A Remedy for Hotel Room Cramps

Does the thought of staying in a cramped hotel room with your entire family (husband and 4 kids) make you think twice about traveling? A friend of mine is looking to go to Vancouver for a few days to visit her working husband. He is currently living with three guys in a one bedroom apartment to cut costs while away from his family. The guys all live in small rural towns and are just in Vancouver to make some money to send home. Six to eight months of hard work can keep their families going for awhile but the kids need to see their dad occasionally too so a family vacation in Vancouver is in order.

Cramped hotel room“There’s just no room to relax with everyone in one hotel room,” my friend said. “Sleeping in the same room, let alone the same bed with the kids makes the odds of getting a good night’s sleep a million to one. Not to mention the fact that you constantly have to quiet the kids so they don’t disturb the neighboring rooms, stop them from shouting while they’re running up and down the hallways, and having to go out or get take out for every meal. Vacations cost a small fortune these days!” Being in the travel industry I have to agree. It’s difficult enough to find a hotel room that can sleep six so my friend would most likely have to find two rooms side by side, thereby doubling the price.  With an average nights stay running $189 per night for an economy twin room, that’s $378 for her family per night. Finding adjoining rooms is not always possible either which can create even more challenges.

Most hotels in the larger cites also don’t come with kitchenettes, so going out to eat or ordering takeout would be required. Breakfast, lunch and dinner add up fast for a family of six even if you do buy some snacks at the local grocery store. If you’re staying in a big city downtown, sometimes just finding a grocery store can be a difficult task. That’s when I suggested taking at look at vacation rentals instead. You can rent an entire house for practically the same or less than those hotel rooms.

On OwnerDirect.com for example, a 4600 sq ft square foot 4 bedroom house in North Vancouver, only 15 minutes from Vancouver’s downtown is going for $390 per night and can sleep 8. It is a primary home, so is fully furnished and equipped with all the amenities you may need, coffee maker, wireless internet, 21-inch flat screen TV, playstation, BBQ, full kitchen, treadmill, private hot tub and heated pool, and is child friendly. A much more comfortable solution to staying in cramped hotel rooms.

North Vancouver Exclusive Home -

North Vancouver Exclusive Home – ID #202309, Sleeps 8

If they wanted to be right downtown Vancouver, a 1 bedroom apartment that can sleep up to 4 goes for $165 per night. It’s got a full kitchen, living room, bathroom with bathtub, queen and double sofa beds, LCD television, internet connection, and the building offers a common room with games. Hotel rooms at $300 per night would end up costing $1200 plus tax and most likely wouldn’t have a kitchen or living room.

Downtown Vancouver Condo

Downtown Vancouver Condo – ID #141190, Sleeps 4

For larger groups or families, vacation rentals offer so much more than small hotel rooms can. There is also the possibility that owners will offer discounts for children under a certain age. Thanks to the Internet, the travel industry is competitive which means better value and lower prices can be found if you know where to look. If you’re still not convinced, see our Top 10 Reasons a Vacation Home is Better Than a Hotel.

Ways to travel better

Travel Better

Vancouver, BC #61207 Okanagan #203886 Milos, Greece #208258 Vancouver, BC #133171

You can never travel enough, for there is always something new to discover, higher mountains to climb, deeper caves to explore. Finding ways to travel better is a challenge for every trip. Every place we uncover leaves us a little wiser; every pavement we’ve paced is a lesson learned. Here are some of those lessons that can make your travel more enjoyable and memorable.

Pack light. Maybe it’s a cliché but this is the number 1 rule when you talk about traveling. You must know the difference between what you need and what you want. Pack everything you need, the basic items, those you can’t survive without. And maybe after packing and realizing you really don’t need a lot, you might still have some room for extra shoes or that paperback you are currently reading and trying to finish. Traveling light is traveling freely.

Know the local basics. It is important that you have basic knowledge of the place you are going to visit. Rules and regulations, as well as customs, vary from one place to another. What is legal in your city can be prohibited in another. Knowing the basic rules and policies can save you from doing something offending or upsetting to the locals while you are in their area. This will serve as your guideline in your traveling. Remember: ignorance is not an excuse.

