We were in a 2 bedroom/2 bath unit overlooking Armada Drive (“garden view”). It was very spacious, with plenty of room for our 3 kids. I took pictures of the unit before moving in. Here’s a few:
Like many others, 2020 was a difficult year for our family, especially with our children doing remote learning from home. One silver lining was that we accrued a lot of unused vacation time that we now get to enjoy this summer. We used GPX to exchange our week 52 at Carlsbad Inn into week 30 at Grand Pacific Palisades. This was our first time staying at this resort.
We were in a 2 bedroom/2 bath unit overlooking Armada Drive (“garden view”). It was very spacious, with plenty of room for our 3 kids. I took pictures of the unit before moving in. Here’s a few:
Although GPP is not walking distance from Carlsbad’s beaches, the resort offers a shuttle service that will bring you to and from the beaches. We didn’t use the shuttle, and never made it to the beach this week, because we were busy enjoying San Diego’s parks and catching up with family and friends. We tried to get all our sightseeing and visiting done this week because the following week we had reservations at Carlsbad Inn, and we wanted to enjoy as much beach time as possible. During our stay at GPP, we spent a day at Legoland, which was lots of fun, and so easy to walk to. In fact, after spending the morning at the park, we came back to GPP for lunch and a little rest, and then walked back to Legoland in the late afternoon to enjoy their water park. We also spent time at the San Diego Zoo (it’s huge!), Old Town (lunch and shopping at Fiesta de Reyes), and La Jolla Cove (sea lions for the kids, boutique shopping for mom). With all the time we spent running around San Diego, we needed a couple days of easy pool time at the resort, and GPP was great for this. The pool has a fun splash pad for the kids, and we met lots of nice families from all over the country (hello Michigan friends!!).
GPP would not be our first choice for a beach vacation, but for a very comfortable place to enjoy Legoland, and all of San Diego’s many other attractions, this is a great choice.
My husband and I decided we were overdue for a weekend alone, so we booked a getaway weekend at Wyndham's Hotel Canterbury in San Francisco. We left the kids with the grandparents on Friday night, got up early(ish) Saturday morning, and made the two-hour drive to the city. We are still fairly recent (2.5 years) transplants from San Diego to Northern California, so I won't pretend we have special local knowledge about the city. But we try to make a couple trips a year, and always get great recommendations from our friends, so we're starting to get more familiar with the city. We had an *amazing* dinner this trip at LihoLiho Yacht Club, a Hawaiian restaurant a block up the street from the hotel.
Parking at the hotel is expensive - about $40/day to valet your car. However, there are plenty of public parking garages within a couple blocks of the hotel. We dropped our bags at the hotel, and went to lunch at a seafood restaurant in the Fillmore district. We came back a couple hours later and checked in at 2pm. Check-in time is normally 4pm, but they had a room available for us.
The hotel is very nice! Here's pictures of the lobby, fitness room, and rec room (with free arcade games and billiards). There's also a nice media center (where I'm writing this post), with a couple free computers, DVDs for check-out, books left behind by other guests (thank you for the worn copy of "Treasure Mountain" by Louis L'Amour), and TV.
We're staying in a nice 1BR suite. It's nicely updated and furnished, although the bed is a little small, and (unfortunately) our room is facing Sutter Street, so we heard lots of sirens last night. Still, we really like this property, and it's definitely somewhere we would stay again while visiting San Francisco. We'll probably stay at Club Donatello next time to compare the two properties. We don't currently have any listings for this site, but please contact me if you are interested in purchasing a timeshare at the Wyndham's Canterbury, and I will be happy to find one for you. Happy New Year's!
Earlier this month, we spent our summer vacation in Oahu. We used credit card miles for the flights and rental car, and were lucky to have friends that hosted us in their beautiful home in Kailua. We also used the remaining 2018 points on our Disney timeshare to book a 1BR suite for one night at Disney's Aulani resort in Ko Olina. Well, after visiting the resort earlier in the week to use the public beach and grab lunch at one of the resort's restaurants, we knew we wanted to spend more time at the resort. Unfortunately there was no last-minute availability through DVC (or I would have borrowed some 2019 points), so instead I booked a 1BR room through the hotel portion of the resort.
First, let me get the obvious out of the way, and tell you that the resort is incredible. It was so nice, and so fun. The beach, the pools, the on-site snorkeling, the Disney character experiences - everything. It was, without a doubt, our favorite resort. There's no shortage of information about the Aulani online, so I'll just share a couple pictures of our family, and then move on to the timeshare analysis.
