THIRDHOME member, Larry Grossman, heads down to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for a luxury stay at Hacienda del Mar.

Cabo San Lucas in February. What’s not to like?  Warm weather, breaching whales, beautiful beaches and all the guacamole a gringo can eat. My friends and I had a week through THIRDHOME in a large three-bedroom condo at Hacienda del Mar, located in between Cabo San Lucas and San José Del Cabo.  If you like traditional Mexican architecture (and I do), you’ll love this place.  Fountains everywhere, red tile roofs, soft arches, and grand exteriors blended with old-style swimming pools winding across the property. 

But the highlight of the resort is the wide and beautiful beach facing the Sea of Cortez.  Our first morning at the resort, we carried our coffee to the beach and watched a crazy-beautiful sunrise followed by several whale sightings from the shore.  Wow!  Pretty great start to the week!  Each day that followed, more of the same. Coffee, sunrise, whales and Mexican style eggs in a seaside restaurant.  And the afternoon featured not UNO, but DOS happy hours every day, whether sitting poolside or on the beach.

Of course, food and drinks always figure prominently into the travel satisfaction index with my crew and the Cabo corridor is a foodie’s dream location.


  1. The most original taco I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating served right on premises: a combo pulpo (octopus) and pork taco with fresh pico and hot sauce.
  2. Dinner at Flora Farms with farm-to-table veggies, fresh Chilean bass, brick oven pizza and one-of-a-kind drinks.
  3. Street food with tacos al pastor and churros that make your mouth water.
  4. Fresh margaritas prepared by Paco at the Cuban cigar lounge located in central San José del Cabo.
  5. 12 flavors of gelato including “Moose Tracks” to choose from in the Fresco La Comer supermarket.  (Who knew they had moose in Mexico?)

This was the sort of vacation in which daily outings and big-time adventures took a back seat to long walks on the beach, lounging at the pool, reading a book and simply enjoying the resort.  You want yoga, you got it every morning!  Cooking class, bring on the quesadillas!  Movies on the beach, “Grease” rocks!  After 3 months of U.S. winter, hanging out in this beautifully landscaped slice of paradise fit the moment perfectly.  The operative words were “decompress” and “unwind” and so it went.  Thanks Hacienda, for providing the perfect location for recharging and preparing to survive the last gasp of winter upon our return up north. 

My Great, Big, Fat Peruvian Adventure.

I met Marco 2 years before in Iquitos, Peru on the magnificent Zafiro boat while on a THIRDHOME 6-day adventure touring the Amazon.  He was the medical guru on the boat and his English was like my Spanish:  just good enough to communicate, while completely butchering every noun-verb combination in existence.  We talked non-stop during our excursions and at the end of the trip he gave me two pieces of advice:

  1. Come back to Iquitos to spend time with him and his family and really understand what the Amazon means to Peruvians.
  2. Go into the Peruvian Andes and explore Macchu Pichu, Cusco and Lake Titicaca (yes, it’s a real place, birthplace of the Incas).

All that sounded good, but the missing ingredient was finding travel companions willing to do an extended Peruvian boondoggle deep into the Andes.  I’m not a “big tour guy” and I really like to travel at my own pace meeting locals, taking photos and drinking beer at dives in small towns.  My U.S. friends were useless and gave me the following excuses: too many days, too far, altitude sickness, “you know they kidnap Gringos in South America”, and finally my friend Ronnie’s “who wants to spend all that money to look at a bunch of old rocks”. 

So I put my Machu Picchu dream on hold for 2 years until, while hanging out with my friends Paul and Ronnie in Mexico City, I met my Chilean-Peruvian-Japanese and future friend and muse, Ozaki (her last name) while eating tacos and listening to Mariachis (see my Mexico City Blog).  “Don’t be cowards” she advised us, “come to Peru and see the most beautiful country in South America with the best food, nicest people and, of course, Machu Picchu”.  Maybe it was the “tequila factor”, but by the end of the night I knew I found my guide and exploring Peru would be a future adventure. 

Six months later I embarked on my meticulously planned 18-day Peruvian adventure beginning and ending in Lima.   My wonderful new Peruvian friends: Ozaki, Marco, Carlos, Rosita, Santos, Pili and Daniela knew routes, restaurants and don’t miss places.  I traveled by plane, moto taxi, car, train and boat across Peru with just the right balance of crazy, hectic sightseeing and mellow times in local cafes, bars and plazas.  On day 4 I realized I would need a vacation after this vacation just to sort out the experiences, but by then the old adage “go big or go home” won the day. 

Hundreds of photos and thousands of miles traversed later I’ve concluded that Peru is in the running for coolest country for any Gringo to visit.  So many stories and highlights but here are my Top Seven experiences I want to share in no particular order:

