Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Carlsbad Inn Beach Resort and Timeshare Celebrates 25 Years

The Carlsbad Inn Beach Resort in Carlsbad, California, recently celebrated their 25th anniversary. Built in 1985, the beautiful Carlsbad Inn Beach Resort recently underwent major renovations in preparation for their milestone celebration.

Guest rooms were upgraded, and improvements were also made to the lobby and public restroom areas. The Library and Sunset Terrace meeting room received new fixtures, carpet and lighter wood.

The resort is comprised of timeshares, hotel rooms, retail shopping (including California beach wear and jewelry stores, to name a few) and restaurants. Guests of the resort may enjoy complementary use of: kick and boogie boards, sand and pool toys, beach chairs, umbrellas, bikes and joggers.

Other amenities include the Library, with a big screen TV, as well as a game room, arcade and play area for kids. Visitors can enjoy the resort pool, children’s pool, BBQ area and cabanas. Take a few steps and you’re right on the beach where you can enjoy the view or take part in outdoor activities.

Depending on the time of year, the resort has quite a list of fun things to do, including: African Drum Circles, Bingo Pizza Parties, Bird House Painting, Chair Massage, Craft Projects, Root Beer Float Socials and even Yoga classes. Check their web site for more details on what’s available for the dates of your resort stay.

(Photo credit - carlsbadinn.com)

Monday, November 29, 2010

How Marriott Phuket Resorts Aid Sea Turtle Conservation

Marriott's Phuket Beach Club and the JW Marriott Phuket Resort and Spa are located in exotic Thailand. The two Marriott resorts are adjacent to each other on Mai Khao Beach, the longest beach in Phuket with over 10 miles of undeveloped beachfront. Mai Khao is also the home of coastal wetlands, the Nai Yang National Marine Park, and a sea turtle nesting area.

In conjunction with the grand opening of the JW Marriott Phuket Resort and Spa in 2002, Marriott donated $45,000 to launch the Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation. The Foundation's mission is to raise funds and increase awareness for the plight of the critically endangered giant leatherback turtles that nest in the area.

Their numbers have been severely depleted over the last twenty years and the local Mai Khao villagers work hard to protect these magnificent animals. During the breeding season from November to February, sea turtles, particularly the giant leatherback, return to the beach where they were born to lay their eggs.

Local villagers patrol the beach at night during the breeding season, protecting the turtles while nesting, and keeping records of the number of eggs laid. When necessary the eggs are taken to a hatchery where the baby turtles are protected from elements of nature and human exploitation, and are then released in a special ceremony during the Songkran Festival (Thai New Year) in April.

Marriott works closely with the local authorities to support their efforts in sea turtle conservation. Prior to and during the construction phase of the resorts, the developers exceeded every requirement of the very stringent Environmental Impact Study for the property, ensuring environmental responsibility, safety and conservation. Educational programs on the Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation are held at the JW Marriott Phuket Resort and Spa for associates, guests and visitors.

The Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation committee has recently agreed to assist the Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC) in constructing a new rehabilitation pond for injured turtles. This project is also being supported by Marriott.

The PMBC reports that an average of 30 sea turtles are stranded on the beach each year. Although approximately 58% are alive, they are also injured, usually by their flippers being caught in fishing nets. Most of these injured turtles cannot be released back into the wild; therefore, the new rehabilitation pond must be engineered to provide long-term care.

(Photo credit - maikhaoturtles.com)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tour Movie Locations from Your Kauai Timeshare

Did you know that planning a Kauai timeshare rental vacation on Hawaii's "Garden Island" can get you up close and personal to the movies?

The lush tropical landscape and spectacular beaches of Kauai have had starring roles in movies and TV shows for years. They have stood in for Central and South America, Africa, Australia, Asia, and, of course, the South Pacific. Oh, and for plenty of fantasy worlds, too.

Perhaps one of Kauai's most famous - and most appropriate - roles was as the backdrop for Rogers and Hammerstein's soaring musical, "South Pacific." Elvis Presley crooned his love songs here for "Blue Hawaii." The romantic comedy "Six Days, Seven Nights," turned Kauai into French Polynesia.

Adventure movies such as "Uncommon Valor," "Outbreak," "Jurassic Park," and "Raiders of the Lost Ark," all took advantage of Kauai's exotic jungle appearance. And the biggest movie of all time, "Avatar," turned Kauai into its own particular fantasy land.

Many television shows have filmed scenes on Kauai. The island became Australia for the TV mini series "The Thorn Birds," and became a "desert isle" for "Gilligan's Island." The island also proudly stood in for itself for some scenes in "Magnum, P.I."

Kauai is a real filmmaker's paradise, and an exciting place for fans, as well. The Theater-On-Wheels® tour company will take you to the film sites of these and many other legendary Hollywood movie and television shows. This tour company is also the only one with access to the Coco Palms Resort - long ago closed, but that was the filming location for scenes from "Blue Hawaii," classic movies such as "Pagan Love Song" with Esther Williams, and many Fantasy Island scenes.

Besides seeing the very locations used in filming, you'll also learn "fascinating inside details of the stars and what they did when they were here." And you can join in the show tune sing-along as you enjoy a delicious picnic lunch on the beach.

