Dial An Exchange Grows Its Timeshare Exchange Services

Dial An Exchange Pty Ltd (DAE), it was announced this past week, will be taking over the timeshare exchange program for RedWeek, and now DAE is poised to grow even further. It has entered into a long-term agreement with Classic Holiday Club to provide exchange services to its points club members.

Francis Taylor, CEO of DAE, stated that this is the first time DAE in Australia will be presented exclusively at point of sale. The agreement with Classic Holiday Club will provide improved levels of service and integration of systems to ensure their members receive superior value from their purchase.

Classic Holiday Club is part of the Classic Group of companies, the largest privately owned timeshare and resort management company in Australia and New Zealand, with over 45,000 members under management and 17 resorts and clubs.

For its part, Classic Holiday Club is happy to be working with DAE. Mark Stephenson, Director of Sales for Classic Holiday Club, said that DAE was a natural fit for Classic. “The flexibility and worldwide reach of DAE is perfect for our points club, particularly for our new membership product, Classic Escapes,” Stephenson said.

“We are very enthusiastic about the opportunity to market and sell our product in conjunction with a company which has such a positive image in our marketplace. DAE has a reputation for first class delivery and customer service, qualities which we stand for in our own business," declared Stephenson.

Dial An Exchange is the largest privately owned exchange company in the world and offers worldwide destination availability. Since the company’s formation in 1997, DAE has grown from a single office in Australia to offices in Europe, the United States, New Zealand, South Africa and Asia. The company has over 250,000 members around the world.

DAE has been the "back office support" for RedWeek's timeshare exchange program since its inception, and will fully take over RedWeek's on November 15, 2010. "With a strong track record for excellent customer service and a growing base of members worldwide, DAE is well prepared to take the exchange service to new levels for RedWeek members," said a RedWeek official.

Marriott Announces Ambitious Growth

At meetings in New York City and Bethesda, MD, this week Marriott International, Inc. announced that earnings by 2013 could reach new highs. Approximately $3 to $5 Billion could be returned to shareholders over three years.

At the meetings Marriott outlined its plans for ambitious growth as the company discussed its profit margin and earning trends, the number of lodging properties it expects to add in future years, its expected investment spending, and amounts it could return to shareholders.

J.W. Marriott, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of the company, said, "We are on the threshold of extraordinary growth for our company. As we look ahead over three years, Marriott is poised to deliver substantial gains in bottom line results, as well as meaningful returns to hotel owners and shareholders, as our industry-leading portfolio of brands both recovers from the recent recession and grows worldwide."

According to the company, having reduced net debt by almost $1.5 billion since the end of 2008, Marriott has already reached its targeted debt levels. The company plans to invest $2.3 to $2.7 billion over the next three years, and could return between $3.3 billion and $5.3 billion to shareholders from 2011 through 2013 through dividends and share repurchases, while still maintaining its investment grade bond rating. However, Marriott reminded investors, "these statements are not guarantees of future performance and are subject to numerous risks and uncertainties."

The company expects to add at least 80,000 to 90,000 hotel rooms to its portfolio from 2011 through 2013 with additional opportunities for 22,000 rooms to open in Europe and Asia during that same period. The company will also be expanding its new brands outside of the United States, including EDITION, which just opened its first hotel on Waikiki Beach in Hawaii, and the Autograph Collection.

In 1995, Marriott Ownership Resorts, Inc. was renamed, becoming Marriott Vacation Club International (MVCI) reflecting the company’s evolution from real estate development and sales to timeshares. Currently there are 55 Marriott Vacation Club branded resorts around the world.

Will You be Driving an Electric Car on Your Timeshare Vacation?

Soon you will have a greener option when renting a car for your timeshare vacation. Enterprise Rent-A-Car plans to introduce the electric car to its customers as early as January, 2011.

"There's quite a bit of buzz about electric cars, and customers already are asking us when we're going to get them," said Lee Broughton, Enterprise's Director of Sustainability.

Enterprise Holdings, which also includes the brands Alamo and National, announced in July, 2010, that it would purchase up to 500 Nissan Leaf electric vehicles, and an announcement in October, 2010, said the rental car company will also purchase 100 CODA electric sedans.

CODA Automotive is a California-based electric car and battery company. The CODA Sedan will be the first mainstream all-electric sedan from an all-electric car company. “The CODA’s dependable, all-season range is a perfect match for the driving conditions found throughout Enterprise’s neighborhood network of car rental locations,” said Kevin Czinger, president and chief executive of CODA Automotive.

The Enterprise electric cars use no gasoline at all, but rather can be charged a 220-volt or 480-volt commercial charging station. The newest generation of electric vehicles is designed to go between 90 and 120 miles between charges, in all kinds of weather. In addition to battery storage, the cars have room for 5 passengers, and a full-sized trunk.

Enterprise will initially offer electric vehicles in 8 U.S. cities: Seattle, Portland, OR, Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson, Nashville, and Knoxville, TN. The company said it wants to make sure employees are properly trained in showing customers how to use and charge the cars, before expanding the program. Enterprise will begin installing vehicle charging stations in 30 U.S. cities in November, 2010.

Enterprise Holdings has long been in the forefront of the "green driving" movement, officials said. It already operates the world's largest fleet of fuel-efficient vehicles, including nearly 7,000 gas/electric hybrids.

(Photo credit - news.travel.aol.com)

Hilton Grand Vacations Honored by Travel + Leisure

Hilton Worldwide, the lodging giant whose 3,600 hotels in 81 countries include the brands of the Waldorf Astoria and Hilton Grand Vacations, has been honored by "Travel + Leisure" with the 2010 Global Vision Award.

Recognizing the outstanding efforts of individuals and organizations that are working to preserve the world's natural and man-made treasures, Travel + Leisure honored Hilton Worldwide with the award in the Corporate Greening category for the company’s new LightStay sustainability tracking system.

“We are honored to receive a Travel + Leisure 2010 Global Vision Award,” said Paul Brown, president of global brands and commercial services, Hilton Worldwide. “LightStay was developed to improve individual hotel performance while decreasing the company’s overall impact on the environment, and we are thrilled that our efforts are allowing us to continually provide our guests with the best sustainable lodging options."

