Monday, September 15, 2014

Take Advantage of Shoulder Season with a Timeshare Rental

High season and low season are fairly well-known and straightforward terms in the travel industry; high season represents the ideal conditions and draws a heavy crowd at heavy prices, whereas low season is markedly more quiet with less-than-ideal conditions. True travel gurus, however, sing the praises of "shoulder season". If you're not aware of shoulder season, this block of time varies by location and tends to represent the month or two tapering off of high season. Temperatures are often still beautiful, crowds thin out and prices (both accommodation and airfare!) begin to steadily drop.

When renting a timeshare, you're oftentimes already receiving a very substantial discount as opposed to purchasing a week directly through the resort. When taking advantage of shoulder season as well, you can shave yet another substantial chunk of travel expenses. Those familiar with timeshare seasons will know the demand for the prime season weeks, and how quickly these desirable weeks are booked up and rented by owners. While you might see less inventory for shoulder season weeks due to less perceived demand, often times that silver week can had for a fraction of the price that platinum week is going for! Airfare pricing tends to behave similarly - you'll begin to see a sharp decline in price as you approach the non-holiday seasons in the early fall and spring, when many shoulder seasons tend to lie.

Of course, price isn't the only consideration when booking your vacation - everyone will want to have fun too! Luckily, shoulder seasons tend to ride off of ideal weather with far more bearable crowds. Hawaii, for example, is gorgeous in early March - the big waves as well as many winter beach-goes have dissipated. If the mountains are more your choice, the Rocky Mountain ski destinations are perfect in early April. The powder is still prime for skiing, but with fewer competitors on the slopes. Perhaps the Caribbean and Mexico for November - hurricane season has largely abated, and beaches are still devoid of the holiday crowds.

How do you learn more about when shoulder season falls for your favorite destinations? There are several unofficial calendars out there for many resorts that outline the week designations. Different resort management companies use different designation systems, but generally "red" or "platinum" weeks indicate high season periods, while cooler coolers and lesser metals indicate shoulder or low season. Additionally, a quick internet search for your destination's high season will outline the busiest times.

Next time you're looking at planning a vacation, first check to see when shoulder season falls! Your vacation might be more affordable, more relaxing and all the better for it!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Is Donating Your Timeshare a Viable Way "Out"?

While plenty of owners love the flexibility that their timeshare can offer, sometimes it's no longer possible to keep their ownership. This can be due to any number of reasons - the expense, the inability to travel or simply changing interests. When making the decision to let their timeshare go, many owners want out of the ownership as quickly as possible and this can be difficult; oftentimes, it can take some time on the resale market before a sale is made and, even then, closing can be a longer process many owners wish to bear with. Recently, the concept of donating a timeshare has taken off. But is it an efficient and reliable way to escape your timeshare?

In order for a charity to benefit from your timeshare, it must be able to be sold for a profit. This means if you've been struggling to sell your timeshare - or see other resales going for very low prices - the charitable organization of your choice might not accept your donation. Since timeshares typically lose much of their value after the initial investment, the charity is forced to rely upon fair market value in order to determine whether your donation will be accepted and this value tends to far, far lower than the thousands of dollars that might have gone into the initial purchase. Furthermore, keep in mind that most resorts will still have transfer and closing fees that will need to be paid when donating your timeshare. Just because you're relinquishing your timeshare to a charity does not mean that transfer fees will be waived.

Aside from altruism, there is one noticeable upside to donating your timeshare - you can acquire a small tax deduction once the charity has sold your timeshare. This has led some former owners to believe they could report an inflated price in order to reap the benefits of deduction. Upon the sale of your timeshare, the charity is required to file form 8282 with the IRS where the selling price is reported. You will receive a copy of this form as well, and if your reported value greatly exceeds the selling value provided, you might be in for a very unpleasant audit!