(Photo credit - discoveringhawaii.com)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hidden Airline Fees Cost the Equivalent of 12 Million Turkeys

Americans will pay the equivalent of 12 million turkeys in hidden airline fees while traveling over this Thanksgiving holiday, says the Consumer Travel Alliance (CTA), a non-profit organization promoting consumer interests on travel policy issues.

The CTA just released an estimate showing the impact of these fees will be on travelers' pocketbooks over the busy 12-day Thanksgiving holiday travel period - a whopping $167 million, the equivalent of more than 12 million turkeys purchased at retail. That’s enough to give a free turkey to every household in the state of California.

"Feathers are flying over hidden airline fees, because Americans are justifiably angry that they can't see the true costs of air travel, nor compare the price of different flights against one another," said Charles Leocha, director of the Consumer Travel Alliance. "Airlines expect consumers to dig through thousands of words of gobble-gobbledygook to find even the most basic fees. Its time to talk turkey and show consumers what their tickets will cost with all the fixings included."

The Consumer Travel Alliance has urged the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Congress to take action to protect consumer interests and ensure that all ancillary fees are made fully transparent through every booking channel in which each airline participates.

The CTA estimate used November data from the Air Transport Association (ATA) that 24 million Americans will fly over the 12-day Thanksgiving holiday period this year. To calculate the fees paid by those consumers, the analysis used September data from the ATA that cited ancillary fees of $11.58 per passenger per enplanement on U.S. carriers. As airlines do not currently share their ancillary fee data through all distribution channels, the analysis used publicly filed data from the Interactive Travel Services Association that roughly 60% of airline bookings would potentially include hidden fees.

The Consumer Travel Alliance is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to provide consumers an articulate and reasoned voice in decisions that affect travel consumers across all of travels spectrum. CTAs staff gathers facts, analyzes issues, and disseminates that information to the public, the travel industry, regulators and policy makers. CTA was founded by longtime travel journalists Charles Leocha, former MSNBC travel guru and host of the popular Travel Tips radio program, and Christopher Elliott, ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler and author of travel columns for Tribune Syndicates, MSNBC.com and the Washington Post syndicate.

(Photo credit - animals.nationalgeographic.com)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Survey Says London is Better than Paris

Do you believe that London is better than Paris? Following in the wake of London garnering the prestigious "World's Best Destination" award at the 17th annual World Travel Awards gala held November 7, 2010, comes that official finding from a survey commissioned by the French themselves.

As chronicled by BreakingTravelNews.com on November 19, French officials have conceded that London offers a better tourism experience than Paris. The report, titled “Twenty Four Hours in a Tourist Capital," was authorized by the Paris-Ile de France Regional Tourism Committee (CRT). It placed London first ahead of the five other European cities of Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, and Berlin.

In the French report, London is accepted as the more impressive city in every aspect, from its restaurants and taxis to its landmarks such as Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, and the famous Tower of London. The findings come despite Parisians boasting that nowhere beats their restaurants and tourist attractions, such as the Eiffel Tower.

In the survey London scored 82% for its welcome to visitors from abroad. This was followed by Paris and Amsterdam in joint second place on 79%. Madrid and Rome were tied at third, both with 76%, while Berlin was last with 74%.

Undercover French investigators concluded that public transport in Paris was poor, with tickets difficult to buy and the Metro old and dirty. Hotels scored 74% compared with 89% for those in London.

Committee head Jean-Pierre Blat said: “The survey reflects reality. Paris knows how to welcome visitors but there are definite improvements to make.” He also suggested the French were often the most critical of their own capital, which may explain the result.

The main fault found in London was the lack of foreign languages. Mr Blat said: “In Paris, besides French we speak English, Italian, and Spanish, while in London they only speak English.”

The BTN article also announced a new way to have access to travel information about London, with the launch of a new mobile site: London.mobi. The site is the latest in the line up of city guides from World Mobi, with over 800 cities in 200 countries listed, including Brussels.Mobi, Sanfrancisco.Mobi and Sydney.Mobi.

World Mobi guides include user reviews and traveler utilities such as a translation guide, currency converter, news and local weather guide. Other key features include information on accommodation, restaurants, attractions, entertainment, nightlife, shopping, and transport.

(Photo credit – sdkbphotography.com on Flickr)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Top Ten Most Popular Cities for Holiday Travel

Yahoo!Travel just released its list of the Top Ten Most Popular Cities for Holiday Travel. They are:
  1. Austin, TX
  2. Orlando, FL
  3. Chicago, IL
  4. Las Vegas, NV
  5. Los Angeles, CA
  6. New York, NY
  7. San Diego, CA
  8. Atlanta, GA
  9. Myrtle Beach, SC
  10. San Francisco, CA
Many of these are great destinations for timeshare rental vacations. For example, you can rent an Orlando timeshare for as low as $50/n or one in next-door Kissimmee for just $70/n. And the holidays couldn't be more fun than in Orlando. You can enjoy special holiday activities with Mickey and Minnie and the Gang, with Harry Potter and his friends, and even with Shamu.