LightStay specifically analyzes performance across 200 operational practices, such as housekeeping, paper product usage, food waste, chemical storage, air quality and transportation. LightStay underwent two years of rigorous internal testing before being unveiled to the public in April 2010 along with the first full year of findings from 2009.

According to the testing results, 1,300 Hilton Worldwide properties using the system conserved enough energy to power 5,700 homes for a year, saved enough water to fill more than 650 Olympic-size pools and reduced carbon output equivalent to taking 34,865 cars off the road. These reductions in water and energy use also translated into an estimated savings of more than $29 million in utility costs in 2009.

By December 31, 2011 all of the more than 3,600 properties within Hilton Worldwide’s global portfolio of hotel brands will implement LightStay.

Walking Tours - Part 6: Hawaii

Hawaii is generally looked at as a single destination, so the last of our 6-part series on walking tours will look at walking tours that are offered around the islands. Rent a timeshare just about anywhere in Hawaii, and you'll find many walking tours to enjoy.

  1. Honolulu, Oahu
    Ohana Walking Tours will bring Hawaii's wonderful history and culture to life for you on its tour of Hawaii's capital city, Honolulu. Expert tour guides are eager to impart their graduate level knowledge of Hawaii's past and current issues. This tour includes several of Honolulu's premier landmarks and attractions.

    You'll discover 1842 Kawaiahao Church, called the "Westminster of the Pacific," built from coral reef rocks that were hand carried from the ocean. The Mission House is a National Historic Landmark and has been turned into an interpretive museum. And, no Honolulu tour would be complete without a visit to Iolani Palance (see photo), another National Historic Landmark, where two monarchs, King Kalakaua and Queen Lili'uokalani, governed.

  2. Lahaina, Maui
    A walking tour of this historic town is conducted by Maui Nei tours. A knowledgeable guide will take you into hidden areas and tell you little-known stories about Lahaina's remarkable past. You'll visit the Brick Palace of King Kamehameha I and explore Luakini Street where the immigrant plantation workers lived. And this tour has a little surprise for you - the hospitality of Pastor Laki, who will guide you through his garden of native plants and serve you fresh fruit and banana bread in his hale (thatched house).

    This tour also gives you the opportunity to visit Moku'ula, the home and final resting place of Hawaii's royalty. A Hawaiian character out of the past will explain the significance of this revered site. "Maui Nei" is a cultural tourism company in partnership with the "Friends of Moku'ula," a nonprofit organization dedicated to the restoration of Moku'ula.

  3. The Big Island
    Here you can enjoy a big walking tour just like you'd expect on this big island. Hawaiian Walkways Tours offers a hike called the "Waipio Waterfall Adventure." With exclusive access to a private trail, this tour company will take you through lush, exotic forests and past sparkling waterfalls. After learning the history of the trail, and hearing stories that the forest tells, you're rewarded with a majestic view of Wai'po Valley - the ocean and the valley floor are 1000 feet below.

    It's an enjoyable hike as you pass through rain forests and fields, cross streams on foot bridges, and the real treat is - you'll be able to stop and enjoy the many waterfalls and pools, so be sure to bring your swim suit and towel!
Walking Tours – Part 1: New York City
Walking Tours – Part 2: San Francisco
Walking Tours – Part 3: San Diego
Walking Tours – Part 4: Miami
Walking Tours – Part 5: New Orleans

(Photo credit: hawaiiforvisitors.com)

Walking Tours - Part 5: New Orleans

Many adjectives are used to describe New Orleans, from magical to mysterious. There's no doubt that this grand lady of dark bayous, filigreed garden courtyards, and voodoo is one city where a walking tour is a must if you want to really know her. Rent a timeshare and choose from the New Orleans walking tours listed in Part 5 of our 6-Part series on walking tours and timeshare vacations.
  1. Le Monde Creole Tours. There are many different tours of the French Quarter (see photo), but this one has a twist. It's based on the diaries kept by Laura Locoul a Creole woman and plantation mistress who wrote a journal of her family's life in the old French Quarter. Amid the tangled beauty of inner courtyards you'll learn about the remarkable lives of five generations of this Louisiana dynasty, including its European and African branches.

    On this French Quarter tour, which National Geographic Traveler called the best tour in New Orleans, you'll see where Locoul family members lived, from grand townhouses to slave quarters, learn about medicinal courtyard gardens, and even visit Laura Locoul's tomb.

  2. New Orleans Music Tour. On this walking tour you'll get to explore "the world’s richest musical city," starting with the Legends Park statues of Louis Armstrong, Pete Fountain, and Fats Domino. Along the way you'll visit Congo Square, considered the "well spring" of New Orleans music. This historic site of African slave gatherings is the only place in North America where pure West African religious ritual and musical traditions were performed that wove themselves into iconic New Orleans jazz. Your tour guide is happy to give you advice on where to catch the greatest musical talent in New Orleans.

  3. New Orleans Oyster Crawl. Among the many culinary tours available in New Orleans, this walking tour is one of the most popular, offered through New Orleans Culinary History Tours.You'll visit historic restaurants including Antoine's, where the world-famous dish, Oysters Rockefeller, was created. Samplings at other restaurants include Oysters Bienville, Oysters Thermidor, oysters on the half shell, and of course oyster po'boy and barbecued oysters.

  4. Ghosts, Haunts, Voodoo Tour. No list of walking tours of New Orleans would be complete without a ghost tour. One of the best is offered by Magic Tours, who put it this way, "Since its founding, New Orleans has suffered more disease, disasters, destruction, and death than any other American city. Spirits are taken for granted here!" Priding itself on presenting accurate historical information, Magic Tours gives an in-depth look at some of the most well-known hauntings in New Orleans, including St. Louis Cemetery, "home" of New Orleans' most famous Voodoo Queen.

