Monday, December 29, 2014

Take a New Year's Resolution Trip!

We've all been there - we start off every new year with an earnest proclamation of our resolution. You're really going to do it this time! As great as our intentions might be, however, it's often not too long before something goes awry and we slip up, our resolution abandoned in suit. The trick is staying focused, delving in with a plan. Believe it or not, travel can be a fantastic way to help mentally reinforce your resolution and to immerse yourself in the mindset. We've taken some of the most common New Year's resolutions and matched them to an environment that can foster your intention.

Get Healthier in Palm Springs!

Palm Springs is home to dozens of hiking trails!
Looking to clean up your diet or get a little more active in 2015? Look no further than Palm Springs, California! With perennially warm temperatures and clear skies, this sun-soaked destination is ideal for keeping active. Hiking, rock-climbing, cycling, golfing and even more traditional sports like tennis, baseball and soccer can be enjoyed - just be sure to stay hydrated under that desert sun! Palm Springs' diverse array of international dining options allows for healthier options to be embraced as well. Many establishments even boast organic, preservative-free or vegetarian/vegan options if that's what you're looking for. Finally, Palm Springs is home to twenty different spas. Book a reservation and enjoy the pampering you'll receive - you'll be all the more motivated to take care of your body if you're feeling great!

Spend More Time with Family in Stowe!

Picturesque with a warm and welcoming atmosphere, this mountain town is the perfect place to reconnect with your entire family. Stowe, Vermont is often revered for its ski scene but has plenty to offer families regardless of the season. Summer offers gorgeous biking trails, zip-lining opportunities and the much-beloved Gondola SkyRide for breathtaking aerial views. In addition to skiing, winter activities include dogsledding, snowshoeing and sleigh rides. Regardless of the season, families can also learn how cider is mad at Cold Hollow Cider Mill, enjoy a factory tour (and samples!) of ice cream giant Ben & Jerry's, sip malts in the 50's-themed Depot Street Malt Shoppe and learn a little something new at the family-oriented Appletree Learning Centers.


Be More Green in Maui!

The Hawaii Nature center is
geared towards all ages!
If you're hoping to make your life a little more green and learn how to be environmentally friendly, Maui, Hawaii is a great place to start. Maui has a long history of preserving its beautiful environment while also allowing others to experience it. The Hawaii Nature Center offers programs where you can not only learn about Maui's unique environment but also play a direct role in its preservation. The Sierra Club also offers two Maui volunteer vacations where you can help with dedicated projects while also experiencing local attractions. Even many of the area's timeshares are in on the effort to stay environmentally friendly - The Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas details its green efforts while the Hyatt Ka'anapali Beach was awarded LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification!

De-stress in the Florida Keys!

The Florida Keys are very much the epitome of relaxation and time seems to slow down just a bit as you unwind. The Keys' slogan "come as you are" speaks of the destination's laid-back and easygoing manner, no matter whether you choose Key West, Key Largo, Islamorada, Big Pine Key or Marathon. Whatever your idea of relaxation is - boating, fishing, golfing, a spa treatment or even just lounging on the beach - you'll find boundless opportunities. The Keys certainly epitomize the "lazy summer days" atmosphere, but don't let that fool you. There's still plenty of high-adrenaline activities to be found - it's hard to remember your day-to-day stressors when you're parasailing hundreds of feet in the sky!

Get in Touch with Your Spiritual Side in Sedona!

Sedona's red rocks are said to house energy vortexes
with the capability to heal and energize.
Sedona, Arizona has long been considered a spiritual retreat rife with energy and mysticism. If you're hoping to re-energize and reconnect with your spiritual side, you can do no better than the famed red rocks. Sedona's mysterious "vortex sites" are said to be ideal for meditation and inspire a sense of peace and harmony with the world. Sedona is also home to a strong alternative medicine community as well as practitioners of astrology and shamanism willing to pass on their crafts. 

Get a Makeover in New York City!