Las Vegas is glitz and glamour all year long, but it seems to sparkle even brighter during the holidays. You can rent a Vegas timeshare starting at just $43/n. And a lot of the holiday offerings in this city are free. For example, the spectacular Bellagio fountains will be doing their amazing dance to Christmas carols and holiday music, and the Bellagio Conservatory will be decked out for the holidays with flying reindeer made of whole pecans, a polar bear family made of white carnations, and a 7-ft tall rocking horse, all in the midst of a whimsical display with a working train.

Stay in a downtown New York City timeshare rental for an amazing $143/n at the Manhattan Club. From Rockefeller Center to Radio City Music Hall the holiday excitement in this city just doesn't end. For something a bit different, enjoy a gorgeous view of the holiday lights of NYC from the deck of a 1920's-style yacht on a Cocoa and Carols or Holiday Jazz Cruise. A fun free activity is to stroll along 5th Avenue and check out award-winning decorated department store windows such as Macy's and Tiffany's.

Myrtle Beach (see photo) is on this list for good reason - what better way to celebrate the holidays than on a beach vacation? And believe it or not, you can get a timeshare rental in Myrtle Beach for as low as $36/n this holiday season. Besides enjoying snowy-white sand and emerald green water, you can also take in holiday celebrations such as the Festival of the Trees at the Ripley Aquarium, and Christmas on Ice at the Palace Theater.

For great ideas on where to celebrate the holidays check out these and many other timeshare rental opportunities at these Top 10 holiday destinations.

(Photo credit - northmyrtlebeachtravel.com)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

An Interview with Randy Conrads – Part 2

In this second of our 2-Part series we continue excerpts of Perspective Magazine Editor Matt McDaniel's interview with RedWeek co-founder Randy Conrads.

When you started Redweek.com, what was the emphasis on?
The idea was that people could get more for that asset that they owned if they themselves were to rent it out. And so our first focus was on the rental - they can rent out their unit and it’s not all that difficult.

When people rent them out on our site they get to keep all the money – it’s not somebody taking it away from them. They pay pretty high commissions if they have somebody else do it. In our case, if they rent it, they keep it all. So that was our original plan.

And then we thought, as long as we’re there, these same people are looking to sell too. We said it’s the same units; they could put it up for sale, just put their price on it and list it. So that was our starting point.

Have you been affected by the recession?
We haven’t. We’ve been going through a certain amount of organic growth year over year, and it continues.

So you’re actually growing during this time?
Oh yeah. It’s a nice, solid, continuing organic growth. We are relying a lot more heavily now on word of mouth. We’ve got good traffic and transactions are happening, and we’ve got our people coming back, and they’re telling their friends about us, and so we’ve grown right through it.

So what is it that distinguishes you?
A couple of things that distinguish us from the people we see as competitors is that we’re actually recognized as being pretty honest; we have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. We try to protect people. We invented an escrow service for the rentals and got First American Title to back us on that - so when you don’t know someone and rather than sending them a check, you send it to the escrow service and it’s held there until after the vacation is taken. That stops fraud dead.

And our site has a forum for people to talk about their different experiences within the timeshare industry, and they give advice to each other. There’s a place there for them to share bad experiences that they’ve had and help other people from going to places that they shouldn’t go to. There are some bad players out there, and it's better that people are able to talk about them.

One of the things that makes a free market work is a free flow of information – and that’s what the Internet is doing. You can rely on people learning the truth, and working with it.

Read An Interview with Randy Conrads – Part 1

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

An Interview with Randy Conrads – Part 1

Perspective Magazine Editor Matt McDaniel is continuing his look at timeshare industry A-Listers, by talking with RedWeek's own Randy Conrads. In a 2-Part series we are bringing you excerpts of McDaniel's article and interview, which was published November 15, 2010.

Randy Conrads is co-founder of RedWeek.com, an online marketplace connecting travelers to the timeshare community. Now a leader in the secondary marketplace, RedWeek is the largest, most reputable online timeshare marketplace with more than 1.5 million registered users and an A+ Better Business Bureau rating.

Before starting RedWeek.com, Randy’s entrepreneurial spirit and vision created Classmates.com, one of the world’s largest online communities. Under Randy’s direction, Classmates.com grew from a startup operating in his basement to one of the top 15 most highly trafficked websites on the Internet, with 38 million members and 2 million visitors each day.

Prior to Classmates, Randy spent 21 years in senior management positions with Boeing Aircraft in Seattle. He received his Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Oregon State University and his MBA from Pacific Lutheran University. Randy and his wife, Sharon, have been happily married for nearly 40 years and have 2 children.

How did Classmates.com come about and why was it so successful?
There are a lot of things that add to it, but Classmates was an idea I came up with back in the early stages of the Internet. The Internet was showing that you could connect with somebody without actually going to a place, which I thought was pretty powerful.

I do remember seeing your banner ads everywhere.
Well, we did find that advertising on the Internet was the thing that worked for us and we were one of the largest advertisers. We were just about everywhere because we needed to get the word out, and almost everybody we were exposing it to was qualified to be one of our customers because they would have graduated from high school.

How did you end up getting involved in timeshare?
As Classmates grew and we brought in some investors, a decision was made that I could move out of the CEO position and be chairman of the board. That meant I didn’t have to run the day-to-day of Classmates, so I had some available time. Then, some friends of mine came to me and talked about a need for an Internet site that would do something to help the people who own timeshares.