So the question remains; if you do choose to donate your timeshare, who should you donate it to? There are a few charity organizations out there on the internet who willingly accept timeshare donations - while we can't speak for any particular organization, doing a quick internet search reveals quite a few options and how they would proceed with accepting such a donation. Our recommendation, however, is to first look within your own community - local schools, religious institutions and the community itself might accept the donation to be auctioned off or sold outright. This way, you know exactly where the proceeds from your timeshare are going.

Donations are best when the intent is truly charity - it isn't the "easy out" many owners pursue. If you're considering stepping away from your timeshare and have an organization you'd love to help, then definitely pursue it! But for a quick fix or to recoup any initial investment, it might prove easier to put your timeshare up for resale.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Thanksgiving Weeks Are up for Grabs!

Have you given thought to where you're headed for Thanksgiving this year? If you haven't decided yet, now is your chance to snag some by-owner rentals for unbelievable prices when compared to rates straight from the resort. Many owners are eager to unload these precious weeks before they go to waste. Whether you have the entire family in tow or just your closest loved ones, these destinations are sure to inspire memories that will last for years. How about a Thanksgiving on the beach in Hawaii, in the midst of Arizona's breathtaking Sonoran Desert or the glitziest Turkey Day yet in Las Vegas?

We've scoured RedWeek to bring you a list of some of our favorite resorts with Thanksgiving availability. Please keep in mind that Thanksgiving weeks are rented notoriously quickly, so if there's a week that you're eyeing, be sure to get in touch with the owner to claim it as soon as possible!

All prices are in $USD for one full week.

Florida

Wyndham Bonnet Creek

Arizona


Hawaii

Marriott's Ko Olina Beach Club

Nevada


South Carolina

Wyndham's Ocean Boulevard

Virginia

California

Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara

Please be aware: all availability and prices were verified on September 7th, 2014. All weeks are limited in quantity and will go very quickly!

While many owners have already posted their Thanksgiving weeks, it's entirely possible to see new inventory pop up in the following weeks. If you're on the hunt for a specific week, be sure to sign up for RedWeek posting alerts by visiting the resort page you're looking at, and then selecting "receive posting alerts" in the upper right corner of the page!

Friday, September 05, 2014

September Resort Spotlight - Marriott's Newport Coast Villas

Long, summer days grow shorter and the once-balmy breezes begin to bite a little bit harder. The leaves change color we swap out tank tops for sweaters - it's beginning to feel like fall! The change of seasons is always bittersweet; even if we yearn for the coziness of fall, we always find ourselves longing for summer once more. If you're not quite ready to bit farewell to summer yet, a week at Marriott's Newport Coast Villas might be just what you need.

Marriott's Newport Coast Villas consistently ranks as one of RedWeek members' favorite resorts. A picturesque location, gorgeous average temperatures and SoCal spirit all contribute to the popularity. The resort is perched atop a bluff that surveys the sweeping length of Laguna Beach and offers an uncontested view of the Pacific Ocean and nearby Catalina Island. The view isn't the only stunning thing about Marriott's Newport Coast Villas - the grounds boast a Tuscan flair with sculpted fountains, tiled detailing and rich, earthy tones that rule the facade, lobby and even the individual rooms.

The Tuscan aesthetic only enhances the resort's luxuriant vibe.
Unlike many properties, the only units offered are full two-bedroom villas that sleep up to six. Villas include a master suite with a king-size bed and soaking tub, as well as an attached bathroom with dual showerheads. The smaller guest room is equipped with a queen-size bed, sleeper sofa and attached bathroom that's shared with the living area. If more sleeping space is needed, the living room's couch folds out into a sleeper sofa. All units include fully-equipped kitchen, dining area and breakfast bar as well as a private balcony and in-room washer and dryer.

The oceanfront rooms are incredible!
Befitting the luxury of Newport Beach, the grounds of Marriott's Newport Coast Villas is packed with plenty to keep visitors busy. Three heated outdoor pools and two whirlpool spas are available for use, as are three tennis courts and a fitness center. Guests can enjoy a bite to eat at La Vista Pool Bar and Grille, or grab up some snacks to go at The Marketplace, including familiar favorites such as Pizza Hut Express and Starbucks coffee. An activity center and daily activities schedule provide a little something to do on those down days when you're not exploring the city.

