up a trail. Pico de Bandera – one of Gran Canaria’s highest peaks – has the most impressive vista. Hikers will be rewarded with views across the Atlantic Ocean to the tip of the Mount Teide volcano over on Tenerife, peeking through the clouds. Pack a picnic and have lunch with a view. Caldera de Bandama is a huge volcanic crater, at 1,000 metres in diameter and 200 metres deep, formed by a volcanic eruption around 2,000 years ago. It makes for a great drive – up to and around the rim – and also a fun hike down to the bottom if your legs are up to the journey back to the top. If you can walk down to the crater floor you’ll be rewarded with exotic plants, including the white echium and wild olive trees, as well as a variety of birds that have moved in over the years, such as the kestrel and Eurasian blackcap.
GRAND TIMES: (Clockwise from left) Amadores Beach. The Caldera de Bandama crater. Eurasian blackcap. Parque Natural Tamadaba.
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SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE: (Clockwise from left) Gran Canaria’s night sky. Camel rides for the children. A colourful street in Teror, Las Palmas. Tapas and sangria.
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constellations and answer any questions you might have. So if you want to introduce the children to the wonders of astronomy, or have a romantic evening for two gazing at the stars, this is a fantastic evening out. For the best experience, book yourself onto a stargazing tour - prices start from €24. Dunes for days You can’t possibly go to Gran Canaria without visiting the incomparable Dunes of Maspalomas. Rippling for miles as far as the eye can see down to the south coast, the Sahara-like sand dunes are one of the biggest attractions of the island. Walking across them will definitely be a work out for your legs and not one that should be attempted during the hottest part of the day. If you’d prefer to take in the views of the dunes at a more relaxing pace, opt for a camel ride instead. The 30-minute camel ride tour costs just €12 and is quite an experience!
PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK (8).
Look up The Canary Islands are among the best places in the world to see the stars, thanks to the clear skies, which are protected by the Law of the Astronomical Quality of the IAC Observatories. To make your holiday to Gran Canaria even more memorable, instead of hitting the bars when the sun goes down, head up a mountain and look up to the sky. You won’t regret it. To ensure you see as many stars as possible, you need to go to where there is low light pollution and high altitude – both of which make the perfect combination for stargazing. The Temisas Astronomical Observatory is one of the best viewing spots on the island. It is easily accessible from the major tourist towns – around a 40-minute drive from Maspalomas – and is brilliant for all the family. The Observatory offers great resources for both beginner and professional stargazers, and there are experts on hand to point out specific
Whether you decide to tackle the dunes on foot or by camel, reward yourself with a refreshing dip in the sea at Maspalomas Beach afterwards. The beautiful golden backdrop of the dunes and the deep blue of the Atlantic Ocean make this beach one of the most picturesque on the island. There’s plenty of room to unfurl your towel, build sandcastles with the children, or enjoy watersports for the more active holidaymakers. There are naturist areas of the beach, so keep an eye out for the signs, or you might get quite a surprise! Lovely Las Palmas Famed for being the place Christopher Columbus stopped at during his voyage to discovering America, Gran Canaria’s capital still has links to the great explorer today. Casa-Museo de Colón in Vegueta, Las Palmas’ historical district, is a museum dedicated to Columbus’ adventures and is well worth a visit. Meander through the pretty cobbled streets, lined with traditional Canarian houses, until you come to the beautiful Santa Ana Cathedral - recognised as one of the most important buildings in the Canaries. Construction started around 1500 and has had several different architects working on the building over the years, so there is an interesting fusion of late Gothic, Neoclassical, and Baroque styles in the design. The palm tree-esque inspired interior columns are particularly interesting. After marvelling at the impressive building, stop at one of the many restaurants lining Las Canteras Beach – one of the best city beaches in Europe – for a bite to eat. For a traditional Canarian dish, order papas arrugadas (Canarian potatoes), which consists of new potatoes, boiled in their jackets in salty water, slathered in sauce made from various herbs and spices. Alternatively indulge in dishes of delicious tapas and jugfuls of fruity Sangria. If a cocktail of the great outdoors and culture is your idea of a good holiday, then you should be heading to Gran Canaria. E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 6 3
Happy Children, Happy Holiday Holiday in the heart of nature at a Landal GreenParks’ resort for a break that really brings a family together in the great outdoors. I took my family off to Landal De Vers in the Netherlands this year and we had such a fabulous time that we are looking to book our next great ‘green’ getaway.
BY G E M M A G R E G O RY
his was a holiday to remember for us as a family. My husband, Tom, and our two boys, Dylan and Ryan aged nine and seven, and myself have never had a holiday where we burned off so much energy and yet felt so relaxed. We are very much an outdoor and active family - our boys absolutely love being out exploring. On this holiday at Landal De Vers, which borders Limburg and North Brabant in the Netherlands, we felt like we were having great adventures every day. 64 SUMMER 2019
Cycling is our big thing and the Netherlands is the place to do it! This country caters for cyclists in every way and we felt very safe on our bicycle rides, even outside our resort. Which was just as well, as we cycled lots - as far as 20 miles a day on our trips out. We get our sun and sand fix with our regular holidays to Dubai, but for the rest of the time it has to be fresh air, endless forests, hills and villages to explore together as a family.
