Showing posts with label timeshare life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label timeshare life. Show all posts

Monday, February 5, 2018

Ballistic missiles, tsunamis and other Tropical Tales. . .

We arrived in Hawaii the day after its now-infamous missile warning was issued – a false alarm that reverberated around the world.

A few days after we arrived we missed the tsunami warning for the island of O’ahu. It had been real but issued during the night and withdrawn before we woke.

Last week we missed – again, by a day -- a high speed shoot-em-up freeway chase on O’ahu’s west side near our Ko Olina resort  in which the suspect was shooting at pursuing police and later held them at bay for 17 hours in the small town just north of us.

It seems that even a tropical island paradise has both 'wonders' and 'warts'.  Regulars here know I usually focus on the ‘wonders’ because I want to inspire you to pack up and head out on your own adventures or to entertain you armchair travelers. But sometimes the ‘warts’ are as interesting as the wonders and are worthy of focus . . . for example:

The Missile Alert

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The emergency alert showing on some cell phones in Hawaii
In case you’ve been off the planet or away from the news in recent weeks, here's the gist of what happened: On Saturday, Jan. 13th the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) issued the alert shown in the photo above. It appeared on some cell phones and the state’s warning systems.

(Intercontinental ballistic missiles are designed primarily to carry nuclear warheads so with the war of words going on between North Korea and the U.S. you can imagine the way the message was interpreted).

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Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018 headline in the Honolulu paper
Within two minutes officials knew the warning was sent in error - there was no missile -- yet it took 38 minutes to issue a corrected message. Now that might not sound like a very long time, but from the stories we’ve heard and read, it was for many an eternity and a horrifying one at that:

*families huddled together in interior closets and called loved ones elsewhere in the world to say goodbye. Then cell phone systems jammed and phones didn’t work.

*at least one man on the island of O’ahu had a heart attack,

* some hotels evacuated tourists, others had them shelter in place some issued emergency directives, others didn't.

* a local man told us he grabbed a bottle of Jack Daniels and headed to his roof to watch it end – he knew there would be no place to safely shelter, he said.

* a long-married couple visiting the island told each other ‘it had been a great run’, made themselves MaiTais and went to the beach to sip them while waiting for the end.

Remember, many residents of the island of O’ahu are only a generation away from - and can still tell personal stories of -- the World War II Pearl Harbor attack by the Japanese. So alerts for any type of imminent attack are taken seriously.

The Missile’s Fallout

The day we arrived on O’ahu; the day after the false alarm, the investigations were already underway. The employee in charge of pushing that button had done so in error, and was horrified about it, it was reported. News stories over the days following said the employee was placed on a leave of absence and death threats were being received at the agency.  . .

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Headline Honolulu newspaper Jan. 31, 2018
Two and a half weeks later, the missile's fallout continues. On Jan. 31st headlines were still in mega-point type face and more information was being released about the investigation’s findings and conclusions:

*The employee who sent the false alert had been a ‘source of concern’ for more than 10 years. And had at least two times before this incident had confused drills with real events and had been ‘counseled’.

* 'HI-EMA had not anticipated the possibility of issuing a false alert and wasn’t prepared to issue a correction” and officials also mistakenly believed  they had to consult with the Federal Emergency Management Agency before  issuing an official notice of the alert being false.

* The Governor ‘was delayed in sending out social media notification because he forgot his Twitter password'.

* The employee was fired and the head of the agency resigned. (The employee has hired an attorney and been giving interviews to news media that counter some of the report conclusions.)

Then Came the Tsunami Alert. . .

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Wind and rain often are part of an island visit
We first learned of the tsunami from an ex pat British friend back home in our Greek Mani who wrote a note saying, “Bloody Hell. . .now a tsunami?!”  I wrote back assuring him that the alert had been for the West Coast of the United States after an earthquake in the Pacific Ocean near Alaska. “No where near us,” I assured him.

Well, later in the day we learned that there had been an alert issued for our island as a second earthquake had occurred nearer Hawaii – several night owls here were up late enough to receive it on their cell phones.

Our resort  manager explained later that with a tsunami – unlike an incoming missile – there’s usually a four to six hour window before it hits so they were aware of the warning but opted to make sure it was going to stay valid  before rousting several thousand guests in the middle of the night. The alert was called off a few hours after being issued.