Speak their tongue. It will also make a huge difference if you have some background in the local language. A few local words or phrases will go a long way. Communication is an essential part of traveling. Investing in the basics is a great idea.

Miraflores, Peru - put your <a href="http://www.rosettastone.com/learn-spanish">Spanish</a> to the test! Unit ID - 124785

Miraflores, Peru – put your Spanish to the test!
Unit ID 124785

Be spontaneous. Planning a trip is exciting. It is thrilling to make itineraries of places you want to visit, of activities you want to do, of foods you want to try. But please do not plan too much. Over-planning kills endless possibilities and opportunities. You might miss a lot of unexpected surprises as you are trying to keep to your schedule. Let the experience be more spontaneous, not stressful. Traveling is about meeting new people and making new memories, not living another day of routine or checking lists and following timetables.

Stop the fear. Don’t be afraid to acquaint with strangers. Go ask for directions if you don’t know where to go. Don’t hesitate to try new things. This is what the trip is all about: facing unfamiliar challenges, encountering extraordinary adventures along the way, expanding your horizon. Be open and explore the unknown.

Mingle with the locals. When you visit a place, make sure to get to know the people. Knowing its people is learning about its culture. Go where the locals spend most of their time, eat where they usually eat. When moving, it is better to use their public transportation system. This way, you can really get around the place and get to know it more intimately. Find time to mingle with the crowd and you will learn everything you need to learn about the place.

Ferry crossing to Charoa Island Resort, India

Ferry crossing to Charoa Island Resort, India

Spend less. Don’t spend your time, money and effort on buying things that will occupy a lot of space in your luggage. By the end of your vacation, you might find yourself carrying too much. Instead, spend them on experiences that don’t weigh at all but matter most. Like dining out and trying local foods, plucking up some courage and take part in activities offered, visiting important landmarks and many more.

Prioritize. Time is always scarce. So you need to know which places you need to see first. Traveling without priority is like traveling without a compass. You might visit loads of places and realize you didn’t get where you really needed to go.

Get lost. Getting lost is the best way of immersing yourself into the experience. Talking to strangers and asking for directions is a sure way of learning about the place. Wandering off the grid aimlessly while enjoying the people, the weather, the scenery is an excellent way of relaxing and spending a vacation.

Water Lilies and a Swim Pond. 206589

Jay Peak, Vermont – Water Lilies and a Swim Pond. Unit ID 206589

Make memories and document them. Taking pictures and collecting small mementos is encouraged. You don’t want to forget a superb vacation, right? You can even make a scrapbook to document your travels and make notes of the things you need to improve. So the next time you plan another trip, you can flip its pages and add a thing or two to your checklist.

Exotic Car Rentals for Every Occasion

Here’s a guest post regarding luxury car rentals. What a great way to make your vacation even more special by renting an exotic car at your destination!

Rent an Exotic Car on Vacation

Exotic Car Rentals for Every Occasion

The world of luxury cars is tantalizing, even if you aren’t a car person. There are vintage muscle cars for old-school motor heads, luxury sedans for consumers who crave elegance and exotic cars for aficionados. Today, the options are endless. Luxury cars can be rented for any kind of special event, like a romantic drive on the byways and scenic highways of America, a night on the town or a trip to the beach. There’s no question that a luxury car rental can make any occasion special.

Rental Options

Driving through the city or cruising on the open highway is a pastime that can become unforgettable in a luxurious vehicle. Some of the most popular rentals today are the iconic Ford Mustang, a symbol of American power, the high-speed Chevy Camaro and the convertible Mercedes-Benz SLK 350. Putting the top down is more fun and more exciting in a luxury sports car. No doubt.

