Experience Slow Travel with RCI Vacations

posted in: Asia, Beaches, Heritage, India, Nature, Stays, Tips | 29

My recent adventure with the nature trails of Wayanad left me quite refreshed and invigorated. It wasn’t just about spending the therapeutic time with nature. It was also, because I took it slow. There is no doubt that slow travel is really satisfying. There is a lot more you get out of a place than what you would if you were just rushing around. Nature and Wildlife especially, need that kind of pace for you need to really have that time and patience to spot the beauties. To make things even more relaxing, I had a great place to stay and all my activities well planned and sorted out for me. This I believe, is the RCI way of travel.

Sterling Holidays Wayanad - an RCI Affiliated Resort
Sterling Holidays Wayanad – an RCI Affiliated Resort

I had first heard of RCI (Resort Condominiums International) was approached by Club Mahindra and Sterling Holidays for their membership. A timeshare for me somehow did not make sense given the kind of locations I liked visiting and thus, I never took them up. However, I am beginning to realize that this might have worked out well for the nature holidays. I had two major stays that have made me reconsider – the first at Club Mahindra Kanha and the second and the most recent at Sterling Holidays Wayanad. Let me share my thoughts with you.

Concept of Timeshare Vacations

As Jermina – my friend and a timeshare owner says ” Timeshare is booking your holidays for the next ‘x’ years at the present day rate”.  It allows you a week-long vacation per year at any of the resorts they own. Most of these properties are quite expensive if you were to book them off a website. A timeshare makes it affordable as you would prepaid for your booking a few years earlier.

Joy of staying Luxury Holiday Homes, in this case, Sterling Holidays through Timeshare

If I were to simplify how the entire concept works, it would be as below –

  • You purchase a timeshare with any of the known resort chains.
  • There are several types of membership that you can avail of. These depend on your choice of room and season.
  • Once you are a member, you can use your designated week at any of the resorts during the year.
  • You can upgrade to a higher room or visit during an offpeak period as well. This will change the number of days or points that you have on a pro-rata basis. For example, if your membership allows you to visit during the peak season and you choose to go in the offpeak, some of your timeshare points are converted and added back to your membership, allowing you a few extra days or an upgrade to your room type.
  • While at the resort, there are quite a few member privileges that you can enjoy. For example – As shared by me, in my earlier post on an Experiential holiday concept by Sterling Holidays, as a member of Sterling holidays, you get to enjoy their experiential packages as a part of the stay.

This is pretty much how most timeshares operate as a concept. The difference between the brands lie in what they have to offer as the membership fees and privileges.

Nature Trails by Sterling Wayanad as a part of their experiential holiday program
Nature Trails by Sterling Wayanad as a part of their experiential holiday program

The one hurdle that a lot of travelers think of and not opt for a timeshare is that you need to pay a large amount of money upfront to book your holidays. Sure there are loans to deal with it but you are in essence blocking that money. This is where you start wondering if it all worthwhile? What if you want to avail of destinations not offered by the chain? Assuming that being the case, it means shelling out additional money for that holiday. It that all worth it?

This is where you need to check if your timeshare company is a member of RCI resorts chain. That can solve your problem. How? For that, you got to read on.

Concept of Vacation Exchange

This issue of getting limited with your timeshare is quite timeless. In 1970s, a couple – Jon and Christel DeHaan discovered that it is possible to tackle this issue if you could exchange your timeshare with another who had a different timeshare. This allowed one to experience a different destination – one that was not offered by your invested chain of resorts. The concept took off and thus, was born RCI .

Holiday Homes at Sterling Holidays - An Affiliate of RCI
Holiday Homes at Sterling Holidays – An Affiliate of RCI

The company has been operating across the globe and has over 4000 resorts and holiday homes as a part of its network. In India, among the popular names – Sterling holidays and Club Mahindra are the popular timeshare companies that are a part of the RCI network. The company has been around for a while and in fact, is celebrating its 25th year in India now. Not surprising, considering the number of happy travelers who have holidayed with them, not just within India but also, abroad.

How does RCI Work?

RCI is like an additional membership that you need to sign up for.You get this free of cost for the first two years when you sign up with Club Mahindra and Sterling Holidays. After two years, you can renew it for as low as INR 20000 for the next five years. Adding on RCI opens up a whole new network of destinations across 6 different continents for you.

Fun for kids at RCI affliated properties
Fun for kids at RCI affiliated properties

Think of RCI as a library of vacations. The way it works is as below –

  • You deposit your one week of vacation in the library (RCI).
  • You will be assigned trading points on the same based on the destination you are giving up and the original timeshare membership value you have
  • These trading points can be exchanged for another vacation at any of the RCI affiliated resorts across the world.
  • Your trading points are valued as per your membership type with RCI. The different types of memberships are again, based on your duration and room type that you opt for.
  • Your exchange is with another member exchange. For example, you have a week in Goa that you have deposited. It goes into the RCI account. Let’s say you want a week in Phuket. If there is a corresponding RCI exchange already in the RCI account, you get it immediately. Alternately, RCI searches for the best option and gets back to you.

