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?

When is the Best Time to Visit Disney World Florida?

04-29-2013-blogIf you are planning on visiting Disney World, one question may be: When is the best time to go?  There are a few factors to take into account such as crowds, weather, special events and park hours.

Special Events and Park Hours

Even busy days can be rewarding, depending on when you go to the park. Daytime hours may have long lines but evenings can be wonderfully uncrowded. Parks are typically open from 9am to 11pm but it is best to check the official Disney Park Hours as they do vary for different times of the year.  Special Events take place often and can be great fun. Disney offers a complete special events calendar for the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom parks.


During the summer months, expect plenty of heat and humidity. However, for many rides, line-ups are in the shade or in air-conditioned areas. There are other coping measures such as enjoying a wet ride or leaving the park at the heat of the day and returning in the evening.

Thunderstorms do happen often in the summertime but the rain doesn’t usually last long and it’s a chance for things to cool down. Hurricanes are rarely a problem in Orlando because it is inland.


As Disney World is a popular place, there are definitely peak periods. We have found a couple of 2013 Disney World crowd calendars to help you find the best and worst days to go. Generally, January to early February, early May (after Spring Break and Easter), late August and the Fall months are the least crowded.

Ticket pricing may also be another factor in your trip planning. Find out how Disney World ticket prices compare  over the years.

When it comes down to it, the best time to visit Disney World Florida is when you can go. Everybody should travel to Walt Disney World and the Magic Kingdom at least once in their lives.

Have you ever been to Disney World? What time of year did you go? What was your experience?

Are you a Tough Mudder?

I recently received an email with a video clip of a Tough Mudder event. My heart was pounding, watching the incredible footage of people tackling the world’s toughest obstacle course. I could feel my adrenaline pumping and noticed my mind saying “this would be so fun to experience”. For those who don’t know, Tough Mudder is a 10-12 mile hardcore obstacle course designed by British Special Forces to test your strength, stamina, mental grit and team camaraderie.

The endurance courses involve a variety of rough terrain including mud, fire, 12 foot walls, icy water and 10,00 volts of electricity. This is not a race to be attempted alone … it truly is about pushing yourself to your limits, both physically and mentally as well as working together as a team to support each other through it. Savour the sense of accomplishment after pushing yourself and teammates through challenging terrain and extreme obstacles.

Events are held throughout the US, Canada, Europe, Australia,  New Zealand, Japan and South Africa. In 2012, roughly 500,000 people worldwide participated in a total of 35 events, making Tough Mudder the world’s fastest-growing endurance adventure series. Are you a Tough Mudder?

Springtime in Europe

Springtime in Europe


There are many benefits to vacationing in the springtime, especially springtime in Europe. It is low season, so there are less crowds and more affordable prices. It is also a period where the temperature starts to get warmer, the days get longer and everything is reborn and alive again. Go for a hike, get to a beach or stay in a villa overlooking the mountains. There is much to explore in the great world of ours. If you are planning on holidaying in Europe, consider one of the following destinations to fully enjoy springtime in the Old World:

Amsterdam, Holland

Amsterdam may be one of the few European cities where spring is one of the busiest times of the year. Famous for its Dutch tulips and festivals, you will thoroughly enjoy Amsterdam in the spring. Try to time your holiday during 2 of the biggest holidays in Holland: Queen’s Day and Remembrance Day. April 30th is Queen’s Day, a national holiday to celebrate the country’s (former) Queen. This holiday is like the Mardi Gras of the Netherlands, welcoming up to 2 million visitors annually with non-stop parties and live music in every part of the city. Another interesting aspect to this holiday is the city-wide free market rummage sales. Less than a week later, on May 4th , is Remembrance Day followed by Liberation Day on May 5th. Grab a coffee, kick back and relax at one of the many patios or parks, and enjoy some good old fashion people watching. Very entertaining!

Seville, SpainSeville, Spain

Seville is an incredibly romantic European city with its ancient history and rich detailed architecture. Enjoy exploring this city filled with beautiful fountains, gardens and exquisite tiling.  Spring is a special time of year in Seville: Two of the city’s most important events take place during that time. Semana Santa is a religious festival but also includes lots of celebrating into the wee hours of the morning. This is followed by the Spring Fair, also known as “the Feria”. This is a full week of celebration, parties, dancing and drinking with many late nights or all-nighters if you are up for it. Flamenco dancing also originated in the region of Andalusia, which is a combination of singing, song and dancing. Enjoy an authentic flamenco show at the Museo del Baile Flamenco (Flamenco Museum) or at one of the city’s dinner shows or bars.