Walking Tours – Part 1: New York City
Walking Tours – Part 2: San Francisco
Walking Tours – Part 3: San Diego
Walking Tours – Part 4: Miami
Walking Tours - Part 6: Hawaii

(hoto credit: roomstoraveabout.wordpress.com)

Walking Tours – Part 4: Miami

The walking tours of Miami are as wonderful and varied as is this jewel of a city. Rent a timeshare, and learn how to explore the fun aspects of Miami in Part 4 of our 6-part series on city walking tours.
  1. Miami Beach Art Deco Walking Tour. A local historian is your guide on this tour of Miami's renowned Art Deco District (see photo). Also known as South Beach, this fun area is a national historic district, and a prime example of "how Art Nouveu fused with early twentieth century industrial modernism."
    You'll see the magnificent architecture and colorful buildings inside and out, and learn about the many Art Deco, Mediterranean Revival, and Miami modernist styles that make up the Miami Beach Architectural Historic District.

  2. Miami Celebrity Tour. It's always fun to get to see how the rich and famous live, and they certainly know how to do it up right in Miami. This tour was developed by Kevin Doran, a long-time Miami resident, certified heritage tour guide and president of the Professional Tour Guide Association of Florida.

    Your guide will take you along Ocean Blvd where you'll be introduced to the cafes and shops that can find celebrities rubbing elbows with tourists, and learn about the many locations in this area that served as backdrops for TV shows, movies, music videos, photo shoots and fashion magazines.

  3. Miami Culinary Tour. There's no doubt about it that Miami is a melting pot of nationalities, and this tour gives you the chance to not only taste the cuisine of different countries, but learn about each culture at the same time. You'll hear the story behind the dishes and be introduced to the people who make them.

    Try Cuban Mojitos and Peruvian Ceviche, American Lobster Chili and French Cognac Crepes. Your tour works its way through delightful food offerings like a progressive dinner on a grand scale.

  4. GoCar GPS-Guided Tours®. Okay, this isn't technically a walking tour, but it's so fun it had to be included on the list. Touted as The Original Storytelling Car, these cute, bright yellow two-seater GoCars allow you to take a "self-guided" tour, with a guide. The on-board GPS directs you to lots of fun and exciting things to see and do, while a talking voice gives you interesting bits of information about each place. You can do this tour at your own pace, stopping and re-starting whenever you like.
Multi-national Miami dances to its own lively beat, and a Miami timeshare rental will put you in the middle of the party with walking tours to take you just about anywhere in the city you want to go.

Walking Tours – Part 1: New York City
Walking Tours – Part 2: San Francisco
Walking Tours – Part 3: San Diego
Walking Tours - Part 5: New Orleans
Walking Tours - Part 6: Hawaii

(Photo credit flickr.com)

Walking Tours – Part 3: San Diego

In Part 3 of our 6-part series on the wonderful world of walking tours, we'll look at the great ways to explore San Diego. A timeshare rental in the San Diego area not only gives you a perfect vacation destination year-round, but also the opportunity to really investigate some of this city's best-kept secrets.

San Diego is made up of many quaint neighborhoods, and walking tours are a fun way to get to know them on a personal basis. Urban Safaris offers walking tours to just about every San Diego neighborhood you're likely to want to encounter.
  1. Point Loma
    You might as well begin at the beginning. Point Loma (see photo) is where it all started for San Diego when the Portuguese explorer, Cabrillo, came ashore in 1542. The first real residents on this long finger of land were Chinese and Portuguese fishermen. Today Point Loma will show you everything from Navy installations to yacht clubs. From here you also get incredible views of downtown San Diego, and the Harbor.

  2. Gaslamp Quarter
    Registered as a national historic district, the Gaslamp Quarter is where you'll encounter San Diego of the 1860s. During that raucous time prostitutes and gamblers abounded. Did you know that Wyatt Earp even ran gambling parlors here? On this walking tour you'll relive a part of San Diego's past that you might find hard to believe.

  3. Banker's Hill and Balboa Park
    This walking tour gives you the opportunity to see some of the gracious homes that were built beginning in the 1890s, above the canyons west of Balboa Park. The pedestrian suspension bridges that were constructed during that time allow you to see this neighborhood from high above the canyons. This tour also gets you up close to gardens designed by Kate Sessions, and you get to actually go inside one of the magnificent homes. You'll also explore a part of beautiful Balboa Park.

  4. The Urban Art Trail
    San Diego's East Village neighborhood is an artsy community with an urban flare. On this walking tour you'll discover how an old warehouse district has transformed itself, and is now modern with the San Diego Padres ballpark, and timeless as an art colony with an eclectic mix of warehouse lofts and Victorian architecture.

  5. Hillcrest
    San Diego's first suburb, this neighborhood retains a small village feel, but is also a thriving community of eclectic theater, restaurants and shops. What you won't find here is strip malls. This is also an area showcasing some of the finest examples of Irving Gill's early 20th century minimalist architecture.
These are just a few of the many fascinating neighborhoods San Diego has to offer. Rent a San Diego timeshare and take a walking tour - and become friends with a fascinating city.

Walking Tours – Part 1: New York City
Walking Tours – Part 2: San Francisco
Walking Tours – Part 4: Miami
Walking Tours - Part 5: New Orleans
Walking Tours - Part 6: Hawaii

(Photo credit walkingtoursofsandiego.com)

Walking Tours – Part 2: San Francisco

San Francisco is a fascinating city, and a time share rental here will give you the home base and the time to explore this grand old lady. In Part 2 of our 6-Part series on cities with great walking tours, we'll take at look at what San Francisco has to offer.
  1. San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour. One of the things that makes San Francisco such a charming city is its unique architecture. It's because the architecture is so iconic - and so picturesque - that many television shows and movies have been filmed on location here.

    On this tour Rick Evans gives you not only an introduction to some of San Francisco's most famous downtown buildings in the financial district, including the TransAmerica Pyramid, but you'll also learn about such hidden treasures as rooftop gardens and unique open spaces. This is a fascinating way to learn about San Francisco's history through its buildings.