  1. Partaking in the Peruvian/Chilean beverage, the Pisco Sour (both countries claim to produce the best version of this grape-based liquor).   It is a delicious, refreshing cocktail loaded with fresh lime juice and topped with a frothy egg white (it’s practically a national pastime here).  For four Peruvian soles (about $1 U.S.) I had the treat of a going behind the bar for a tutoring session from an experienced bartender on how to make the perfect Pisco Sour at the Museo de Pisco restaurant in Arequipa. 
  2. Driving through the Andes to the Colca Canyon region in southern Peru with lush green valleys, terraced agricultural terrain and the world’s second deepest canyon (twice as deep as the U.S. Grand Canyon).  I had the opportunity to soak in natural hot springs, visit several traditional small towns along the way and watch giant Andean condors from a mountaintop fly through the Canyon.  These birds are majestic with a wingspan of up to 10 feet, making them the largest flying bird on the planet.  It is simply breathtaking to see these birds flying above. 
  3. Hanging out in the Cusco Historic Center at night.  Cusco is the former capital of the Inca empire and a Unesco World Heritage Site.  At night the plaza and surrounding streets comes alive with restaurants, bars, music and stores catering to locals and tourists alike.  I listened to local melodies in a tiny bar while enjoying my favorite Peruvian specialty: “aji de gallina” (Peruvian chicken stew).  To make my Cusco stay even more memorable, our Marriott hotel was a restored convent from the 16th century with multiple lounge areas, and an enormous central courtyard that I took advantage of during my limited down time.  
  4. A visit to Maido Restaurant in Lima.  Maido is ranked the No. 1 restaurant in all of Latin America for the past three years and features Peruvian-Japanese cuisine and is not to be missed.  Reservations are required and difficult to get.   It was a novel experience to have the waiter cook shrimp at the table with a mini “blowtorch”.   Quite simply, my meal was the most scrumptious eating experience of my life.  Long live Peruvian fusion!
  5. The entire Machu Picchu experience was everything I could have hoped for.  It began with a two-hour train ride on a Vistadome train to Aguas Calientes at the base of Machu Picchu.  The train ride itself features some of the best scenery on the planet and whets the appetite for the rest of the adventure.  Looking down at Machu Picchu from above was a humbling experience that literally took my breath away.  For one thing, I kept asking myself “how in the world did the Incas pull off building an entire city on the side of an Andes mountain?”  The pictures I have looked at for the past 45 years simply do not do it justice.  As one of the new “Wonders of the World” it is a very busy attraction so when you visit, get there early.
  6. The “Alpaca factor”.  Several options exist regarding how best to enjoy this domesticated Peruvian cousin to the camel.  Alpacas and llamas seem to everywhere in the Andes and it is not unusual to see them blocking your path on the road and roaming free in the mountains.  They are really beautiful animals and I chose to purchase a colorful alpaca blanket that is extremely soft to the touch.  In Peru they serve a dual purpose as alpaca steak is listed on most menus and is renowned to be an excellent lean protein source.  Me, I’m sticking with my blanket.
  7. Visiting and staying on Julio’s floating island of Uros in Lake Titicaca was undoubtedly a trip highlight.  The tiny island is one of 42 artificial floating reed islands inhabited by 1200 descendants of the Peruvian Incas.  Julio, who had an infectious laugh, clearly loved his island life.  Each day he toured us around several colorful islands, each with its own yellow “tortura reed boat” and unique character.  His family  prepared scrumptious meals during our stay and entertained us with fabulous stories describing the history of this area of the world and the work it takes to keep these traditions going. 

Much of the joy of traveling throughout Peru was the incredible kindness and hospitality of the Peruvian people starting with my new travel mates.  During my short stay in Peru I gained a Goddaughter, made 10 new friends I plan to stay in touch with, and I’m already planning a return visit.   Upon reflecting on my adventure I’ve come to the following conclusions: First, small group travel is priceless and I found it to be far more fun than sitting on a tour bus with 50 or 60  fellow travelers.  Second, when traveling in a foreign country with friends who speak the language and are familiar with the terrain you are privy to many experiences you otherwise might have missed.   My formula was simple: They led.  I followed.   And as a result, I ended up with probably the best vacation of my life. 

Park City, it’s not just for winter anymore!

I scored a gold medal by bringing my friends to Utah.

Larry Utah

I ran into my friend Brian at a party a few months ago.  “Where are you going next?” he asked, knowing that travel is my favorite pastime. When I told him I was going to Park City, Utah, he immediately informed me that Park City is one of his favorite destinations. After all, it’s the location of the largest ski resort in the country with huge snowfall and acres and acres of powder, moguls and all levels of runs.  When he heard I was going in August he looked at me like I had lost my mind and questioned why anyone would visit this former Winter Olympic venue when there was no snow on the ground. I proceeded to explain that nothing good could come of Larry hurtling down a mountain with skis attached to his feet. The only question would be what part of my anatomy would be broken when I reached the bottom of the mountain. I told him I was a warm-weather kind of guy and there was plenty to do in Utah during the summer months.  

As it turned out, I was right! Last week 7 friends and I headed to the Chateau Residences in Park City through THIRDHOME to spend a week exploring Utah. This was our 2ndAnnual Birthday Bash as 3 of us have birthdays within the same week. None of us had ever set foot in Utah, but getting out of hot and muggy Virginia and visiting the Rockies in August seemed like an admirable plan. We had a memorable vacation experience and easily could have spent an additional week or 2 exploring Utah.