There are several other mechanics to this vacation exchange program and these are well explained on the on the RCI website. In essence, with this add-on membership, you have opened up a lot of places for yourself.

Benefits of a slow travel – the RCI way

I mentioned right in the beginning that my RCI holiday was a nice slow holiday. I did 3 nature trails over 2 days but not once, did I feel stressed or pressed for time. It was satisfying to take those long walks and wait in the bushes to capture the beautiful birds. I really wanted to see the Malabar Hornbill and the first day turned out to be quite disappointing as it did not appear anywhere. However, my nature guide was confident that we would catch it the next day. And we did.

Malabar Hornbill, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary
Malabar Hornbill, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary

This is where I got thinking along these lines about slow, immersive travel and nature holidays.

  • Places like wildlife reserves are so unpredictable for travelers. You need to be able to stay in a place and keep patience to spot the moving animals. What is more is that everytime you repeat those trails, you see something different. You get enough time to interact with locals and understand the place fully.
  • This is true for even those beach holidays where you want to just lounge around one beach and not do much. Or for a person like me, attempt repeated dives to see the beautiful underwater world.
  • These multiple visits are the most convenient when you have a resort set at a destination for that uninterrupted access. If everything is taken care of by the resort for you, then you just have to step up and have fun. This automatically makes it a slow travel
  • All of us need one such slow immersive holiday a year – no matter what you do.

If the above being the case, then investing into a timeshare with an RCI benefit, is possibly a good travel choice. Maybe, we neeed to think of it as an investment in a beautiful holiday home – with all your needs taken care of. And to give you a glimpse of that kind of a home, here is my own experience with an RCI resort.

My experience with an RCI Resort

My room at Sterling Holidays Wayanad - a RCI property

My room at Sterling Holidays Wayanad – a RCI property

A one BHK is what I stayed in with a small foyer, a sit out and a luxurious bedroom. Add to that a relaxing swimming pool in its premises along with a Spa. It really felt good to get your muscles relaxed with that Swedish Body massage after 3 nature trails. 😉

Spa Time during my stay at RCI affiliated Sterling Holidays Wayanad
Spa Time during my stay at RCI affiliated Sterling Holidays Wayanad

Every holiday needs some binge eating and most of these resorts including the one I stayed in has an elaborate meal laid out for you. It is always a leisurely meal for you would actually feel guilty if you did not sample it all.

Part of the Lunch Spread at Sterling Holidays Wayanad
Part of the Lunch Spread at Sterling Holidays Wayanad

The Sterling Holidays Wayanad, had a games room along with activities planned every day for the guests. A cooking demonstration, a pottery session, bonfire at night etc – that involve all the members and break the ice between them so that they can have fun.

Evenings set for a bonfire at the Sterling Holidays Wayanad
Evenings set for a bonfire at the Sterling Holidays Wayanad

Most of the resorts affliated to RCI have, regular day-outings that are either arranged on demand or are a part of the stay itinerary. In my case, the tribal village experience was a part of the Sterling Holidays Experiential program and any guest staying there can join in. The Kuruva Island nature trail was arranged by the RCI team to give me a flavor of how it felt if it was all pre-arranged. Trust me, nothing like letting someone else take care of those details, while all you do is go and enjoy the experience.

Discovering local tribes as a part of the experience offered by Sterling Holidays Wayanad
Discovering local tribes as a part of the experience offered by Sterling Holidays Wayanad

In the end, this holiday home had me completely charmed and relaxed. It did make me wish for an RCI membership that would have made 3 – 4 more days here more affordable and pleasurable. I guess that is the benefit of a vacation exchange program with RCI –  A nice, slow immersive travel – Don’t you?

P.S: I was invited to experience this Sterling Holiday Home by RCI. However, this has no bearings on my opinions and understanding as shared in this post. My views are completely and honestly my own.

 

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29 Responses

  1. Danijela WorldGlimpses

    Never thought of timeshare to tell you the truth, but it does sound interesting to be able to pre-book a week at a resort. RCI seems interesting accordingly. Would have to pay a bit more attention to the concept, thanks.
    Your stay at the Sterling Holidays Wayanad certainly looks interesting, great accommodation, few nature tracks and taking it slow. Sign me up for a week or two, please! 😀

    • Ami

      I am waiting to sigh up for a week myself. After this stay, beginning to think a nice week per year of slow holiday is not a bad deal, specially if the resort is like this. Thanks for stopping by, Danijela

  2. Leah

    I own a timeshare and have been a member of RCI. I never used either. I still own that timeshare, and after 15 years of trying to get rid of it, it has become an albatross around my neck. I actually bought it for the trading power through RCI. It just wasn’t a good decision for me, but I know many people who take advantage and love traveling this way.