  2. Barbary Coast Trail. San Francisco had an exciting past that began with the California Gold Rush of 1848. On this tour you'll see such historical sites as a saloon where sailors were once "shanghaied," a national landmark building that survived the 1906 earthquake and fire, and an amazing "graveyard" of Gold Rush ships buried beneath the streets.

    The Barbary Coast was a red-light district in old San Francisco that arose from the massive infusion of treasure-seekers. The area quickly gained a reputation for rowdy behavior, gambling, prostitution, thievery, and murder. The Barbary Coast Trail walking tour has a lot to offer!

  3. Victorian Home Walk (see photo). Offered by San Francisco Historical Walking Tours, you might want to consider this tour if you don't want to climb San Francisco's famous hills. On this tour you'll explore hill-free Pacific Heights, where you'll see beautiful Victorian row houses, famous mansions, and lovely gardens. You'll even get the chance to peek inside a period "Queen Anne" Victorian home. This is your opportunity to really get up close to some of San Francisco's most charming and alluring homes.

  4. All About Chinatown Walking Tours. No exploration of San Francisco would be complete without a look at the city's most famous neighborhood. The largest and most culturally significant "chinatown" outside of mainland China, this city within a city is exciting and lively. You'll see buildings of historical and architectural interest, including an authentic Buddhist Temple; you'll visit a fortune cookie factory; and you could even join a hosted 10 course dim sum luncheon.
Many San Francisco timeshare rentals are available, including Nob Hill Inn, and The Suites at Fisherman's Wharf. Give yourself the opportunity to really get to know this fascinating city through its walking tours.

Walking Tours – Part 1: New York City
Walking Tours – Part 3: San Diego
Walking Tours – Part 4: Miami
Walking Tours - Part 5: New Orleans
Walking Tours - Part 6: Hawaii

(Photo credit victorianwalk.com)

Walking Tours - Part 1: New York City

When you rent timeshares for your vacations, you are giving yourself the treat of a home-away-from-home. From your time share rental you also have the opportunity to get to know your "neighborhood," and you have the time to do it. Walking tours are a great way to explore a city. We're starting a new series where we'll look at walking tours that are available in six different cities where you can plan a timeshare vacation. First up - the Big Apple, New York City.
  1. New York Discovery Walking Tours is a great tour company for first-timers. Every member of your family will find a tour to their liking among the 75 different itineraries that are offered. Choices include locations such as Central Park, Greenwich Village (see photo), and the TriBeca neighborhood, the first residential area to be developed in NYC during colonial times; or themes like "John Lennon and the Beatles New York"; or tasting tours to neighborhoods such as Little Italy and Chinatown.

  2. New York Vacation Packages offers a unique walking tour (open to anyone) to Ground Zero. This informative tour is offered with reverence, and gives you the opportunity to stand on the original floor of the World Trade Center, and to view the FDNY 9/11 Memorial Wall bronze sculpture on the side of Ten House Fire Station.

  3. Joyce Gold History Tours of New York is owned and operated by Joyce Gold, a history professor at NYU, and a 30-year veteran of guiding walking tours. Her entertaining look how the city's past colors its present helps you discover such varied places as Grand Central Station, Battery Park, and the Meat Packing District.

  4. Big Onion Walking Tours give a quirky, irreverent look at the Big Apple. This is a chance to laugh while being educated as you take tours to the Brooklyn Bridge, East Village, and Chelsea, or choose the Multi-Ethnic Eating Tour, or the Official Gangs of New York Tour (endorsed by Martin Scorsese).

  5. Free tours abound, including the 8th Street Walking Tour where you'll see Jimi Hendrix's Electric Lady recording studio; Orchard Street Walking Tour that takes you through the Lower East Side (you might want to take this tour on International Pickle Day); or get a behind-the-scenes look at world finances on the Federal Reserve Bank Tour.
Rent a New York City timeshare at any one of a number of great resorts available, including the Manhattan Club and The Crowne Plaza Times Square, and spend some time immersing yourself in this magnificent city by joining one of its entertaining and educational walking tours.

Walking Tours - Part 2: San Francisco
Walking Tours - Part 3: San Diego
Walking Tours - Part 4: Miami
Walking Tours - Part 5: New Orleans
Walking Tours - Part 6: Hawaii

(Photo credit beyondstructure.com)

Explore Orlando’s Many Themes - Part 3: Dinner Theaters

Orlando is a many-faceted vacation destination. Known primarily for its big Theme Parks, this Florida city has other great "themes" to its vacation personality as well. Rent a timeshare and have fun with the third "theme" we're exploring in our 3-part series - Dinner Theaters.
  1. Arabian Nights
    At this award-winning dinner show you enter the world of Scheherazade, a young girl who dreams of becoming a princess (see photo). Two magical genies take her - and you - on a thrilling romantic adventure filled with music, lights and daring acts. You'll encounter everything from dancers on horseback to racing chariots to flying gypsies.

    This is a large-scale production and features riders and acrobats performing on over 60 horses. The entire Arabian Nights performance and dinner show is hosted inside the Palace of Horses, the world’s largest indoor equestrian arena for a permanent show, where more than 14 different breeds of horses are trained.

    Along with this exciting show, you'll also eat well. The dinner menu includes everything from sirloin steak to a kid's menu of chicken tenders and macaroni and cheese. And try the Oreo brownie for dessert.

  2. Sleuths Mystery Dinner Show
    This is true theater as you watch a mystery play performed right in front of you. And you never know - you might get to mingle with the outrageous characters yourself if you're chosen for a cameo role.

    Thirteen different stories are rotated through the schedule. Each show is 2 1/2 hours of scripted mystery, improvisation and audience participation. Bring your investigative skills and watch for anything suspicious, interrogate some of the suspects and help solve the crime. You'll be on the edge of your seat, if you're not rolling in the aisles with laughter.

    Your mystery meal offers hot and cold hors d'oeuvres, a choice of entrees that includes prime rib and lasagna, and - a mystery dessert.