We arrived early the first day of our stay (about 11am), with the intent of storing our luggage and using the pools until our room was ready. However, we were pleasantly surprised when the staff informed us our room was already ready! We dropped our luggage, changed, and hit the pools! Our first night, we stayed in the hotel portion of the resort, in a 1BR (island view). We were very comfortable, and the room was really nicely furnished and updated. However, there was no kitchen to speak of, no in-room laundry, and the bathroom was about average sized. Here's a couple photos of the hotel room...
The next morning, we packed up, and told the bell desk that we were doing a room change. The staff handled it perfectly, and even put our cold food and drinks in cold storage all day until our room was ready at 4pm. We spent another great day at the pool, doing the lazy river, volcano slide, snorkeling in the on-site lagoon, meeting Moana, and generally having an overall wonderful day! When our 1BR suite (island view) was finally ready at 4pm, we were blown away by how much nicer it was from the 1BR hotel room the previous night. Here's a couple photos that (hopefully) shows how much bigger it is. There was also an in-room washer/dryer, and full kitchen!
Now for the dollars and cents. Booking the hotel room last-minute, and paying full "rack rate" cost us $556.42 after all taxes and charges. On the other hand, booking the suite through DVC cost us 44 points. As Grand Californian is our "home resort," and 2018 maintenance fees were $5.88/point, the value of these points is $258.72. Adding in the $16.99 state tax, total cost for this one night was $275.71. Obviously this does not factor in the initial purchase price of these points. So, for 1 night, the cost of staying in the much nicer villa was $297.70 less expensive. If you stay for a full 7 nights, you end up with a savings of about $2,100. Hopefully this analysis can help you determine whether purchasing a Disney timeshare is a good way to finance your family vacations. Currently, we're seeing resale prices of about $160/point for Grand Californian, and $88/point for the Aulani. Call or email us if we can help you with your purchase!
For us, we LOVE using our Disney timeshare, and with little kids (3 & 4!), we know we have a lot of Disney trips in our future. I calculate our break-even is about 8 years (4 trips), and I have no doubt we will take at least 4 Disney trips over the next 8-10 years. Sometime in the future, we also plan on renting our points, and using the proceeds to off-set the cost of a Disney cruise. It was a great Mother's Day at the Disney Aulani resort, and we cannot wait to get back there soon!
We spent this last Easter weekend at Welk Resorts' incredible Northstar resort on the north shore of Lake Tahoe. Having previously stayed at other ski resorts during holidays in the Lake Tahoe region, including Labor Day weekend at Mariott's Timber Lodge on south shore and President's Day weekend at Red Wolf Lodge on the north shore, it's fair to say this resort really amazed us with just how modern and luxurious it is. In fact, it is by far the nicest resort of the three. We were so impressed that we decided to buy a 480k Platinum Points package so we can stay there every year - it's that nice!
The Welk Resorts already had timeshare resorts in San Diego, Cabo San Lucas, Palm Springs, and Branson when it purchased the Northstar resort in 2013. At the time of purchase, only 1 of the 3 resort buildings had already been built. In the past 5 years, Welk completed construction on the other 2 buildings, and they are incredible! The units are spacious, the appliances are new, and the building materials are of excellent quality. Fireplaces in just about every living space (bedrooms, living rooms, balconies) contribute much to creating a warm and cozy ambiance during ski season.
For skiiers, Northstar is a true ski-in/ski-out resort, with valet service on the ground floor. Here's a little known fact for people serious about skiing, besides the three main buildings, Welk also owns 10 units in One Village Place, which is located literally right above the ski lift on the other side of the village. Owners and their guests have access to an exclusive line that lets you bypass everyone else in line. Here's a photo of this magic door, showing an empty line next to the crowd of people waiting to hit the mountain:
The three main buildings of the resort anchor one end of the village at Northstar. The village is full of great shopping and restaurants (we had sushi at Yamakai; Mexican at Los Arcos). There is an ice skating rink during winter, which our kids loved. We also took the pulse-operated ski lift up to the Ritz-Carlton for some mid-mountain drinks and souvenir shopping with the kids.
There is so much more to say about this resort. Please call us if you want more info on the different buildings, recommendations about where to go, how many points you would need to book a 2BR vs. 3BR during ski season, how much these packages cost on the resale market, or any other questions you may have. We have already assisted many buyers with purchasing packages from 240,000 up to 1,920,000, and we love talking about this resort! See you on the slopes!