Ignorance is bliss, I’ve decided.

Shoot outs and other day-to-day realities

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Beaches on O'ahu's west side
With a population estimate of 1.4 million people this island state ranks 13th in the US for population density.

The island of O’ahu (best known for its Honolulu and Waikiki Beach) has some 950,000 of the state’s residents. Crime shouldn’t be a surprise here but still it seems incongruous with the island’s beauty. We visitors find ourselves so enchanted with our surroundings we wonder how residents could possibly abuse this paradise with crime.

The shootout I referenced in the opening of this post took place on the Main Road on this end of the island, a few miles northwest of the resort. It involved a high speed chase with the fleeing suspect shooting at pursuing officers and ended with a 17-hour stand-off at a residence in the town of Waianae.. The alleged ‘shooter’ was reportedly under the influence of crystal methamphetamine, or ‘ice’ as it is called.  No one was injured and the suspect is being held on $3 million bail.
(Sounds more like an episode of Hawaii-5-0 than reality, doesn’t it?)

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Junk card along one of the Waianae country roads
I’ve been working on a freelance travel article while we are here which has taken us to new territory on the island – beautiful places tucked away in the shadows of the Waianae Mountain range.  One of the most startling things about this new area was that locals are dumping cars along side the roadways.

We asked a local resident about the unsightly dumping and she said, “The Mayor came out and made them clean it up. They were all gone – they hauled them away but then they were all back again.”  'Really??', we asked ourselves. Sadly, that section of roadway looks worse than some third world countries we’ve visited. Warts, to be sure.

So . . .Warts or Wonders?


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Lanikai Beach - windward side O'ahu
We’ve been asked a dozen times by people we’ve met this trip, “Why are you living in Greece?” but no one asks, “Why did you come to Hawaii?”   No one questions this tropical paradise as a destination. The parade of wide-bodies jets begin arriving early each morning from Asia and Australia and by early afternoon the parade is coming from the United States and Canada. The number of visitors here topped 9.4 million last year.

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Ewa Beach area looking back at Honolulu and Diamond Head
Hawaii and our island of O’ahu haven't lost their magic despite bungled emergency alerts, irresponsible dumping, crime and other ‘warts’.

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Sunset from our timeshare home at KoOlina - O'ahu
Bottom line is: no place is perfect – despite what the tourist organizations tell you.    And Hawaii’s welcome and its wonders continue to overshadow its warts. We are thankful the missile alert wasn’t real – what a shame it would be to destroy this tropical paradise . . .

That’s it for this week from the island of O’ahu. Our time in Hawaii has gone rapidly. Won’t be long before we are heading back to The Stone House on the Hill. Thanks for the time you spend with us and we wish you a safe and happy week until we are back together again.

Linking up this week with:

Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration
Best of Weekend

Sunday, June 4, 2017

France: Bon Jour from Village Marriott ~

We write from the northeastern French countryside where we are making our home for the week in our two-story traditional townhome, surrounded by lush green meadows and golf courses.


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Nearby meadowland - France
We could almost believe we  were experiencing true rural life if it weren’t for the fact we are at ‘Village Marriott’. A few miles away – but thankfully not within sight of our ‘village’ -- is Disney’s “Ranch Davy Crockett” (595 cabins in a large wooded area) and “Parc Disneyland”, the theme park better known as Disneyland Paris.

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Street signs showing the way to our Marriott Villag

Much more appealing to us is the fact we are smack-dab between two very real French villages – Bailly-Romainvilliers and Magny Le Hongre. Each hamlet is walking distance from our doorstep and offers traditional boulangeries, cafes, grocery stores, fruit and meat markets. 

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Our home for the week

Our townhome for the week is on the left side of the building in the photo above. Our neighbors are from Dublin. Ours is one of dozens of two- and three-bedroom townhomes in the Marriott Vacation Club d’lle-de-France. It is, in other words, one of their timeshare or interval ownership properties.
Now before those skeptics among you quit reading because I’ve said those dastardly words: timeshare, let me tell you that timeshares aren’t what they used to be.

This stay, our first here, in fact is proving they really can be quite luxurious.