They told me there was a need there and that the Internet wasn’t being used very well, and that we could do something on the order of a Classmates. We could connect people who have timeshares with people who would like to use them, and we could probably fill a niche. And I said, okay, let’s go do it. We put it together and the site went up in 2002.

Read An Interview with Randy Conrads – Part 2

(Top left photo - perspectivemagazine.com. Right photo - alumni.orgeonstate.edu)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Controversy Surrounds Full Body Scans at the Airport

As you fly to your next timeshare vacation the odds of encountering the full body scanner at an airport security check has gone up drastically. And the controversy surrounding this latest security measure is reaching explosive proportions.

A backlash among airline personnel and passengers is growing across the globe. A pilot of a regional airline recently refused the scanner saying it unjustly violated his privacy. And the largest independent union of airline pilots in the world earlier this week urged its members to boycott body imaging machines, citing dangers of excessive exposure to harmful levels of radiation during the screening process.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano met last week with leaders of travel industry groups in order to hold discussions over the issue and resolve it peacefully.

“Napolitano met with the U.S. Travel Association and 20 travel companies to underscore the Department's continued commitment to partnering with the nation's travel and tourism industry to facilitate the flow of trade and travel while maintaining high security standards to protect the American people," a DHS spokesperson said.

"While the meeting with Secretary Napolitano was informative, it was not entirely reassuring," the U.S. Travel Association said in a statement.

"We certainly understand the challenges that DHS confronts, but the question remains, 'where do we draw the line'? Our country desperately needs a long-term vision for aviation security screening, rather than an endless reaction to yesterday's threat," concluded the statement.

Meanwhile, Iscon Video Imaging, a Massachusetts company, has announced that it has designed body scanning technology that is minus harmful radiation, and also addresses the privacy issue.

“The Iscon 1000D is the only whole body imaging portal that can be integrated with state of the art technologies to detect virtually any object, without radiation or privacy issues and confirm that the person is indeed who they claim to be,” an Iscon press release stated.

In addition, an enhanced version of Iscon’s 1000D whole body scanner is equipped with optional biometric technologies and identity verification techniques, according to the company. "The machine uses thermo-conductive infrared technology that completes a 360°scan in 30 seconds, reveals a multitude of objects, but doesn’t penetrate clothing, so there’s no privacy or radiation issues,” explained an Iscon spokesperson.

At this time you are allowed to accept a full body pat-down in lieu of the body scanner, but it is more time-consuming so plan accordingly.

(Photo credit - Still image from YouTube video uploaded by CBS News)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Movie Magic in Hawaii

Now that you know about renting a timeshare, and how that is an affordable way for budget-minded travelers to take a dream vacation, you'll be headed to Hawaii one of these days. From watching hula dancers to enjoying spectacular sunsets, from snorkeling to hiking around waterfalls, there are plenty of traditional ways to enjoy Hawaii.

And then you might want to stir things up with a bit of pizzazz by indulging in some movie magic. Many movies and TV shows have had scenes filmed in the Hawaiian islands. From your timeshare rental on Oahu you can set out to discover some of the sites on your own.

For example, in "50 First Dates" Adam Sandler's character worked at Sea Life Park at Makapuu. The movie's infamous Hukilau Café, where Drew Barrymore built waffle houses every morning, doesn't really exist, but you can visit the original Hukilau Café, a local favorite in the little town of Laie, where you can sample popular dishes such as Loco Moco, and the Hukilau Burger.

The Halona Beach Cove, on the east side of Oahu, was made world famous in a sultry scene between Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in the 1953 classic "From Here to Eternity."

Many movies, including "Jurassic Park," "Godzilla," and "Pearl Harbor," took advantage of the lush tropical terrain and sweeping ocean vistas on the Kualoa Ranch, Oahu's only working cattle ranch. Scenes from TV shows were filmed here, as well, including "Magnum P.I.," "Fantasy Island," and "Lost."

The Kualoa Ranch offers the fun "Movie Sites and Ranch Tour," which introduces you to filming locations across this ranch. Also included in the tour is a visit to a WWII defense gun bunker, Cooper Battery, which has been turned into a movie museum. While visiting the Kualoa Ranch you can also enjoy such activities as horseback riding, ATV rides, and jungle excursions.

For hardcore "Lost" fans, the KOS tour company on Oahu offers "Hummer Movie Location Tours," with a special tour dedicated to the many locations all across the island where this popular television show was filmed.

"Magnum P.I." also filmed in places such as the Waialae Beach Park and Kapiolani Community College. The classic opening shots for the original Hawaii Five-O show included the balcony scene at the Ilikai Hotel, and the National Military Cemetery of the Pacific, known more popularly as Punchbowl. Jack Lord, star of that Hawaii Five-O series, lived on Oahu and frequented the Kahala Mall, where you can now see a bronze bust of Lord.

The new CBS "Hawaii 5-0" series, which premiered in September 2010, is now filming all across Oahu.

(Photo credit - hummertourshawaii.com)

Friday, November 12, 2010

New RedWeek Member Benefit Announced

Membership in RedWeek.com just got better. As if all of the other great membership benefits weren't enough, now as a RedWeek.com member you can save an additional 1% off of a Lending Club loan.