  3. Pirate Dinner Adventure
    Set aboard an authentic reproduction of an 18th century galleon anchored in an indoor lagoon, this interactive show will "shiver the timbers" of all wanna-be pirates. The action-packed adventure unfolds with a cast of a dozen actors, singers and stunt performers accompanied by cannon blasts, pyrotechnics and plenty of laughs. Every night more than 150 audience members are chosen to play an actual role in the show.

    Your pirate's feast includes the Captain's Seafood Medley, Pillager's Pork, and Princess Anita’s Royal Desserts.
An Orlando timeshare rental will put you in the middle of this amazing city - a multi-themed, family-friendly vacation hot-spot.

Explore Orlando’s Many Themes - Part 1: Flying
Explore Orlando’s Many Themes - Part 2: Animals

(Photo credit arabian-nights.com)

Explore Orlando’s Many Themes - Part 2: Animals

We all know that Orlando is famous as the Theme Park capital of the world with its huge theme parks of Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. But Orlando also has many other "themes" to be explored from your timeshare rental. Part 2 of our 3-part series on Orlando's "other themes" will look at the theme of "wet and wild - animals!"

All of the following venues do have theme-park related thrill rides, certainly, but each one also offers the unique opportunity to get up close and personal to some of the amazing animals that share our world.

SeaWorld is famous for its Orcas, or Killer Whales. The Shamu Show showcases these beautiful, graceful and powerful creatures. Currently SeaWorld Orlando has six Orcas, including a calf just born on October 9th, 2010.

Other fun animals you can see at SeaWorld are sea lions, seals, beluga whales, pacific walruses, polar bears, and of course dolphins. Currently at SeaWorld Orlando there are 17 adult dolphins, and 11 calves make up the Dolphin Nursery.

Even though Busch Gardens in nearby Tampa Bay is thought of as a thrill ride park, it really is a zoo and botanical garden. Among the spectacular garden displays winds a wonderful menagerie of African animals. Jungala offers great up-close experiences of both orangutan and tiger exhibits. The Edge of Africa exhibit is where you'll be able to see such animals as lions, rhinos, giraffes and even families of cute meerkats.

A special treat at Busch Gardens is the Serengeti Safari Tours *(see photo) which takes you and your family aboard open trucks across the 65-acre Serengeti Plain, for thrilling up-close encounters with the African animals in their natural habitat.

Although Aquatica is a waterpark, the rides incorporate a viewing of an intriguing assortment of animals. Aquatica is home to the only Commerson's Dolphins in the southeast U.S. These small dolphins, measuring only 5 ft in length and weighing only 100 pounds, are agile and playful swimmers.

African Cichlids are fancifully-colored freshwater fish. An extremely diverse type of fish, more than 500 species are known, and scientists find new species every year.
Other amazing animals include Aquatica's "roving ambassadors." These fun animals include a giant anteater, a pink spoonbill, a laughing kookaburra, and a sulcata tortoise, one of the largest species of tortoise in the world.

After you've done Mickey Mouse and Harry Potter, it's refreshing to use your Orlando timeshare rental to get out and get close to nature at these wonderful animal attractions - another great Orlando "theme."

Explore Orlando’s Many Themes - Part 1: Flying
Explore Orlando’s Many Themes - Part 3: Dinner Theaters
(Photo credit dosomethingdifferent.com)

Explore Orlando's Many Themes - Part 1: Flying

Orlando is the Theme Park capital of the world, no doubt about it. But Orlando is a lot more, too. Rent a timeshare in Orlando, and explore Orlando's "other themes." This is Part 1 of a 3-part series on the many fun themes of Orlando. Here we'll explore the theme of "Flying."

Certainly there is flying with Pixie Dust at WDW, and flying with Harry Potter's wizard broom at Universal, but for real family flying fun, Orlando has a lot more from which to choose.

Let's start with skydiving. Think that's not something the entire family would be up for? Think again! At Orlando's Sky Venture you skydive indoors, in a wind tunnel, where just about everyone can fly.

This is just like real skydiving but without having to jump out of a plane. It's so realistic, in fact, that professional skydivers actually practice their moves in the wind tunnel. It's safe enough for 3 year-olds, and thrilling enough for adults.

Sky Venture isn't a ride or a simulator - you actually fly. It's just like free-falling, and instructors teach you how to control your movements by adjusting your positions. Learning how to master turns and other maneuvers gives you a different experience each time you fly.

If you'd like to go up in an airplane, head to Biplane Rides over Kissimmee. You'll experience the freedom of flying in an open cockpit as you wear goggles and feel the wind in your hair. You'll soar above the clouds in a vintage Stearman biplane, and get a bird's eye view of Orlando.

Or take the controls of a WWII fighter at Warbird Adventures, also in Kissimmee (see photo). This is a hands-on experience. You're in the front seat with an experienced flight instructor in the back seat. Once airborne, with his coaching you'll be doing the flying - even some aerobatics if that's what you want. No prior flying experience is necessary.

And who hasn't dreamed of a hot air balloon ride? There are several companies in the Orlando area that can help make that dream come true. Most of the hot air balloon rides take place in the early morning hours when the air is calm and quiet, and afterwards you can look forward to a traditional Champaign toast. You'll enjoy spectacular views as you gently float over Walt Disney World and the other theme parks. You might even have the thrill of finding yourself surrounded by other hot air balloons as you all rise above the earth together.

An Orlando timeshare rental family vacation offers many themes and the fun of flying is just one of them.

Explore Orlando's Many Themes - Part 2: Animals

Explore Orlando's Many Themes - Part 3: Dinner Theaters

Photo courtesy attractionsconnection.com

Fall Timeshare Travel to Washington D.C.

Now that the heat of the summer is lessened and the massive crowds are gone, autumn is a fine time to visit our nation's capital. A timeshare rental in the Washington, D.C., area will give you plenty of time to get away from the usual museums and monuments, and discover some of Washington's unique neighborhoods

Dupont Circle is a traffic circle, a park, a neighborhood, and an historic district. A cosmopolitan neighborhood, it's home to some of Washington, D.C.,'s finest museums, historic homes, art galleries, and numerous foreign embassies. You'll find it fun to try some of the ethnic restaurants for which Dupont Circle is famous, including Thai, Middle Eastern, Greek and Ethiopian.