    • Ami

      Sigh. I would still give it a shot. Maybe this time it would work for you. Thanks Leah for stopping by

  3. Fiona Maclean

    I think if you like knowing what you are going back to, it’s a great concept. If you prefer exploring, regardless of the fact you can trade your week – it’s trading for the same thing. RCI looks very good though – high quality and worth considering

    • Ami

      Once a year, I think I would want that simple straightforward and slow holiday. Maybe then, this is so worth it. 🙂

  4. Medha Verma

    To be honest, I’ve never really researched much or tried to get into timeshare, I didn’t think it was a concept that would’ve suited my kind of travel but after your reading your post, my interest has definitely been sparked and I think I might want to read up a little about it. Your stay at Wayanad seems quite cool actually, and I like the idea of slow travel (sometimes), to cover these nature trails, planned for you by the RCI team, does sound like it’s less stressful when someone’s taking care of the details for you.

    • Ami

      I too, felt the same way till recently with my wildlife and nature holidays. I think the time and relaxation is something I need at least once a year. I suppose that is when I felt differently.

  5. Meg Jerrard

    I love that RCI focus on slow travel as their philosophy – I’ve done many crazy whirlwind trips in the past where I make every attempt to cram as much as possible in, but I’ve started to really appreciate slow travel these dyas, and it usually makes for a much more memorable and immersive experience. The idea of timeshare is great, and my husband’s family had one in Florida when he was growing up – they’re some of his most cherished memories to this day from his timeshare holidays. He loved that they had one destination they went to every year, as “their spot”, but I love the idea that they’re now incorporating timeshare exchanges for those who want the best of both worlds – the timeshare cost and experience but with the ability to experience a new destination. I’ll check more into the RCI network 🙂

    • Ami

      Thanks Meg. I am beginning to see the benefits myself and the idea of “our spot” does seem to be a good one. I definitely want such memories with my family. I guess this is more step closer to buying this.

  6. Rhonda Albom

    Slow travel is a great way to go. I have done my share of rushing around to see every attraction that I can in a limited amount of time. It’s not a holiday and it’s not relaxing. I also find that I don’t get a feel for the location when I rush. I become a tourist as opposed to a traveller. I think combining slow travel in a time share exchange is a good way to get a quality holiday at different locations year after year.

  7. Hannah

    My Mom had an RCI property for years – being able to pick and choose which property you book and all the deals you get seems like a really good idea. And you are right, it slows you down. As you say, it gives you the time you need to be patient and truly relax – and to see that wildlife that you want to, even if it takes a couple of walks!

    • Ami

      Good to know that she is taking the RCI advantage. It definitely does wonders when you take it easy, at least one travel a year
      Thanks Hannah for stopping by

  8. Ryan Biddulph

    Hi Ami,

    Slow travel is the only way to travel for me; I travel no other way. 1-2 to 6 months or more in 1 spot. Leisurely deal. Chill deal. Relaxed deal. Slow and easy. Chilling in New Zealand now for 3 months; inspired spot to do it slowly.

    Ryan

    • Ami

      True, it is far more fulfilling. However, not can manage such a long stretch of time. I know I used to struggle a lot during my corporate days and given that, it definitely makes sense to try out a vacation a year to detox. RCI seems perfect for that.

  9. Indrani

    I am a big fan of slow travel but not yet sold out on time share concept. Your break up and explanation seems good, but for families who travel during vacations find it difficult to get their choice rooms during peak seasons. Lot of advance planning works out though.

  10. Claire

    I do love slow travel, you’re right, you can experience so much more when you’re not rushing around! I’ve never considered a time share, I didn’t’ like the thought of going back to the same place every year, but I love how this one allows you go to different resorts, so at least you get the variety!

    • Ami

      Same here, it took me sometime to realize that timeshare might just be a good deal. Thanks for stopping by Claire.

  11. Sandy N Vyjay

    Slow travel is what we all need . Time share is a very innovative concept and has been a big hit overseas. RCI of course is the pioneer in this concept. I guess though the concept has been in India for some time, it is now that people are realizing its value. Timeshare is a means to ensure that the family has at least one vacation in a year.

    • Ami

      One nice and slow vacation as a family does do you wonders in terms of bonding and detox. You are right that you need one every year. I am beginning to realize it myself.

  12. priyaflorence

    Have been a member of Club Mahindra and RCI for the last 10 years and they made holidays so much more affordable for me. Thanks to RCI, we even managed to stay for a week in an over-water villa in the Maldives. That would have been unaffordable had I booked through any other website. I have recently joined another exchange called DAE to which I can transfer my unused Club Mahindra points and booked a holiday to Dubai through them (you can transfer to RCI too). As a single mom travelling with a small child, timeshares were the safest option for us to have a nice vacation. They are also very child-friendly and have a lot of entertainment options for families with small kids. I find them invaluable to get to stay in luxury resorts at much cheaper rates that I would have to pay otherwise.

    • Ami

      Glad to note that Priya. You confirm what I have been thinking. Thanks for stopping by

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