Do you love owning your timeshare, but got stuck with a high-interest timeshare loan? Maybe you have other debts that have become a real drain on your budget. Now you can save on peer-to-peer lending with your RedWeek membership.

What is Peer-to-Peer lending? As a RedWeek member you already know the benefits of working together, and now you can experience this at the next level. Lending Club members borrow from each other, eliminating the middleman.

The Lending Club is where "Investors earn better returns, borrowers pay lower rates." Since its inception in 2007, Lending Club's online community has funded over $178M, with a cumulative return for investors of over $11M. Lending Club is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

From CBS Money Watch to the Harvard Business Review to the Wall Street Journal, respected journalists are praising this innovative approach to loans and investment.

So take advantage of this newest benefit of your RedWeek.com membership, and check into getting a loan with a 1% cash back today!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Vacation Ownership Industry Sends 1,000 Veterans on Vacation

On this holiday honoring military veterans, the American Resort Development Association (ARDA), announces its continued commitment to providing “Vacations for Vets,” an industry-wide program that supports wounded warriors returning from military combat by awarding them with much needed vacations to recover and reconnect with family and friends.

“We have been supporting this program since 2005 and are honored to be able to bring together the resources of our industry to provide some much needed R&R for our veterans,” says Howard Nusbaum, president and CEO of ARDA.

Today, “Vacations for Vets” approved more than 1,000 vacations to wounded warriors, U.S. veterans, support personnel and their families. The program is run in coordination with the Walter Reed Army Medical Center Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation (FMWR); In Honor of Our Troops (IHOOT) Foundation, Inc.; International Cruise and Excursions (ICE); and Government Vacation Rewards.

The idea started with Ret. Col. R. John Cully, vice president of government marketing for ICE and Philip Strambler, Walter Reed FMWR Director of Marketing and Commercial Activities. Together they approached ARDA, whose members were honored to participate by donating timeshare-style vacations and other travel benefits to wounded warriors and their families.

For ARDA and its members, which include some of the biggest brands and most respected in the hotel industry, it’s an opportunity to give back to U.S. soldiers through donating excess timeshare inventory, entertainment certificates, car rental vouchers, airline coupons, and other vacation donations.

Over the years, resort donations have come from Hilton Grand Vacations Resorts, Welk Resorts, and Interval International, among others. Many resort property managers make it a point of seeing that each vacationing veteran is personally greeted upon his or her arrival.

For more information on the program including how to donate, contact Lou Ann Burney of ARDA.

The American Resort Development Association is the Washington D.C.-based professional association representing the vacation ownership and resort development industries. Established in 1969, ARDA today has over 1,000 members ranging from privately held firms to publicly traded companies and international corporations with expertise in shared ownership interests in leisure real estate. The membership also includes timeshare owner associations (HOAs), resort management companies, and owners through the ARDA Resort Owners Coalition (ARDA-ROC).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

RedWeek Members Love Marriott's Phuket Beach Club

Can you imagine staying in exotic Thailand for just $125/night? This dream vacation can be yours by renting a timeshare at Marriott's Phuket Beach Club. Read on to find out why RedWeek members love this resort!

Located on Thailand's southern island of Phuket, this Marriott resort offers the best in an exotic beach vacation. Phuket Island is situated off the west coast of southern Thailand in the Andaman Sea, and is connected to the mainland by two bridges. Phuket enjoyed a rich and colorful history as one of the major trading routes between India and China, and was frequently mentioned in foreign ship logs of Portuguese, French, Dutch and English traders.

Since the 1980s the sandy beaches on the western coast of Phuket have been developed into tourist centers. It's a great place for a winter vacation, with average daily temperatures in the 80s (F). Near the southernmost point is Laem Promthep (Brahma's Cape), a popular sunset viewing point.

Situated just fifteen minutes north of the airport, Marriott Phuket Beach Club Hotel is on Mai Khao Beach, a ten mile stretch of natural beachfront without the highrise development so prevalent in other parts of Phuket Island. The Nai Yang National Marine Park and sea turtle nesting area are nearby.

Marriott's Phuket Beach Club is fully integrated with the JW Marriott Phuket Resort and Spa, and guests can enjoy the amenities at both resorts. It's set amid twenty-seven acres of lush tropical landscaping including ponds, spacious gardens and areas of coastal wetlands.

Redweek members give Marriott's Phuket Beach Club an overall rating of 5 stars. Here are a few of the reviews:
"This is a stunning, all star resort. In terms of luxury, beauty and service quality, there is nothing better than the Marriott Vacation Club property in Phuket."
"We have been to this resort 3 times and have not found a place in the world yet to match it. We LOVE this place."
"We have stayed at the resort twice and it has been amazing. The staff is great, they usually anticipate your needs! Rooms and resort are top tier, furnishing and atmosphere fit perfectly with the tropical environment. It is outside of town, north of the airport. The beach is quiet, very little hustle and bustle or people. However, Marriott has a shuttle to get you into town, easy to find nightlife if you want."
So for an exotic timeshare rental beach vacation - head to beautiful Phuket, Thailand.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

FTC Putting Stop to Timeshare Resell Scams

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is cracking down on con artists who take advantage of consumers hit hard by the weak economy. Many defrauded consumers need to sell their timeshares to help pay their living expenses. The FTC said the number of complaints related to fraudulent timeshare resales has more than tripled over the past three years, as more owners attempted to sell their timeshares.