A dip in the pool or a quick bite to eat? Why not both!
While Marriott's Newport Coast Villas is an absolutely stunning resort in its own right, the true allure is the location and all that Newport Beach and Orange County has to offer. Laguna Beach and Huntington Beach lie nearby and offer plenty of opportunity to experience a host of water sports from sailing to surfing. If you're looking for more natural pursuits, Crystal Cove State Park offers opportunities for horseback riding, snorkeling, biking and tours of the famed tidepools. The proximity of nearby Anaheim makes a day in Disneyland easy to fit into your schedule. If you're on the hunt for a truly luxury shopping experience, be sure to check out South Coast Plaza - America's fourth largest mall and home to over 250 boutiques and 30 restaurants.

Wrap up your day with a quintessential Californian sunset!
The resort enjoys quite a bit of activity on RedWeek, with upwards of 150 active rental postings and plenty of resales. Rental units do tend to run at a slightly higher price point due to the default larger room and the luxurious status associated with Newport Beach. The investment is definitely worth it, however, and the opportunity enjoy that sun-soaked, summer spirit year-round? Priceless!

Monday, September 01, 2014

Enjoy New England's Fall Foliage at Its Best!

It's Labor Day, and as we bid summer a bittersweet goodbye, our minds turn toward autumn. If you're looking for a way to brighten up these darker, cooler months, look no further than our own Northeast; New England has long been regarded as the absolute pinnacle when it comes to gorgeous fall foliage. Every year, countless tourists flock to the northeast to watch the leaves change from green to blazing autumn shades. If you're eying New England for your fall retreat, stay ahead of the game with our guide to experience the most brilliant leaves.

As locals can attest, Mother Nature is fickle and when the leaves change can be very unpredictable, making it hard to pin down "ideal" dates. Typically, the trees in the northernmost states will turn first - Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire will begin to change first typically from the last week of September into the first few weeks of October. Mid-to-late October is ideal for the states of Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Connecticut, later in the month corresponding to how far south you plan to scout.

The leaves are entirely at the mercy of local weather conditions - cold fronts and rain can speed up the turn. Storms can rip the leaves from the trees before peak, and tropical storms/hurricanes are known to buffet the northern Atlantic coast throughout the autumn months. Additionally, foliage conditions differ with the terrain - the leaves lining the highways will differ from those located near bodies of water or in the mountains. It's best to plan to experience a variety of locations.

Even if scouting the foliage is your primary motivation for planning a New England trip, be prepared just in case nature turns against you. While the leaves are gorgeous, there's plenty more in the region to keep the entire family entertained. Outdoor activities such as hiking and biking are just winding down, and autumnal novelties like apple picking, hay rides and savoring hot cider as always classic.

Finally, it helps to keep up to date with patterns. Websites such as weather.com keep up-to-date reports on peaking foliage for aspiring viewers. This guidance will allow to plan where to visit and anticipate change in the location where you're staying. Speaking of accommodations, be sure to reserve your stay early. If you do fall a bit late in planning, you can occasionally snag some pretty prices on timeshare rental weeks with RedWeek!

Are you planning a trip to New England in the coming months, or do you perhaps have a favorite spot for catching sight of some gorgeous leaves? Let us know below!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Spotlight on Cabo San Lucas

Mexico has always been a land of contrasts, and remains so today. Flowers burst with color in landscaped lawns. Nearby, wind-blown El Cardonal cactus bristle to survive in the brown desert sage brush.
The Sea of Cortez is beautiful - but deadly.
Rich and poor, side by side - new highways and toll roads rambling by abandoned buildings and trash strewn alongside the road. Spectacular oceanfront resorts adjacent to vacant lots that cannot be developed because of the lack of infrastructure and, most importantly, water. Lush green golf courses surrounded by arid rolling sand dunes.  
The brilliant blue waters of the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez beckon swimmers to the beaches, where huge posted warning signs order them not to go in the surf.  There are some wonderful safe beaches here, but many are too deadly for swimmers, due to unpredictable currents and rip tides - too dangerous even for lifeguards. 
The push and pull of the Pacific reflects the area’s split personality toward tourism: as the overall economy shows signs of recovery, new resorts are emerging from the desert floor. Cabo’s civic fathers, meanwhile, hang on fiercely to the lifestyle, traditions and simplicity of the onetime sleepy fishing village. Contrasts aplenty.