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Kitchen, living and dining room. French doors open to the patio and lawn.

Our main floor consists of a dining and living room, a fully quipped kitchen, a laundry room off of it, and a half bath off the entryway foyer.The stairway from the foyer leads to two bedrooms, each with its own bathroom.

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What brought us here was one of our favorite features of timeshare life: ability to trade what you own for some new place in the world.  We own at Marriott’s timeshare property at KoOlina on the west side of O’ahu, one of the islands in Hawaii.  Our units there called ‘lock off’ units meaning you can use the large size unit (think 1-bedroom condo) and lock-off the second bedroom (think oversized hotel room with wet bar, microwave and small refrigerator) and basically get a two-week stay for the price of a one-week, two-bedroom purchase.

It was one of our ‘hotel-sized room weeks we traded for this spacious townhome.

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Along our route to the lobby

Our timeshare ownership in Hawaii has allowed us to trade time for stays at Marriott Vacation Clubs in Bangkok, Thailand, Spain's Costa del Sol and Phoenix, Arizona as well as here. A highpoint of each property is the amazing landscaping  - but I think this place has raised the bar on landscaping.

Our townhome is in a section of the development called Giverny, and fans of Monet know that many of his paintings were of his Giverny home and gardens. In tribute to him they have created here a replica of them on this part of the development.

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Almost Monet's gardens

So I did the math on this stay and checking rates here for a week-long stay in June as we are doing, we’d be paying about 300-euros a night; 2,100, for the week which equates to about one year’s maintenance fees at our home resort.  The cost of the trade fee was less than $200 and we’ve still got a week left to use in ‘the big side’ of our Hawaiian timeshare. All in all a good travel deal.

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Pool area, lobby, bistro restaurant

For those considering a stay here: The resort offers a shuttle service to Disneyland and to the RER train station, about four miles away.   It is about 10 minutes to Disneyland and from the train station Paris is 50-minutes away.  A week-long train pass – Pass Navigo Semaine – allows travel on trains, metro and buses in Paris as well as this rural area for about 27 euros a person. 

That’s it from this side ‘of the pond’ this week.  I know I promised a report on our Greek road to residency but it turns out we haven’t moved any further along it than we were last week.  Perhaps extending our time in Greece until the end of June will result in a conclusion of the journey before we return to the States. .. then again, maybe not. . .

Safe travels to you all and thanks so much for the time you spent with us at 'Village Marriott'. Hope to see you back again next week!

Linking up with:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

South, then North by Northwest – An Autumn Road Trip

“To travel is to live”
- Hans Christian Andersen

It was time to travel.  We’d had the travel itch for days and the suitcases had been in various stages of packing for a few weeks. We’ve been in one place – our Pacific Northwest home – since early May – the bags unpacked and stowed away - an unusually long time to be anywhere for us. It was definitely time to hit the road.

[Sorry about the print size this week. Blogger and Surface don't mix well and makes travel n writing a bit frustrating when it refuses to enlarge the font size.}

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A scene from Scottsdale, Arizona
We are kicking off the ‘travel season’ with a trip to the Southwestern United States – Arizona, Nevada and Utah. The road trip began following a flight to Phoenix, Arizona and a week spent living our ‘timeshare life’ there.

Not everyone thinks Arizona in August is the most desirable of destinations. It is still a summer sizzler and it is monsoon season in ‘The Valley of the Sun’ (as the greater Phoenix area is known). But we decided to take a chance on the weather.

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An Arizona rabbit that thought he was hiding in the desert

Monsoon season in the desert has an average starting date of about July 7th and ends approximately September 13th. Our visit was near the end of the season which is determined by the number of days with an average dew point of 55 degrees or higher.

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Storm clouds threatened but we avoided the Arizona monsoon

The monsoon is a thunderstorm that can sweep across the valley bringing heavy rain, wind and lightening. Flash floods often close roads. It can cause an event called a haboob, an enormous dust storm that can envelope the valley with dust and debris. An advisory handed out at check-in, warned that if a dust or rainstorm should happen while we were outside to move inside immediately. If we were on the road, we were to move well out of the way of traffic. 

