Our Time-Share Vacation Experience All Over the World
Chateau Du Mer Beach Resort
Is Time-Sharing Vacation for Everyone?
Time-sharing vacation purchases are not for everyone. But if you have patience, it is a good way to enjoy a vacation in 5 star resorts/hotels all over the world. The second article is our one day tour of Tangier, Morocco, North Africa. It was one of our best trips, considering value and experience, since you have visited another continent, even just for one day. We Have also used our time sharing exchange benefits by vacationing to Aruba, Puerto Rico, Cancun, Mexico, Southern Spain, Rome, Italy and Vicinity and all over the US.
Bellarocca, Philippines or Santorini, Greece?
Our Time-Share Vacation Experiences
Some time in the mid 1990s, Macrine (my spouse of 54 years) and I purchased a time-share at the Five Star, Ridge Resort in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. The resort is located at an elevation of over 7,000 feet above sea level. On the east side of the 8th floor of our 2 bedroom condo unit, you have a mesmerizing view of Lake Tahoe and on the west side the small town of Minden, Nevada. We purchased this time-share not intentionally, but we were persuaded by the high pressure sale pitch of an aggressive sales person. They offered us a free dinner for two by just attending their one-hour sales presentation and tour of the resort facilities. At that time most of the resort's time-sharing program had no options for exchanges to other resorts. But the Ridge has that flexibility, so we signed up for a 2-bedroom unit for one week every year. We could exchange this to other five star resorts all over the world as long as they participate in the Interval International (II) Time Share Exchange Program. Since our purchase, we have exchanged our time share in Marbella, Spain, Cancun, Mexico. Puerto Rico, Aruba, Las Vegas, Nevada, Maui, Kawaii and the big Island of Hawaii. We had a grand time and fantastic vacations staying in five star resorts/hotel equivalent to The Ridge.
However, lately, I found it hard to do exchanges via II, even with resorts in the Philippines. So, this year we will spend our week at our home resort, The Ridge at Lake Tahoe, Nevada.
Purchasing a vacation time-share is not for everyone, especially if you do not plan your vacation ahead of time. To insure and take advantage of the exchange program flexibility, you need to be organized. With our time-share, my wife and I just cannot travel at the spur of the moment if there is a promo package offered by travel agencies. Our vacation time is tied up to our time-share program. Moreover, before you could exchange you need to reserve your week, then deposit it to II. After that you need to tell II to exchange it, listing three resorts and three time periods. This is the thing that takes a long time, especially if the resorts you select are popular resorts and the time periods are the busy vacation season.
Owning a time-share does not really save you vacation money as the sales pitches proclaimed. However, with your time-share program you stay in four or five star resorts, that otherwise you cannot afford or are willing to pay on your own. In addition, you have the flexibility to choose places all over the world. There are over a thousand resorts listed in the Interval International Directory available for exchange. However, popular vacations spots such as Hawaii, San Francisco or France are hard to get, even if you reserved two years ahead.
Availability of resorts is posted in the Internet on first come, first served basis. So if you have patience, you may be able to get an exchange that fits your time and need. As an example, three years ago, I wanted to exchange my time share with a 2-bedroom unit in Las Vegas right on the Strip. There were about five hotels on the Strip with one bedroom units available on the week that I wanted, but no two bedroom units. I waited for another ten minutes and surfed again. To my surprise a 2-bedroom unit was available on a hotel right on the Strip but I had only 15 minutes to complete the transaction. I completed the transaction in 10 minutes and within 20 minutes, I received a confirmation via email. I was lucky and had the patience surfing in the Internet. Otherwise, I may have had to be content with a one bedroom unit not close to the Strip.
So what is my recommendation? If you are someone who does not plan ahead and does not have perseverance, do not purchase a time share. In addition, time-share will cost you maintenance fees that get higher every year. Put your vacation money in the bank or invest it. When the time comes for your vacation, then that is the time to get your money. Enjoy your vacation to a place anywhere in the world and at a time that is convenient for you.
Trip to Tangiers, Morocco
One Day Tour of Tangier, Morocco, North Africa
From Marbella, Spain, Macrine (my spouse of 54 years) and I joined a one day tour to Tangier, Morocco, North Africa, as part of our vacation in the Costa del Sol in October, 2000. With this visit we could claim that we have been to the Continent of Africa. It was a beautifully organized tour. Our tour started from the most southern point of Spain (Tarifa). Morocco was only 14 kilometers away from this town in Spain. That day, we saw the mountains at the other side of the Strait of Gibraltar. We took a fast ferry and arrived in Tangier after only 35 minutes of smooth ferry ride.
When we arrived in Morocco, a bus drove the group from the port to the old town. The old town is surprisingly similar to a lot of old towns in the Andalucian cities in Spain. At the entrance there was an old arc, after which we found a labyrinth of small streets, small houses, ancient buildings, a castle and small typical shops. Most of the shops appear to be there for tourists only. The shop owners are not too shy to sell you all their merchandise on the streets, of course for “a very special price” (which drops rapidly if you don’t show any interest). Also included in our tour was a lunch in a traditional Moroccan restaurant. They served traditional food and at the end we had a traditional Moroccan tea. It was questionable if it was really a traditional restaurant, but the food was good.