Cabo Resorts Offer Picturesque Playground for Adults and Families

The Highway 1 corridor between San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas packs dozens of resorts and vacation rentals along a sprawling coastline overlooking the Gulf of California and the Pacific Ocean.   If you’re not staying in one of the party-all-night, hot-tub-on-the-roof resort hotels in downtown Cabo San Lucas, you’re likely to spend a Cabo vacation in one of the luxury resorts in the Corredor Turistico.  The Sheraton Resort and adjacent Hacienda Del Mar Vacation Club sit smack in the middle of the corridor in an 1,800-acre complex called Cabo del Sol. 
Hacienda Del Mar Vacation Club's villas and pool complex
Each offering 270 suites, from hotel rooms to oversized studios to two- and three-bedroom penthouses, the resorts are a 40-minute drive from the international airport ($34 shuttle round-trip plus tip). They offer shuttle service to Cabo for shopping and nightlife, and generally provide 100 percent of any amenities families might want onsite, including multiple restaurants, kids and adult pools, swim-up bars, daily activities, movies, golf, spa treatments, yoga classes, and a couple of local favorites - Mexican bingo and something called "tequila volleyball." At several of the restaurants, as in most of Cabo San Lucas, happy hour seems to be celebrated all day long.  Order one drink, and they deliver two. Both resorts specialize in customer service and employ locals who are proficient in English and full of useful advice (such as, how to find CostCo or Walmart, one mile away.) Their only drawback?  It is hot and humid in the summer, so bring hats, sunscreen and a book to read, because you’ll spend big chunks of every afternoon inside sitting happily next to an air conditioner, which is a condition of survival during the summer.  Better yet, come during the prime-season winter months and add whale-watching tours to your itinerary.
As one might expect, the room rates for this kind of luxury are not cheap. An off-season three-night stay at the Sheraton, July 28-31, costs $830 for an oversized but luxurious studio. A one-bedroom ocean view suite with separate kitchen and living room runs $2,158 for the same three-night stay.  The nightly rates are inflated by Mexico’s tourist and resort taxes. Regardless of room category, visitors will pay an additional per night tax of 23% to 29% - which includes a 16% tourism tax, a 3% lodging tax, and a resort service charge fee ranging from 4% to 10% per night, depending on the resort.
The oceanfront view from the onsite restaurant is stunning!
The timeshare prices at Hacienda del Mar Vacation Club, which has 12,000 owners, are hefty as well. A floating week, weeks 1-50, in a Vacation Club studio suite costs $20,000 with a maintenance fee of $616 per year.  A one-bedroom master suite with kitchen, washer and dryer, costs $36,100.  The most expensive villa, a three-bedroom, four-bath penthouse unit, costs $64,700 plus an annual maintenance fee of $2,080. The purchase contract is a 25-year right-to-use agreement.  This kind of contract is standard in many Mexican timeshares, and it somewhat alleviates the resale market woes that buyers of US timeshares have faced in recent years.  In Mexico, when a RTU contract expires, the owners can simply walk away with no future obligation to the homeowner association for maintenance fees.
Full disclosure: there are 52 listings for rentals at this resort on RedWeek.com, ranging in price, time and accommodation from $100 to $493/night.  (A two-bedroom, two-bath villa for Aug. 11-18 rents for $995/week, or $142/night). There are also 15 resales listed on RedWeek.com, priced from $500 to $15,000 for various villas. Of course, RedWeek inventory is always subject to availability.
The RTU concept plays well in Cabo San Lucas, where timeshares are prevalent and sales people say prideful things like, "The consumer has my money in their pocket. All they have to do is give it to me." (No joke.  Timeshare executives said this not once, but twice, during their annual tourism convention, known as AMDETUR.  Each time brought rousing applause from an audience that was full of award-winning timeshare sales people.)