Making a big impression isn’t only about horsepower and muscle. Many luxury rides come in discreet packages. Mercedes S-Class sedans lead this category. This posh sedan is the vehicle of choice for business, pleasure and especially traveling dignitaries. Rentals are also about affordability. So if you want a practical option, try a Volvo, Volkswagen, Lincoln, Audi, Cadillac, BMW or Jaguar.

Who says you can have luxury and off-road power? Hummer, Mercedes and Land Rover lead the SUV pack. Hummers have become a modern classic, and Land Rovers are the original off-road wagon, but the Mercedes G-Class SUV is a serious rival with its rugged exterior, agile handling and handcrafted components. The Cadillac Escalade is the most popular vehicle in the burgeoning SUV category.

The Upper Echelon

Cadillac, Lincoln and Mercedes are certainly luxurious and definitely exciting, but they aren’t the only exotic rentals out there. The most exotic cars have world-class styling, extreme performance and a host of luxury features. They have fancy foreign names, more horses under the hood and enough style to turn heads on any drive. Anyone who admires German engineering will love the Mercedes SLS-Class Coupe, an absolute beast with gull-wing doors and a roaring hand-built engine. Of course, there are also fancy James Bond-worthy cars like Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo, Bently and Rolls-Royce. The modern superhero might also choose a Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Lotus or futuristic driving machine that’s built for speed. Driving an exotic car is the difference between arriving in style and making a statement.

Exotic Car Rentals

The one percent who can afford the ultimate car are likely to buy one. For the rest of us, there are rentals. In most cases, drivers need to be over 25 to rent a speedy sportster and complete the rental agreement. Exotic cars and vacation home rentals are available in most major cities, including Los Angeles, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., New York City, Miami and many others. Choosing the car is part of the fun. Do you want a classy, understated ride, a smoking fast roadster, vintage muscle or an all-purpose SUV that’s ready for any adventure? Make a list of your top three choices to make sure that you get one of the rides on your list. Luxury car rental services from VIP Concierge connect clients to the hottest, most exotic cars in every city, and they can find the perfect car for any special occasion. What are you waiting for? Rent a car, and grab the keys.

Romantic getaways in BC

Romantic Getaways in BC

Kissimmee, Disney World Area, Florida #54906 Silver Star, BC #201340 Myrtle Beach, SC #203745 Disney World, FL #200944

Is winter getting to you and you need to recharge your batteries? Or perhaps you would like to enjoy a romantic weekend away, just the 2 of you? Picture yourself enjoying views of snow-capped mountains or the smell of the ocean from the comfort of your vacation rental. With all of the comforts and privacy of home, a vacation rental allows you to really relax and enjoy your vacation. Consider spending a weekend or longer at one of the following romantic getaways in British Columbia.

Ucluelet

Ucluelet - #143468Located on the west coast of Vancouver Island is Ucluelet, a small village popular for its variety of recreational activities.  Catch some waves surfing, kayak along the ocean shoreline or enjoy a day hike in the Pacific Rim National Park. Care to kick back and relax? Take a leisurely walk along Long Beach. Get cozy with a glass of wine by the fireplace of your vacation rental and watch the winter storms roll in. Enjoy a romantic dinner overlooking the ocean or pick up some fresh seafood and a bottle of BC wine, and enjoy a fun, laid-back evening cooking and laughing together. Whatever you choose to do, the stunning natural beauty of the area will be certain to renew your spirit even after a few days.

Victoria

A short ferry ride from Vancouver  or Seattle, Victoria is a city with its own distinct charm and character. Victoria is well known for its mild temperatures, in fact so mild that flowers bloom all year long. But don’t forget your umbrella as it does get its share of rain. Experience its British heritHorse-drawn carrige ride in Victoria, BC #206745age with a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride and high tea in a formal tearoom, or explore the city at your leisure by renting bicycles or kayaks. If shopping is your thing be sure to check out Antique Row, a street purely devoted to antiques and other collectible items. Experience Canada’s oldest China Town and walk North America’s narrowest street, Fan Tan Alley.  The city also has a lively night life and a culturally diverse community. Plan ahead and make sure to check out Victoria’s calendar of events to take advantage of all that is going on.