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How green the desert can be in monsoon season in Arizona

We made it through the week without experiencing a monsoon or haboob, but were excited to leave the desert’s penetrating heat behind us. Daytime temperatures reached  107F and that made outside activities somewhat limited. However, a travel bonus of the desert this time of year is the lush green desert scape that surrounds instead of the dusty barren brown carpet.

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Sand dunes in northeastern Arizona

Of course that isn’t to say there weren’t places along our route that reminded us of Egypt’s pyramids (like the dunes in the photo above)  in Northeastern Arizona en route to Moab, Utah. Our ultimate Utah destination was Park City, a popular outdoors destination (home to the 2002 Winter Olympics Alpine and Snowboard events) southeast of Salt Lake City that sits high in the mountains - 7,500 feet elevation, in fact. In the winter skiers and snow enthusiasts flock here; mountain bikers and hikers the rest of the year.

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Beginning in Phoenix, AZ then Moab, Park City, UT, and Las Vegas, NV
“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.”
- Lao Tzu

We’d not planned to visit Moab when we left the Northwest. Half way through our stay in Phoenix we read a newspaper article about Monument Valley and decided it was high time we see it. We cancelled our previously made hotel reservation, switched our route and headed northeast instead of northwest. And decided to spend two nights in Moab, just the other side of Monument Valley.

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Mother Nature's canvass in northeastern Arizona

It took eight hours to drive from Phoenix to Moab; much of it on two-lane roads, punctuated with passing lanes every few miles. Elevations changed like a roller coaster, 4000 feet at Flagstaff, then 5,000 then 6,000 by the time we neared Sedona 30 minutes later. We passed or traveled through  towns named Kayenta, Tuba City and Cameron, the latter which proudly proclaimed itself, “Home of the WWII Navajo Code Talkers”.

Afoot and light-hearted
I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me.
    -- Walt Whitman

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The desert landscape in Northern Arizona near the Utah border
The hours and miles passed quickly with such an ever-changing and stunning landscape. We congratulated ourselves on changing directions - and not being tied to an itinerary. After a summer of being bombarded with presidential politics on television, it has been good to be reminded of America's beauty, small towns and friendly people. While western Utah reminds us of Arizona’s vast flat lands, the monuments and mountains that make up eastern Utah are simply spectacular. We’ll take you on a pictorial tour of them next week.

Again, thanks for the time you’ve spent with us today. Wishes for healthy and safe travels to you and yours.  We hope to see you back here next week - please bring a friend!  Have you taken a road trip lately? Are you the type to change plans in the middle of a trip or must you follow a set itinerary? Tell us about it in the comments below or shoot us an email.

Linking up with:





Sunday, July 5, 2015

Bangkok’s Marriott Empire Place ~ Buyer Be Aware. . .

Note, we said, ‘be aware’ not ‘beware’ of Marriott’s property, The Empire Place, in the heart of Bangkok, Thailand. It is one of the company’s 58 vacation club (timeshare) properties. But it is certainly not like any timeshare we’ve experienced before. . .

Based in Bangkok

With a span of decades between our last trip to Bangkok and boarding our cruise ship there this spring (Oceania Nautica: Our Middle East Magic Carpet Ride) we gave ourselves extra time to explore this capital city of Thailand.  We traded a week that we own at Marriott’s KoOlina in Hawaii for a stay at their Empire Place.

These trades are a benefit of timeshare ownership. By trading within the brand, you know what you are getting. Well, not quite in this case, as we were to learn. . .

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Morning traffic Bangkok Thailand
Bangkok is an enormous metropolitan city with a registered population of nearly 7 million people; nearly 15 – 20 million if you include the unregistered immigrants. Even with the size considerations, our first clue that this’ wasn’t your run-of-the-mill timeshare resort’ came when our determined – but somewhat frustrated – taxi driver couldn’t find it.

After a long drive from the airport in early morning commute-hour traffic he pulled into an office complex. There he conferred with a security guard to sent us packing through the neighborhood, a mix of low-rise homes and towering skyscrapers.