The FTC charged that ring operators in south Florida conned consumers by promising them they had buyers lined up. Only after hefty, up-front payments did they learn there were no buyers and that their money was gone with the defendants, many of whom have long criminal histories. Regulators have asked a federal court to put a stop to deceptive telemarketing operations that "allegedly scammed millions of dollars from property owners hoping to sell their timeshares."

Hundreds of consumer complaints nationwide, involving millions of dollars, have reached the South Florida Better Business Bureau, the FTC and the Florida Attorney General's Office. The BBB has given the firm, Timeshare Mega Media and Marketing Group Inc., an F rating, the lowest designation it can give a business.

The FTC's complaint is against Timeshare Mega Mediaand Marketing Group Inc., Timeshare Market Pro Inc., Tapia Consulting Inc., Joseph Crapella - also known as Joseph John Philbin, Pasquale Pappalardo, Lisa Tumminia Pappalardo, Pasqualino Agovino, Louis Tobias Duany and Patricia A. Walker. It was filed Oct. 19 in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The court entered a temporary restraining order against the defendants Oct. 20. Read the complaint at tulsaworld.com/FTCtimeshareresales

Before sales could be completed, owners were made to pay $1,996 up-front fees by credit card. The FTC charges that Timeshare Mega Media's representatives claimed fees were for sale-related costs - Realtor fees, closing costs, title searches - all to be refunded at closing. Owners of expensive timeshares were charged 10 percent of asking prices. Consumers were told that sales would close within 30 days, but this never happened.

FTC alleges that after fees were paid, owners were told to expect Timeshare Mega Media contracts when they actually received marketing and advertising contracts. The complaint says many consumers signed and returned these, thinking they were sales contracts. Those questioning their validity were given the run-around and told sales contracts would soon follow. The company never had buyers lined up, and when consumers discovered this and demanded their money back, they got nothing - not even phone calls returned.

The FTC seeks to permanently stop the defendants' alleged illegal conduct and to provide refunds to consumers harmed by their violations of the FTC Act and Telemarketing Sales Rule.

This article is from tulsaworld.com by PHIL MULKINS, Tulsa World Action Line Editor.

Monday, November 08, 2010

What Kind of Timeshare Traveler Are You?

Timeshares rentals are like magic wands - they can become a great vacation for just about anyone. What kind of timeshare traveler are you?

  1. Family Traveler
    Family vacations are truly a joy, and something that both parents and kids will remember for years to come. But traveling with youngsters can still be a challenge. A timeshare rental goes a long way toward easing many of those frustrations. With separate bedrooms children can be put to bed at early hours and not be disturbed while the rest of the family enjoys games or television in the living room. The full-sized kitchen is a definite plus when trying to feed constantly hungry kids. And the resort's amenities (part of the one single cost) including waterslide pools, arcade game rooms, and children's playgrounds, are made to order for keeping kids occupied.

  2. Retired Traveler
    You now have time to travel, but you might not be too keen on staying in one cramped hotel room after another. Renting a spacious timeshare will give you a comfortable, home-away-from-home. Many timeshare rentals are found in resorts that are in the warmer climes and that have beautiful golf courses as well as activities such as water aerobics, dance classes, even karaoke!

  3. Girlfriend Getaway
    A timeshare rental with multiple bedrooms is spacious enough for you and several of your girlfriends to be together, and splitting the cost among you makes the vacation quite affordable. Whether you're a group of working gals, or mommies who really need a break, there are timeshare rental destinations to fit everyone. For example, how about renting a timeshare in mid-town Manhattan and going on a New York City shopping spree?

  4. Mantrips
    It's becoming more and more popular for groups of guys to take their own break from everyday life, and a timeshare rental is the perfect fit. It's so much easier to get that rejuvenating down-time when you have enough room to really spread out and relax. And if you're out for active recreation you'll find timeshare resorts are available if you're on a golfing trip, a skiing trip, a snorkeling trip, or even a surfing rip.

  5. Honeymooner
    Timeshare rentals are made to order for that special time that newly wedded couples plan all to themselves. You can find timeshare rentals at just about any exotic spot in the world, from Cancun to Tahiti to Paris. Spacious and private, a timeshare rental will give you discrete independence, but when you want to party the resort's amenities, often including exciting nightclubs, are right out your front door.
Leave a comment below telling us what type of traveler you are! Or, if we missed a group, please let us know.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Fresh Food from the Kitchen Garden at Marriott

Here's something new to search for on your next timeshare vacation. A recent survey by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) cited kitchen gardens as the top restaurant trend of 2010. Now you can look for restaurants that are "taking the time to grow the salad rather than just assembling it" with fresh vegetables, fresh herbs, even edible flowers and Marriott is just one of the Hotels participating in this new trend.

Much of the trend is attributed to First Lady Michele Obama's White House kitchen garden. Planted with the assistance of elementary school students in the spring, this kitchen garden has been producing fresh organic vegetables and herbs throughout the summer, used by the White House chefs for the Obama family's meals.