Kootenays

To really get away from your everyday life, consider taking a trip to the Kootenays. During the winter, the Kootenays offer amazing outdoor adventures including powder skiing and boarding, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. Choose a romantic and cozy one bedroom vacation rental in communities such as Kimberley, Fernie, Panorama or  Golden.

After a day on the slopes, relax those tired muscles in the privacy of your own hot tub or Jacuzzi.  If convenience is important, consider staying at Panorama offering a self-contained ski in/ski out resort. For backcountry adventures, consider Kicking Horse Mountain in Golden, the champagne powder capital of Canada. If you are looking for volume: it’s at Fernie Alpine Resort where they receive an average of 29ft of snow annually. No matter where you choose to stay, you will be sure to feel rejuvenated after spending so much time with Mother Nature.

The Okanagan

For couples with an adventurous spirit, the Okanagan, or the Okanagan Valley, is a perfect travel destination. Nothing is more romantic than exploring the ski village Apex Mountain #203654of Apex Mountain and enjoying the snow and exhilarating outdoor activities together. And how about spending some time in the wilderness by enjoying a hike in the spring or summer? It sure makes for a romantic day to be out in the open air and marveling at the wildlife with a romantic picnic for two. After your hike, you might want to try one of the many wine and dine activities hosted here or visit the many beautiful wineries and orchards, as well as sample the wines that these lovely places offer.

Do you have a favourite romantic destination in BC you would like to share?

Escape the cold this winter

Ready to escape the cold?

Maui #1538 Kauai #12293 Cape Coral, FL #201367 Calpe Coral, FL #201360 Mahahual, Mexico #204634

Have you had too much of the cold and snow? Perhaps you’ve been snowed in longer than you actually enjoyed. Yes, the pristine white all around is just too hard to ignore! And although sunny snow days can have their fun moments like making those cute snowmen and having entertaining snow fights, it can also get to be too much. If the weather has been uncomfortably cold for more than a month, the snow will begin to get you down until it finally gets on your nerves and affects your mood, too.

So after a few weeks of enjoying the snow capped grounds, you will soon crave more sun and a little bit warmth just to cheer you up! There is something to be said for a little extra Vitamin D that the warm sunshine can provide as a mood lifter. That’s why you have to fly somewhere warm and sunny. Plan you trip now!

Here are a few destinations and accommodations you might want to consider when you plan that brief yet unforgettable break to flee from the cold and snowy weather.

Castaways Cove in Grand Cayman

Beachside relaxation at this 2 bedroom condo at Castaways Cove in Grand Cayman – #203029

 1.      Grand Cayman’s Castaways Cove. It’s hard to think of sunny days and sandy beaches without giving this Caribbean island a thought. In fact, it is one of the most popular island beach destinations because of its many magnificent beaches that would appeal to the most selective of tourists and vacationers. Anyone can simply choose from one of their many  attractions and find the perfect place that suits their tastes as well as their budget. Grand Cayman’s Castaways Cove, located on the less populated portion of the island in the East End, has all the elements of one perfect holiday including a breathtaking view of the Caribbean. Enjoy one of those top floor condos and be ready to vacation like a VIP. Select one of the rooms with a king sized bed and bathtub and get ready to have your best vacation ever. It’s easy to spend the lazy hours of the night lounging in one of those cool patio chairs as you take in the soothing and relaxing island breeze. There are also provisions for a kitchen, as well as a grill area where you and your family can enjoy your very own homemade barbecue recipe.

Bangtao Beach - #207336

So much to do on Bangtao Beach – #207336

2.      The Residence Resort and Spa at Phuket’s Bang Tao Beach. Phuket has become one of the most popular beach destinations in recent years and it is no surprise that this Thai island has become a top choice for both local and foreign tourists. The unspoiled beauty of Bang Tao Beach is considered by many the best Phuket has to offer, not to mention, it is also the longest beach in the country. If you ever find yourself heading to this side of Thailand, one of the best places to get accommodations from is The Residence Resort and Spa. Not only do they meet the flawless European standards with their luxurious villas, it is also a top choice for its proximity to the beach and the airport. This world class, 5 star resort is set in a very reclusive tropical garden which is the most featured appeal to those who value their privacy even while on vacation. Notable amenities also include provisions for a barbecue, Wi-Fi, a gym, a large private swimming pool and a spa – which all aim to give any visitor a vacation of a lifetime.