Algarve, Portugal

Spring on the Algarve in Portugal is a wonderful time to visit with stunning scenery, vibrant wildflowers and plenty of activities to engage in, most notably golf. It is warm and one of the sunniest places in Europe during the spring. Great weather, scenic landscapes combined with fewer crowds and good value for your money make the Algarve a destination to be experienced. There are a couple of holidays celebrated in the spring including Liberation Day on April 25th , complete with fireworks and live entertainment throughout the region. Olhao’s Clam Festival is also held from late March until early April. Music lovers won’t be disappointed as the Lagos Jazz Festival is held during April as well.

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic, is a magical place to visit anytime of the year. But spring offers a variety of activities to enjoy, including the Prague Spring International Music Festival. This event showcases a variety of performing artists, symphony orchestras and chamber music from around the world. Enjoy Easter markets in the Old Town Square as well as in Wenceslas where you can purchase handcrafted Easter goods, enjoy traditional food and a variety of local music performances. Combine your sightseeing with athleticism by entering the Prague International Marathon also held in the spring.

Top Honeymoon Destinations

Top Honeymoon Destinations

For many couples, your honeymoon is an opportunity to take that trip of a lifetime. And what better way to celebrate your new union than to make some of your dreams come true? If your list is anything like mine, LONG, it may be hard to narrow down where to go. We have made a short-list of must visit places. To fully enjoy your honeymoon, consider a vacation rental for your stay, offering the utmost in amenities, flexibility and most importantly, privacy! Choose from a flat rental in Europe, an ocean-front vacation home rental or a trendy urban condo rental in the city.

Florence, Italy

Florence is the “City of Renaissance” and for good reason, offering plenty of romanticism and charm with stunning palaces, noteworthy museums and plenty of historical architecture and churches. In fact, Florence is one of the few cities in the world where the entire historical center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But the beauty of the city is also in in the simplicity. Wander through these historical streets enjoying the local neighborhoods, savour Italian coffees or gelato while people watching in one of the many piazzas or visit one of many markets and barter with the locals.

Maui, Hawaii

While Maui is physically Hawaii’s second largest island, it only has a population of just over 130,000 making it an ideal location to still enjoy paradise without the crowds. Maui offers over 80 beaches and in the winter months is home to one of the best places to whale watch in the world. Enjoy special intimate moments with your partner and watch the sunrise on top of Haleakala Crater. Or add some thrills into the mix, rent a car and explore the road to Hana with over 600 windy, crazy curves and 54 picturesque bridges. Be sure to bring your camera for some spontaneous photo ops as this is one of the most breath-taking drives in the world.

San Francisco, California

Many love songs have been written about San Francisco. You’ll be sure to fall in love with this city that offers first-class dining, culturally diverse entertainment and interesting neighborhoods, landmarks and scenery. There is much for you to explore and experience. While it is a wonderful walking city, no visit is complete without a ride on the infamous cable cars. If you have the time, rent a car and enjoy the 2 hour scenic drive to Napa Valley. On the way be sure to appreciate the architectural wonder of the Golden Gate Bridge and views of San Francisco.

Costa Rica

Looking for an adventurous honeymoon that will leave you with memories for a lifetime? Make sure Costa Rica is high on your list. This is a destination that truly offers something for everyone. There is so much to see and experience, waterfalls, wildlife, surfing and diving, ziplining, ATVing, deep sea fishing, white water rafting. Enjoy the natural unspoiled beauty of the area whether you choose a mountain holiday, rainforest eco-retreat or an active beach vacation.

Paris, France

Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra both sang about it and you too, will fall in love with Paris. This is one of the most romantic cities in the world and what better place to celebrate your new journey together? Enjoy views from atop of the Eiffel Tower, be inspired visiting any of the museums and churches. Pack a picnic and spend a lazy afternoon in one of the many parks and gardens. Take a romantic cruise along the Seine River or just wander these ancient streets enjoying all that this fare city has to offer.

Where would your dream honeymoon be?

Ready for some sun? Our 2013 Top Sun Destinations

“Palm trees, ocean breeze, salty air, sun kissed hair. That endless summer, take me there.” ~ Unknown

Done with snow, slush and sleet? Ready for sun, sand and sea? Here are our 2013 Top Sun Destination picks:

Majestic Ulua Beach is especially great for snorkeling, scuba training and standup paddle boarding. Stay at Property #204620 in Wailea for nearby access.