Napa Valley restaurants in California's Wine Country have been using their own kitchen gardens to great acclaim for a number of years, and even have taken the kitchen garden to a new level by including vineyards and orchards, growing such things as eggplant, pomegranates, figs, and, of course, grapes. Try the taste difference freshness makes at Chef Christopher Kostow's The Restaurant, a legend and a Michelin 2-star recipient.

From your southern California timeshare rental you can check out the garden-fresh cuisine at Blue on Blue, the poolside restaurant at the Avalon Hotel of Beverly Hills. Here a rooftop kitchen garden has been planted to provide the freshest possible ingredients that Chef Scott Garrett not only uses in his dishes, but also to inspire the creation of new dishes, and even cocktails.

The kitchen garden trend has been adopted by many of the restaurants throughout Marriott Hotels & Resorts across the country. Even if you're not staying at a Marriott timeshare resort you can still enjoy the freshness that a kitchen garden adds to restaurant cuisine by checking out these Marriott hotel restaurants: Princeton Marriott, the Marriott Newark International Airport Hotel in New Jersey, the Cleveland Airport Marriott, and Orlando Grand Lakes.

There are even a number of Marriott Hotels in New York City cultivating, harvesting and cooking with herbs and produce from their very own kitchen gardens at the hotels.

Most chefs have by now embraced the local food movement, contracting with local farms or buying from farmers' markets. But, as the National Association of Restaurants points out, having their own gardens takes this even one step further. Utilizing large raised planting beds, terra cotta pots, and even window box planters, chefs around the country are growing produce that is picked only when a recipe calls for it. You can't get more locally grown than harvesting from your restaurant's own back yard, says an NRA spokesperson.

So on your next timeshare rental vacation, look for restaurants with their own kitchen gardens, and treat yourself to cuisine that has flavors so fresh they fairly burst in your mouth.

(Photo credit - travelersjournal.com)

Thursday, November 04, 2010

An Interview with Dial An Exchange CEO Francis Taylor

Francis Taylor, CEO of Dial An Exchange International (DAE), is a timeshare industry A-Lister. After gaining several years’ experience in the timeshare industry, Francis joined with Marc Chouinard to establish Dial An Exchange in Australia, and then expanded the business and opened offices in New Zealand, Europe and North America.

Matt McDaniel, editor of Perspective Magazine, the leading independent trade publication for the timeshare industry, sat down to talk with Taylor for a revealing interview. Since DAE is now partnering with RedWeek we thought you might be interested to learn more about its co-founder and CEO.

The following are excerpts from the McDaniel interview.

Francis, where are you from originally?
I was born and raised in a tiny little country town in central Queensland in Australia. I left there when I was 17 to head to the big city because there weren’t too many opportunities there unless you wanted to work on a farm or in one of the coal mines, and that just didn’t seem to be what I wanted to do. So I left central Queensland and moved to Brisbane, where I joined Avis Rent a Car. I was with them for 15 years.

So how did you get started in the timeshare business?
My friend Marc Chouinard worked with Interchange, probably the first independent exchange company that operated here in Australia. He hadn’t seen his family in Canada for about 10 years, and he asked me, “Would you do me a favor, come do my job for three months so I can go home.” And I thought, why not? And so that’s how I got into timeshare.

From a consumer perspective, how do you differentiate Dial An Exchange from the big exchange companies today?
The simplicity in the operation is one of the biggest things. We’re a low-cost exchange provider. For exchange, what you see is what you get. If you own a week of timeshare and you want to do an exchange with Dial An Exchange, if you can see a week that’s in our system, you can go ahead and confirm that.

Do you think the trend is toward less exclusivity with exchange companies?
It certainly is. The U.S. is going to be the last territory to bust that down. In Australia and New Zealand, for more than 10 years now, there’s been no such thing as an exclusive contract. Nobody in their right mind would even ask anyone to sign an exclusive contract, because it just wouldn’t happen. It’s all about the consumer. The same sort of thing is happening in South Africa, the UK, and in many parts of Asia. It’s the U.S. that is dragging its heels. It’s got to be about the owners because the more positive they are, the better off the industry is.

(Photo credit - perspectivemagazine.com)

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Disney VoluntEARS Give Back

Disney VoluntEARS give back to the community. The employees of the many diverse Disney companies, including ABC Television, Radio Disney, The Disney Store, ESPN Zone, and Disney on Ice, as well as all of the resorts and Disney Vacation Club, give back to their local communities through volunteerism. Disney VoluntEAR Committees have been formed in Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, and Washington, D.C.

The Committees get together regularly to identify and meet the volunteer needs of charities in their local communities. The grassroots efforts of these regional Disney VoluntEARS build upon a tradition of cast members giving back to charities they are passionate about supporting.

Additionally, Disney VoluntEARS lend a helping hand whenever a DisneyHand philanthropic event comes to their town. These special events include the DisneyHand Reading Together with Belle tour which visited twelve cities nationwide, and Season of Compassion events which includes Disney Characters visiting hospitals bringing armfuls of goodies for the children.

The projects are many and diverse. For example:
  • Miami
    Disney VoluntEARS partnered with Disney On Ice to host 500 children from Amigos Together for Kids for a complimentary performance. To enhance their "magical" experience, each child also received their very own Mickey binoculars.