If you're resolving to reinvent yourself or spruce up your style a bit, New York City is the place to visit. New York will always be a shopping wonderland - SoHo and Union Square are the places for all your favorite brands, while Madison Avenue is home to the ultra-stylish and ultra-expensive stores if you're seeking to really treat yourself. New York is also home to countless salons and spas to complete your makeover, as well as plenty of unique dining options to take a break and keep your energy up for even more shopping!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Major Airline Changes Reported for 2015

As vacationers, many of us are all-too-familiar with air travel. Oftentimes, it's a love-hate relationship; we love the speed by which a plane can deliver us to our destination, but few travelers find the journey itself pleasant. Between crowded airports, ever-changing air rates and typically FlyersRights.org, an organization dedicated to protecting consumers of air travel.
uncomfortable seating in the plane, it makes sense that air travel can be a bit of a pain - and things are about to change quite a bit in 2015 according to

This year, both Delta and United Airlines have announced changes to revamp their mileage programs to reward miles based off the amount spent rather than the actual distance flown. For many flyers just taking the average vacation, this can result in a significant devaluation of miles. While no other announcements have surfaced yet, other major airlines can be expected to follow suit. The new consensus seems to be that miles are effectively irrelevant when considering your airline choice - shop by price and consider non-US carriers when possible. 

FlyersRights also announced that American Airlines plans to spend nearly two billion dollars put towards product improvements on planes. These improvements are intended to improve the flight experience of first and business class passengers, including the implementation of fully lie-flat seats. Some fear, however, that these changes will come at the expense of standard flyers in the rest of plane. To be fair, however, American Airlines also announced changes that will benefit the entire plane, such as improved Wi-Fi and power outlets in every row.

Free bags are also becoming a relic of the past. JetBlue recently quit offering free checked bags, leaving Southwest as the lone carrier that still does. At first blush, many might be inclined to choose Southwest under the assumption that the free checked bag represents a better deal. Compare fees before purchasing tickets; even with that free bag, Southwest's fees might be the same or more than a competitor with lower ticket prices and a separate bag charge.

Flyers of American carriers are also advised to keep their eyes out for holiday surcharges. While many European airlines are notorious for seasonal surcharges, it's a trend that's largely been absent in the states until Spirit announced $2.00 surcharges for each bag checked on Christmas or New Year's day. Whether other carriers intend to follow suit is not yet known.

If planes already felt a bit claustrophobic for you, get ready for an even tighter squeeze. Many of the big-name carriers are overhauling planes and pulling out the big, bulky seats in favor of newer "slimline" models. These models and their slighter profiles would allow for planes to house an extra five to six seats from front to back. Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of consumer legroom.

Finally, Delta announced the debut of a new class - Basic Economy. Basic Economy is a bare-bones class choice that sacrifices flexibility to lower prices. Basic Economy will not allow for ticket changes, seat assignments or upgrades. This represents an interesting change - will consumers be willing to accept the limitations of Basic Economy to secure a lower price?

What do these changes mean for you? Will you alter your travel plans in light of these changes? Let us know! For more up-to-date information on goings-on in the air travel industry, we recommending checking out FlyersRights directly!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Get Ready for Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows!

Artist's rendering of the new Bungalow accommodations. 
Disney Vacation Club has quite the reputation in the realm of timeshares - and for good reason! These resorts are beloved by millions of vacationers and consistently rank among RedWeek members' favorite timeshare resorts. So, when Disney Vacation Club announces a new resort, it's big news! While rumored for a few months prior to official announcement, the notion of a new DVC resort in Walt Disney World had vacationers chomping at the bit - what would follow up the success of Disney's Bay Lake Tower in 2009?

The official announcement in September of 2013 had DVC owners elated. A portion of the ever-popular Polynesian Resort would be receiving a DVC renovation with an unannounced opening. Little else was known, but speculation was rampart nonetheless. Fast forward more than a year later, and just now most of the details have come to light, and the newly titled Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows seeks to stand out.

In addition to the batch of existing Polynesian rooms that are being converted into DVC units, Disney is also testing the new Disney Vacation Club Bungalows. This concept borrows a page from the vacation home concept and allows travelers the full "home-away-from-home" - their own private bungalow instead of a sectioned-off room. These bungalows can sleep up to eight individuals, and sound undeniably lavish. The Polynesian's famed South Seas vibe resonates loud and clear, and touches like the private plunge pools and Seven Seas Lagoon view seek to elevate the experience. While only twenty bungalows are planned for opening, it's certainly possible that Disney will integrate the concept into future DVC developments if it proves to be a hit.

The bungalows aren't the only interesting concept to be we'll see upon opening. New Deluxe Studios will also make their debut. These units can connect to another Deluxe Studio and sleep five each, making it an affordable alternative to multiple bedroom units for large groups. The addition of a kitchenette and expanded storage help alleviate the crowded feeling that studios can run the risk of.