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Our neighborhood - a mix of old and new
 
Finally we all breathed a sigh of relief when some two hours (yet, only $25 taxi fare) after leaving the airport he pulled up to a towering edifice called, The Empire Place. However. . .there was nothing in the signage indicating it was a Marriott Vacation Club:

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Marriott's Empire Place - Bangkok, Thailand
Now, we had researched and knew in advance of our arrival that this particular ‘resort’ is part of a full ownership condominium building. Still, I am not sure we’d fully grasped what that meant. 
We entered a vast – very clean and empty – lobby. There was no reception desk, with its usual line of guests; instead we were directed to a small office to the side of the lobby where the three staff members conferred, flipped through a notebook, and confirmed we were scheduled to stay there.

One of them showed us to our ‘home away from home’. We were to use a security key to access the elevators and our room key to make the elevator work.  In our condo, there were face cloths and a large pitcher of Bale fruit juice (looks and tastes like sweetened ice tea) chilling in the refrigerator – both adding to a refreshing welcome.

For those of you who’ve shied away from timeshares because they are too ‘cookie cutter and all look alike’ – this place is for you. Because it was a real-life condominium, the kind people live in 24/7 and quite a nice one at that – it wasn’t the traditional ‘timeshare’ layout.  We had two-bedrooms, two-baths, large living and dining room, kitchen and a laundry room. Daily maid service was provided at no extra cost (unlike our experiences at other Marriott Vacation Club properties).

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Timeshare condo - The Empire Place - Bangkok, Thailand
Our deck off the living room provided city views and from the window in the dining room we overlooked the facility’s swimming pool and tennis courts, (which sat somewhat to the back and over the pool). At 90+ degrees and 90+ humidity – very little use was being made of either the pool or courts in the daytime. There were no snack bars or pool music and only a limited number of lounge chairs. None of the normal resort-angst about saving pool lounges - we counted only 12 the day we strolled through the pool area.

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Views from our condo
Settling in to City Life

“The nearest grocery store?” we asked after unpacking the bags. Well, there really wasn’t one anywhere nearby, the staff told us. A small 7-11 convenience store a block away sold beverages and snacks but nothing like staples.

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Food cart near The Empire Place- Bangkok, Thailand
Food vendors and their carts lined our street – which made walking more of a ‘turn-sideways and push-your-way-through’ experience in the morning hours when workers were lined up buying food en route to work. We were definitely in a working neighborhood and timed our travel for the non-pedestrian-rush-hour.

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View from the Sky Train's screened windows - 'The Scout' on the train
We quickly learned how to use the city’s impressive elevated Sky Train which was an inexpensive, practical way of getting around and made for some great sightseeing. We also searched out grocery stores and ate several meals ‘at home’ which always helps the travel budget. Our favorite was a place called, Gourmet Market, in the basement of the sprawling Siam Paragon shopping center, as it had groceries, take out and, of course, a wine bar where you could sip and nibble.

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Gourmet Market at Siam Paragon Shopping Center
This Marriott provides guests an opportunity to experience a real neighborhood; a feel of what it would be like to live there.  But for those who are seeking a ‘resort’ experience, be aware:

* There is no Marriott Marketplace on site.
*There are no bars, restaurants on site. Four blocks away, the Anantara, condo-hotel’s rooftop bar is open to the public. A great place to watch sunset and both drinks and food are served there, so children were welcome.
* The nearest Sky Train/Metro station, Chong Nonsri, is two long blocks from The Empire Place. You’ll need to climb a flight of stairs to access the station. Starbucks and numerous other coffee shops are found on the station’s street level.  Taxis can be summoned by building staff and they are inexpensive.
* The office provided us a printed map, but not the ‘usual’ tip sheets or resource guides for finding local grocery stores and other amenities. We scouted them out on our own.

* Take note Marriott timeshares owners:  this property does not participate in the Marriott rewards program;  you will not earn points nor night credits towards your Elite Membership. (That isn’t explained on any of the Marriott web pages about this place. It is found on the Marriott Rewards page where, rules,  item 11, lists all the Marriott properties that don’t participate in the rewards program.)

Off to the Chao Phraya
The accommodation was clean and comfortable - its major drawback, in our opinion, was its location some distance from that amazing Chao Phraya River that bisects the city. I’ll show you what I mean about amazing next time, when we move on to The Peninsula Hotel, on the riverside.

Thanks for joining us again today. If you are new to the blog, “Welcome! Hope you’ll be a regular here.” We are grateful to you all for the time you spend with us. 

