Cibola Vista Resort & Spa
“Twenty-some years ago when my husband and I traveled to Wisconsin Dells, we were just going to Christmas Mountain for a free weekend without the kids. We had no money and our answer to the timeshare salesman across the desk was going to be a firm “NO”. One thing the salesman said that sticks in my mind to this day was, “Do you want vacations to be a priority in your lives?” Jim and I both looked at each other and simultaneously replied, “yes”. Of course we started with a very small package, and we really shouldn’t have even done that, given we were just getting back on our feet after a move from Oregon to Wisconsin to start a new job. But yes, we really did want vacations to be a priority in our lives. We both agreed that our daughters should see as much of this beautiful country as they could during the short time we had them under our roof. And I don’t think they minded at all. In fact even now when we ask, they start packing.”
That day we became owners in Bluegreen Vacations, which now has roughly 60 resorts in the U.S., Aruba and also the Bahamas (I’m told the Bahama resort is not up to snuff with the rest). Most are very nice and some are top notch. We like Bluegreen because it offers a variety of ways to find the perfect vacation by offering condos instead of hotels, for a more relaxed, home-like feel. Most have full kitchens with serving ware and pots and pans, blenders and wine openers. With an actual living room and separate bedrooms, someone can stay up late or get up early and not disturb sleeping beauty in the other room. Some have decks or patios, a great place to share a beverage with friends or family and most have pools and activities for children and adults. Whether it’s smores at Boyne Mountain, the singing cowboy at Christmas Mountain or a dive-in movie or a fishing trip with Grandpa at Big Cedar, most resorts offer something to do. Whether you chose to partake is totally up to you.
With our ownership comes a membership in RCI, which is kind of like a clearing house for resorts all over the world. If we go to a location that doesn’t have a Bluegreen resort, we check out what RCI has to offer in the area and can usually find accommodations that are pretty nice. I try to stick with the Gold Crown resorts because I’m a little more picky that way. There is quite an array of quality when you’re dealing with nearly 4,500 affiliated resorts in more than 100 countries, so do your homework when planning. Read reviews on RCI.com and also Trip Advisor and any other kind of review system that you are currently using. While most of the resorts are passable and still better than staying in a hotel, many may not be upscale or modern, so depending on your requirements for a fun vacation, do your research! Booking through RCI requires use of points plus an exchange fee which varies with the length of stay. The exchange fee is hefty (close to $200 for the week) but the points are usually less than Bluegreen’s resort, so it somewhat evens out.
Also available if you are a member of Traveler’s Plus is a benefit called Direct Exchange. Several other timeshare resorts have set up an exchange of inventory with Bluegreen offering more options for stays in different areas of the country. Inventory is sometimes limited, but particularly if you are wanting to travel during the off-season, chances are pretty good that you’ll get in.
Both RCI and Bluegreen offer last minute deals, which either don’t use any points or uses a very small amount and can really save money if you have room to wiggle in your travels. We aren’t to that point yet, so I plan in advance – way in advance if we want to go to one of the more popular resorts. We are hoping in the near future to be able to be more spontaneous and take advantage of the great deals out there using rooms that will just sit empty if they don’t off them at low prices.
It takes a while to understand how to get the most from your points. Years of experience (and an obsession with travel) have helped me solve almost all roadblocks that come along. I also belong to a support group for owners who LOVE their Bluegreen. We wanted to become part of a network of friends who give and/or ask for advice when navigating the ins and outs of Bluegreen timeshare ownership. We love it and it comes in very handy if you are stuck and can’t figure out a solution to a certain issue. Plus we’ve met some good friends along the way.
Check out the posts that will follow. I hope to get more pictures of the resorts in the near future, so check back often.
Cibola Vista Resort & Spa