Here are my top 10 reasons to plan a summer trip to visit Park City:

  1. Within a four-hour drive from Park City are several really cool National Parks to explore including Zion, Bryce Canyon and Arches.   
  2. The weather in summer is perfect to hike, dine outside and bike around town. Sunny and 80 degrees during the day and 55 degrees at night with no humidity, no bugs and no icy roads. 
  3. Live music everywhere! The music scene has something for everyone.  Free concerts, big-name bands and outstanding outdoor venues where you can bring a blanket and cooler and pass the evening away. 
  4. The Olympic Village is hopping in the summer.  Ski jumpers practice their jumps into a huge swimming pool, zip lines are operating and you can even take a bobsled ride on wheels going up to 70 mph (way too fast for my liking).
  5. Outdoor dining on Main Street. Rooftop decks and funky restaurants and bars are plentiful downtown. Everything from buffalo burgers to Tex Mex and even a Whiskey distillery are available to tourists and locals to sample. Our favorite was The No Name Bar with great drinks and food! The eclectic décor was fun as was the wait staff.
  6. Go to the top of a mountain on a chair lift or gondola. All summer, chair lifts are available to get visitors up high.  You can even hike down from the top if you want to get outstanding views of the valleys.
  7. Flowers are everywhere. Colorful wildflowers on the mountainside and stunning displays of flowers in the hotels and on Main Street downtown.  
  8. Biking is a huge summer pastime in Park City.  The adventurous ride mountain bikes down the side of the mountain and the serious bikers ride up and down the mountain roads. They even have electric bikes for old guys like me.
  9. The Egyptian Theater on Main Street features movies, plays and concerts all year long including flicks from the Sundance Film Festival. This historic 1926 venue is a don’t miss site.  
  10. If you end up needing medical care due to an unplanned event (like a twisted knee on a hiking trail you never should have been on for instance), Park City InstaCare’s physicians and staff are friendly and professional.

Now a word about our lodging.  At this point, many of my friends are spoiled due to my THIRDHOME membership. The Chateau Deer Valley Residence Club did not disappoint! Our residence was roomy with 4 ensuite bedrooms, a comfy living room with a fireplace and a fully equipped kitchen. The property amenities were nothing short of spectacular featuring a daily bountiful breakfast buffet, fire pits, spa facilities, transportation across the Deer Park area and outstanding concierge assistance. The staff were helpful in all our planning and even provided a cake and balloons for birthday girl Fiesta’s 50-year celebration.  

And so to my skiing friends who forget that the Rocky Mountains exist during the summer months, I say you are missing some prime vacation opportunities to experience what I consider to be the most breathtaking region of the United States. THIRDHOME offers several options in Colorado and Utah, and I know for certain I’m coming back next year.  I plan to be a returning gold medalist!  

Guest blogger Larry Grossman shares his Galapagos voyage experience aboard The M/V Evolution.

The Evolution Yacht in the Galapagos

Be inspired by this extraordinary journey in the Galapagos by THIRDHOME Adventures & Custom Travel.

Penguins and sea lions and whales, oh my! Clearly, we weren’t in Oz, but had instead landed off the coast of Ecuador in The Galapagos Islands aboard the International Expedition’s M/V Evolution. For seven days, twenty Americans, two Canadians and three Peruvians shared an incredible journey in the world made famous by Charles Darwin in the 1800’s. Today, The Galapagos Islands are operated as a national park by Ecuador with over 225,000 visitors a year. If you love animals, both on land and under the sea, this is the voyage for you.

Larry Grossman and giant turtle Adult sea lion and baby sea lion

Larry Grossman and wife in a kayak


No swimming pools, no bingo and not even a beach chair anywhere. If you’re looking for bars, nightlife and live music go to Cancún and skip this place. We hiked, we snorkeled, kayaked and then hiked again, this time over a field of black lava.  Picture a Discovery Channel documentary, narrated by Richard Attenborough, populated with doe-eyed animals, closer in resemblance to Disney characters than wild animals.  On our journey we encountered Sammy the lovable sea lion, Alfie the grumpy albatross, Toni the temperamental tortoise and Ichabod the evil iguana who spits salt water when you get too close.

Local Ecuadorian family Iguana on grass

Baby sea lion on a rock  The evolution interior common area

After 7 days, 452 nautical miles and 20 panga (zodiac boat) rides we were worn out and giddy from all we had experienced.  We visited at close range with giant tortoises, sea turtles, reef sharks, penguins, sea lions, birds of all kinds from the blue-footed boobies (a real species) to flamingos, and quite possibly the ugliest animal on the planet: the black and grey marine iguana.  As if that wasn’t enough, we closed out the voyage with a salute from 5 orca whales, one of whom came within 5 feet of our panga.  Clearly, these protected Galapagos animal residents had no fear of we visiting humans.  It was their world and they knew that despite our abundance of cameras and binoculars pointed at them we were no threat.  In fact, the sea lions seemed to take great pleasure swimming circles around the round humans stuffed in wetsuits wearing the funny glasses.

Travelers taking photos of sea lions Larry Grossman and Ecuador locals

Sea lion lying on a lounge chair   Sea turtle under water

Kudos to our guides Christina and Boli (named after Simón Bolívar of course) and all the staff on the M/V Evolution for great customer service and great food.  The M/V Evolution was a cozy place to hang out and get to know our fellow boat mates while learning important information about the volcanic Galapagos terrain and the indigenous animals (according to Christina, Sesame Street’s Big Bird is an albatross).  We even got treated to an evening of Ecuadorian music and dancing with complementary shots of Caña Manabito, a local spirit.

Galapagos voyage guides on lava Indigenous galapagos bird

Traditional Ecuadorian dancing

This was my second International Expedition arranged through THIRDHOME and it won’t be my last (read more about Larry’s experience aboard the Peruvian Amazon Voyage).  My suggestion to fellow club members is get to know Liz Bates, travel agent extraordinaire, and let her make your travel life easier.  I’m old enough to remember a time before Expedia and Travelocity when travel agents ruled the travel world.  There’s something very reassuring knowing it’s still possible to engage a real, live, breathing human being who can help plan and navigate a big trip from beginning to end.  With Liz’s help I can keep whittling down my personal travel bucket list that is loosely based on the National Geographic Traveler Magazine’s “50 Places of a Lifetime”.  27 down so far!