Dupont Circle is located in the "Old City" of Washington, D.C. - the area planned by the city's original architect Pierre Charles L'Enfant. The park located within the circle is maintained by the National Park Service. The central fountain provides seating, and if you're a chess buff you might be able to pick up a game at one of the permanent stone chessboards.

Penn Quarter (see photo) is a revitalized historic neighborhood in the east end of downtown Washington, DC., north of Pennsylvania Avenue. Penn Quarter has become an arts and entertainment district with new restaurants, hotels, nightclubs, art galleries, theaters and trendy stores. In 1997 revitalization began with a number of developments west of the FBI Building, most significantly the creation of new parks and plazas, including Pershing Park, Freedom Plaza, and the Navy Memorial.

On Thursday afternoons in spring, summer, and fall, the FRESHFARM Penn Quarter farmers market is open, and is a great place for you to pick up delicious fresh fruits and vegetables for your timeshare kitchen meals.

Georgetown is a neighborhood located in the northwest quadrant of Washington, D.C., along the Potomac River waterfront. Interestingly it predates the capital city, having been founded in 1751. It was assimilated into Washington, D.C, in 1871.

Georgetown is home to the main campus of Georgetown University, and numerous historic landmarks including Old Stone House, the oldest standing building in Washington. When you stroll through this neighborhood you'll encounter several foreign embassies including those of France, Sweden Thailand, and the Ukraine.

In the heart of the Capitol Hill neighborhood you'll find the Eastern Market. Begun in 1873, this is Washington DC’s oldest continually operated fresh food public market. Try the Market Lunch, known for its crab cakes and blueberry pancakes. The Market is also a destination for homemade arts and crafts, and community events including concerts, sing-alongs, and dance.

A timeshare rental vacation in Washington, D.C., is the perfect way to truly enjoy all of this fascinating city, and autumn is the perfect time for it.

(Photo credit dc.about.com)

5 Common Mistakes to Avoid when Planning your Vacation

Vacations are precious things these days. If you're like so many other Americans, you might feel like you shouldn't even take a vacation. So, when you do take the time, and the money, for a real vacation, you want it to go well. Avoid these 5 common mistakes and you might find yourself enjoying a dream vacation of a lifetime.
  • Mistake #1 - Paying the cost of a Hotel
    Hotels are expensive. And these days hotels are jumping on the "extra fee" bandwagon started by the airlines (and many of the extra fees are hidden - see our previous post “Hotels Charging Extra Fees”), so, often your final bill is much higher than you planned on.

    Solution: A timeshare rental often offers up to 50% savings over hotel rooms. You'll find it also cheaper on a per person cost, since most hotels require you to pay for more rooms to accommodate more people.

  • Mistake #2 - Eating Out for all of your Meals
    Restaurants are expensive. And fast food is not only getting more expensive, it can get tiring. How thrilling is it to spend your vacation eating cold pizza while perched on the edge of a hotel bed?

    Solution: Rent a timeshare that comes with a fully equipped kitchen.

  • Mistake #3 - Settling for a Cramped Hotel Room
    Solution: Timeshare rentals offer space in which to spread out and relax. You'll have separate bedrooms, a living area, a dining area, a full-sized kitchen, and a balcony or lanai.

  • Mistake #4 - Staying at Accommodations with no Amenities
    Many hotels have no amenities at all, and if a hotel does offer anything it's usually one small, crowded pool, for which you may even be charged an extra fee. Bed and Breakfasts and vacation homes also generally leave you high and dry.

    Solution: Timeshare rentals are attached to luxury resorts, and most of the resort's amenities will be included in your one-time rental fee. These amenities will almost always include multiple swimming pools (often with waterpark features), hot tubs, kiddie pools, children's playgrounds, and tennis courts. Other offerings might be dance classes, arts and crafts, arcade game rooms, volleyball, miniature golf, and the list goes on.

  • Mistake #5 - Returning to the Same Location
    It's easy to fall into the trap of vacationing at the same destination every year, especially if you are on a budget and feel like you should go somewhere you already know you can afford.

    Solution: Check out the many listings for budget-friendly timeshare exchanges available not only across the country, but in Mexico, the Caribbean, and around the world. When you choose to vacation with a timeshare rental, your destination options are wide open.

Travel to the Most Haunted Cities in America – Part 4 Salem

If you are truly serious about wanting to check out real hauntings for your October timeshare rental vacation, the place you must go is, of course, Salem, Massachusetts. So we end our 4-part series of the most haunted cities in America with a look at this iconic witch-filled, ghost-filled town. Many Massachusetts timeshare rentals, in Boston or even on Cape Cod, will put you no more than an hour's drive of Salem.

Popularly known as the "Haunted Witch City," Salem's tragic history easily puts it on the map as a top "haunted destination," both for tourists and for professional paranormal investigators.

The most haunted spot in Salem is now known as Gallows Hill Park. This is the site where the majority of accused "witches" were hung during the witch hysteria that gripped the town in 1692. The original "hanging tree" is long gone, and the pit where the bodies were dumped has turned into itself with the spot now grown over. But many of the tortured souls who were unjustly killed here are still seen in ghostly apparition roaming across the ground and darting among the trees. On some nights screams and sobbing can be distinctly heard.

Salem has been forced to embrace its tragic past, and today has turned its history of witches into its main industry. Police cars are adorned with witch logos, a local public school is known as the Witchcraft Heights Elementary School, and the Salem High School football team is called The Witches.

Thus, Salem is definitely a hot spot for Halloween celebrations. From October 1 through November 1 you can join the Halloween festival in everything from parades to psychic fairs to tours of haunted houses.

Speaking of tours, you can choose from numerous tour companies for your official tour of haunted Salem, including candlelight walking tours, trolley tours, and even a haunted dinner cruise tour.

Don't miss the fascinating museums of Salem. One of the scariest is the Salem Wax Museum where you'll come face to face with eerily life-like figures representing some of Salem's most infamous citizens, including the merciless Witch Trials judge Colonel John Hawthorne, and Tituba, the accused "witch" who helped fuel the 1692 hysteria.

