Monday, April 20, 2015

Welcome to the New RedWeek!

Have you had a chance to explore the new RedWeek yet? With a sleek new look and improved functionality, the RedWeek redesign is packed with changes that we're sure will make posting and searching for timeshares easier than ever.

One of the biggest changes is one you're bound to notice if you're browsing RedWeek on the go - mobile functionality! Whether you're viewing from your phone or tablet, the RedWeek site is perfectly adapted to fit your device. No more pinching and zooming, or scrolling sideways to read minuscule text. Vertical scrolling, slick menus and quick loading times ensure that mobile RedWeek is every bit as great as the "full site"!

You might also notice the improvements to our search features when looking for a timeshare. After you type in a general location (think city, state or country), you'll have the option to refine your search on the results page. You can choose to specify results only within a certain date range or price range. Additionally, you can refine by unit size, RedWeek user rating or even features - perfect if you're looking for just all-inclusive resorts, or just resorts with internet or a pool, for example! Your results can also be arranged into list or grid views and sorted by user rating.

If you commonly post your own timeshare for rent or sale; rejoice! Our posting creation process has been greatly streamlined. Instead of navigating page by page, your posting is created on a single page with clean, expandable menus guiding you through each step. Photos are easier than ever to upload; drag and drop or upload them in bulk, with the option to review and caption them before your posting goes live.

Certain major pages were brought out of their more obscure locations into the limelight. The Timeshare Companies page - a hotspot for those looking to buy or sell a points system - is no longer just tucked away on the resales page, but rather accessible directly under the "Find a Timeshare" tab near the top of the screen. There's no need to visit the account page in order to view your postings, either. The "My Postings" link at the top of the page (left of the RedWeek banner) will instantly take you to the page where you can view and edit your postings.

While not active yet, we also have some great community features planned in the coming months! If you encounter any bugs, issues or something that just doesn't seem to be working right, please let us know at support@redweek.com. We hope you're every bit as excited as we are to experience the new RedWeek.com!

Friday, April 10, 2015

How to Speak Cajun

(A tip of the hat to my niece who calls up and says, "…Hi Annie (Auntie) Helen, how ya be darlin'?")

If you are "fixin to" go to yo (your) timeshare in “Looziana”, (Louisiana) you need to understand the local dialect in order to communicate yo (your) needs clearly. Here's a quick guide...

In Hotels

1. Mash not push: When stepping into an elevator at your timeshare, don't ask a local to "push" the button of the floor you want, you ask to mash it, like "…Mash number four please!"

2. Fixinto: Most sentences begin with fixinto mean "I was going to do it eventually" or "I was getting around to it", such as "I was fixing to begin dusting, or fixin to go to the pool." ...So when your wife says, I want to go shopping, remind her that she is fixinto go shopping.  

3. Lights and Lightbulbs: You don't turn them off and on, you "cut them off and on".  To the hotel clerk, "I was fixin to cut on the light above the desk in my room, but it won’t work. Can you send me a new bulb?"

Driving Around

1. Fresh air: You "crack" a winder (window), not "open it." Try, "It's hot in here, crack yer winder wouldja?"

2. Asking for directions: Don't ask how many miles it is to the nearest bait shop. It's all in minutes - "Bill's Bait shop is 5 minutes down the road. Or, you can go to Fontaineau's which is about six minutes the other direction.You fixinto go fishing?"

3. Backwards and Forwards: When a local says he knows you backwards and forwards that means he knows everything about you.  "Oh you fixinto go fishin today? Well that new reel and pole tells me backwards and forwards how experienced you are. Wan a book guide to fishin in Louisiana? Or a guide on how to rig yo line, or if y'all can wait about an aire (hour), I will be yo guide!"

In Cafes

Be aware that two types of "food" exist in Louisiana: Cajun and Creole. A common joke among the locals is that a Creole mama feeds a family with three chickens, whereas a Cajun family feeds three families with one chicken. Gator is a most delicious substitute for chicken, and most of the meals include okra. Creole's were generally looked on as the "rich" folks, who had access to markets where fresh foods were displayed and purchased but Cajun families often ate off the land and grew their own vegetables - usually onions and okra (the "french fries" of Louisiana). Single women, when assessing a male partner for the future, ask "is he a creole or a cajun boy?"

Another major difference between Creole and Cajun food is the type of roux that is used as the foundation of most food - which is usually in a "sauce". Butter and flour are the basis for Creole roux, while Cajun roux is made from lard and flour.  Cajuns often didn't have access to butter so they slaughtered their pigs and other animals and made lard from the skin.  