Marina is Center of New and Old Cabo

New and old tourist attractions share the waterfront in downtown Cabo, where the marina provides constant entertainments for travelers.  All you need to enjoy it is sunscreen and bottled water - plenty of both.
The marina is the lifeblood of the local community. Hawkers hustle day and night with offers for fishing trips of all descriptions (e.g., $140 for two persons in a half-day guided trip), water taxis, sunset cruises and snorkeling expeditions.  Deep sea fishing is a big deal in Cabo. Every day, they haul in 8-foot, 200-pound marlins to the weighing dock, then wheel them away unceremoniously in carts to local kitchens - the ecosystem works.
Other nearby tourist adventures include off-road desert expeditions, zip-line rides, whale watching (in winter), glass bottom boats, day trip excursions to La Paz, horseback rides on the beach, etc. Bottom line, Cabo tries to offer something for everyone, from passive travelers to aggressive adventurers.
Cabo's also a classic beach party town. Great for singles, couples, and parents seeking a night out. But leaving the kids with a babysitter is highly recommended, so the adults can engage the locals and experience the nightlife.  The scene is similar to walking along Hollywood Boulevard or Broadway on a summer’s night: busy. Only difference is that in Cabo, you can buy an authentic bull’s head-with-horns to match your Cabo T-shirts.
Cabo Wabo Cantina, one of many all-night watering holes, packs in young and old adults nightly, playing Van Halen-inspired hard rock'n'roll from the 1980's. Lead singer Sammy Hagar’s not there in person anymore, but his pictures and presence are everywhere in a cantina that offers the live-hard, play-hard ethic of downtown Cabo. Worth a look if you’re willing to stand in line while nursing the beverage of your choice.

A Look at the Future? 

Cabo San Lucas, with its nightlife traditions and cultural activities, is a prime example of Mexico’s current tourism trade. A preview of the area's future, however, may be located just a few miles up the coast, along miles of sand dunes and isolated beaches facing the Pacific Ocean: Diamante Cabo San Lucas.  This 1,500-acre gated community offers 9,000-square foot estate homes, single-family bungalows, timeshare villas, two world class golf courses, and North America’s largest manmade lagoon. The ten-acre Crystal Lagoon, which shimmers in the distance like a mirage, is positioned to become the centerpiece of the resort when its ten-year build-out is completed.
The Resort at Diamante is poised to become Cabo's
newest high-end complex.
For now, five years into the project, The Resort at Diamante averages 100 guests per night, 300 fulltime staffers and construction crews all around. Most of the current guests are golf aficionados drawn to the Davis Love III course, which is ranked #52 in the world, and a Tiger Woods course that is scheduled to open by the end of the year. It's a surreal golf setting where, every three holes, golfers can avail themselves of a cantina for free food and drinks. But even without the golf courses, the resort’s size is large enough to suggest a city-in-the-making. It caters to high-end travelers who want a luxurious second home, a condominium, or a totally secure timeshare vacation escape for their families. When the build-out is complete, the onetime desert site will include a boutique shopping center, five-star hotel, baseball and soccer fields, 300 timeshare villas and 700 single family homes/estates, and possibly even a second major Crystal Lagoon, according to developer Kenneth Jowdy.  The resort’s existing roads and infrastructure, including a salt-water desalinization plant (to offset chronic water shortages), golf clubhouse, spa, fitness and tennis centers, only give a glimpse of what Diamante may become.   
As one might expect, nothing about Diamante falls into the category of affordable travel for a middle-income American family. The beach front and golf-course homes and lots sell for millions. The Residence Club timeshares range from $40,000 for a two-bedroom summer week to $200,000 for a four-bedroom week during holiday season. All weeks are offered on 50-year right-to-use (RTU) contracts. 
Diamante is one of an estimated 15 high-end resort properties in Cabo San Lucas.  The breadth of its construction, however, sets it apart from others that have similar amenities but not nearly as much ground - or 1.5 miles of Pacific Ocean beachfront. The resort is also new enough that there is only one rental and resale each listed on RedWeek.com. If you hope to experience a week or own at this brilliant new development, keep a close eye out.
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This article was provided by Jeff Weir.  Jeff is a California-based journalist who has covered California, Congress, and the White House. He also has roots in Silicon Valley, where he directed public relations and marketing programs for high-tech companies. He is also a timeshare owner and member of RedWeek.com.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Eight Travel-Friendly Items You'll Definitely Want