Larry Grossman in front of coastline

Larry Grossman is a longtime THIRDHOME member and blogger with a home in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico.

Contact to start planning your voyage! 

Larry recently visited Puerto Vallarta, Mexico with THIRDHOME! His THIRDHOME membership allows him to trade time at his second home to visit destinations all around the world, such as his favorite city, Puerto Vallarta. Members of The Club, like Larry, book trips every day for a fraction of the price by using their THIRDHOME membership. Read more to learn about Larry’s luxury travel experience in Puerto Vallarta.

Ah, Puerto Vallarta, my favorite city on this Earth!

Puerto Vallarta Larry Grossman

And I’m not alone. Puerto Vallarta was among Conde Nast Traveler 2017 Reader’s Choice Award picks for one of the “Best Cities in the World” as well as one of the “Top Small Cities Outside the U.S.”.

Puerto Vallarta Mexico Larry Grossman

After all, how can a city that boasts being the film location of Schwarzenegger’s “Predator” as well as legendary Director John Huston’s “Night of the Iguana” not be a really special place?

Larry Grossman Puerto Vallarta Mexico

So, after years of begging my two birthday compadres, Tina and Fiesta, to move our annual celebration (our birthdays are August 14th, 15th and 16th) out of the U.S. to Mexico, I finally won out and we planned a week long birthday celebration and reunion.

Larry grossman Puerto Vallarta

Ten long-time friends hopped on planes in Florida, Virginia, Colorado and Arizona and headed down to Puerto Vallarta for a birthday party for the ages. My final argument to the group was compelling and three-fold:

Casa en las nubes THIRDHOME Puerto Vallarta Larry Grossman

Reason #1: I had scored a beautiful 11,000 square-foot penthouse through THIRDHOME for our birthday week located in the hills above the “Romantic Zone” of Puerto Vallarta.

Casa en las nubes THIRDHOME Puerto Vallarta Larry Grossman

Reason #2: Casa En Las Nubes (House in the Clouds) features a panoramic view of the City and Banderas Bay as well as a view of the Sierra Madre Mountains and, dare I mention, a private Chef named Santos and an exquisite bartender named Maurecio.

Casa en las nubes THIRDHOME Puerto Vallarta Larry Grossman

Reason #3: If your parents were savvy enough to name you “Fiesta” shouldn’t you, and your husband, spend important moments south of the border?

Larry Grossman Puerto Vallarta Mexico

Now, there are many who believe that the only time to travel to Mexico is the winter season when snow, ice and freezing rain are the norm in much of the United States. I, however, have learned over the years that summer in Vallarta is a fantastic time to visit for the following reasons:

Puerto Vallarta Mexico Larry Grossman

Larry Grossman Puerto Vallarta Mexico

Larry Grossman Puerto Vallarta Mexico

So how do 10 old friends suddenly reunited in the same house for a week spend their waking vacation hours?

Larry Grossman Puerto Vallarta Mexico

For starters, you reminisce, relax and rejuvenate. Our best moments were sitting together talking for hours in one of the home’s huge outside living areas looking down into the city as the sun sets and the Puerto Vallarta landscape moved from daytime to dazzling nighttime scenery.

Larry Grossman Puerto Vallarta Mexico

Casa En Las Nubes was ideally situated for our nightly bonding. I have visited nearly every nook of Puerto Vallarta and nothing compares to the views we enjoyed each day. Throw in the amazing food and beverages and we really had no need to venture out, but venture out we did.

Larry Grossman Puerto Vallarta Mexico

So many highlights over the 7 days but here are my personal favorites:

Larry Grossman Puerto Vallarta Mexico

Highlight #1: Our water taxi and snorkeling ride to the Yelapa fishing village. Yelapa is a small Mexican town lost in time. On the towns website they brag: “A palapa in Yelapa is better than a condo in Redondo”. We sampled the world’s best Michelada (beer, clamato, shrimp, jicama, peanuts and more), we hiked to, and swam below the Yelapa waterfall, we sampled raicilla, a locally produced fermented mash (moonshine) and we took pictures with the biggest iguana I’ve ever seen.

Larry Grossman Puerto Vallarta Mexico

Highlight #2: We spent a day roaming Puerto Vallarta’s Malecon (downtown boardwalk) admiring the numerous one-of-a-kind statues and sculptures while talking to locals, sampling tequila and indulging in local seafood. The huge local Mercado (market) met all our souvenir and shopping needs for the week.

Puerto Vallarta Larry Grossman

Highlight #3: We ubered into the jungle to visit El Eden an eco-tourism natural park, site of the Predator movie set. Although we were all too chicken (or old) to participate, we watched the zipliners careen past us while we enjoyed a seafood lunch, listened to mariachi music and swam in the swimming hole beneath the Eden waterfall.

Casa en las nubes THIRDHOME Puerto Vallarta Larry Grossman

Highlight #4: The surprise afternoon visit of the mariachi band to our condo to usher in our birthday celebration. Thank you Dale and Art!

Larry Grossman Puerto Vallarta Mexico

“Priceless” is the only word that describes a week like the one we just enjoyed. I’ve found the real joy of THIRDHOME membership to be the opportunity to travel in a first-class manner to outstanding places while enjoying the company of my closest family members and friends. Gotta go, time to plan my next escapade.

Casa en las Nubes can be found on THIRDHOME Exchange and THIRDHOME Rentals.

Click here to see available Exchange properties in Puerto Vallarta!