GREAT ADVENTURES: (Above from left) Gemma with husband, Tom, and sons, Dylan and Ryan. The boys in the woodland on their bicycles. The boys at Lake ‘t Schaartven in Holtheserdijk.
Landal De Vers is close to the really pretty village of Overloon, which is an idyllic location just a couple of miles from the River Meuse and not very far from some amazing attractions. One of the highlights of our rides of discovery here was out to Lake ‘t Schaartven in Holtheserdijk. It is a recreational lake where we got off our bikes and enjoyed a paddle in its clear waters. Just a 20-minute bike ride away, we found
ZooParc Overloon. It was a brilliant set up, having a bus which took us in closer to the animals - we saw giraffes, lions and many exotic creatures. The whole area was staged with safari jeeps, old planes and all sorts to set the scene. Then we got even closer to our furry friends at the petting zoo - meeting the goats and smaller critters here of course! We had such a fantastic time that we visited the zoo three days running.
FUN FOR FAMILIES: (Below from left) Dylan with the goats at ZooParc Overloon. Ryan having fun at the Irrland Farm Adventure Oasis.
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LOTS TO DO: (From left) Bouncy castle at the Irrland Farm Adventure Oasis. Dylan and Ryan playing in the resort’s swimming pool.
We chose to fly into the Netherlands, and to hire a car to get around, hiring our bikes on resort. We flew from Manchester to Eindhoven Airport in North Brabant, which was a scenic 45-minute drive from our resort. The flight prices were more than reasonable - unbelievably cheap actually - so that was a holiday bonus. It was useful having the car option, as we were able to get further in a day than on our bikes. A 40-minute drive from the resort we found the Irrland Farm Adventure Oasis, said to be the biggest of its kind in Europe. Again, it was pure magic for Dylan and Ryan, who had fun playing on the biggest bouncy castle I have ever seen that looked like an inflated temple; they also played airports on real airplanes that had slides fitted to their doors. It was a fun day trip for an energetic and curious family such as ours! Last, but by no means least, the resort
itself was perfect. We stayed in a twobedroom lodge with a full kitchen, TV, heating and an outdoor area that was like our own private garden. Having never tried this type of holiday before I was impressed; it was much more comfortable than I expected. Dylan and Ryan were spoilt for choice when it came to on-resort entertainment. There were go-karts, play areas, a fabulous pool where Ryan did his first ever forward somersault into the water, restaurants and, of course cycle tracks. It was a beautiful woodland retreat and we felt as if we were out in the wilds, and yet we were able to cycle into the tiny neighbouring village of Overloon every morning to do our breakfast shop while our boys made straight for the lovely ice cream shop. It was one of the best holidays we’ve had and we are all agreed that we’d return in a heartbeat.
Landal GreenParks for RCI members Keep a look out for the Landal GreenParks’ accommodation that comes into our exchange programme. To identify this accommodation in the Directory pages on RCI.com you need to go to the online Resort Directory and type ‘Landal’ into the search bar at the top. There are 80 Landal GreenParks’ resorts across eight countries throughout Europe, and the lodge accommodation sleeps between 2 to 12 people. It is such an easy journey from the UK. There are three ferry routes operating between England and Holland giving you 28 sailings each week. Stena Line’s Harwich to Hook of Holland ferry sailing takes seven hours. Eurostar runs three trains a day between London’s St Pancras International and Amsterdam, taking just three hours and 52 minutes. Taking to the air, the flight times between London’s Heathrow and Amsterdam-Schiphol airports is one hour and five minutes.
66 SUMMER 2019
Send a friend... Guest Certificates are a great way to gift your loved ones with a holiday!
When you can’t get away, make sure your holiday doesn’t go to waste. For only £43, your friends and family can check into one of over 4,000 resorts. Plus, RCI Platinum members receive the full £43 back onto their RCI account as a member reward for every Guest Certificate they purchase.
Purchase a Guest Certificate on RCI.com or visit the help pages for more information. Terms and Conditions: The member who requests the Guest Certificate will be responsible for the payment of any damages caused by their guest while staying in the exchange unit and for the replacement of any missing items. Use of a Guest Certificate is strictly subject to RCI’s Terms of Membership. For RCI Platinum terms and conditions visit RCI.com/platinumtc E N D L E S S VAC AT I O N 67
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Buy an Extra Holiday now - pay later! Book it when you see it – pay just 25% of the cost upfront – make the remaining payments in up to 12-monthly instalments. PLUS the Flexipay payment plan is interest free Choose from a fantastic range of Extra Holidays from £250 a week To set up your RCI Flexipay payment plan call
Terms and conditions: Minimum Extra Holidays’ price to take advantage of RCI Flexipay is £250. The last payment must be made 56 days before your holiday departure date. You will need to have an email address to use the payment plan. Some Extra Holidays booked on promotional offers are not eligible for Flexipay. For full terms and conditions visit rci.com/ev-terms
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