  • Chicago
    Disney VoluntEARS teamed up to make a difference in the lives of children who were in need of new school supplies. They collected school supplies for a number of weeks and were able to fill 100 Disney back packs with many different items including rulers, notepads, and calculators.

  • Seattle
    VoluntEARS participated in the Day of Caring by building a new playground for the Islamic School of Seattle. In a day's time they were able to turn a desolate, debris filled yard into an inviting and fun-filled place for children to play.

  • San Francisco
    Disney VoluntEARS participated in the National Coastal Clean-Up Day (see photo) by coming out to clear debris and pick-up trash along the beaches. The VoluntEARS worked hard to clean the space of waste and make it a beautiful place for visitors and locals to enjoy.

  • Washington, D.C.
    Disney VoluntEARS pitched in to help staff the Ducky Derby event, a benefit for Hadley's Park, an organization that helps communities build Universally Accessible Playgrounds that allow children of all abilities to play and have fun.
The Disney VoluntEAR Program is one more way that the Disney company works toward its commitment of supporting the earth's environment, wildlife, and people.

(Photo credit - wdwpublicaffairs.com)

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

5 Reasons Not to Buy a Timeshare

There are over 5 million timeshare owners world-wide, and the most recent survey had 85.6% agreeing that timeshare ownership was a positive experience. But maybe you shouldn't buy a timeshare. Here are 5 reasons not to buy a timeshare:
  1. Looking for an Investment
    A timeshare is not a real estate investment. This can be confusing for some people. Legally a timeshare can be considered deeded real estate, you have to pay property tax on it, and in many states timeshares are regulated through the real estate commissioner's office. However, a timeshare does not act like real estate. You don't own a piece of property, but rather you're buying a share of some time to use some property. Think of purchasing a timeshare more like purchasing a car - it can be listed in your will, it's very handy to have, and it will depreciate in monetary value.

  2. You don't take Vacations
    The entire point of owning a timeshare is to make vacationing easy on a routine basis. If you know you'll be taking a week's vacation every October, and like visiting Maui, then buying a timeshare on Maui for that week will allow you to have a pre-planned vacation every year. However, if you're not someone who vacations on a regular basis, then a timeshare won't work for you.

  3. Unpredictable Vacation Time
    Maybe you do take a vacation every year, but you never know when or how long it will be. Many timeshares restrict you to a particular week of the year, and if you don't know when you'll have time off then, don't buy a timeshare. However, there are ways to make your timeshare flexible. Exchanging your timeshare week is an option, as is purchasing through a vacation club that works on points rather than calendars.

  4. Ties up Cash Flow
    There's no getting around the fact that paying an up-front fee on a future vacation limits your cash flow in the present. If you take out a loan you'll have interest to pay, and every timeshare purchase also includes monthly maintenance fees, all of which contribute to the amount of cash that is tied up each month.

  5. Scams
    Disreputable companies and timeshare sellers are no doubt a part of the timeshare world. If you don't keep your eyes wide open, do your research, and deal only with businesses that have a reputation for honesty (always check with the Better Business Bureau, or the consumer affairs office your state) you'll have a negative experience with your timeshare purchase.
If you are wondering if a timeshare purchase is right for you, take a vacation with a timeshare rental first. You'll learn a lot that can help in your decision, one way or the other.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Smuggler’s Notch for Premier Skiing in Vermont

Did you know that Smugglers' Notch family resort in northern Vermont is a premier ski resort destination? And if you're looking for a timeshare rental where the entire family can enjoy winter snow activities together, look no further. Smugglers' Notch offers award-winning children's programs, lessons, and activities for all ages.

Smugglers' Notch Snow Sports University is open December 10, 2010 to April 3, 2011. All-day children's camps for skiing and snowboarding instruction start at age 3 for young skiers and riders. Full-day camps for kids ages 3-15 include on-mountain instruction, lunch, entertainment and exploration programs. An innovative program based in Smugglers' Treasures Child Care Center introduces 2 ½ year olds to skiing with fun age-appropriate instruction techniques.

Operations Director Harley Johnson and Treasures Child Care Center Director Shelly Schafer have put together three videos to prepare parents and kids to learn snow sports, and to enjoy the process. The videos cover pre-season preparation, how to dress for winter, and what will happen in class. "They take away the mystery, and let kids focus on the fun of learning," explains Schafer.

In addition, Smugglers' Notch resort is able to offer all students in Snow Sport University ski and snowboard camps a way to capture their on-mountain fun. The kids will be outfitted with Flaik GPS units that will track the miles, vertical and trails skied each day and cumulatively. Après ski they can log on to review the data with friends and family to share their total on-mountain experience and plan exciting adventures for the next day. Adults in the Mountain Experience Camp will be able to use Flaik technology during their ski day, as well.

"We Guarantee Family Fun at Snow Sport University!" exudes Director Harley Johnson. "Smugglers' is committed to providing a fun-filled vacation. Our many years in the family vacation business, our excellent and well-trained staff, fabulous facilities and programs are the backbone we justifiably rely on for our Family Fun."

A ski vacation, a family vacation, and a timeshare vacation - it all comes together at exciting Smugglers' Notch Resort.

(Photo credit - thefamilytravelfiles.com)