See more of Larry’s photos from Puerto Vallarta below:





When I moved toward retirement my friend Paul offered me the following advice:

Larry Grossman in Cabo San Lucas THIRDHOME


“There are 3 Stages in Retirement:
1. Go-Go.
2. Slow-Go. and
3. No-Go.
You better enjoy Stage 1 as long as you can because you never know when 2 and 3 are going to hit.”


Since Paul is about the smartest guy I know, I decided to follow his advice and over the past 3 years I’ve taken almost 40 trips as a member of THIRDHOME across the US, Europe, South America and Mexico.


In fact, since last November, I’ve trekked across Mexico and Guatemala, from Cozumel in the East, to Zihuatenejo in the West, and south to Guatemala, staying in seven THIRDHOME residences.

thirdhomoe mexico larry grossman guest blog

During my somewhat manic and adrenaline-filled adventure I visited 18 different cities and towns while meeting countless locals, taking hundreds of photos in numerous colorful markets and sampling many versions of guacamole and sipping tequila (one of life’s great combinations).

tequila tasting Mexico larry grossman thirdhome

As an added bonus I had 27 friends share my south of the border adventures across all venues.

thirdhome larry grossman friends

Now I admit to being a bit of a travel junkie and nothing excites me more than opening my latest edition of National Geographic Traveler or perusing the THIRDHOME website to see what just became available.

Lake atitlan thirdhome larry grossman

To me, maximizing my travel opportunities provided by THIRDHOME is simply a “no-brainer” and having the ability to invite friends and family on these trips has become a staple of my journeys.

mexico thirdhome beach larry grossman

I’ve become a pretty popular guy and if everyone is using me for my travel “hookup” so be it, because I’m having a ball. We are all seeing the world in a first-class manner that a few years ago, prior to joining THIRDHOME, I couldn’t have imagined.

thirdhome larry grossman on beach

There were so many highlights on my recent South of the Border expedition that it is hard to isolate the best moments, but here are a few of my favorites:

thirdhome property mexico

1. Sampling a seafood stew served in a molcajete (volcanic rock bowl) at a beachfront restaurant in Bucerias, Mexico, while listening to an 8-piece mariachi band playing Mexican classics.

molcajete thirdhome larry grossman

thirdhome mariachi

2. Spending a sunny February afternoon sitting on our deck in the awesome Novaispania THIRDHOME property in Cabo San Lucas and watching dozens of whales breach and perform their unique acrobatics.

Novaispania thirdhome cabo

Novaispania thirdhome cabo

Novaispania thirdhome cabo

thirdhome cabo novaispania

3. Kayaking in Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, surrounded by volcanoes, and watching local fishermen catch their dinner.

lake atitlan thirdhome larry grossman

4. Observing while women in San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala, demonstrated a process called “backstrap weaving” to make the most colorful fabrics on earth, all dyed with plants, bark, vegetables, insects and fruits.

thirdhome markets of guatemala

BAckstrap weaving in guatemala larry grossman thirdhome guest blog

5. Taking a morning swim in the crystal clear Sea of Cortez in Ixtapa, Mexico, followed by a Mexican breakfast of fresh fruit and chilaquiles to begin the day.

Sea of Cortez thirdhome

thirdhome chef

thirdhome fruit

6. Diving into cool water underneath a waterfall in the “lost in time” Mexican fishing village of Yelapa, Mexico.

thirdhome hidden lake larry grossman


In my “Retired Guy” travels I’ve found that my THIRDHOME membership is an unmatchable tool to get me to some of the best places on earth. My plan is to savor this opportunity for first-class travel by continuing to deposit weeks into The Club and continue to take advantage of Keyless travel opportunities.

Viva Mexico street art thirdhome larry grossman

Back-to-back trips are a great treat for those members, who, like me, have a “nomadic” spirit. So little time and so many places to see. Adios Amigos until my next report!


Read more about Larry’s travels here.


Click here to view all available Exchange Properties in Mexico!

“I’ll tell you where I’d go. Zihuatanejo.  It’s in Mexico.  A little place on the Pacific Ocean…..It’s where I want to live the rest of my life.”  So said Tim Robbins’ character “Alex” to Morgan Freeman’s “Ellis Boyd” in the 1994 screen classic, The Shawshank Redemption.

SPOILER ALERT: Eventually, Alex and Ellis are reunited in Mexico following a lengthy incarceration (watch the movie for more detail) and the fishing village is as beautiful as described by Alex.


After spending a week in Zihuatanejo and sister city Ixtapa I believe Alex was on to something. I could spend the rest of my life in this town and be a happily retired guy.


Present day Zihuatanejo (referred to as “Zihua” by locals) is no longer a “sleepy” fishing village but is, in fact, the 3rd leading tourist destination in Mexico behind Cancun and Puerto Vallarta.


Although cruise ships now dock here on a regular basis, Zihua retains a high level of Mexico charm with cultural attractions and several drop-dead gorgeous beaches.


There is a daily thriving market, enough seafood restaurants to last a lifetime and a  “Malecon” with strolling mariachis at night.


Mornings are particularly memorable in El Centro as the fishing boats return early in the morning loaded with the fresh catch of the day which ranges from tuna to red snapper to clams and oysters.


Get there early (before 8 am) for the best selection of fresh fish.


Whereas, Zihuatanejo is old Mexico charming and a delightful place to walk around and spend the day, Ixtapa, 20 minutes down the road, has a “luxury resort” relaxing feel.


Our THIRDHOME for the week was Casa Cuatro located in Punta Ixtapa, a gated community that we never wanted to leave.