We recently spent a long weekend at the Red Wolf Lodge in Squaw Valley. This is a Grand Pacific Resorts property, and you can find exchange weeks available on the GPX exchange. The resort is a little on the older side, but it's really charming, and the location is unbeatable! This is a true ski-in/ski-out property, with quick access to the Funitel and Red Dog chair lifts. If you get a room with a mountain view, you can sit on your couch and watch people ski down the mountain all day. Here's the view from our room:
What the resort may lack in amenities, it more than makes up for in its location, friendly staff, and fun activities onsite. Once you get to the resort, you park your vehicle below the building, and check-in at the lobby. The Village at Squaw Valley is a quick three-minute walk from the resort, and there are lots of great restaurants (Twenty-Two Bistro), bars (Auld Dubliner), shops (Spruce), and even a little market with some good wine and craft beer. Besides skiing, we took the kiddos up the tram to High Camp to show them where Mom and Dad got engaged many years ago!
This is a great resort for the whole family. Besides our family of 4, we had Grandma and Grandpa, and an aunt an uncle stay in another room directly across the hall from us. Their room had quick access to the on-property hot tub! It was fun cooking dinners together after a full day of skiing and shopping in the village. Squaw Valley shot off fireworks over Red Dog on Saturday night, which the kids loved! If you're an annual skier, you should consider looking at this resort, a Welk Platinum Points package for booking stays at Northstar, or Marriott Timber Lodge. This is a great place to spend a long President's Day weekend. Happy skiing and pray for snow!
Our week at the Carlsbad Inn in Oak 322 is almost over. Our family has had such a great time, even with all the construction going on in the Oak units. It looks like the units are being completely upgraded. According to the staff on property, construction is scheduled to be completed sometime in January. There has been lots of construction noise during the day, and the water was off for most of yesterday. But with the beach on one side of the resort, and the Carlsbad Village on the other side, no wants to spend the day indoors anyways! Here's some construction photos:
Yesterday we did some beach time, and then hit the farmer's market on State Street, an easy walk down Carlsbad Village Drive from the resort. My husband has also made several trips to Texas Wine & Spirits down the road to pick up some hard-to-find craft beer that he can't find up our way in Rocklin.
This has been a great trip to get a feel for the resort and meet some great people here. We have three weeks listed (6, 7, 8) in Elm 201, an oceanfront unit. I was able to get into this unit and get some pictures of the view from the balcony (below). As you can see, these are some of the best views in the resort! These weeks are priced to sell quickly ($3,500), and I have the feeling someone is going to pick these up soon.
We are at the Carlsbad Inn, enjoying sunny, mid-80s weather with the kids during this Thanksgiving week. We're staying in unit 322, almost an oceanfront unit, with a beautiful ocean view. Here's the pictures of when we arrived:
This resort is amazing!! It's about as close to the beach as you can get, and there are so many nice restaurants, ice cream shops, and bars at the Carlsbad Village right next door. Once you get here, you can park your car and pretty much forget about it. One thing we probably should have done was have groceries delivered to the resort when we got here, so we didn't have to do grocery shopping first thing the next day. But it worked out fine, because we had a fun dinner at Norte's our first night.
We're having so much fun here! Going to the beach during the day, cooking a nice dinner in the room while the kids nap, and then walking to the Village for ice cream or chocolate at night. Easy to see why the Carlsbad Inn has the highest trading power of any Southern California resort through RCI. We've learned a lot about day use (future blog post) and yesterday we did a trip to the Coronado Beach Resort, maybe 2nd best Grand Pacific resort in San Diego County (also future blog post).
Happy Thanksgiving 2017 to everyone!
Marriott’s Timber Lodge is in the heart of South Lake Tahoe, in the upscale Heavenly Village, located one block from the Nevada state line, and within steps of the world-famous Heavenly Gondola. We took our family here last Labor Day weekend to check out the resort and see the sights of South shore. The Heavenly Gondola, which is literally right outside the main entrance of the resort, was the first thing we did during our stay. Our kids were fascinated with it, and could not wait to “take a ride.” The gondola picks you up in the village, and takes you right up the mountain towards Heavenly Mountain Resort. It lets you get off at the Observatory deck located about ¾ of the way up. The panoramic view of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains is breathtaking!! Then you can hop back on the gondola and finish the 2.4 mile ride to Heavenly. At the top of the mountain is the Ultimate Summer Playground, with a wide array of activities, including zip-lining for kids and adults, rope courses, climbing wall, hiking and even summer tubing (no water or snow)!! Since our kids were only 2 and 3 years old, we skipped the activities and had lunch at the Tamarack Lodge, but we are definitely taking the kids back when they are older so they can participate in these fun activities!