Walking on the narrow cobblestone streets of the Medina (Old Town) in Tangier was not easy. Street peddlers hustle you all day. They sell all kinds of trinkets that will challenge even an experienced bargain hunter like me. However, I had my good buy of the day on this tour. I saw a mineral stone (similar to the one you see in the Smithsonian museum in Washington, DC). The asking price was 3,000 pesetas (about $30 US that time). I bargained 500 pesetas. As expected I received a groaning response from the peddler (a man in his late 20s) that I am too cheap and should be ashamed for bargaining too low. I just smile and ignored him. The peddler kept following me until lunch time, when the price went down to 2,000 pesetas. I said no and stuck to my original bargain. I totally forgot about this haggling episode, when out of nowhere the peddler accosted me again and lowered the price to 1,000 pesetas. I said no deal until the price went down to 700 pesetas. Three hours later as I was stepping on the bus on our way home, the peddler gave up. He gave the mineral stone to me as I handed him the 500 pesetas from the window of the bus. I certainly had a grand time in this haggling process.
We did visit a carpet shop, but I was no longer in the mood for bargaining. In addition if we buy a carpet, it will be bulky to carry around, although they can ship your purchase to the US with a ridiculously high fee. We also looked at leather jackets for my son, but we were too tired to haggle after our long walk in the Old Town.
Macrine on the other hand is not a bargain hunter or haggler. Her best purchase was what they called the “Moroccan Gold”. It is the most expensive spice in the world. It is saffron. The powder looks light reddish brown, but when you add water it turns yellow, just like the color of tumeric, another spice. You need only a very small amount for cooking paella and other Spanish or Filipino dishes like the ginat-an na manok sa gata (chicken in coconut milk) or Marinduque-one of my favorite Filipino dishes. Saffron is very expensive, so most cooks use a cheaper substitute, tumeric, known as “dilaw” in Marinduque, Philippines.
This trip was one of the best trips we had, considering the cost, value and the experience of visiting another continent.
Madeira Islands or Marinduque Island?
Time Sharing Experinces
Do You Own a Time Share?
Our San Juan, Puerto Rico, Time Exchange Vacation
San Juan, Puerto Rico and Vicinity
In January 19 to 26, 1996, Macrine ( my wife) and I spent one glorious week in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We stayed at the El San Juan Towers, a four star resort in Carolina, PR not too far from Old San Juan. This is in conjunction with our International Interval Exchange Vacation Program. Our travel was arranged by Ober United Travel Agency in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
During this seven days, we were able to drive up to Luquillo with a stop over at the El Yunque Caribbean National Forest. However most of 7 days we spent around Old San Juan and the beach and swimming pool of our resort. A couple of nights we went to the casino in the nearby San Juan Hotel for dinner and a little gambling.
San Juan is a major port and tourist resort of the West Indies and is the oldest city under the U.S flag. The metropolitan area known as San Juan has 3 distinct areas: Old San Juan, the Beach & Resort area, and other outlying communities, the most important: RÃo Piedras, Hato Rey, Puerta de Tierra, and Santurce. RÃo Piedras was founded in 1714 but became incorporated into San Juan in 1951
During the early 16th century, San Juan was the point of departure of Spanish expeditions to charter or settle unknown parts of the New World. Its fortifications repulsed the English navigator Sir Francis Drake in 1595, as well as later attacks. In the 20th century the city expanded beyond its walled confines, known as Old San Juan, to incorporate suburban Miramar, Santurce, Condado, Hato Rey and RÃo Piedras.
San Juan is the largest processing center of the island, the metropolitan area has facilities for petroleum and sugar refining, brewing and distilling and produces cement, pharmaceuticals, metal products clothing, and tobacco. The port is one of the busiest in the Caribbean. San Juan is the country's financial capital, and many U.S. banks and corporations maintain offices or distributing centers there. San Juan is center of Caribbean shipping and is the 2nd largest sea port in the area (after New York City).
Old San Juan is located on a small and narrow island which lies in the north coast, about 35 miles (56 km) from the east end of Puerto Rico, and is united to the mainland of Puerto Rico by the three bridges. It is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and to the south by San Juan Bay or "Bahia of San Juan" which lies between the city and the mainland. On a bluff about 100 feet (30 m) high at the west end of the island and commanding the entrance to the harbor rise the battlements of Fort San Felipe del Morro, in which there is a lighthouse
The "CaÃ±o de San Antonio" lies also in South Coast and extends to the Southeast where the island of Old San Juan connects to the mainland through Santurce by three bridges, "Puente Dos Hermanos" (Ave. Ashford), "Puente G. Esteves" (Ave. Ponce de LeÃ³n) and "Puente San Antonio" (Ave. FernÃ¡ndez Juncos). Old San Juan is characterized by its narrow, blue cobblestone streets and flat-roofed brick and stone buildings dating back to the 16th and 17th century when Puerto Rico was a Spanish possession. Near Fort San Felipe del Morro is the Casa Blanca, a palace on land which belonged to the family of Ponce de Leon.
This is one International Interval exchange vacation that we will always remember.