The home, as I’ve come to expect from staying in THIRDHOME properties, was spacious, beautifully decorated, and had a terrace you could hang out in all day and night.


The Punta Ixtapa community features 6 stunning private beaches, 3 beach clubhouses with restaurants, several pools that stayed empty during most of our stay, a fitness center and tennis courts.  Since Casa Cuatro was located right on Don Rodrigo Beach shoes were an optional accessory much of the week.


There were many highlights of our week in Paraiso (Spanish for Paradise) but here are my personal favorites:


Martina, our cocinera (chef), preparing authentic Mexican breakfast specialties and great seafood dinners each evening.


The “Pelican and Sunrise” movie we got to watch every morning as literally hundreds of pelicans danced and dove for breakfast in the ocean directly in front of us while the sun rose over the mountains.


Hanging out at the Don Rodrigo Club restaurant drinking margaritas while watching the NFL playoffs and explaining American football to David and Jose, our waiters.


Watching the 4 Mexican Pole Flyers (Voldadores) climb and descend from a 100-foot pole upside down hanging from ropes while the 5th “Flyer plays Mayan tunes with a flute standing at the top of the pole. Wow!!!


Renting a bicycle and pedaling the Ixtapa Cicloplista, 7.5 miles of bike path winding through Ixtapa’s lush forest. Somewhat hilly but a beautiful ride.


Experiencing releasing baby sea turtles to the ocean at sunset from the beach in Zihuatanejo.


Despite the tremendous experiences I have when traveling around this beautiful country I read the travel advisories and I know there is trepidation about visiting any number of places in Mexico at this time. According to a recent survey conducted by the Mexican Tourism Board, 94% of visitors indicated that their vacation “exceeded their expectations” and 86% said they plan on returning in the following 6 months. I am happy to report that this THIRDHOME trip exceeded my expectations and I look forward to returning to Mexico.

Click here to see where Larry stayed, Casa Cuatro. Or, view homes located in Ixtapa or Zihuatanejo


More photos from Larry’s trip:








San Francisco

Guest blogger and THIRDHOME member Lawrence Grossman shares his must-do activities in San Francisco. He just came back from a trip to San Francisco in which he stayed at a Ritz-Carlton Destination Club residence through his THIRDHOME membership.

They had me at the 24-hour-a-day cookie box!  Located in the lobby of the Ritz Carlton Destination Club in San Francisco was a wooden box filled with 5 kinds of fresh baked cookies. Our friendly concierge Mark gave us our welcome cookie and explained that humidors were not just for cigars anymore, but were the perfect holding tank for cookies. He then sent us up to the swanky 12th floor guest lounge for a complimentary California wine tasting. Following our tasting, we entered our 2-bedroom residence and found a bottle of sparkling wine to assist us in celebrating my friend’s birthday. In 45 years of vacationing I can’t remember a better opening hour. It was shaping up to be a really good week in San Francisco.

This was my second stay at a Ritz-Carlton Destination Club residence through THIRDHOME and like my stay in St. Thomas, the customer service was unmatched. Our residence had everything necessary to really relax and be comfortable after a day of sightseeing. The location in downtown San Francisco was perfect: It was an easy walk to numerous restaurants and 3 blocks from Trader Joes allowing us to stock up on food and adult beverages. They even had a state of the art exercise facility to work off some of the Ghirardelli chocolate calories we packed on all week. Additionally, the staff were extremely helpful in sharing dining and transportation options.

This Ritz-Carlton Destination Club residence was the perfect base for exploring all that San Francisco has to offer. In a 1999 Special Edition, National Geographic Traveler named “50 Places of A Lifetime” to visit and explore. Included were 10 cities, only 2 of which are located in the US: New York and San Francisco. There’s a good reason San Francisco made the list and we were determined to fully understand and appreciate this choice before our week ended. Of course we “cable carred” on the Powell-Hyde Line, we “Fisherman Wharfed” at Pier 39 and we “Anchor Steam Beered” at the Anchor Brewery, all of which were iconic picture-perfect experiences. We biked through Golden Gate Park, toured the Castro district and experienced Haight Ashbury during the 50th anniversary of the “Summer of Love”. We biked to a San Francisco Giants baseball game and took our picture in front of the Willie Mays statue.


But our Top 3 San Francisco activities were our self-guided bicycle tour over the Golden Gate Bridge, our magical walk through Muir Woods and our ferry ride and tour of Alcatraz Island.




Golden Gate Bridge

Cycling through the Presidio, over the Golden Gate Bridge and coasting downhill to the town of Sausalito was an absolutely exhilarating experience. The views from the top of the bridge of San Francisco were sensational on an unusually clear day for the Bay area. Dozens of people were out enjoying the day walking and biking across the 8,891-foot span of the bridge and most of us stopped at the highest point to take out our cameras and record the experience. After a curvy and scenic downhill ride we ended up in downtown Sausalito, a historic waterfront community with loads of cool shops and waterfront watering holes. The marina featured several houseboats and legend has it that Otis Redding wrote his famous “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” while living on one of these boats. An unexpected treat suggested by locals was ice cream at Lappert’s ice cream shop featuring giant scoops of Kona Coffee and Kaui Pie in a waffle cone. It was well worth the ride.