Maui, Hawaii – Maui, which was named for the demigod who stood on the rim of Haleakala Volcano and snared the sun, has been a favorite of many “mainlanders” for their sun vacation. Maui offers visitors palm-shaded beaches, lush rain forests and quaint towns to explore, all in a sunny, warm climate.  Owner Direct has created a list of top things to do in Maui when visiting.

Imagine yourself here! The infinity pool is waiting for you… at this fabulous oceanfront condo in downtown Puerto Vallarta. Property #202835

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – Puerto Vallarta is an authentic tropical beauty: This charming coastal city is a place where visitors can experience the beauty and traditions of Mexico while enjoying the comforts of a vacation rental. Whether you wish to visit the open markets, enjoy water sports, fish or go on a variety of excursions, you will find many things to love about Puerto Vallarta.

Enjoy this Mickey Pool in the Disney World Area, Kissimmee, FL at Property #115580

Disney World, Florida – Who can resist the reliable sunshine, the exciting theme parks and the joy of spending time with friends and family enjoying it all?  More than 90 attractions await in the Orlando are, including Walt Disney World, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Kennedy Space Center, Magic Kingdom, MGM Studios, SeaWorld, Universal Studios, Busch Gardens and Discovery Cove.

Wake up in this luxury condo in tropical Costa Rica Property #202094

Costa Rica – Relatively undiscovered until recently, Costa Rica is rapidly growing in popularity and offers a wide range of holiday experiences. It is an area of variable terrain, from rain forests to volcanoes, rivers to pristine beaches. Eco tourism is quickly becoming more prominent and the climate in Costa Rica is tropical year round. Hard to beat!

Relax and unwind in a gorgeous newly remodeled 3 bedroom, 2 bath luxury casita in Scottsdale, AZ. Property #205176.

Scottsdale, Arizona – A fantastic choice for both single and family vacations, offering over 330 days of sunshine each year, this city offers visitors a chance to relax or take part in many desert adventures that await in the area.

What are you waiting for? Search for a sunny vacation home on Owner Direct today!

Travel Top Blogs

Top 5 Spring Break Vacation Ideas for 2013

The time to think about Spring Break is coming up! The kids are growing up quickly… it’s time to plan a trip. Traveling creates wonderful memories for years to come, is educational and most of all, fun! Here’s our list of top 10 Spring Break family destinations.

Orlando, Florida #204736

#1 Orlando, Florida – Is this a surprise? With so much to do in the Central Florida area, including Walt Disney World, Epcot Center, MGM Studios, Universal Studios,  Daytona International Speedway, the Kennedy Space Center, Cypress Gardens, Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens and Gatorland, Orlando offers fun for the whole family.  Are Disney World ticket prices really getting more expensive over the years? We’ve done a cost comparison of Disney World ticket prices vs. gas prices over the years.

Perdido Key, FL #103071

#2 Other Florida Locations – Known as the Sunshine State, Florida has many world-renowned beaches along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Florida became a popular winter tourism destination for sun-seekers from colder climates over a century ago and has gained even greater popularity since.

Whistler, BC #203444

#3 Whistler, BC - Famous for hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler has been a favorite ski and snowboarding destination for decades. Whistler is consistently ranked as the number one mountain resort in North America: With two spectacular mountains, world-class skiing and boarding, four championship golf courses and a wide array of shops, restaurants, vacation rentals, chalet rentals and accommodations there is plenty to keep a visitor busy, all year long. Add to that the spas, hiking and biking trails, and you might not want to leave.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina #204478

#4 Myrtle Beach, SC – With a subtropical climate and white sand beaches, Myrtle Beach has always been a hot Spring Break destination for the college age. Spend your days at the beach enjoying the entertainment or at a beach house overlooking the Atlantic.

Kailua Kona, Hawaii #202679

#5 Kailua-Kona, HI – Located just 15 minutes south of Kona International Airport, historic Kailua Village (Kailua-Kona) is a lively seaside town in the heart of the sunny Kona Coast. It is a charming oasis of green amidst a volcanic and relatively barren landscape. A perfect vacation spot! The main oceanfront road, Ali’i Drive, offers a variety of the village delights; there are various shops and malls as well as some of the finest pacific island restaurants.

Even as SpringBreak approaches, there are always very affordable last minute vacation deals if you have some flexibility.

It’s time for a little Luxury

“Luxury”  – The state of great comfort and extravagant living.

It’s time for a little luxury, you deserve it. With the right group of friends and family in a luxury vacation home rental, the memories can last a lifetime. Here’s some select ones that look fabulous.

