Monday, November 17, 2014

Travel Apps You Never Knew You Needed

Whether we like it or not, many of us tend to rely on our smartphones for day to day use. Travel is no exception, and our phones see a lot of use when we're far from home. Flight times, maps, packing lists... Smartphones make everything a bit more streamlined, and there's quite a number of apps out there targeted towards individuals who travel. Which ones should you download before your next vacation?

Orbitz Flights, Hotels, Cars

Orbitz's app compiles the best travels and makes it easy to book them. Even if most us prefer timeshare accommodations to standard "hotel" lodging, the option to look into affordable hotel availability can be a lifesaver in some cases. And of course, a reliable source of comparing flight and car rentals is always appreciated! Best of all, Orbitz offers a price guarantee if another user books the same as you for a lower price. 
Available for: iOS, Android, Kindle Fire

GateGuru

How often have you been stuck in an airport reading the same old newspaper or wandering the gate aimlessly? GateGuru helps find better ways to occupy you, and clues you into the secrets of whichever airport you're in. Did you know the San Francisco International Airport houses a yoga room where you can stretch and unwind? GateGuru is packed with plenty of secrets just like this!
Available for: iOS, Android, Windows Phone

City Guides, Offline Maps

Sure the name might be a little jarring, but this app created by those at Stay.com offers two distinct functions. First, there's plenty of plenty of maps built into the app, all of them offline which is perfect for those moments you find yourself without cell coverage or wifi. You can also create loose itineraries of what you want to do, where you want to eat and what you want to see. If you already use Stay.com, you can import your itineraries right over to your phone as well.
Available for: iOS, Android

Gogobot

Gogobot is one of the best ways to pull up things to do while on the go. Whether you consider yourself an outdoorsy type or a shopping addict, Gogobot recommends activities suited to what "type" of traveller you are. These activities can be then be collected into an itinerary to save for later. If you're already out and about, Gogobot can locate nearby points of interest in the area for new opportunities to experience.
Available for: iOS, Android

Viator

Most of us are looking to save money, and Viator is perfectly designed to help out. The app pulls up discounts and deals either nearby or in your destination of choice. The amount of discounts as well as the quality varies quite a bit, but it's still definitely worth checking out before setting off and committing to standard prices.
Available for: iOS, Android

Packing Pro

If you ever find yourself double and triple-checking to make sure everything you need is packed, Packing Pro is the app for you. You can create your own lists of things to pack, or use one of Packing Pro's built-in list options to guide you. If that wasn't enough, Packing Pro also has some general reminders that are easy to overlook set up - water the plants and double-check your reservations!
Available for: iOS

TripIt

TripIt is an incredibly handy app for travelers. Instead of frantically combing through your email for whichever reservation you might need, let TripIt take care of it! The app searches your email automatically and pulls out travel information, including confirmations numbers for flights, hotel bookings, rental car confirmations and even restaurant reservations. If you ever find yourself the slightest bit disorganized, TripIt deserves a download!
Available for: iOS, Android


As smartphones continue to grow and evolve as integral parts of our life, no doubt we'll see more travel-oriented apps pop up. What apps are you "go-to" when hitting the road?



Monday, November 10, 2014

Capture Your Trip's Every Moment With These Ten Photography Tips!

When we travel, our cameras are invariably at our sides. Whether we're rocking the newest DSLR camera or just a smartphone camera, we all want to capture every memorable moment of our vacation. These ten photography tips will help you manage your equipment, setting and subjects in pursuit of that perfect shot!