Gumbo is found in both cuisines. Creole gumbo has a tomato base (usually ketchup) and is more of a soup, while Cajun gumbo is more of a stick-to-your-ribs type of stew. Most everything has a distinct red base color.  

There are only three flavors in Louisiana: hot, hotter, and hottest. These are powered by Tony Chacherie's spice mix (right on the tables with salt, pepper, Tobasco, chili pepper and ketchup. It's not "cha-cherry" but "sash-er-ee". Pepper comes in colors in Louisiana: black, red, white, green and pink.  There is hot food, hotter food and "just the way I like it". Tourists can be identified wiping their foreheads as they eat, and locals will punch each other in the arm and snicker when they see these "sissies" eating their food. 

Favorite Phrases in Local Cafes

1. Jeet: Meaning, "you are hungry and want something to eat?" You will hear jeet a lot - this is short for "did you eat?"

2. Hey darlin’/bon ami: the waitress calls everyone darlin' in her cafĂ© - "jeet here bfo (before) darlin'?" Men call you "bon ami" - meaning good friend. "Ayyy bonami… jeet? Yo ere to camp? (spend some time in a vacation home or timeshare)?"  

3. Buster: A buster is a soft shell crab that just shed its shell. Don't be surprised to hear, "ay ave a good buster for lunch today!"

4. The other white meat:  Fried catfish is considered the "other white meat". Pork and gator are numbers one and two, and often accompanied by fired okra. Mudbug is another tasty delight served in many cafes - it's crawfish, boiled or fried.  

5. Food preparation:  "Ay mon ami, we have fried, bolled (boiled) deep fried, brolled, (broiled) or baked, which ya want?  The Chef was fixin to make a new pot of bolled coffee if y'all can wait for it!"

Local Activities

Major local activities involve gator hunting, crabbing, and "fais do do".  Gator heads mounted as trophies on the wall are not prevalent in the Bayou - instead, they're often used for various purposes. Many Cajun families make necklaces of gator teeth to sell to tourists. It used to be that you could take a boat down the bayou to see the gators. Guides would stick marshmallows on the end of a stick and gators would fly up out of the water, grab the marshmallow and fall back into the bayou. That was until a gator landed in the middle of a boat and then the tourists became gator food.  It is now against the law to "marshmallow" gators.  

Cajun families often feed their families by crabbing - they stick a piece of bacon on a string and lower that into a crab mud hole to entice it to come out for "dinner". 

 If you are invited to attend a Fais Do Do, be sure to go!  It is a wild party that lasts until morning. 

 “Laissez les bon temps rouler!”  

---

This article is by guest author Helen Sabin. Helen Sabin is a timeshare traveler and RedWeek member from Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Monday, April 06, 2015

April Resort Spotlight - Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows


After months upon month of heated rumors and speculation, Disney Vacation Club's newest resort - Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows - opened its doors to guests on April 1st! DVC resorts consistently rank highly among vacationers, and the Polynesian Villas and Bungalows appears to be no exception! With an immersive ambiance, premiere Orlando location and that classic Disney magic we all know and love, this South Seas-themed resort is poised to become your next go-to for an unforgettable Orlando vacation!

Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows lies along the Seven Seas Lagoon and offers up first-class views of Magic Kingdom's "Wishes" fireworks display as well as the Electrical Water Pageant. Walt Disney World's iconic monorail system sweeps right through the resort, providing quick and easy access to the Magic Kingdom park, Epcot park, the Transportation and Ticket Center and several other resorts directly bordering the Seven Seas Lagoon. Other parks can be easily reached via bus.

The resort's grounds are shared with Disney's Polynesian Village Resort - the standard, non-timeshare sister resort. Swathed in palm trees and tropical flora, dotted with tiki torches and koi ponds, Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows feels every bit as exotic as its namesake. These "longhouses" are shaped in the classic oceanic style and embellished with deep, red woods and exotic patterning. The lobby and shared interior areas are every bit as tropical and bright as the exterior - breezy, open-air areas and indoor greenery add life and vibrance.

The resort's distinct facade is immediately recognizable.
Even if you never plan to hit the parks, the DVC division of the Polynesian is set with enough to packed with more than enough to keep you busy. The Lava Pool winds around a faux-volcano and includes a waterslide, and the Polynesian East Pool is quieter, ideal for a relaxing swim. Lilo's Playhouse gives kids the opportunity to participate in a myriad of activities while the adults enjoy time to themselves. Several different dining options can be found on site - character dining at the 'Ohana restaurant, casual Asian-infused fare at Kona Cafe and snacks and drinks at Trader Sam's Grog Grotto and the Tambu Lounge.

Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows' new Deluxe Studio unit elevates the average studio with more storage space, "longer" rooms and a kitchenette. The Deluxe Studio isn't the only new concept to be found, however - the Bora Bora Bungalow unit is set to become a hit for guests with large parties! These free-standing units are built right over the lagoon and feature two bedrooms, a full kitchen, separated living and dining areas, gorgeous lake views and even a private plunge pool that overlooks the lagoon. Whether you choose the Deluxe Studio or Bungalow for your trip, count on the warm colors and custom-crafted Polynesian decor that made the original Polynesian Village Resort so iconic.

Bright, vibrant and perfectly Polynesian!
Staying at a Disney Vacation Club resort often goes hand-in-hand with experiencing all the entertainment offered by Walt Disney World. However, Orlando has so much to offer beyond just WDW. Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows is just a drive away from other major area theme parks, such as Universal Studios, Universal Studio's Islands of Adventure, SeaWorld and Wet'N'Wild.  Orlando is also home to a staggering array of shopping experiences - The Mall at Millenia, Orlando International Premium Outlets and The Florida Mall all lie within reach by car. For a more cultural experience, Orlando proper is quickly blossoming with a multitude of specialty museums and galleries as well as upscale dining.

The wait for the opening of Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows has been a long one, but now the door is open to both DVC owners and guests! Are you excited to give Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows a try - perhaps even have a trip of your own planned? If so, don't forget to leave a review on RedWeek!

That's right - a picture-perfect beach in Orlando!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Is it Time to Sell Your Timeshare?

Timeshares are a fantastic, reliable investment for many vacationers. But sometimes - after the initial honeymoon period has ended - owners might decide they no longer wish to keep their timeshare, or that it's not as useful as it once was. So many owners remain locked into a timeshare that they're no longer getting their "money's worth" from - how do you know when it's time to sell your timeshare?

An owner's interest in their timeshare might decrease for any number of reasons. One of the most common we hear about it an inability or decreased ability to travel. Be it for health, financial or personal reasons, reduced ability or interest in travel saps much of the usefulness out of timeshares. if the problem is temporary and you'd plan to resume travel after its resolution, you may consider renting your timeshare out instead - this can be an excellent way to recoup the year's maintenance fees and ensure that your week doesn't go to waste.

Many owners may find themselves struggling with the financial burden of a timeshare. Timeshares are definitely a luxury product and demand quite a bit of payment both upfront and on an annual basis - even more so if you made your purchase directly from the developer! Factor in the additional costs of travel (such as airfare, gas and food) and you're committing a very significant amount of money to that yearly vacation. Again, renting your timeshare can help mitigate annual maintenance fees, but if you find yourself gritting your teeth every year, trying to work your timeshare into your finances, it may be worth reconsidering if you want to keep it around.

A lack of flexibility might also be a cause for decreasing interest in a timeshare. While points systems and vacation clubs that allow owners a multitude of destinations are growing in popularity, the limited nature of many ownerships can be off-putting. Perhaps wild summers in Cancun are no longer your thing, or you've just seen all Orlando has to offer. If you find yourself a feeling bored on your next timeshare trip and own at a singular resort, it may be best to sell and use that time and money to explore new destinations. If you're the type who lusts after a new vacation spot every trip, you can also consider renting out other owners' weeks after you sell for incredible discounts.

Should you decide to take the leap and give selling a go, it's best to make sure you're prepared and have all your bases covered. RedWeek's "Posting and Selling Your Timeshare" guide gives you an idea of how to get things started, and you can use the free "What's My Timeshare Worth?" tool to feel out the pricing of your sale. If the resale process seems a bit overwhelming, RedWeek's full-service resale option takes all the stress of out of the process and puts your resale in the hands of full-service agents and licensed brokers. 

If you've sold your timeshare, ring in with your experience below - how did the process go, and were you happy with your decision? What was your motivating factor? 

Monday, March 23, 2015

March Resort Spotlight - Marriott's Aruba Surf Club

Marriott's Aruba Surf Club is undoubtedly one of RedWeek's most popular and active resorts. Boasting over 700 active rental postings, this Palm Beach-based resort proves to be a perennial favorite among both Marriott owners and renters looking for accommodations in Aruba. And with
that many postings, there's no doubt that you'll have no trouble finding the dates you need! So what is it that makes Marriott's Aruba Surf Club such a hit and the topic of this month Resort Spotlight? It all begins with the location...

