A reader submitted a trave review for the Gold Coast Railroad Museum, located at 12450 S.W. 152nd Street in Miami, Florida. You can find more information on this South Florida attraction and visit the museum website by clicking HERE
. "I recently visited the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in Miami and had a very pleasant surprise. Among their many historic trains and engines is the Presidential Railcar Ferdinand Magellan. This is a really amazing piece of history which has been recently restored with grant money. This was the famous train Truman and President Roosevelt used in World War Two. I am a real history buff and found this display amazing. The museum had other very interesting displays as well including one on World War two blimps. I highly recommend this museum for all ages. I saw a school group at the museum the day I visited and I am glad of that because this is something all school children need to see!"
Editors note: Sheraton Vistana Resort is located at 8800 Vistana Centre Drive in Orlando, Florida. This timeshare resort is part of the Starwood Vacation Ownership system. This property was the first timeshare resort developed in Orlando, and every section has recently been completely refurbished.
We are a family of six, with children ranging from 3 to 16. This was our very first stay in a timeshare resort, and it was a fantastic way to vacation! In the past, we've always stayed at hotels and just placed the older kids in the adjacent room- but this was a much better way to visit Orlando! The two bedroom villa was huge and the kitchen was a great money saver for us since we could cook some meals instead of eating at restaurants. I can't remember the last time we all sat at the same table for a meal before this trip.
The resort grounds were beautiful. There are pools everywhere! One of the pools was being worked on, but there were many others. The resort is huge and at least a hundred acres, but we could walk from pool to pool without any real trouble. We actually spent two days at the resort just relaxing by the pools. They were all heated, and while it was cold in the morning and evening- during the middle of the day it was very comfortable! We are from Mass, so the idea of sitting by a pool in January is just amazing. We also did plenty of activities right at the resort. There is a restaurant there, but it was just average. With so many restaurants in the area, it was easy to find just about anything you could want. We also went to the Arabian Nights Dinner Show and it was expensive but a good time. The older kids wanted either Pirates or Medieval Times, but I vetoed them as I thought those might scare the little one.
We did the Disney parks and also Universal Studios. The resort is just a few minutes from the Disney arch, and maybe a ten minute drive to Universal. The younger kids preferred Disney of course. The older kids loved Universal. My two oldest rode the Hulk roller coaster over and over again!
I just want to thank Vacation-Times for the rental. We spent less than we would have on two hotel rooms, and had a much better experience in the villa. I'll be calling for our next vacation!
Parc Soleil by Hilton Grand Vacations Club
11272 Desforges Avenue
We stayed at this resort on a timeshare tour. We stayed in a one bedroom villa and it was lovely. The unit was clean, well-decorated and had a private lanai where you could sit and watch the theme park fireworks each night. We are a family of five so all three kids slept on the pull out sofa. The room was big though, so there was plenty of room. The kitchen is better than what I have at home! It was fully equipped with everything you could think of. We ate most of our meals in the room, so saved a ton of money that we normally would have spent on restaurants. There is a Super Wal-Mart just down the road, so it was easy to shop for everything we needed. We also picked up some pool toys for the kids- and even some souvenirs there (the Disney stuff there was much cheaper than the theme parks!).
The timeshare sales pitch was very slick and they definitely want to pressure you to buy on the spot! This was the only thing I did not like about the whole trip. They really tried to force us to make an impulse buy, which I just don't do, especially not to the tune of thousands of dollars! They refuse to allow you to think it over, all the deals they offer are now or never. When I came home I found out why because a quick google search showed us resales that were much cheaper. I couldn't find financing for resales though, so we still haven't decided whether or not to buy. The timeshare tour was unpleasant, but everything else was absolutely perfect!
(Editor's note: Perennial Vacation Club at Daytona is located at 2525 S Atlantic Avenue, Daytona Beach Shores, Florida. The Perennial Vacation Club system is a non deed timeshare program, where members do not own a particular resort but rather have access to a particular unit size at any Perennial affiliate.)
Just spent a few days in a one bedroom villa at this resort, which is located at 2525 South Atlantic Avenue in Daytona Beach Shores. The villa was very large for a one bedroom, and all the furniture and decor appeared to be in great condition. The kitchen was fully equipped, and there were all tile floors which made sweeping up the beach sand very easy. This is a very small resort with a reasonably sized pool and direct access to a quiet stretch of beach. The property is not far from the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse, and is just a few miles from the Ocean Center and the Shoppes at the Ocean Walk, so it is convenient to all the local attractions. I was also very impressed with the staff. If you enjoy a small private resort, this facility would be perfect for your family!
(Editors Note: Mystic Dunes Resort and Golf Club was formerly known as the Palms Country Club and Resort and is located at 7900 Palms Parkway in Kissimmee, Florida)
We purchased a three bedroom lock-out by resale – obviously the ONLY way to go! We paid just over $1,000 (other owners here told us they paid more than $25,000 for the same thing!). I've seen negative reviews before, as well as positive (it seems like people either love it here or hate it) so I did not know what to really expect. We had an early flight, but went to the resort anyway to see if we could at least drop off our luggage. We arrived around 1 pm and were told that we could check in immediately. I was asked to wait a few minutes until someone could take us to our room.