The next day we explored the Village and downtown, along with a quick beach visit. The Village has several popular restaurants, high-end shopping (think Patagonia and North Face), Starbucks, Cold Stone Creamery, and Nestle’s Toll House Café (our kids loved picking out their own cookies here). During the winter months, there is an ice skating rink and during the summer it converts to a 18-hole mini golf course. There was even bungie jumping for kids! You could stay in the Village all day and have plenty of things to do. We also took a short walk down to the casinos before heading over to Lakeside Beach. Timber Lodge provides its guests free passes for this beach. We ended the day by having dinner at Marriott’s “Fire & Ice Grill & Bar” located on the main level, and then of course, ice cream at Cold Stone in the Village.
Our last full day was spent playing in the resort pool along with the Children’s Activity Room located in the lobby. The kids had a full day swimming and playing, so they crashed early before the beautiful fireworks display over the lake. Luckily, we were able to see the show right from our unit’s deck while the kids slept soundly.
When you buy a Marriott Timber Lodge timeshare, you typically own a floating week during a “season” and you can book your week anytime during that season, based on availability. There is a “Platinum Winter Season” - Weeks 1-6, 8-14 & 49-50, a “Platinum Summer Season”- Weeks 23-26, 28-39 and a Gold Season - Weeks 15-22 & 40-48 (Spring & Fall). Obviously, the Winter and Summer season are the most popular and more desirable seasons, so typically they are more expensive than any Gold season week. There are also a few prime “Fixed weeks”, which are Week 7 (President’s Day week), Week 27 (Fourth of July) and Weeks 51 and 52 (Christmas and New Year’s). There are 1-bedroom, 2 bedrooms and 3-bedroom units available for purchase that come with full bathrooms, kitchens (kitchenette for the studio portion of the 2-bedroom lock-offs) and balconies (in most units). There is some flexibility in changing what you own. For example, if you own a 2-bedroom lock-off unit, you can use a one bedroom for a week and a studio for another week (giving you two weeks of usage or trading), or use it as a two-bedroom for one week. You can also use your week to exchange through the Marriott system, and go to any other Marriott destination, or trade it through an exchange company (RCI, Interval International, etc.). On the resale market, the purchase price for a 2-bedroom Platinum Winter Season ranges from about $8,500-$11,000 + closing costs. Prices will vary based on what season you want, and what size unit you’re looking for.
We had a very memorable Labor Day Weekend trip to Marriott’s Timber Lodge and would certainly recommend it for a summer vacation! We were very surprised by how much there was to do during a summer week in Lake Tahoe, but we are planning on coming back during the winter for some skiing and winter fun here too!
Every year our family takes a “stay-cation” in our beautiful city of San Diego. This year we decided to stay at a Carlsbad timeshare, which is an affluent seaside resort city located about 35 miles north of downtown San Diego. It is known for its beautiful and uncrowded beaches, local street fairs and art walks in the Village and the famous LEGOLAND® California and SEA LIFE Aquarium just off the coast. We stayed at Carlsbad Seapointe Resort, which is a nice family friendly resort just off the Pacific Coast Highway, making it easy to get to and from other locations. See our review of our stay at the Carlsbad Seapointe timeshare.
Since we are timeshare owners and usually take a stay-cation every year, we wanted to check out some of the other Carlsbad resorts for future vacations. The first one that we visited was Carlsbad Inn Beach Resort. This resort is located right at the end of Carlsbad Village Dr and is steps away from the beach. Its location is very ideal for the vacationer wanting to walk everywhere and not have to drive at all. In fact, there is a local Mexican restaurant and bar called “El Norte”, as well as a Café called “Daily News Café” and other shops located right on-site! If you cross the street, you are in the center of the “Village” where many events occur year round and there are lots of cute boutique shops, local pubs and pizzerias, ice cream shops, sidewalk cafés, and several local beach/surf shops to explore. Besides the location of Carlsbad Inn being so wonderful, the resort itself is full of charm and many activities and amenities. There is a beautiful Oceanview Courtyard with Lush Gardens in the center of the property, which includes many chaise lounge chairs and comfy sofa seats for a relaxing atmosphere. There is a heated pool with spa, fitness center with sauna and an adult only hot tub. The views from the resort are amazing, but it’s the easy beach access that makes it so desirable by simply exiting the resort through the courtyard, crossing a small street and you’re steps away from the sand. As a resort guest you are able to check out complimentary beach items such as beach toys, chairs, umbrellas, boogie boards and even bicycles and jogging strollers! If you are not a beach goer, then the resort offers weekly activities such as: Yoga, chair massages, nutrition classes, Art display, wine tasting and a succulent box class! And for the more adventurous ones, the resort offers day trips to Catalina Island and Hollywood, as well as sailing trips. The Carlsbad Inn Beach Resort is perfect for resort travelers that prefer walking everywhere and easy beach access.