Palm Beach is, in every way, a perfect tropical retreat. Year-round sun and warm temperatures make Aruba the perfect getaway to close in more continental climes, and Palm Beach is particularly renowned for it's proximity to the capital of Oranjestad as well as the award-winning Eagle Beach. The Palm Beach area has quickly blossomed into a mecca with with a vibrant, beach-centric culture, a newly completed shopping area and a host of nearby activities ranging from golf to water sports. The resort itself makes quite an impression - a massive, towering facade painted in shades of warm caramel, tan and cream.

The amenities offered at Marriott's Aruba Surf Club are unrivaled by surrounding resorts. A sprawling pool and lazy river wind around and among palm trees and blossoming gardens, feeling every bit the tropical oasis. The resort is also home to the glitzy Stellaris Casino - 10,700 square feet of high-stakes fun where you can try your luck. Or perhaps a relaxing spa day is more your style? Surf Club guests have access to the neighboring Aruba Ocean Club's Mandara Spa, complete with VIP treatment rooms, and extra-large Jacuzzi bath, steam room, nail salon and more. And off course, no one wants to let their workout routine fall by the wayside on vacation. The Surf Club's state-of-the-art fitness center is equipped with free weights and cardio equipment. Equipment and area for tennis, volleyball and table tennis are also provided.

The Surf Club's winding pool is a blast for all ages
The Surf Club is divided into three distinct towers, each with their own unique properties. The Lighthouse building is typically the most sought-after, with every unit being of the "oceanside" designation. Oceanside designates the units with the closest location to the beach, and is coveted by those looking to walk right outside the building and onto the sand. The Compass Tower houses the Surf Club's spacious three-bedroom units as well as the resort's lobby and marketplace. The Spyglass Tower is the newest addition to the resort, with envious views of the property's colorful gardens and lazy river.

Colorful, bright and breezy rooms accented with vibrant redwoods perfectly epitomize the resort's island spirit. Rooms ranging in size from studio units to three-bedrooms makes finding the perfect size for your group easy. In the one-bedroom and up villas, enjoy full kitchens, spacious living and dining areas, flat-screen televisions, high-speed internet, upscale bathrooms and private balconies. Studios trade the full kitchen and separate living and dining rooms for a kitchenette and combined living/dining area, providing all the necessities in a compact area.

Open, airy rooms match the carefree attitude of Aruba
While the white-sand beaches and turquoise waters might be what makes Aruba famous, this paradise has countless other opportunities awaiting visitors, and Marriott's Aruba Surf Club is perfectly positioned so you can take advantage of the best. The Tierra Del Sol Golf & Country Club and The Links at Divi Aruba are no further than two miles away, providing excellent opportunities for those looking to enjoy golf. Red Sail Sports is the go-to for water sports, including kayaking and jet-skiing. De Palm Tours NV is the one-stop shop for exciting island tours by boat, bus, RV and more! Or, just enjoy an afternoon in downtown Oranjestad enjoying bountiful shopping and dining opportunities.

Marriott's Aruba Surf Club's popular reputation is well-earned, and the perfect option for anyone looking for the perfect Caribbean getaway. An enviable location, plentiful amenities and activities, luxurious accommodations all under a much-beloved name in the lodging industry have all contributed to this Palm Beach success! If you've enjoyed a stay at the Surf Club, let us know what you think - is its reputation among RedWeek members deserved?

Sunset at the Surf Club is a beautiful thing!

Monday, March 09, 2015

Maximize Your Chances to Rent Your Week!

You have a desirable week up for rent and an attractive price, and yet you're still having a hard time moving that week you have up for rent - sound familiar? If you're just not seeing those inquiries roll in, we have a few tips and tricks that will help you maximize the chances of renting out your week!

1. Details Count!

Unless your potential renter is familiar with the resort in question, it falls upon you as the owner to "sell" the resort to renters if you want to rent your week. Think back to when you purchased ownership - what made you buy at your resort? Does your resort boast particularly amazing room views? Do they have a fantastic pool or restaurant on property? Is it ideally located next to major area attractions? Does your resort go the extra mile to make guests happy? Any and all of these qualities are fantastic additions to your posting's "Details" section. If you're advertising a fixed week, you can also advertise any events and activities that are going on during the rental period. Remember, as an owner, you're the expert on your resort!

2. Make Sure the Price is Right!

Even if you think the price you have listed for your week is an absolute steal, it never hurts to compare pricing. Check your prices against other owners advertising similar weeks at the same resort - is your price still attractive in comparison to these other owners? Also, make use of RedWeek's "What's Your Timeshare Worth" tool. This allows you to enter your resort to view a history of all of its rental data on RedWeek. Prices, week number and unit size are displayed. Green dots indicate the week was rented, yellow dots indicate the week was deactivated with no reason given or expired and red dots indicate the week was not rented. This provides you with a more visual breakdown of what prices have been successful in the past.