The villa was huge! The girl who took us to our room tried to get us to agree to a timeshare presentation, likely to try and sell us a points upgrade. We told her that we bought resale, and she politely gave us her phone number and then left us alone.
Did I already tell you the unit was HUGE! Everything was clean and in great shape. The kitchen was great with everything we needed to cook meals. The microwave was a little small, but not a big deal. The washer and dryer worked great. There was also a huge jacuzzi tub in the master bath which was fantastic. We has a screen balcony which was great. I've seen reviews complaining about noise from other units, but there was no noise or problems with any noise at any time. There were people all around us, so I don't know if that is a problem with other buildings or just a case of people who like to complain. When I asked the front desk, the guy there said that he thought many of the online reviews were actually fake and that companies often posted bad reviews about their competition. He said these same companies would then call you to try and sell you reputation management, where they would then go in and delete the nasty stuff. Not sure if it is true, but it would not suprise me.
We used the swimming pool at building 31. It was not crowded and was very clean. There never seemed to be many towels though. Not sure why unless people came down and took them in the mornings. We brought our bath towels from the room, and just did laundry when needed.
We ate at the clubhouse several times and found it good. My husband played a round of golf and said the course was good. Not great, but good! He also played golf at Orange County National and at the MetroWest Golf Course. He said both were a little better than Mystic Dunes, but not by much.
Because Mystic Dunes is so close to Disney, the resort was very busy. There were many families there and the kids were able to play with others at the pool and playground quite a bit when we weren't at the theme parks. I don't know if there were any activities or child care. I didn't see it advertised and didn't ask.
We went to Disney twice. Spent a day at the Magic Kingdom and then the next day at Epcot. The kids liked Magic Kingdom better, but also had a good time at Epcot trying all the different food and riding the few rides there. My husband drank too much, but we still had a great time. (I think he was trying to drink a beer in each country- never a good idea.). We also went to Universal Studios which was the best day we had at a theme park. The boys are into Harry Potter and that world was just amazing. Had to stand in line for almost two hours to get on the Harry Potter ride, but even just walking though that world was really neat. All the other rides at Universal were reasonable wait times. We really have a great time there and I think the rides are much better than Disney! We at dinner at Bubba Gumps in the CityWalk complex and the food was delicious. Fattening but really good. Kids didn't really understand about Forest Gump, but it was fun for my husband and I.
I have to say that I believe this timeshare will be a great purchase for us! This was the best vacation I can remember. We probably did way too much and spent far too much money on our trip, but it was our first vacation in years and we wanted the kids to really have a great time. I would rate this resort with five stars!
(Editors Note: Wyndham Vacation Resorts Orlando at Reunion is located within the Reunion resort community, a large multi-use development that contains residential, commercial, and recreational properties. The mailing address for the timeshare portion is located at 7593 Gathering Drive, Kissimmee, Florida- but my understanding is that the individual villas are actually spread throughout the community.)
My husband and I stayed at this property in February in a three bedroom villa. It was fantastic! The master bedroom has duel walk in closets, which is something I have never seen before in a Wyndham resort. Everything was top grade such as granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and flat screen televisions. The kitchen was nicer than what I have at home, and the beds were also very comfortable. This was probably the nicest villa we have ever enjoyed through Wyndham.
Check in is at the tall building adjacent to the golf clubhouse. This complex also has residential owners int he golf course community, so it appears that the timeshare villas are spread throughout the property. There is 24/7 shuttle service to all points on property. One thing that was strange is that you cannot pay cash for anything while you are here. Everything gets charged to your room so it is easy to overspend. You get discounts for golf, restaurants, shops, spa, etc. My husband said golf was absolutely wonderful (February golf- imagine that!). The community is about a ten to fifteen minute drive from the Disney theme parks, and maybe a little longer to Universal Studios and Sea World.
We've stayed in Orlando with Wyndham several times before, but this was the nicest ever. I think the reservation was more points than either Bonnet Creek or Star Island, but definately worth it..
(Editors Note: Disney's Villas at the Wilderness Lodge are located at 801 Timberline Drive in Lake Buena Vista, Florida)
We are Disney Vacation Club owners. We are retired and normally bring our grandkids with us on our trips. This was our second trip. Check in was very easy. Once you check in you can call housekeeping and order additional cleaning service. You already get a towel change and trash service for a weekly stay, but you can order additional additional towel changes or a full mid-week cleaning for a $65. fee.
We stayed in a two bedroom villa. The kitchen is fully equipped with everything you could ask for. We do not cook use the fridge and microwave for snacks and drinks. The rooms are a little small, but still very comfortable. There were two balconies. The beds were extremely comfortable. Many resorts have beds that are far too soft for my taste, but I really like the ones at Disney. The staff is wonderful. Disney's customer service is the best there is and the main reason we bought here.
