Monday, October 20, 2014

Should You Consider Travel Insurance?

With Cabo just recovering from the hurricane that caused widespread damage and another crop of storms threatening tropical locations, many travelers are wondering if travel insurance is a worthwhile investment. Even if there is no looming natural disaster, travel insurance can be an excellent safeguard in the case of unforeseen circumstances or peace of mind at the very least.
However, it does come with a cost, and it's up to you to decide if insurance fits your needs.

Travel insurance is one of those things that varies quite a bit between companies; there's a plethora of different plans and add-ons that have the potential to cause confusion. On top of that, not all travel insurance providers or plans cover rentals from private owners. While RedWeek doesn't recommend any one provider in particular, many RedWeek members have had success with the services of Travel Guard and others swear by VacationGuard, both of whom offer protection for timeshare rentals. VacationGuard also offers a specialized plan for owners of timeshares as well. If you're looking into dealing with another company, be sure to check up front if they insure timeshare rentals from individual owners.

As mentioned, plans do vary but most "base level" insurance plans tend to cover the most common and large-scale risks, such as a medical emergency (sickness or accident), emergency evacuation, trip cancellation, trip interruption, visitor health insurance, repatriation, damaged or missing baggage/property, delayed baggage, missing a flight due to airline's schedule and travel delays due to weather. Occasionally, some providers might offer extra coverage for an additional fee for additions such as pre-existing condition coverage, accidental unit damage, cancellation due to job loss, coverage for sports with an element of risk and travel to high risk companies. Some providers also allow you to "build your own" plan, where you choose the protection you desire.

Of course, travel insurance does not come cheap. Like any insurance, the costs in the case of disaster will almost invariably far exceed the initial purchase price, but dropping a couple hundred dollars on the extra protection can deter travelers. If traveling during a high-risk time - such as hurricane season - a base plan can be invaluable. Otherwise, it becomes a much more personal consideration - is the peace of mind worth the extra cost? Have you had experience with travel insurance or a situation where it might have been invaluable? Share your story in the comments!


Monday, October 13, 2014

Christmas Timeshare Rentals are Going Fast!

Have you finalized your Christmas vacation plans yet? Okay, we know what you're thinking - it's not even Halloween yet! It's too early to be thinking about Christmas, right? Holiday travel, however, often requires months and even a year of forethought - resorts book up fast, and the week of Christmas is often very in demand. Luckily for you, enterprising owners are still renting out their Christmas weeks, but they are renting quickly. Whether you're planning a tropical vacation, a ski retreat or just looking to give your family the best present ever, we've compiled a list of dozens resorts with Christmas inventory left. 

If you see something you like, you'll want to contact the owner as soon as possible to lock in the rental. These weeks are notorious for renting mere days within posting.

All prices are in $USD for one full week.


Florida

Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa


Arizona


Hawaii

Kaanapali Beach Club


South Carolina


California

Marriott's Newport Coast Villas

Colorado


Mexico

Grand Luxxe Nuevo Vallarta

Aruba



Saint Martin/Sint Maarten

Oyster Bay Beach Resort

Please be aware: all availability and prices were verified on October 13th, 2014. All weeks are limited in quantity and will go very quickly!

The bulk of Christmas and holiday weeks have already been posted, but owners are adding new inventory every day, and so there's still a chance of seeing more rentals pop up. 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, October 10, 2014

October Resort Spotlight - Smugglers' Notch Resort

Vacationing in fall brings to mind brilliant autumn leaves, hikes in the crisp air with loved ones and sipping apple cider while snuggled up in front of the fireplace. If this is your idea of a perfect October vacation, then this month's Resort Spotlight will be right up your alley! With a picturesque location
and plenty of activities both onsite and in the area to satisfy the entire family, a trip to Smugglers' Notch Resort will be the best autumn trip yet!

Smugglers' Notch Resort is located in its namesake of Smugglers' Notch, Vermont. While the resort is often touted as a ski destination, the sheer beauty of Smugglers' Notch in the fall should not be overlooked. Tucked away in the Green Mountains, the resort boasts a beautiful view of the surrounding peaks as well as blazing fall foliage in these autumn months. Five separate "communities" make up the resort, each with a handful of studio to four-bedroom units. The particular room layouts are all given names to reflect the natural surroundings, such as Evergreen, Owls and Sycamores. 

Mountains and forests make for an amazing backdrop!

Each and every unit is designed to immerse guests in the alpine spirit of Smugglers' Notch. Units are outfitted with red wooden furniture and draped with classic prints. Rooms are equipped with the necessities as well as extra touches to make the stay even more comfortable, such as sizable decks and even sunrooms in certain unit layouts. The majority of units also include a fireplace - perfect to help add to that cozy fall vibe!