3. Show the Value!

Part of what makes timeshare rentals so popular to travelers is the massive savings compared to making arrangements with the resort directly. Consider doing a bit of research to highlight the price difference. Visit your resort's website and work out what the same week would cost guests if they booked through the resort. Subtract your week's asking rental price, and add the equation into your posting's 'Details' section. Show other members the value in renting through you!

4. Be Flexible in Payment!

It may be tempting to request full payment up front, but we recommend being a bit more flexible with payment. As a show of good faith, recommend using a licensed escrow service - this can help put a renter at ease. Or, if your renter has another preferred payment method that you're comfortable with, consider giving it a try. As always, have a rental agreement in place so that both you and your renter feel safe and secure.

5. Post at the Right Time!

RedWeek research has shown that most members tend to book their accommodations about six months out from their date of travel, and this is why our rental postings run for six months. If you have the extra time and funds, it doesn't hurt to advertise a year out from check-in and renew again in six months. If you don't want to worry about renewals, however, we recommend posting an even six months out from your check-in date. Those 1-2 months before your rental starts are invaluable; it's at this point the resort is often booked solid, and last-minute vacationers are on the hunt for availability. Your renter gets a reservation and you've successfully rented your week - it's a win-win!


With these five tips, renting your timeshare doesn't have to be a shot in the dark! Have you rented out your week through RedWeek, and have you had success? What tactics have worked for you? Or, if you rent from owners, what are you looking for in a posting?

Monday, March 02, 2015

Pets Need a Vacation Too!

As any pet-owner can attest, their critters are more than just furry companions - they're part of the family! Vacationing with your pet can be an enriching experience for owner and pet alike, but it can be intimidating. Before setting off with Fido or Fluffy in tow, review these tips to ensure that your pet stays happy, healthy and can enjoy the trip with the rest of the family!

1. Be sure your accommodations are pet-friendly.

Pet-friendly resorts are becoming more common, but it still can be tough to locate pet-friendly accommodations in all major travel areas. Consider checking out RedWeek's Pet-Friendly Timeshare list to start. Also, be sure to clarify all details with the resort prior to making arrangements - some have size limits or rules on what kinds of animals are permitted on property.

2. Make sure your pet is up to date on all vaccinations.

Just like with people, traveling to unfamiliar areas can expose your pet to health hazards that you never expected. Be sure that your pet is up to date on their vaccinations, and be sure to bring confirmation and your pet's medical history along with you. Also, if your pet is on any medications, ensure that you have a full supply before setting out.

3. Take care if traveling internationally.

Traveling internationally with your pet can open you up to quite a headache. Depending on your destination, your pet may be quarantined. Thoroughly research the regulations on animals in your destination and if in doubt, instead consider leaving your pet in the care of a friend or family member or a trusted boarding service/kennel.

4. Help your pet relax.

Travel can initially be very stressful for animals that are accustomed to staying in their familiar home. To help ease their nerves and help them them, bring along a favorite toy or a blanket that smells like home. If your pet is very prone to travel anxiety, consider investing in a ThunderShirt for dogs or Feliway for cats. Both are designed to help your pet feel safe and secure.

5. Bring along a tagged collar and a photo.

In the event of an emergency where your pet escapes, you want to take every precaution to be sure that your pet finds his or her way back to you. Be sure that your pet is wearing a collar with identifying tags and have a quality photo or two of your pet on hand. Being able to ensure that others can identify your pet can make finding them much more likely.

6. Have a supply of your pet's preferred food.

Not all pet food is available everywhere, and many specialty brands are much tougher to track down than you may think. A sudden, hard switch to an unfamiliar brand could cause stomach issues for your pet - not something you want to deal with on top of the stress your pet is already experiencing. Keep things familiar and consistent and pack a food supply that will last your pet the entire duration of the trip.

7. Research your destination.

Be it a nearby dog park, a pet supply store or a local veterinarian, having a good idea of what's in the area might turn out to be a lifesaver. If you need to pick up any forgotten supplies or in the event a medical issue arises, knowing the area can save quite a bit of time. Don't be afraid to ask the resort for local references either!


Travel with your pet at your side can be fantastic experience, but some extra effort is needed to make sure everything goes seamlessly. Do you travel with your pet and have any tried-and-true tricks when hitting the road with your furry friend?