Our second “don’t leave San Francisco without experiencing it” adventure took place 30 minutes north of the city in Muir Woods National Monument. Everyone should experience the mystical nature of hiking underneath a canopy of coastal redwood trees. It is hard to believe this beautiful park is so close and accessible to a major city. The sheer majesty of these giant trees makes one talk in hushed tones and use an indoor voice. We entered the park with our map, water and camera and 3 hours later exited feeling humbled, tired and awed by this magnificent place. The only disappointing thing for me personally was when my friends informed me that Caesar and his ape friends and family from the movie “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” didn’t really live there as portrayed in the movie. They politely suggested I stop calling out Caesar’s name as we strolled through the park. I was gratified to read later that park officials attributed a recent increase in attendance at the park to the movie’s release so I clearly was not alone in my hope to run into the apes.




Our third great San Francisco adventure was the ferry ride to and the tour of Alcatraz Island. I’m old enough to have seen Clint Eastwood’s “Escape from Alcatraz” and Charlton Heston’s “The Birdman of Alcatraz”, which both spark curiosity to visit the island and walk the grounds. The exceptional self-guided tour of the prison included headphones and narration from former prisoners and guards complete with sound effects and compelling storylines related to prison riots and escape attempts. As the ferry left the dock to return to San Francisco I could picture the 3 escapees entering the Bay on their improvised raft to try to get to the mainland. To this day the fate of these men is unknown adding to the intrigue of Alcatraz.


San Francisco

To summarize the week, National Geographic Traveler had it right, San Francisco is one of the great cities of the world and any traveler who has the opportunity should pay it a visit. Just don’t forget a good pair of walking shoes!

Members, click here to view all THIRDHOME properties in San Francisco.

If you only visit the coast of the Carolinas during the summer, you are missing out! Avoid the crowds enjoy the ample amount of the off-season activities you can do. Guest blogger and THIRDHOME member Larry Grossman highlights his trip to Bald Head Island, shares his photos of the area and provides activity guides for nearby coastal towns in this post.

Coast of the Carolinas

Bald Head Island, North Carolina

Larry Grossman says about his THIRDHOME trip: 

       No cars – no problem.  No bugs – I’ll take it.  No crowds – I love it!  It’s March on Bald Head Island and the living is easy.  The coast of the Carolinas are immensely popular during the summer months, but largely deserted from October through May leaving secluded beaches, an abundance of tee times and great dining options open to us lucky visitors who have learned to take advantage of the off-season amenities.  A week of touring the most northern of the lovely subtropical Carolina islands by golf cart and bicycle (no cars are allowed on the island) can relax even the most stressed out soul.  We left our bathing suits and shorts at home and replaced them with jeans and sweatshirts while we traversed every island road, detouring constantly to explore a new beach, wildlife area, or unique shop by the marina.

The evenings were laid back as our crew relaxed at our THIRDHOME haven, Port Off Call by catching up on missed movies and playing board games provided by the owners at their beautiful 5-bedroom home.  While our ocean vantage point was spectacular from our upstairs deck, at sunset we wandered down the hill to walk the beach and we were never disappointed. There are miles of beaches to walk, and we encountered far more birds than people. As the sun was setting and we passed our few fellow beach walkers, we smiled and did “the nod”, nonverbally saying “we’re lucky to have this gorgeous place to ourselves.”

The variety of activities available on the island year-round include tennis, golf, croquet, kayaking, climbing to the top of the iconic Old Baldy Lighthouse for a spectacular view of the island, hiking on one of the numerous nature trails or taking the Bald Head Historic Tour.

Historic Island factoids:

  1. Bald Head Island first appeared on maps in the 1500s.
  2. Bald Head was the home of a British fort and a hospital during the Revolutionary War.
  3. In the early 1900s, visitors came to the island to hunt wild pigs.

While the wild pigs have disappeared in the face of development, the dining options are abundant.  My personal favorite restaurant was “Mojo’s on the Harbor” featuring the best grouper sandwich and key lime pie north of the Florida Keys.  Mojo’s owner collects decorated dollar bills from diners that are then stapled to the bar and eventually donated to the Duke University Cancer Research Center.  Several dining options are open year-round on Bald Head from pizza at the casual Pelicatessen to a 4-course dinner at The Grille Terrace located at the Bald Head Island Club.  As a THIRDHOME guest, we received passes to the Bald Head Island Club allowing us to enjoy all the dining and recreational amenities during the week.  Who knew croquet could be this challenging?

The locals made us aware that off-season included a number of special events including the annual “Badwater Cape Fear Ultra Marathon”, the fall “Roast and Toast on the Coast” celebration featuring live music, craft beer and an abundance of southern food and the “Bluefish Bonanza” fishing tournament.  I know summer at Bald Head is probably a blast, but I guarantee an “off-season” vacation week will result in visitors returning home renewed and rejuvenated.   Visit the official Bald Head Island website at to help with vacation planning.

Coast of the Carolinas


What other areas does Larry suggest? Read below for destination and activity ideas. Start planning your trip to the coast of the Carolinas!


Coast of the Carolinas

North Carolina’s Outer Banks

Of all off-season destinations available on the coast of the Carolinas, none offers more diverse options than the “shoulder seasons” (any month except June, July and August) on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.   This is the ideal time to visit the 130-mile narrow stretch of barrier islands without the traffic, the heat and the lines. Listed below are can’t miss activity opportunities that are available year-round:

  1. Safari cruiser off-road adventures take you to the northern point of the Outer Banks to see the wild Spanish Mustang horses of Corolla.
  2. Climb Jockey’s Ridge sand dune, the tallest sand dune on the East Coast, for a great view of the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Albemarle Sound to the west.
  3. The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills is the site of the first successful airplane flight in 1903. Learn their story and why they chose this site.
  4. Visit the village of Manteo, NC to explore the Elizabeth II replica ship and the beautiful Elizabethan Gardens.
  5. Take the ferry from Hatteras to Ocracoke Island and explore the Ocracoke Lighthouse and some of the Outer Banks best beaches.
  6. Dine in one of the many locally owned seafood restaurants featuring local fish dishes. My favorite is the Cayman Conch Fritters dish at Tortugas Lie Restaurant which is located at milepost 11.