#202808 in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico

Sunset from the 3rd floor patio in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico – #202808

3.      The Penthouse Delfin in Mexico’s Nuevo Vallarta. Some parts of Mexico are known for their hot, dry climate which makes it another top pick for a warm getaway during the wintertime. Idyllic sandy beaches are one of its most popular attractions. You can’t go wrong choosing any of Mexico’s sunny destinations if you aim to escape the snow and the cold in your country. A notable choice will have to be the Penthouse Delfin situated in Nuevo Vallarta on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. This one bedroom penthouse allows any tourist to vacation like a king with its very own private jacuzzi and a stunning view of the dolphins taking a swim below. A panoramic view of Puerto Vallarta, as well as the enthralling sunset view are but some of its added charms.

Maalea vacation rental #204782

Come to Maui, enjoy life and know why we say “Maui No Ka Oi” (Maui is the best!!!) – #204782

 4.      Maalaea Yacht Marina in Maui. Hawaii still is and always will be a leading destination if you are yearning for the sun, the sand and the surf. Known for its many stunning beaches, it is summer all year round in this state. And the locals do not just say Maui No Ka Oi for nothing. At this accommodation, be blown away by the seemingly endless stretch of beaches just outside your windows. In addition, this island paradise destination is just a walk away from some of the islands famous attractions, including Haycraft Park, Kealia Nationa Wildlife Refuge, as well as your chance to enjoy a number of outdoor and water adventures. Here in Maalaea Yacht Club, their Posturpedic pillowed beds are just the tip of the iceberg.

Where are you heading to escape the cold this year?

Featured destination: Big Island, Hawaii

Big Island

Kailua Kona #74659 Kailua Kona #140662 Kailua Kona #142934 Kailua Kona #112939

This week we have a guest post from Discover Hawaii Tours:

The Big Island is definitely one of Hawaii’s most beautiful spots. Though Oahu is usually the first island most people think of when Hawaii is brought up, there is just as much to see and do on the Big Island – if not more! With beautiful rainforests, beaches, volcanoes and wildlife, the Big Island certainly has its own unique sights and landmarks to experience. Spending a day, or even a few there is definitely a must do when visiting.

Nature awaits with many surprises in Hawaii and on the Big Island. But not only does the Big Island have many natural sights, it also has a rich history. Guided tours can shed light on times past, when the Hawaiian natives developed the traditions and rituals that remain to this day.

With regards to beaches, there are many great ones to stop at and take a swim at, such as Onekahakaha Beach Park near Hilo, Kahaluu beach near Kona, or Kealakekua Beach south of Kona. Don’t forget to visit the Punaluu black sand beach as well. You can even visit the Kapoho tide pools if you’re looking for something besides the beach.

One of the Big Island’s most amazing landmarks has to be Mt. Kilauea. One of the most active volcanoes on earth, visiting this mountain and the Volcanoes National Park gives you the chance to see the lava flow, walk through a lava tube, and learn many things about volcanoes at the museum.  You could even take the Big Island Hawaii Volcano Eco-Adventure Tour, which can get you an amazing view of the volcanoes!

You can purchase locally made products, such as Kona coffee and raw organic honey right from the Big Island. On Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, the Hilo Farmers Market is open from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Featuring over 200 local farmers and crafters, this market is certainly an amazing one, with an abundance of fruits and vegetables, many of which are grown on the Hawaiian Islands.