Warm colors, woods and stone speak "autumn".
Smugglers' Notch Resort is renowned for offering incredible amounts of activities and entertainment right onsite. Kids especially have plenty of options to keep busy - arts and crafts are scheduled routinely, there's a video game room packed with electronic fun and the family favorite FunZone (packed with bounce houses, slides and table games) lets kids burn off some extra energy. Dining options are diverse with nine separate restaurants and lounges serving everything from casual ice cream cones to fine dining by candlelight. If the fall air is a tad too chilly for swimming, consider dropping by the heated indoor pool for a dip or relaxing in one of many hot tubs.

Kids won't know where to start at the FunZone!
With the mountains nearby, there's no shortage of outdoor activities perfectly suited to fall vacationing. Hiking and biking among the breathtaking foliage are popular choices, and horseback riding and gold are less than ten miles away. Nearby Jeffersonville and Cambridge offer fantastic shopping opportunities with art galleries, homemade crafts and antiques while historic Stowe is packed with history, fine dining and specialty shops.

Fall is an absolutely gorgeous time in Vermont!
Smugglers' Notch Resort isn't the most popular resort on RedWeek, but it does boast a healthy number of postings throughout the year, as well as quite a few prime rental weeks in the coming months. If you're on the hunt for a fall destination that embraces that warm and cozy "lodge-y" feel, you can't go wrong with Smugglers' Notch Resort!

Friday, October 03, 2014

Resort Progress in the Wake of Hurricane Odile

On the night of September 15th, Hurricane Odile slammed the Baja California peninsula, wreaking havoc on the entire southern half of the peninsula. Cabo San Lucas - a traditional vacation hotspot - was caught right in the trajectory of the storm. While the hurricane has long passed and the dust has settled, Cabo is still caught in a frenzy to pick up the pieces and get business running as usual. Progress has been remarkable, but still some resorts are undergoing maintenance. If a vacation in Cabo is on your calendar, be sure to get the scoop on how your resort is faring.

Resorts sustaining significant damage

The following resorts are reported to have suffered significant damage and will require extensive repair before reopening their doors to guests.

Resorts sustaining moderate damage

The following resorts are reported to have suffered moderate damage. A fair amount of repair is still needed, and reopening dates are still awhile off. 

Resorts sustaining minor damage

The following resorts are reported to have suffered minor damage. Resorts are mostly intact, but cosmetic or small-scale repairs are needed. Most plan to open within the month.

Of course, some resorts have managed to escape the worst of the storm and are already up and running; among them, Villa del Arco Beach Resort & Spa, Villa del Palmar Cabo San Lucas and WorldMark Coral Baja. Additionally, most major airlines have dubbed the area safe to fly to and will also be accepting bookings on October 8th.

RedWeek is continuing to update our resort pages as we obtain new information, but if you don't see your resort listed, we highly encourage you to contact the resort directly. Many are more than willing to let you know the current status, as well as eager to help make your vacation enjoyable.

Photo Credit: http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/15/world/americas/hurricane-odile/


Friday, September 26, 2014

Celebrate Halloween in Sunny Florida!

Florida's balmy climate lends itself well to autumn vacations - the hot and heavy summer humidity has abated while still remaining warm enough for shorts and t-shirts. The best benefit of Florida in the fall, however? All of those Halloween celebrations at the theme parks! If you're looking for a spooky fall trip the entire family will enjoy, consider spending a night at one (or a few!) of these park-exclusive celebrations.

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

Between September 1st to October 31st, Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom park plays host to one of fans' favorite events - Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Like name suggests, this bash is low on the scary factor but still plenty of fun for all ages. On select nights between 7:00 PM and 12:00 AM, the park shuts down to everyone but partygoers. Guests are encouraged to come in costume and trick or treat around dozens of candy stations set up. Several classic Magic Kingdom attractions remain open, and exclusive seasonal entertainment is abound - Mickey's "Boo-To-You" Halloween Parade is classes Disney parade fun with a spooky twist, while Happy HalloWishes lets the Disney Villains take control of the nightly Wishes firework spectacular! New this year is the Villains Soiree - a delightfully devious dessert party with Disney's infamous villains.

Halloween Horror Nights

If you're looking for more intense thrills and chills, Universal Studios Florida holds their Halloween Horror Nights from September 19th to November 1st. There's eight separate haunted houses, each experience crafted around TV and movie horror hits such as The Walking Dead and Dracula Untold. There's also a full set of six live shows and street experiences to keep you on toes, including shows based off The Purge: Anarchy and The Rocky Picture Horror Show. Several favorite Universal Studios attractions remain open until the early hours of the morning, making this event the ultimate experience for movie buffs with a taste for horror.