  1. No matter where you're traveling, cameras - especially the more technical, expensive models - and their owners are prime targets for thieves. If you're traveling with a pricy camera model or accessories (think lenses, tripods and battery packs), consider packing your gear in a plain or even ratty-looking backpack as opposed to a fancier camera bag - you're far less likely to catch the eye of thieves!
  2. It's very easy to underestimate just how photos many you'll return home with. If you're guilty of going a little overboard snapping pictures, travel with a portable hard drive and card adapter.  You don't want to get stuck with a full memory card and no way to preserve all the photos you've taken!
  3. When photographing family and friends, you'll want to strike a good balance between the subject and environment (unless you're specifically aiming for portraits!). You want your subject to be clear and recognizable, but you also want to show off the background or landscape.
  4. Shoot candids when you can! Posed pictures can look nice, but they rarely show off the true spirit of your vacation - shoot when no one is aware to capture emotion.
  5. If you're flying to your destination, transfer any essentials to your camera bag and bring that along as your carry-on. Baggage handlers can be notoriously rough, which doesn't bode well for the delicate structure of cameras and lenses. If possible, you'll also want to tuck your camera bag safely under the seat instead of sliding freely around in the overhead compartments.
  6. If you haven't already, invest in a lightweight, sturdy and foldable tripod. You don't need to lug it around all the time, but it will make landing those stable shots in low-light or difficult conditions much easier!
  7. Deviate from eye-level shots and try photographing your subjects from different angles. Shooting a bit above or below eye level will lend an all-new attitude to your shot.
  8. We all love sunset photos, but for a truly striking shot, shoot with trees, buildings or a person in silhouette - the contrast creates for a much more intense picture!
  9. Try photographing in the rule of thirds, setting your subject along imaginary lines dividing the image into vertical and horizontal thirds. This creates a naturally pleasing and dynamic image and, best of all, most cameras have an overlay function that allows these third lines to be superimposed over your composition when looking through the lens. 
  10. Use your flash carefully. Flash can be great for capturing a brief moment in low light, but it does produce very "flat" or washed-out photos. As an alternative, try increasing ambient lighting, opening your lens aperture or reducing shutter speed. These techniques will create a more full and "natural" image.
Do you have any tried and true photography tricks that you employ on vacation? Let us know below!

Monday, November 03, 2014

RedWeek's Casting Calls Are a Success!

This past July, RedWeek debuted The Great Family Vacation Casting Call to undisputed success! The casting call offered vacationing families the chance to enjoy professional photography and RedWeek fame.

Colleen, Shane and their two two teenagers were our first applicants to be selected. Hailing from Arizona, the family chose Marriott's Ko Olina Beach Club in Oahu for their summer vacation. Long-time RedWeek members, Colleen and Shane use RedWeek to book their annual vacations and have made some fantastic memories. Their gorgeous photography was the work of Oahu-based photographer Kim Ebert.

Colleen and Shane's summer Oahu vacation!

RedWeek's second casting call featured Mark and Vickie from Portland, Oregon. RedWeek members and owners at Marriott's Maui Ocean Club, the couple visited the resort to celebrate a family wedding and added on a second week for themselves at the end once the rest of family had gone home. Wendy Laurel captured Mark, Vickie and the family enjoying the Maui sun.

Mark and Vickie's Maui vacation!

There's one more casting call underway - and we want you to be a part of it! If your family has vacation plans at timeshare resort in the US, you can apply here to receive a free professional photo shoot, all digital copies of the photos, a $50.00 photo printing certificate and your face on RedWeek! Ideal applicants are RedWeek members who have booked their trip through RedWeek, and a photo and testimonial about your RedWeek experience will improve your chances of being selected. 

Be sure to check out our Facebook page for more updates on our casting calls!

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Revival of Grand Palisades

Grand Palisades prior construction beginning anew.
After six years of dormancy, development of the timeshare resort Grand Palisades has resumed once more under Westport Capital Partners. Trouble for the resort began in 2009 when the recession was in full swing and the project's lead developer declared bankruptcy and fled the country, leaving thousands of investors furious and filing lawsuits while the resort itself laid unfinished and vacant behind a chain-link fence with a decidedly uncertain future. Grand Palisades had foreclosed for a hefty $150 million.

Westport Capital Developers has a history of acquiring and breathing new life into distressed and vacant properties and has very high hopes for Grand Palisades; Orlando is a consistently strong bet for development. The exact details and structure of the resort remain unclear - Westport is open to all possibilities and haven't decided whether the renewed Grand Palisades will be a fractional timeshare, straight condos or a combination of condos and a hotel.

One thing that is certain is that the project is receiving quite a bit of love and will take some time to get back up on its feet - Westport estimates that development could take up to eighteen months. Big things are planned for the property, and a spa, gym and restaurant are just some of the ideas brainstormed for Grand Palisades.

The revival of Grand Palisades isn't only a good thing for Orlando vacationers - it represents the renewed vigor of timeshares. Much like other "luxury" industries, the timeshare industry experienced its fair share of struggles during the recession, with many independent resorts closing their doors and even the big resort management companies working to turn a profit. Even so, many vacationers could see the value in timeshares and this popularity has been a boon to the timeshare industry - investors are willing to step up and take a chance on timeshares and there's no doubt that vacationers will be the ones to benefit.

Photo Credit: James Hobart, Macbeth Photography

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!