There are also a few Eco tours available that will take you to and from the Big Island. One of them, for example, takes you around the island to various sights and then to the Volcanoes National Park. Some include Waipio Valley, an amazingly beautiful and remote valley, not accessible by car. Zipline tours are also available. If you want to be adventurous and see the beauty of the Big Island in an exciting way, you should consider going snorkelling, going out to see whales in the ocean, swim with the dolphins or going on a sunset cruise that departs from the Kona Coast. The options for fun things to do on the Big Island are endless.

There are many things to do! Check out Discover Hawaii Tours to get started. You can experience many things on the Big Island, making it a trip that will be an experience of a lifetime.

Great Family Reunion Vacation Homes

Great Family Reunion Vacation Homes

Renting a vacation home for a family reunion just makes sense. It is an affordable way for all family members to enjoy quality time together in a fun, new location.

On average, vacation homes offer far more space to stretch out, unwind, and enjoy! Space for everyone to relax and have a good time enjoying each others company. They usually include all the things you’d expect to find at home like full-sized appliances, dishes, books and games, and laundry facilities. These kinds of amenities can make your group stay so much more comfortable.

Most hotels just aren’t geared for families or groups of friends traveling together. Between the expense of eating out and having to book two (or more) rooms to accommodate everyone, you can blow most of your budget before you even get started.  Fortunately, it’s easy to find vacation rental homes that can satisfy the needs of just about any sized group. In addition to the essentials (plenty of beds and bathrooms), you can save a bundle by having at least some of your meals at home.

Another great benefit is that pets can be family members too. As owners set their own pet policies, there are over 4,000 pet-friendly vacation homes at OwnerDirect.com that allow dogs, cats and even other critters to stay.

Start planning now with OwnerDirect.com!

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico #202756

Stunning 6 bedroom beachfront luxury villa in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico #202756

Mont Tremblant, Quebec #201448

Tremblant’s greatest home for family gatherings. 6 bedroom chalet #201448

Disney World, Kissimmee, FL #201888

Enjoy this 7 bedroom lake view villa in the Disney World Area, Kissimmee, Florida #201888

Poipu Beach, Kauai #122920

Gorgeous 5 bedroom home with private swimming pool and spa in Poipu Beach, Kauai #122920

Top 10 Summer Destinations for 2013

Top Summer Destinations

“At the beach, life is different, time doesn’t move from hour to hour, but mood to moment. We live by the currents, plan by the tides, and follow the sun.”
~ Sandy Gingras

Summer is here. Where are you vacationing this year? Here’s a list of Owner Direct’s top 10 summer destinations of 2013.

Kelowna Vacation Rentals

Kelowna, BC #128239

#1 Kelowna, BC – The city of Kelowna is situated on the shores of Okanagan Lake in the heart of the stunning Okanagan Valley, a four-hour drive from Vancouver. Choose from an array of parks and beaches, hiking and cycling trails, orchards, golf courses and award-winning wineries. Visitors can enjoy everything from wine tastings to unforgettable outdoor adventures of all kinds.

#2 Paris, France – Staying in a Paris vacation home enables guests to embark on a true Parisian experience. Every day, wake up to a view of historical landmarks while enjoying a fresh croissant. Indulge in some of the famous sights Paris has to offer such as the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame de Paris and the Champs-Élysées. For those wanting to get in some more European culture, check out the opera houses or the high end fashion shops and restaurants.

Myrtle Beach Vacation Rentals

Myrtle Beach, SC #204478

#3 Myrtle Beach, South Carolina – The Myrtle Beach area, also known as the Grand Strand, enjoys 60 miles of beautiful coastline. With more than 200 sunny days and a temperate year-round climate, Myrtle Beach is a paradise for beach goers, offering endless hours of swimming, surfing, sailing, and other sun and sand favourites.

#4 Maui, Hawaii – Because of Maui’s superb beaches, exotic scenery, endless activities and magnificent vacation homes, it is known one as one of the world’s best vacation destinations. Maui landscapes range from desert-like to tropical rain forest. Maintained roads and trails throughout much of these areas make hiking tours available year round.