Howl-O-Scream

Busch Gardens Tampa returns this year with their annual Howl-O-Scream event held on select nights from September 26th to November 1st. This year, the event bears the theme "Cursed"; where hearing a particular eerie song curses the listener to doom. If they can survive the night with hundreds of roaming creatures, the curse is broken. Eight haunted houses offer plenty of chilling experiences, and Busch Gardens' exciting roller coasters are even more fun in the dark of night. For delightfully demented dining, be sure to book a ticket to Fright Feast, where you can enjoy front-row seats to the "Fiends" show while chowing down on buffet main courses and decadent desserts. If you're in more of a party mood, drop by the Marrakesh Theater for Club Howl-O-Scream - this dance playground comes with a DJ, nonstop music and appearances by horrific personalities.

Halloween Spooktacular

Perhaps the best suited for young children, SeaWorld's Halloween Spooktacular keeps things light and fun on weekends from October 4th through the 26th. Penelope's Party Zone located in the Bayside Stadium, kids have the opportunity to participate in games and crafts all to the sound of fun, spooky music. There's also park-wide trick-or-treating with plenty of candy stations for kids to tackle. The pathways are packed with costumed characters, all happy to interact with the entire family. For an extra-special experience, the Dine With Shamu Halloween Spooktacular Brunch is offered. Guests dine right alongside the whale pool, and this experience includes a complimentary family photo and frame, cookie decorating kit and a bag of trick or treat goodies.


Photo Credit: http://www.halloweenhorrornights.com/orlando/index.html

Monday, September 22, 2014

Get Ready for Ski Season!

It might only be September now, but it won't be long before the snow starts falling in North America's top ski destinations. If you're looking to hit the slopes this holiday season, first be sure that your park of choice is open. The advent of "ski season" is highly variant; some peaks open in late October while others hold off as long as December. We've compiled a list of the expected opening dates of some of North America's favorite ski destinations to help guide your planning!

Colorado

  • Keystone Resort, Keystone: October 31st
  • Breckenridge Ski Resort, Breckenridge: November 7th
  • Wolf Creek Ski Area, Pagosa Springs: November 8th
  • Winter Park Resort, Winter Park: November 13th
  • Vail Mountain Resort, Vail: November 21st
  • Steamboat, Steamboat Springs: November 26th
  • Beaver Creek Resort, Avon: November 26th

Utah

  • Alta Ski Area, Alta: November 21st
  • Park City Mountain Resort, Park City: November 22nd 
  • Canyons, Park City: November 28th
  • Deer Valley,  Park City: December 6th

California

  • Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, Mammoth Lakes: November 13th
  • Heavenly Mountain, South Lake Tahoe: November 21st
  • Kirkwood Mountain Resort, Kirkwood: November 22nd
  • Northstar California, South Lake Tahoe: November 22nd

Oregon

  • Mr. Bachelor, Bend: November 26th
  • Timberline, Timberline Lodge: November 28th

Wyoming

  • Grand Targhee, Alta: November 22nd
  • Jackson Hole, Teton Village: November 27th

Vermont

  • Killington Resort, Killington: November 5th
  • Mount Snow, West Dover: November 15th
  • Jay Peak, Jay: November 22nd
  • Stratton Mountain, South Londonderry: November 23rd
  • Sugarbush, Warren: November 23rd
  • Smuggler's Notch, Cambridge: November 28th

Montana

  • Red Lodge Mountain, Red Lodge: November 23rd
  • Big Sky Resort, Big Sky: November 27th
  • Whitefish Mountain, Whitefish: December 7th

Washington

  • Mt. Baker, Bellingham: November 8th
  • Stevens Pass, Skykomish: November 22nd
  • 49 Degrees North, Chewelah: November 23rd
  • Crystal Mountain, Enumclaw: November 24th

British Columbia

  • Big White, Kelowna: November 27th
  • Whistler Blackcomb, Whistler: November 28th
  • Fernie Alpine, Fernie: November 29th

Keep in mind that while opening dates tend to be very accurate, unexpected weather conditions do run the potential of delaying opening. While uncommon, it is something that we recommend preparing for - be sure to have plenty of activity options lined up just in case Mother Nature is being a little bit uncooperative.

When looking for accommodations, also be sure to keep your options open! Many of the bigger ski resorts may offer lodging and accommodations, but often at a steep price! A timeshare rental can save you quite literally hundreds of dollars while still keeping you close to the the slopes with just-as-luxuriant furnishings. 

Photo Credit: http://www.vail.com

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!