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!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Is Donating Your Timeshare a Viable Way "Out"?

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 08, 2014

Thanksgiving Weeks Are up for Grabs!

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

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

All prices are in $USD for one full week.

Florida

Wyndham Bonnet Creek

Arizona


Hawaii

Marriott's Ko Olina Beach Club

Nevada


South Carolina

Wyndham's Ocean Boulevard

Virginia

California

Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara

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

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

Friday, September 05, 2014

September Resort Spotlight - Marriott's Newport Coast Villas

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 01, 2014

Enjoy New England's Fall Foliage at Its Best!

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

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

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

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

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

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