Orlando Vacation Rentals

Orlando, FL #203235

#5 Disney World, Florida – This summer, find Disney World vacation home rentals close to one or more of the seven action-filled water venues including Wet ‘n Wild with its flume rides, water slides, sandy beaches, wave pools, multi-passenger rides as well as children’s play areas and picnic areas. At Gatorland, watch action-filled shows featuring alligators, crocodiles and more of Florida’s oldest inhabitants. A visit to Cypress Gardens will thrill with world-famous water-ski performances and amazing exhibits and shows.

#6 Mont Tremblant, Quebec – Mont Tremblant is home to two of SCOREgolf Magazine’s top-10 rated golf courses, an annual Ironman triathlon, the 2014 Ironman 70.3 Championships, a casino, its own blues festival and a race track. But that’s just a snippet of all there is to see and do in this four-season playground. Other activities include zip-lining, hiking, cycling, canoeing, fishing, paintball, dune buggies, rock climbing, and rafting. And don’t miss the spectacular ride up the panoramic gondola to the very tip-top of the highest peak in the Laurentiens.

Courtenay Vacation Rentals on Vancouver Island, BC

Courtenay, BC #205408

#7 Vancouver Island, BC – Vancouver Island is a great place to enjoy outdoor activities such as whale watching, fishing, water-skiing, diving, house-boating, kayaking or sailing. With so much of the island having protected, unspoiled wilderness, any visit here would be incomplete without an excursion to at least one park or nature reserve.

#8 Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – Sun, sand and warm tropical beauty – that’s Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. In this charming coastal city, visitors can experience the beauty and traditions of Mexico from the comforts of their vacation rental. Whether you wish to stay in the tourist zone, discover the traditions of Mexico, visit the open markets, fish, enjoy water sports, or go on a variety of excursions, you will find something to love about Puerto Vallarta.

#9 San Francisco, CA – Many tourists come to ride the famous cable cars or walk on Fisherman’s Wharf. At San Francisco Bay on Pier 39, enjoy an open air festival marketplace. Be surrounded by 2 levels of shopping that include 110 specialty shops and 14 different dining options.  If a bicycle is your form of transportation around San Francisco, you will be happy to know that the city has more than 200 miles of bike paths, lanes and routes.

Sorrento Vacation Rentals

Sorrento, Italy #201529

#10 Sorrento & Amalfi Coast, Italy – Sorrento is located along the coast of the Gulf of Naples and has fascinated generations of visitors. With many historical landmarks in the area, fabulous beaches and gardens  and breathtaking sunsets that are not to be missed, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast are well worth a visit.

Central Okanagan Wineries and Vineyards

Featured Destination: Central Okanagan

Lake Country #129267 West Kelowna #203886 Peachland #139910 Fintry #204331 Winfield #132520 Central Okanagan

Summer in the Okanagan: Sun-soaked vineyards sprawl out before your eyes, stretching down the hillsides towards Lake Okanagan. The smell of fresh fruit, award-winning wines and clear lake water awaits.

The Okanagan Valley is home to some of the most delicious wines in the world. There are over 120 Okanagan wineries and vineyards in the area, and it is British Columbia’s largest, oldest and most popular wine-producing region.

Featuring a very dry climate, the temperatures during the growing season months of July and August in the Okanagan may reach 40 °C (104 °F), often staying above 30 °C (86 °F) for several days. The region’s northerly latitude allows the vines to experience longer hours of daylight than the more southerly vineyards of California receive, with late June seeing daybreak around 5 am and sunlight still present as late as 10:30 pm. 1

Okanagan wineries range from large and luxurious facilities to small family-run vineyards. Tours can be guided or self-guided. Some offer picnic areas and others have on-site restaurants and gift shops. Consider using one of the various shuttle services so everyone in your party can enjoy a day of sampling at different locations. Another idea is to try a winery cycling tour.