Vacationers are some of the savviest people out there - we know the perfect tips to maximize luggage space, how to score the best deals on rooms as well as the ins and outs of our favorite destinations. As such, we're always on the hunt for anything to improve our efficiency or quality of life on the road. At RedWeek, we've tracked down eight travel products that will entice your inner spender.


1. La Fresh Travel Lite Wipes
Evade the TSA's stringent rules on liquids with these handy wipes. La Fresh Group compresses many traditional liquid staples into a convenient, disposable wipe. With clever solutions like insect repellant wipes, SPF 30 sunscreen wipes and facial cleansing wipes, you can kiss traditional bottles goodbye in favor of much-needed convenience and packability!


We've all been in that dreaded situation - stuck on a plane or in the car and our favorite gadget drains precariously toward 1% battery life. Keep your phones, tablets, game consoles, MP3 players and cameras fully charged with Trent's iCarrier. With two USB charging hubs and guaranteed to charge up to six times on one original charge, this is sure to save your gadgets when on the road.

We've seen the beatings our trusty luggage takes in airports. Not every suitcase is up to challenge, but the Lojel Wave's lightweight yet extra-tough polycarbonate shell is a force to be reckoned with. The wave is offered in four sizes ranging from the 19.5 inch carry-on model to the extra-large 29 inch model. The wave is also equipped with removable, 360 degree wheels for ultra-smooth movement.

If you're seeking pristine audio quality and noise-cancelling features without all the bulk of over-hear headphones, these little earbuds are exactly what you need. The earphones come with a set of seven switchable silicone earpieces - ensuring a perfect fit - as well as a tangle-free fabric braided cord. Situated on the cable itself is a microphone and a set of volume/track controls designed for usage with Apple products.

5. GoToob
The ingenious GoToob makes transporting liquids easier than ever. Offered in 1.25 oz, 2 oz and 3 oz options, each option is TSA-cleared. The tough-but-pliable silicone is much easier to squeeze than typical hard plastic travel bottles, and the GoToob is equipped with a special "no-drip" valve as well as a larger opening specifically for filling it up. Customizable ID labels built right into the cap also help prevent accidental mix-ups.

Had enough blind rummaging through your bags for that one particular item? Consider investing in one of Cocoon's Grid-It! organizers. The firm board base is covered with an interweaving system of elastic bands that holds various items in place to reduce clutter and keep things flawlessly organized. If you're traveling with your laptop or tablet, special models are designed with built-in protected pouches!

Family photos and tricky angles are so much easier to tackle with the posable GorillaPod. With three bendable arms, this mini tripod can be attached to, wrapped around or balanced on any location that might provide that perfect picture. If you're rocking a more weighty or high-end camera, Joby also also offers the GorillaPod SLR-Zoom and Focus models!

If your bags are prone to becoming a rat's nest of twisted cords and cables, Belkin's cable kit makes traveling so much less tangle-prone! Ideal for the professional, this set comes with multiple USB adapters as well as less-common networking cables like a crossover cable and modem cable. The convenient retractable design helps keep cables untangled and clean.


Image Credit: http://www.cocooninnovations.com