Want more travel articles? Check out the bloggers participating in these linkups:
Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox 
Our World Tuesday
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening

Sunday, February 8, 2015

10 Days and nearly 10,000 miles later. . .

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Our Stone House on the Hill - Greece
We covered furniture, packed up clothing, shuttered the windows, locked the doors and said goodbye to our Greek Stone House on the Hill for a few months.

Then we hopped a plane and traveled nearly 8,000 miles, back to our Pacific Northwest home where we emptied and repacked our suitcases. Ten days and another 2,000 air miles later, we arrived in Hawaii – our ‘other’ getaway home for the next five weeks of winter.



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Lagoon at KoOlina, O'ahu, Hawaii

Yes, that’s the way life goes for us these days. . .travel is our lifestyle. . .and home is more a state-of-mind than a place in the world. I am reminded of the old cliche’ “Home is where the Heart is. . .” In our case, “home is where the suitcase is. . .”

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Hale Kona - Marriott Beach Club - KoOlina from Hale Moana where we are

We’ve gone from residing in our the small stone house in an olive grove on a Greek hillside to our current place of residence, in one of three high-rise condominium buildings overlooking a Hawaiian beach. Here instead of being the sole owners, we are among 28,000 people who own a piece of this rock. We are back at our Marriott Vacation Club (interval ownership by the week) at KoOlina on the island of O’ahu.

Those of you who’ve followed our blog, know that we love this carefree interval life. We’ve gradually built up our weeks and now can stay here as long as six weeks each year or we can use portions of our time here and trade for other places in the world.

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Sunset at KoOlina
As tempting as it is just to stay here, we’ve already tapped into our 2016 stash and traded a week here for a week in Bangkok, Thailand which will give us a chance to visit that city prior to hopping our cruise ship to Istanbul, Turkey later this spring.

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Hibiscus blooms cover the KoOlina landscape

Speaking of cruises: Remember that Amazon River cruise we had planned to take over the Christmas holidays? We’d booked it and were ready to go until in late November the cruise line offered us a deal we couldn’t pass up – we traded that cruise for the one we will be taking from Bangkok. Turns out that once again the travel gods were looking out for us because. . .

We were set to sail from Miami for the Amazon River on Dec. 17th aboard Oceania’s Insignia ship. It turns out that the (newly refurbished just last spring) ship caught fire on Dec.15th as it was completing a cruise and returning to Miami.  While the fire was contained in the engine room and no passengers injured, sadly, three people were killed.  The ship, at last report, is still in dry dock awaiting repairs.  So, we wouldn’t have sailed to the Amazon River even if we hadn’t switched course. . .

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Sunset over Messinian Gulf from Stoupa, Greece 

In our next post I’ll take you back to our place in Greece for a quick tour of the neighborhood and take you to some of our favorite places to eat and drink in the neighboring villages.  Then we’ll head back to Hawaii for a tour of this tropical paradise. I’ve also got some packing tips and want to talk about the business of Business Class flying in future posts so hope you’ll come back soon because we’ve got a lot of ground to cover!

Mahalo, Thanks, for the time you spent with us today! Safe travels to you and yours~ and E Komo Mai, Welcome, to our new followers this week, so glad to have you with us!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Scottsdale. . .Walkin' in Sunshine

I hate to admit it, but I wasn’t taken with Arizona the first couple of times we visited here decades ago.  But with each return visit over the years I found some new ‘wonder’ which I kept adding to our ‘reasons to return’ list.

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Sunset - Scottsdale

Now, several years later, we actually own here – admittedly, a small bit of deeded property that affords us an annual visit of at least two weeks in our timeshare home.  And as reports of the Arctic Blast that is sweeping the Pacific Northwest keep arriving in our inbox today we are even more grateful for this warm-weather respite.

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Four Seasons Residence Club - Troon Mountain to the right
Last week I wrote from our “Marriott” home in Phoenix and by this week we’ve moved to our “Four Seasons” home in Scottsdale.

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Four Seasons Hotel Scottsdale, Arizona
One of the benefits of timeshare life at this Four Season’s Residence Club is that we are footsteps from the hotel. And as residents, we have access to the hotel’s pool, spa, exercise facility and grounds as do hotel guests.  (We have our own pool and exercise facility as well.)