Salem is also known as a modern-day gathering spot for practitioners of Wicca, who comfortably call themselves witches. The Salem Witch Village is where you will "discover the truth and facts surrounding the subject of Witchcraft." Created in conjunction with modern day witches, this is touted as "the only tour in Salem to actually touch upon the true subject of Witchcraft - its history, beliefs, and practices, both ancient and modern."

Salem is the perfect spot to rent a timeshare for a spooky Halloween vacation.

Travel to the Most Haunted Cities in America – Part 1 New Orleans

Travel to the Most Haunted Cities in America – Part 2 San Francisco
Travel to the Most Haunted Cities in America – Part 3 Miami

(Photo credit hauntedsalem.com)

Travel to the Most Haunted Cities in America – Part 3 Miami

In Part 3 of our 4-part series on where you can rent a timeshare and visit the most haunted cities in America during Halloween month, we'll head once again to a beautiful seaside destination. Who would think that the soft sands and warm waters of the Miami Beach area would also have a Haunted side? Rent a Miami Beach timeshare and check these places out!

The area's most famous haunted hotel is the elegant Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables (see photo), originally built as a luxury hotel for the rich and famous. However, during WWII its marble floors were covered with government-issue linoleum, the windows were covered over with concrete, and the hotel was turned into a hospital. After the war it was used by the University of Miami School of Medicine for cadaver studies.

Even though the building was restored to an elegant hotel in the 1980s, there are numerous ghostly sightings of the tortured dead from this period - the 13th floor seems to be particularly active. Also a woman in white is often seen running down the beach or out on the golf course, believed to be a young woman who jumped to her death from the hotel's tower. You can hear these and many other ghost stories told every Thursday evening in the Biltmore lobby.

The Villa Paula Mansion in Miami is active with several spirits. The ghost of Paula, who died there as a young woman, has been seen playing the piano, wandering through the rose garden, and slamming doors. The apparitions of a tall thin man, and of a heavy-set lady in a red dress have also been seen, as well as a maid weeping as she looks for the grave of her illegitimate baby.

The mysterious archeological site known as the Miami Circle, on a coastal spit of land near downtown Miami, is certainly a departure from normal haunted places. Thought to be remnants of an ancient Tequesta Indian village, on dark nights ghostly forms have been seen flitting about the area, along with strange music, mumblings and wailing.

And leave it to South Beach to be on the whacky side of hauntings - besides haunted hotels, here you'll also find haunted night clubs and haunted bars.
As you plan your Halloween timeshare rental vacation, keep Haunted Miami in mind as a very spooky destination.

Travel to the Most Haunted Cities in America – Part 1 New Orleans
Travel to the Most Haunted Cities in America – Part 2 San Francisco

(Photo credit biltmorehotel.com)

Travel to the Most Haunted Cities in America – Part 2 San Francisco

Part 2 of our 4-part series on renting a timeshare in the most haunted cities in America, takes us to San Francisco. This beautiful City by the Bay has lovely scenery of a rippling blue ocean, craggy cliffs, vintage downtown architecture, and cable cars - the most fun public transportation around.

This city also has a hidden secret - it's haunted. What a perfect place to have a vacation destination in the Halloween month of October.

The haunted hot spot in San Francisco is Alcatraz Prison (see photo). This maximum-security prison was run by the Federal Bureau of Prisons for 30 years. It was known as The Rock, and was considered escape-proof as it sat out in the middle of the Bay surrounded by freezing waters and strong currents. Thirty-six prisoners were involved in 14 escape attempts - 23 were caught, six were shot and killed during their escape, and three were lost at sea and never found.

In 1972 the island was designated an historic site and today is operated by the National Park Service and is open to tours. People who go on the tours say they have heard the sounds of the tortured souls of the prisoners as ghostly footsteps echo down the hallways, and abandoned cell doors clang shut. Several visitors have reported hearing moans, agonized cries and chains rattling in cell blocks A, B, and particularly C, and ghostly banjo music emanating from the cell that had been occupied by Al Capone.

Famous Russian Hill is another of San Francisco's haunted places. This area was once a cemetery before the gravestones were removed to make way for the building of new homes and fancy office buildings. The displaced spirits are angry and have been heard moaning and whaling, and ghostly apparitions have even been seen slipping in and out of the houses and buildings built over their graves.

The tower of the San Francisco Art Institute seems to have attracted a number of spirits. Night watchmen have reported hearing the locked front doors open and footsteps climb heavily up the stairways. Eerie lights are said to flicker in the tower at night.

In the 1800s, the clipper ship Tennessee disappeared into the dense fog of Golden Gate Strait and went down with a full crew. The phantom ship is still sighted by many, often seen passing below the Golden Gate Bridge. The Bridge itself has been the site of over 1000 suicides, and many ghostly forms have been seen along the bridge.

From your San Francisco timeshare rental we suggest you take the Haunted Haight Walking Tour. Led by a paranormal investigator, this tour will show you the ghostly haunts of the infamous Haight-Ashbury district - up close and personal.

Previous Posts:
Travel to the Most Haunted Cities in America – Part 1 New Orleans

(Photo credit visitingdc.com)

Travel to the Most Haunted Cities in America – Part 1 New Orleans

October is Halloween month, and that means it's time to get goosebumps and shivers, and give out a shriek or two. And what better way to get really scared than to explore real haunts. Our 4-part series on renting a timeshare and visiting the most haunted cities in America begins - where else? - in New Orleans.

With legends of voodoo curses, bizarre murders, and stories of Revolutionary War pirates, all wrapped in the ghoulish drape of Spanish moss hanging off gnarled old trees, New Orleans is the perfect haunted city.

The charm of this gracious southern lady is undeniable, and in between your encounters with ghosts you'll find plenty to do including rides on vintage street cars, sampling Creole cuisine, and dancing through the night to the jumping music of Bourbon Street.