The grounds are what you would expect from Disney. Manicured landscaping that is beautiful. Many bushes are shaped to look like Disney characters and various animals. The main lobby is breathtaking. My wife and I spent a few evenings there in the rocking chairs enjoying the fireplaces and the conversation. You can spend an entire day at the pools and walking the grounds. There are two pools. There is a small pool by the Villas and the main pool which has a water slide for the kids. The grandkids had activities every day we weren't at the theme parks.
We drove, but you can take a bus or boats to other places within the Disney resort if you don't bring your car. We like to get away for meals. Also, there is a gigantic McDonalds nearby which has a huge multi story play area for the kids. There are also many dinner theatres in Orlando. We did a Pirates one which the kids liked. Disney in Orlando is just great place to stay!
editors note: This resort is located at 5000 Avenue of the Stars in Kissimmee, Florida. As a personal note I have stayed at this resort a few times and the 3br villas are a lockout type floorplan, which is fairly common to timeshares. The third bedroom is actually a completely separate studio villa with a mini kitchen, full bathroom, and pull out sofa. It is connected to the main villa by a private entrance. My teenage daughter and her friends LOVE this set up. However, I personally have never slept on the pull out so cannot speak for the comfort level.
It turns out this place doesn't even have 3br villas at all. My mother booked the getaway and didn't look closely at the confirmation, but why would she need to inspect page 3 to see for sure if there is a BED in the 3rd BEDROOM? We called I.I. and explained that we had 6 people on this weeklong stay and paid for and expected 3 BEDS to sleep on. Not a pull-out couch for a week
We booked a getaway with Interval International and everything seemed great until we checked into our 3br unit at Star Island Resort. There were actually only 2 bedrooms and one sitting room with a sleepsofa. I called the front desk and was told that Interval International considers that to be a legitimate 3br. "your mistake was booking through I.I." was exactly what the night auditor said to me.
Their position was that "technically" we have 3 bedrooms. They said the confirmation "explained" there was a pull-out couch and therefore we were "told" When I asked for a supervisor, he said" all getaways are final and I have Supervisory authority, you were told that there was a couch in the bedroom and technically you got what asked for." he refused to connect me to a Supervisor and stated nobody could do anything. When I asked if there was another resort nearby, he said "we're all sold out everywhere" without even a pause to check. I believe that was a direct lie.
I went to the lobby to speak with the resort manager. I stated that I.I. is committing fraud and she said that since the rooms have a door, a closet and a pull-out couch, "legally" I.I. considers it a bedroom. She then stated that if I didn't leave the lobby, she would call security and have me removed from the property because she can't "build me a building with 3 bedrooms". I asked if she could at least have a bed put in place of the pull-out couch for the week and she immediately refused. I guess Star Island and I.I. would rather deceive people and take their money, kick them off their property and force them into uncomfortable stays. It pretty much ruined my vacation and left the rest of my family feeling like we have to make due.
editors note: This resort is located at 615 North Ocean Boulevard in Pompano Beach, Florida. It has been sold as both a weeks based timeshare ownership, and as a points based product.
Stayed with my family and had a great time. Staff is incredibly friendly and helpful and the property is well maintained. We came during renovations, but it wasn't very noisy (they have a 3 floor shield between construction and rooms) and it was during off-season (2 weeks after the start of school). Water temperature was 85 degrees in mid September and the beach was almost empty. We had the run of the place. Resort has plenty of activities including wine tasting. There's a nice Polish gourmet on Atlantic avenue along with a grocery store nearby so you can stock up your kitchen with great food. Avoid the beach restaurants and go to out Highway 1 a mile away and you'll have plenty of great dining and shopping options.
We had a great time but giving 4 stars on the room (such as old TV's instead of flat screens but they were renovating so that may be done shortly).
Room Tip: If you have a small party (2 people), ask for the front buildings on the beach. They are efficiencies and not as luxurious as the main rooms, but if you love the beach then you'll be happy. The back hi-rise is great to get away from the noise of the tiki bar and has spacious rooms (2 queens in one and a king in the other) and a nice kitchen and living room.
Found a private charter captain who operates a 24-foot pontoon boat and offers scalloping expeditions in the Gulf of Mexico during the summer, as well as fishing and nature tours year round. Captain Della offers a relaxing trip down the Crystal River to the seagrass beds at the coast near the mouth of the river. You don some snorkeling gear- and voila- you can start catching scallops!The most amazing part of the trip is watching these shells swim away from you!
As you search through the seagrass, these little shellfish (they are the logo for Shell gasoline) become agitated and attempt to swim away by flapping and pumping water through valves. My daughter found this absolutely hilarious!Bay scallops are small, but extremely tasty! Within an hour we had collected a nice haul, which we cooked and ate that night. The entire trip took several hours, but was a fantastic way to spend the day! Della was fantastic!You can find information to reach Della at her Myspace page by clicking HERE. If you have never been scalloping before, there is a great free information pamphlet put out by Citrus County and the University of Florida
that can be downloaded by clicking HERE
!. Della also operates a large airboat and offers both airboat ride nature tours as well as gator hunting expeditions in season. If you really want to experience the natural beauty and excitement of
Florida, -Rich M