Several members of the RCI holiday exchange community talk about some of their favourite holiday destinations, share their tips on the best things to do and places to see, as well as what holidaying with RCI means to them.
Playtime on Lanzarote
After 30 years of travel, Alice and Patrick Kearney's love for Lanzarote is so strong that of all the places they have visited, it stands out as their favourite destination.
"We are RCI Platinum members and know how to use the exchange system. Owning four weeks at Club Las Calas (1448), right at the heart of Puerto del Carmen, it was always our intention to use RCI membership to travel. We've exchanged into Nashville and Florida, as well as all over France and Poland. However, for Patrick and myself, our hearts remain in Lanzarote. Our son and daughter both own timeshare at Club Las Calas and have RCI membership too, thanks to all the happy holiday memories there of our family holidays.
I have always loved to dance and it was that passion, together with our commitment to religious pilgrimages, which has taken Patrick and I around the world. Dancing still takes us off on holiday, only now we are dancing and singing our way around our little island paradise of Lanzarote!
I love the nightlife on Lanzarote. Our resort is next to all the shops, bars and restaurants along Puerto del Carmen's waterfront, which is ideal for us. There are Irish pubs where I can line dance to the folk music played there, while you can find just about every type of live music in the bars of Puerto del Carmen; it's a real party town. For ballroom dancing, you can't beat the Hotel San Antonio on Pocillos Beach, just a five-minute walk from the Music Hall Tavern. Getting around the island is easy as well, as the taxis are really cheap.
For Patrick it is about fitness, so he would rather run around the island. During one jogging session he found himself on a nudist beach... I asked him what he did and he replied, "I ran faster!" He makes sure we visit Club La Santa (0963), which has excellent sports facilities and is used by Olympic athletes for the Iron Man Challenge. Patrick even won a half marathon for his age group!
Another bonus for us is that the beautiful churches on this gorgeous island are open all day, as we often like to pay a wee visit.
There are some fabulous walks you can do, and our favourite is just up behind Puerto del Carmen. There are lots of zig-zag steps and the villas get more and more magnificent along the way, as this is where many wealthy residents live. I'm not surprised, as the views out to sea from here are out of this world. We like to keep on walking along the coast, watching the boats coming and going as we walk. It is a simply lovely and relaxing way to spend some time.
The shops are also worth a good walk! I typically stock up on sundresses and jewellery. There are big stores, but I favour the small boutiques where I find unusual one-off things that you wouldn't see anywhere else.
You can't love Lanzarote and not have noticed César Manrique's architecture and low-level buildings. It gives the island such a fresh look with all those clean lines and white walls. It is all in keeping and very different from other places. Plus, you can always depend on the weather, which makes it all look even more gorgeous!"
Colourful culture in Vietnam
Beverly and Anthony Rhodes have always been keen travellers, having spent time exploring Europe on their motorbike when they were younger. Their RCI membership now allows them to travel further afield.
"We have been members of RCI for 30 years and have exchanged all over the world, including Malaysia, Mexico and most recently, Vietnam. It was an incredible holiday in a completely different culture and we got to see so much of it.
We took our daughter, Rhiannon, and her partner Adam, with us and stayed in Da Lat, which is a mountainous region twice the height of Mount Snowdon, so the altitude did take some getting used to. We like to hire a car to explore, but the driving in Da Lat is mad and visitors have to pass a test to drive! We got taxis everywhere, which is a cheap way to travel and it meant we were putting money back into the pockets of the locals.
The Vietnamese culture is no more evident than in the ancient Night Market which is full of local people wearing traditional coolie hats, selling produce grown in the mountains. Staple products include artichoke tea, coffee - the coffee grown in Da Lat is some of the most expensive in the world - food and flowers. The Vietnamese cuisine is delicious. Their diet is so healthy, with dishes made up of fruit, vegetables, noodles and rice, though it did take us a while to get over the lack of sugar!
One day, we visited the Truc Lam Monastery by getting the cable car down from the nearby Robin Hill. The view across the lush pine forests as we descended was stunning, and the journey was so tranquil. When we arrived at the Monastery, one of the Monks came out to talk to us and he said he had been living there for 28 years, which was quite impressive! From our resort, we could hear the monks singing and their gong chiming in the evening, which was so calming. Our beautiful resort, Terracotta Resort Dalat (DE46), was in a perfect location.
Vietnam is famous for silk embroidery. We went to XQ Da Lat Art House to see the artists hard at work hand stitching silk and selling their creations; where their magnificent silk embroidered paintings are housed. You have to see it to believe it - some of the masterpieces are worth billions. A visit to Cu Lan village showcased the minorities' tribal way of life. Handcrafted items were on offer creating employment for younger generations.
We hired the resort mini bus and the driver took us on many trips - Nha Trang on the South China Sea was one of them. The journey took 4.5 hours through spectacular mountainous scenery, traditional villages and the incredible paddy fields, where the rice is grown. We also came across so much wildlife - including water buffalo, Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs and mountain goats.
We ended our holiday on my daughter’s 25th birthday with a day in Saigon, where she asked me when we were going to book our next RCI adventure!"
Dreaming of Phuket
It was her son’s backpacking adventures that spurred Carmel Smith and her partner, Ian, to take their long-haul dream holiday to Phuket.