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The Terrace at Onyx Bar - the Four Seasons overlooks the garden above
I’ve invited you in to see our condo on previous posts, so today I  thought we’d stroll around the property for a bit of a tour:

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We’ll start in the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel where vibrant southwest colors bring the stucco Adobe-style walls to life.

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We follow a path through the natural landscape to get to and from the Residence Club and the hotel.  The stately Saguaro cactus stand like sentries and wild bunnies skitter among the bushes along the route.

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Then it is back to the Residence Club and its own lobby where easy chairs face fireplaces and southwest colors figure prominently in the d├ęcor.  The library (far right in photo above) is a quiet place to peruse the books available on the lending shelf or relax in front of yet another fireplace.  (It does get chilly this time of year, so fireplaces aren’t just for decoration!)

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Fireplaces and chimineas (like the one pictured above) are lit each night and fill the air with the scent of the southwest – the pungent smoke from the Mesquite wood – making it difficult to resist their magnetic pull to just ‘sit a spell’.

Arizona Spring 2012 154But we pass up the fireplace and head back to our place.

There, we bundle up in coats and sip a glass of wine on our deck while listening to the call of the desert animals that break the still of the night.

That’s it from Arizona for this week.  Hope to see you back again soon and until then, thanks for your time and Happy Travels!


Linking up this week with fellow bloggers at:

Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox 
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route 
Travel Photo Monday – Travel Photo Discovery 
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Kauai: Luxury for Less, Part II

“You own here?” a fellow guest sitting next to us at the Marriott Waiohai Ocean Villas beach bar asked.

“No, we rented a week,” The Scout answered, adding, “I think we got a deal. . .two-bedroom, two bath unit for $109 a night.”

“You bet you did!,” he exclaimed, “I am paying $495 a night!”

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Beach at Marriott Waiohai - Kauai
And so began our second week of Luxury-for-Less on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

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Our condo was the one far right top floor, with its deck nestled between two palm trees and overlooking this fabulous lagoon.

In Part I of our Kauai Luxury-for-Less series, I told you about our plush digs at the Westin and its steal-of-a-deal price in Princeville. This Marriott Vacation Club (these are also timeshare condos) is on the sunnier south side of the island at Poipu.

PicMonkey Collage
Top left clockwise: Living room, guest bedroom, guest bath, master and bath, kitchen
The two-bedroom, two-bath unit with fully furnished kitchen, a table to seat eight and full living room had been available for rent from an owner for $109 a night – the only additional cost was a $50 booking fee and nightly room tax which brought the price up to $116 a night.  Wi-fi, athletic facilities and pool use – all included; no extra charges.

PicMonkey Collage
Our deck, and gardens between buildings
Admittedly, we had a garden view but with gardens like this, it wasn’t tough to sit on our deck (a table with seating for four and a lounge chair) and then walk the garden path to the beach.

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Sunset from the Marriott's Honu Beach Bar - Poipu, Kauai
If You Go:

Map picture

Kauai is the oldest of the Hawaiian islands and is considered the chain’s Garden Island (translated that means it does get rain, however, the showers came and went quickly during our two-week stay).

KauiSm2014 056A number of airlines fly directly from the U.S. west coast to its airport, Lihue.  Inter island flights connect in Honolulu (but they can add a couple hundred dollars more to the cost of the trip).

Another money-saving tip:  There are a number of U.S. ‘big box’ stores on the island, including Costco (where food and beverages prices were definitely less and the selection greater than at local markets.)

Finding The Deal:

The Scout booked this rental through ResortRentals.com which he found when searching the site, SellMyTimeshareNow.com

Our stay was the first week of September and a quick check for September rates for a 2-bedroom, 2-bath, island view at the Waiohai:

Marriott:  $412 a night
Expedia:  $412 a night
Our rate, $116 (including tax) compared most favorably!

As always, we thank you for the time you spent with us. Hope our tips come in handy on your future travels. If you’ve got some tips for ‘deals’ do let us know in the comments below or shoot us an email.  Hope to see you back again later this week~ when we'll take you to "Pigi Heaven"! Happy travels~

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