Wine festivals are a great way to sample many different wines in one location. The Mile High Wine Festival at Silver Star Mountain on Aug 10, 2013 offers guests outdoor wine tastings, appetizers and live entertainment along Main Street. The Okanagan Food, Wine and Film Festival takes dinner & a movie to a new level this year on September 13-15, 2013 at the Rotary Centre for the Arts in Kelowna. Or be a Vintner for a Day on July 6, 2013 … Guests can “roll up their sleeves” or just sip some great wines and spend a day at St Hubertus & Oak Bay Estate Winery alongside vineyard managers and winemakers.

With so many options, the hardest part is deciding where to visit first!

Map of some of the Okanagan Wineries

1 British Columbia Wine Institute BC Wine Institute Members: The Okanagan Valley Accessed: March 26, 2013

City Shopping Getaways

City Shopping Getaways

City Shopping Getaway IdeasSpring cleaning is done … is it time now to spruce up your home with some cool new items? Or upgrade your wardrobe for the summer? A weekend getaway to “the city” for some shopping might be just what you need. And to get even more decorating ideas for your home, why not stay at a vacation home instead of a boring hotel room?

Some of the best city shopping getaways and experiences can be had at our favorite cities like:

San Diego, California – California’s second largest city, San Diego is the ideal place for a weekend shopping getaway. Enjoy the warm sunshine while you hit up the local shops at one of the many outdoor shopping centers or stay cool as you browse through exclusive stores at the mall. Downtown, wander the streets of the Gaslamp Quarter for the latest fashions in national and regional boutiques or check out the Mission Valley and Fashion Valley shopping malls for all of life’s necessities. In central San Diego, immerse yourself in the culture at the Bazaar del Mundo Shops and Old Town or check out Otay Ranch Town Center in the South.

Vancouver, BC – Enjoy a multicultural experience at the shopping malls of Vancouver. There are also excellent marketplaces and street shopping. Well-known department stores and favorite chain stores are abundant but also lots of local boutiques and great food fairs at the malls. Some of the bigger malls are Aberdeen Centre with an Asian flair; Pacific Centre downtown, Waterfront Centre Shops, and the Royal Centre Mall. West Vancouver offers the Village at Park Royal and Oakridge Centre near Queen Elizabeth Park.

Tokyo, Japan – From trendy fashion and branded goods to cutting-edge electronics, Tokyo has a shop for practically anything you could ever want. Its various sightseeing districts double as shopping districts. Many of them have their own charming character and specialties. Shinjuku is one of Toyko’s largest shopping and entrainment districts, centered around one of the busiest train stations in the world. For the center of youth fashion, check out Shibuya or Harajuku which has two parallel shopping streets: one that caters to a younger, teenage crowd and another that offers upscale boutiques, cafes and several leading designer brand shops. Odaiba is a popular shopping mall built on a man-made island.

New York City, NY – When it comes to shopping here, your choices are limitless. New York hosts some of the largest and most exclusive department stores in the world including Bloomindale’s and Macy’s NYC. At this top contender for the best city with style and sophistication, check out Madison Avenue, Fifth Avenue, Times Square, East Village and 57th Street for shops that have it all.

Houston, Texas – With 54 shopping centers, Houston is #1 on America’s 25 Best Cities for Shopping List from Forbes.  The Galleria mall is the biggest at 2.5 million square feet of retail pleasure. There are so many different types of stores, boutiques and specialty retail shops, it is fair to say that Houston is the style capital of the South. Other shopping areas to visit are Katy Mills, Willowbrook Mall in the Northwest, Market Street with open-air shopping in the Woodlands, and River Oaks Shopping Center.

Phoenix, Arizona – A surprising shopper’s paradise awaits in Phoenix and Scottsdale. From malls to boutiques, antiques to factory discount outlets, there is something for every type of shopper. Check out Biltmore Fashion Park, an open-air, lush garden of shopping experiences in the historic Biltmore District. Old Town Scottsdale offers shopping, dining, and the Scottsdale Artwalk every Thursday evening. Scottsdale Fashion Square, CityCenter of CityNorth, Borgata of Scottsdale, and Melrose on 7th are other top shopping areas to visit.

What’s your favorite city for a shopping getaway and why?