10,000 sq ft Acapulco Mansion ID# 79242

Acapulco, Mexico 4 bedroom villa. The villa is a Spanish Colonial architectural work of art. This spectacular mansion was home for nearly twenty years to the world renowned singer and romantic icon Julio Iglesias until 2005. It is the only privately-owned villa located atop a mountain on the grounds of the world famous Villa Vera Hotel Spa and Racquet Club. Guests of the villa will enjoy all the amenities of Villa Vera including the hotel pool, bar, restaurant, room service, gym, spa, tennis courts, racquet ball courts and concierge service.

While the Villa affords total privacy, it is situated in the heart of Acapulco, so that you are never more than a stone’s throw from all that this incredible city has to offer. Many fine restaurants, clubs, and shopping are within easy walking distance.

Pigeon Forge Cabin Rental Specializing in Large Group Rentals ID# 203652

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee cabin rental specializing in large group rentals. Bring all of your guests to our lodge for your Wedding, Family Reunion, and Church Retreats. Located just minutes from local dining and attractions in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Wears Valley; all of your guests will praise you for putting this years function together. This is the largest Pigeon Forge cabin in east Tennessee. With over 11,000 sq feet of indoor space which makes this the perfect family reunion vacation rental facility. A Smoky Mountain cabin that has 9 bedrooms, 21 seat movie theater, arcade, complimentary high speed internet and a private setting. These amenities made this lodge the most original and luxurious log cabin in the Smoky Mountains. Located just minutes from Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge Tennessee, we have all the amenities you would find in any 5 star luxury resorts around the world.

Chateau Médiéval in the South of France ID#72267

In the heart of France’s Minervois region, nestling at the foot of the Black Mountain, lies the village of Agel. Its Château is one of a line of fortified castles where the vassals of the Count of Toulouse resisted the Albigensian crusade in the 13th century. This superb medieval castle dates from the 12th century onwards, and consists of the main building, four towers and a dovecote. Its extensive terraced gardens covering 2 hectares (5 acres) offer extensive views over the Cesse valley and the Pech mountain: the ideal setting for a quiet walk or a relaxing dip in the swimming pool.

Luxurious Mountain Home with Unforgettable Views in Ruidoso Downs, NM ID#200950

The beauty and uniqueness of this new million dollar plus mountain log home in Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico and the view it offers can not be captured in photos. Located on top of a mountain ridge 14 miles from downtown Ruidoso, this beautiful home sits in the middle of 1000 acres populated with mule deer, elk, turkey, jackrabbits, and even an occasional mountain lion. The view from the 800 sq ft deck takes in three different mountain ranges, including 12,000 ft Sierra Blanca, and houses a hot tub for your romantic evening. This is the ultimate home away from home for your vacation any time of year. Winter brings skiing at Ski Apache, spring and fall are perfect for hiking and biking in the LIncoln Naitonal Forest, and summer fun is easily found at the Ruidoso Downs racetrack, home of the famous All American Quarterhorse Futurity. In addition, The Inn of the Mountain Gods has a full Vegas style casino and great dining year round, as well as one of the many golf courses found in the area.

We have many more listed on our Featured Luxury Properties page and on our Luxury Vacation Rentals pinterest board. Now the question is where do you want to indulge?

What’s your holiday plans for 2013? Sun or Snow?

As the New Year makes it’s entrance, it’s time to focus on what’s important: Creating memories with our loved ones. And what better way to do that than with a fantastic vacation.  What is it going to be this year? Sun or Snow?

San Jose del Cabo #203690

Beachfront Private Home in Los Cabos, Mexico with Pool and Jacuzzi #203690

Sunny destinations offer a break from the cold winter weather. Glorious beaches, turquoise waters and tropical paradises await. Some of the more popular destinations are Hawaii, Florida, Mexico, the Caribbean, Canary Islands, Sicily, Portugal, Thailand, Indonesia, New Zealand and Australia. With winter average temperatures in the mid-twenties °C at most of these locales, the winter blues can easily be chased away.

Mont Tremblant #117956

Amazing luxury log home with on site spa & restaurant in Mont Tremblant, Canada #117956

Ski destinations are also popular this time of year. Whistler, BC hosted the 2010 winter Olympics and is a fabulous family destination full of activities for the non-skiers as well. Other popular ski destinations are Mont Tremblant Quebec, Sun Valley Idaho, Park City Utah, or the South Alps of France.

Winter doesn’t have to mean long months indoors. Get creative and find a vacation rental in a fun location for your group. What are your holiday plans for 2013? Will it be sun or snow?

Season’s Greetings

In warm appreciation of your support during this past year, the team at Owner Direct Vacation Rentals would like to wish you a very happy holiday season and the very best in the new year.