But, meeting up with ghosts is what you're about on your October vacation, and our suggestion is to join Haunted New Orleans Tours. You'll have a guide that will take you to some of the most haunted places in the city - no guarantees of getting you back out, though. It's said that in Haunted New Orleans, the supernatural becomes the normal, and so strong is the hold of this city that even the dead have a hard time leaving it behind.

New Orleans is full of haunted houses, graveyards and battlefields. On your haunted tour you'll visit Congo Square, where the ghosts of one-time slaves beat the African drum to frenzy. Inside St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is where you could encounter the ghost of Marie Laveau, the most famous Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. Many say they have seen her spirit darting among the tombs, wearing a red and white seven knotted turban, and mumbling a New Orleans Santeria Voodoo curse to trespassers.

Another well known ghost haunt in New Orleans is the Laularie House (see photo), occupied in the 1830s. There are reported incidents of people seeing, feeling and hearing the ghosts of tormented slaves in the LaLaurie home, and there are even reports of the Madame herself being seen there. The spirits of the restless dead are not quiet - many say they have heard loud moans and weeping, and others have seen the ghostly faces of the dead peering from the upper windows.

Ghost cats and dogs are said to prowl the New Orleans haunted cemeteries. And haunted buildings abound throughout the city. Footsteps are heard stomping up and down halls and stairways at night, closet doors open and close, and a rush of air follows as if someone is walking through.

Rent a New Orleans timeshare now and spend a haunted October vacation in one of the most haunted cities in America.

Additional Posts:
Travel to the Most Haunted Cities in America – Part 2 San Francisco

(Photo credit prairieghosts.com)

Timeshare Rental Vacation in Sedona to Visit Bearizona

Now that the summer heat of the desert is fading into the pleasant temperatures of autumn, plan a timeshare rental vacation to Sedona, Arizona. While there is plenty of beautiful scenery to enjoy in the area, and lots of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing and horseback riding, also make time for a day trip to Bearizona.

Bearizona Wildlife Park opened in May, 2010, just east of Williams, AZ. From Sedona you'll take a scenic 45-minute drive through spectacular Oak Creek Canyon - a colorful and deep-cut gorge that is especially beautiful in the fall. You'll come out in Flagstaff, and Bearizona is less than a half hour beyond.

Bearizona is the brainchild of members of the Casey family, who founded Bear Country USA near Rapid City, South Dakota. Like Bear Country, Bearizona is a drive-through park where visitors can see wild animals native to North America, from the safety of their own cars.

Bearizona animals are all captive-born. Bison, bighorn sheep, burros and black bears can be seen in the 158-acre park now. Other animals that will be introduced by the end of the year include wolves, mountain goats and bobcats. During 2011 more animals will be brought in such as foxes, badgers, musk ox, river otters, and even grizzly bears.

Eventually over 40 species of wildlife will be in the park, including orphaned animals from other states. When Phase II is completed there will be a walk-through area at the end of the drive-through route, "which will be more like a traditional zoo except it will have cliffs and waterfalls," explained Dennis Casey, one of the partners. “With so much ground to play with, we can hide the enclosures pretty well.”

Bearizona will have an emphasis on conservation and even though the Williams City Council gave the wildlife park access to 4 million gallons of water per year, plans are for the park to also use rainwater collection. Other "green" projects include composting and solar power.

The mission statement of Bearizona reads, in part, “Bearizona’s Mission is to promote conservation and preservation through safe, affordable, memorable and educational encounters with North American wildlife in a natural environment. The Bearizona Wildlife Park is a vehicle for connecting visitors to wildlife and the land in which they inhabit, while using best practices for economic, environmental and social sustainability.”

Bearizona plans to be open 7 days a week, year-round. A Sedona timeshare rental is the perfect place for a family vacation this autumn, with the special bonus of a fun day in a beautiful wildlife park.

(Photo credit bearizona.com)

Rent a Williamsburg Timeshare and Celebrate Autumn

The sweet smell of apple wood smoke drifting lazily into the crisp fall air. The sweet taste of hot mulled apple cider. The sweet bite of a fresh-baked apple pie. Are you ready to celebrate autumn? There are many places where you can rent a timeshare and indulge in the sweetness of fall, and one of the most family-friendly, fun and unique places is Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia.

All of these scents and tastes can be found in Williamsburg as the rich colors of fall foliage line the historic streets, where George Washington and Thomas Jefferson themselves strolled through the autumn air under some of these very trees. And where piles of dry autumn leaves just begging for a kid to take a flying, whooping leap accumulate on the lawn of the Governor's Mansion.

This celebrated town, so pivotal to the history of America during the heady pre-Revolutionary War days, has been completely restored and is open to the public 365 days a year. George Washington actually did sleep here - in the Raleigh Tavern. Take a tour, see the guest rooms, and eat an authentic Colonial dinner in the same room where the Father of our Country dined. Or walk along the road where Thomas Jefferson trudged back and forth while attending William and Mary College and staying in the grand house of his friend and mentor, George Wye.

If you visit during the fall, your experience is heightened by the rich smells of this season - from pungent autumn leaves to simmering stew to sweet wood smoke. Savor all of these while riding in a beautiful horse-drawn carriage along a cobblestone street, or in a rustic team-pulled wagon down a rutted dirt road. As you meet a milkmaid bringing in the cows, a farmer's son with a yoke of oxen, or even flashy British regulars marching past in their distinctive red coats, it's easy to imagine yourself as a colonialist yourself, living in the vibrant capital city of the Virginia Colony of England.

All the while, costumed historic interpreters are eager to tell you what 18th century life was like in Williamsburg. How tallow candles are made, and why the fashion started by a balding French king now keeps wig makers busy. Hear the ring of the blacksmith's hammer striking the anvil amid flying sparks and watch as a hot shoe is put to a horse's hoof.

There is a host of activities designed just for the youngsters through the Kids Club, including marching with the Fifes and Drums band, and joining the colonial militia. To make things even more fun for the kids authentic children's costumes are available for rent.

For a great autumn vacation for the entire family, nothing beats renting a Williamsburg timeshare and taking a wonderful leap back in time.

(Photo credit history.org)