Just down about a block south from Carlsbad Inn is another nice resort called Tamarack Beach Resort Hotel. This resort sits right on Carlsbad Blvd and has incredible views of the Pacific Ocean and is a fantastic location to observe the many events held on highway 101, including the annual Carlsbad marathon and half marathon. The Mediterranean-style building offers very spacious rooms, most with panoramic ocean views and private balconies. This resort seemed very family friendly with several kids playing in the heated pool, and adults in the 2 hot tubs. There is also an on-site restaurant called “Dini’s Bistro”, which offers lunch and dinner. This resort is also great for the vacationer wanting to walk to the Village or to the beach, but is also nice for easy access to nearby attractions such as Legoland and Carlsbad Premium Outlets, which are about a 5 mile drive away. Tamarack Beach Resort has some of the most beautiful ocean views from the room balconies out of all the resorts that we visited in Carlsbad, because it sits right on the bluff and highway overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
The last Carlsbad resort that we visited was Grand Pacific Palisades Resort. This resort sits above the magnificent Flower Fields, which is in bloom from mid-March through mid-May, and is located less than a mile from beautiful beaches. The location is fantastic because it is close enough to the beach for the occasional beach goer, but right next to the Carlsbad Premium Outlets and LEGOLAND®! The resort itself is very upscale compared to the other Carlsbad resorts we visited. The main entrance has a grand feel and overlooks the adults only pool and spa, which has gorgeous views of the city of Carlsbad and the ocean. The nice thing about the Adults only pool and spa is that is really does feel like “adults only”, with the pool-side bar and lounge music, relaxing chaise lounge chairs and sofa couches sitting next to a fire pit, along with private cabanas. There is even a phone booth with a menu for the Karl Strauss Brewery, which is located on-site, to deliver right to the pool! Although it may seem like this resort is not kid friendly, it is quite the opposite actually. There is a Family Water Park, pool and spa located on the opposite side of the resort (far enough away from the adults only pool and spa), which has an incredible splash pad for kids with a fun playground and a good size pool. As a guest, the resort offers discount tickets to LEGOLAND®, which is only about a 6-minute walk from the resort. However, the resort also offers a shuttle that will drop off and pick up anywhere within a 5 mile radius from the resort, making it very convenient to get around without a car. Overall, Grand Pacific Palisades is a great resort for families and/or adults wanting a luxurious getaway with new amenities and close to shopping, restaurants, beaches and fun local attractions.
Our family stayed at the Carlsbad Seapointe resort the second week of this October, 2015. This resort is just one of many great Carlsbad timeshares in San Diego county. The weather was beautiful, and we were fortunate enough to miss the summer crowds. The Carlsbad Seapointe resort is located on a secluded bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It sits along the legendary Pacific Coast Highway, which takes just a few minutes’ drive to Carlsbad Village; a cute beach town filled with shopping, restaurants, cafés and local pubs.
This resort is family friendly and ideal for resort travelers that enjoy vacationing close to the beach, but also want easy access to local attractions, such as Legoland (which is less than 1 mile away), San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, Seaworld and downtown San Diego, all of which are less than half hour drive away. The beach is accessed by crossing the PCH, then walking 5 minutes down the PCH to the beach.
The property has a very lush and tropical feel to it and offers several amenities such as 2 heated swimming pools (one of which has a fun kids splash pad), a tennis court, a fitness center, 2 jacuzzis and BBQ grills through-out. Being steps away from the beach, the resort also offers day use of beach equipment such as beach chairs, umbrella’s, beach towels, wagons, boogie boards, beach balls and sand toys.
The resort features spacious one and two bedroom condominium-style rooms with either a patio or a balcony facing the ocean, which have spectacular sunset views! One possible concern was that the units on the east side of the resort are fairly close to the rail line. However, we didn't hear any trains after about 9pm, and our 2 year-old son loved watching the trains go by! All in all, Carlsbad Seapointe is a really nice beach-friendly resort with a relaxing atmosphere.