"Over our 30 years as RCI members we have taken around 21 exchanges, as well as several trips back to our home resort in Marbella, which we love. After my son’s amazing backpacking tales, I decided that Phuket was where I wanted to go for my 60th birthday, so we exchanged well in advance. Ian and I decided to stay away from the busy cities, so we made the gorgeous LHC @ Allamanda Laguna Phuket (4973) our base. Thailand is such a stunning place I can barely describe just how incredible it is. We got out and about every day - we are not really ones to lie on a beach - and it was still the most relaxing holiday we’ve ever had.
You can’t go to Phuket and not explore its famous surrounding islands. We took a speedboat to Maya Beach on Ko Phi Phi Island where The Beach was filmed, and the view of the huge rocks jutting up from the water as we sped through the turquoise sea up to the beach was spectacular. It was busy, with everyone trying to get the perfect picture, but a really pretty place - with moored boats bobbing on the water.
We also had a day of cycling on Koh Yao Noi which is the best way to see the real Thailand. We cycled through sleepy villages and saw the locals fishing and rice farming, and got to see the rubber plantations as well. We ended the day with a traditional Thai meal with some friendly locals. It was a great day, and the routes are easy enough for all abilities.
If there is one thing to do while in Phuket, it's the Phang Nga Bay kayak tour through the sea caves and into the hongs - which means 'rooms' in the Thai language and which were in fact sink holes in the karst cliffs. It was the highlight of our holiday and I can’t recommend it enough. We kayaked around the islands - including the famous James Bond Island. Learning about the history and seeing the bat caves are experiences I’ll never forget. On the tour, we took part in the religious Loi Krathong Ceremony, which is a smaller version of the Festival of Light that takes place every November. We created traditional Thai bouquets made of banana leaves with a candle inside and we set them off to float in the water at dusk. Kayaking alongside the candles was beautiful and very peaceful. It was also awesome to see the plankton illuminate the water at night.
Back on dry land, there is so much to see and do. The night markets are the place to be in the evening for families to enjoy food, entertainment and shopping. Through the day, you will find delicious Thai food cooked and served on food carts on the beaches and streets. It is a really reasonable way to eat, and there is always somewhere to stop off for a refreshing cocktail along the beach.
I have some amazing memories from our holiday in Phuket. Beautiful sights, friendly locals and some of the best food we have ever eaten."
Always fun on Tenerife
Len and Gill Fletcher have been holidaying in Tenerife for around 17 years and it is still their favourite holiday destination after all that time.
"Tenerife deserves the title of ‘Island of Eternal Spring’ as the weather is great all year round, which we love. There is so much to do, you'll never be bored, no matter what kind of holiday you're looking for. Gill and I like to walk most days and you can walk from Los Cristianos all the way to Costa Adeje, which is great. There are so many bars and restaurants along the way, there are plenty of opportunities to stop off for a cold drink and to people watch.
My real passion is golf, so I always try to get at least one game in. Buenavista in the north and the championship course in Adeje, are both brilliant, but one of the most impressive courses is La Tecina, which is on the island of La Gomera. The views from the course are beautiful and on a clear day you can see Tenerife with Mount Teide rising up in the distance. You can get the ferry over to the island and they organise everything for you - the crossing, the taxi, the golf and the overnight stay at a hotel. After a day on the course, we get the cliff lift down to the local village for dinner. It is a typical Spanish village where the locals all eat outside and chat in the evenings, which is an enjoyable way to end the day.
We like to make the most of our holiday and have been quad biking, jet-skiing, go-karting and boating, all while holidaying in Tenerife. There are a few different places to go quad biking, but the most interesting place is up in the hills - you get a lot dirtier there! There is also a crazy golf course in Playa de las Américas which is really worth a visit and is a great laugh - also the only place that Gill can beat me at golf!
There are some wonderful places to eat and plenty I can recommend. Restaurante Habibi is a Lebanese restaurant which has a delicious menu and overlooks the beach, and El Rincón del Pollo de Adeje is a great place. You can get chicken, chips and a beer for two people for less than €20, which will set you up well for hitting the nightclubs. The south of the island is really lively, so if a bustling nightlife is what you enjoy, there’s no better place.
For a great shopping tip, be prepared to haggle in shops - especially if there are no prices on the items. You can easily get leather items for 50 per cent less than the price the shop assistants first tell you, so you can get a real bargain if you’re not shy!
Tenerife really is a great holiday destination, with plenty to do and perfect weather; it is a lovely place."
If you are already an RCI member, you can use your membership to take advantage of accommodation in more than 4,300 resorts in over 110 countries. Click on the RCI Resort Directory button below to see where you could be holidaying.
Don't forget that you can always check your personalised RCI Account online - or look out for your monthly RCI Account Statement mailings - to be sure that you don't waste any of your trading power or points, and are getting away on all the fabulous holidays throughout the year that you deserve.
If you own timeshare, but are not yet a member of RCI, you can become part of our holiday exchange community today. By clicking on the Join RCI button below, you can sign up in just a few simple steps. Being able to swap your timeshare holiday home for other stays in so many exciting destinations across the world will give you the real value from your purchase of timeshare - it's all about opening up new travel opportunities for you and your family.