With the DVC developments also come a refreshment of the Polynesian's Great Ceremonial House, where guests will first experience the resort. We'll see updated and expanded pools on property, as well as new dining options. Pineapple Lanai will provide guests with the much-beloved Dole Whip treat, and Trader Sam's Grog Grotto will offer plenty of cocktails and Polynesian-themed appetizers and small plates.

There's still a bit of unclarity regarding the opening or sale of Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows. All we know is that the doors are scheduled to open at some time during 2015, with many predicting spring. However, this is just speculation, and it's best to hear from Disney first. We recommend keeping an eye on the Disney Parks Blog for more information as it's released. Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows is sure to delight both DVC owners and family vacationers come its much anticipated debut!


Photo Credit:  http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2014/12/new-details-announced-for-disneys-polynesian-villas-and-bungalows/

Monday, December 08, 2014

New Year's Weeks Are Going Quickly!

Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas
New Year's week is an ever-popular time to travel and for good reason - there's something exciting about ringing in the year somewhere out of the ordinary. Unfortunately, the popularity comes with some downsides. Resort rates soar in response to the demand, and many travelers are left out of options unless their trip was planned months - or sometimes years! - in advance.

Timeshare rentals to the rescue! Many travelers don't consider the option of renting, and so there are still savvy owners with these coveted weeks on the market and eager to rent. Better yet, prices run for only a fraction of the resort's direct rate. This January, celebrate somewhere extra-special and check out our secret stash of New Year's weeks!

(prices listed in $USD for a full week unless otherwise noted)


Florida


Arizona


Hawaii

California


Colorado


Nevada


Mexico


The Caribbean



Please be aware: all availability and prices were verified on December 7th, 2014. These weeks are bound to go quickly, so be sure to contact the owner as soon as possible to lock in the week!


Have you decided on your perfect New Year's destination yet? Or perhaps you snagged a week at an amazing price with just as amazing plans in the works! Let us know in the comments, or share your experience on our Facebook page!

Monday, December 01, 2014

Seven Gift Ideas for the Travelers in Your Life

Every year, it feels like the holiday season creeps a bit closer without us even realizing it! For most of us, there's still plenty of gift shopping to get squared away. If you're on the hunt for the perfect present for the travelers in your life, let us recommend these seven ideas...

1. Noise-canceling headphones
The noises of travel can get pretty stressful very quickly. Between roaring engines, bumpy roads and - of course - noisy seatmates. On trips like these, the absolute silence granted by noise-canceling headphones can be a blissful reprieve, and zoning out to their favorite music can make the long trip a bit more bearable.

2. Headrest Pillow
Be it by plane, train or car, traveling isn't always the most comfortable endeavor. A simple headrest pillow can help its recipient stay a little more comfortable. There's a handful of options out there - inflatable headrests that can easily be deflated and stored away to take up very little room or fully plush pillows that encircle the back of the neck and provide ultimate comfort. 

3. E-reader or tablet
While not just intended for traveling, the benefits of e-readers and tablets for those always on the go cannot be overstated. E-readers are slim and low-profile, and much easier to pack than bulky, heavy books. Tablets are also remarkably easy to take on the go and can oftentimes altogether replace a laptop or computer for most individuals.

4. Dining gift card
Most of us finding ourselves eating out quite a bit more than normal when on vacation or traveling. Help pare down the a bill a bit with a gift card to their favorite restaurant. Many gift cards to chain restaurants can be purchased in major stores like Target or Walmart. If your recipient prefers to explore local fare on their own when traveling, consider giving a Restaurant.com gift card.

5. International plug converter
While the United States and Canada use 110 volt electricity, most countries beyond North America use 220 volt electricity. If your recipient is traveling abroad, a plug converter is perhaps one of the most practical and useful gifts you can give - it's a necessity to use any electronics or electrical appliances from home!

6. Self-filtering water bottle
Quickly becoming more mainstream, these standard reusable water bottles are also outfitted with a filter that processes and cleans the water before it goes into your mouth. Whether they prefer the crisper taste of filtered water or are concerned about health risks with international, unfiltered tap water, a filtered water bottle is convenient and more affordable than buying bottled water at every turn.

7. A timeshare rental
Travel can be a great gift in and of itself! Since many timeshare rentals are just a fraction of the cost compared against direct resort rates, they're often more affordable than you'd think. When working with the owner, just mention that you're purchasing the rental as a gift - most owners are more than willing to go ahead and accommodate the request and put the reservation in the recipient's name.