Music lovers will enjoy a wide variety of genres and festivals in the off season from the Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival to the Duck Jazz Festival and the annual Shallowbag Bay Shag Beach Music Festival.  For the more athletic visitors, off-season features the Ocracoke 5k/10k/1 Mile Family Run in April, The Outer Banks Triathlon in September and The Outer Banks Southern Fried Half Marathon in November.  Finally, beer and wine connoisseurs can participate in their favorite leisure pastime with the Duck & Wine Festival in April, the Outer Banks Brewtag in October or a visit to the Outer Banks Brewing Station for a wide variety of craft beers and a party on DJ Ninja 90’s Night. Go to to plan your off-season getaway.

Want to view THIRDHOME properties in the Outer Banks? Some of the towns to search for include: Corolla, Waves, Rodanthe, and Duck.


Hilton Head, South Carolina

Everyone knows Hilton Head is a golfing and tennis playing mecca with fabulous beaches, but there is much more to do and experience in the “Low Country” during the off season.  For the active traveler, there are over 60 miles of bicycle paths winding around the island resulting in Hilton Head being rated a Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community by the American League of Bicyclists.  Kayakers and hikers can enjoy Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge with 14 miles of trails to walk, bike or kayak. Nature lovers have an abundance of options from bird watching at the Audubon-Newhall Preserve to offshore Bottlenose Dolphin tours available through the Coastal Discovery Museum.

For those looking to relax and renew, Hilton Head features an abundance of day spas and wellness related destinations.  Hot stone massages, body wraps, facials, and medical spa services are all available to those seeking to be pampered and soothed. Le Spa of Sea Pines features Spring Time specials including “Girls Night Out” events for a special escape. After a day of exercise or being spoiled in the spa, over 250 restaurants await visitors to feast on a sumptuous Lowcountry dinner.  Gumbo, peel and eat shrimp, and shrimp and grits await lucky diners who take advantage of no lines at the most popular Hilton Head restaurants like the Crazy Crab located at the Harbor Town Marina.

Finally, the off-season months provide the perfect time to visit nearby Savannah, Georgia to take a walking tour of the historic downtown section or attend the fabulous Savannah Music Festival in the spring. Visit and to plan a truly memorable off-season trip.

Click here to view THIRDHOME properties in Hilton Head, South Carolina.


Coast of the Carolinas

Isle of Palms, South Carolina 

For travelers looking for a blend of off season beachy relaxation with proximity to night life and historic sites, Isle of Palms may be the answer to your quest.  Located only 20 minutes from the bustle of downtown Charleston, Isle of Palms is a world apart with 7 miles of pristine beaches and two world-class golf courses. A relaxing week at Isle of Palms could consist of beachcombing, golf, sport fishing and an eco tour of the salt marshes and islands provided by Barrier Island Eco Tours.  The Eco Tour in spring, fall and winter travels up the Intracoastal waterway to Capers Island Preserve for a bonfire and oyster bake and an opportunity to see a variety of wildlife including bald eagles and bottlenose dolphins.

Of course, being so close to Charleston it’s difficult to imagine spending an entire week in the area without taking in the historic, architectural and cultural sites of Charleston.  A bonus of any Charleston excursion is the true southern hospitality visitors enjoy, especially when things slow down in the off season.  Charleston received recognition from both Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler as “America’s Most Friendly City” (2011, 2013 and 2014) and in 2016 was voted “World’s Best City” by Travel + Leisure.  It is the oldest city in South Carolina, and for newcomers, the Historic Walking Tour or the Old South Carriage Historic Tour is a must to appreciate the role the City played in the history of America from the Revolutionary War to the present.

Finally, Charleston features a unique variety of great restaurants, music and cultural festivals and events throughout the year that can make any vacation memorable. Check out the Palmetto Brewery Loading Dock Music Series, The Low Country Blues Happy Hour with Shrimp City Slim, the Jazz Thursdays with Gino Castillo, The Hat Ladies Annual Easter Promenade, the weekly Shaggin’ on the Cooper and The Annual Chef’s Potluck.  Probably the most unique event is the annual Rundead 5K Run and Fall Festival, a “zombie race course” (don’t forget your camera for this one). Plan ahead and visit for a listing of upcoming events.

Click here to THIRDHOME properties in Isle of Palms, South Carolina.


Coast of the Carolinas


THIRDHOME member, Larry G., recently visited Cabo San Lucas. Mexico is one of his favorite destinations to visit using his THIRDHOME membership. Like all members of The Club, Larry is able to book luxury trips all over the world simply by trading in unused time at his second home.

Cabo San Lucas Casa Sandcastle

Larry’s trip to Cabo San Lucas: 

“Escaping grey, cold and dreary coastal Virginia for a trip to Cabo San Lucas in January was just what the doctor ordered.  The vacation really started on the airplane where it was apparent that all of us leaving the United States were in a pretty festive mood as we got closer and closer to Mexico. Even navigating the long, zig-zagging customs line everyone was in a good spirits because as we exited the plane, we had all seen the bright sunny weather and the beautiful Sierra de la Laguna mountains on the horizon.

Cabo San Lucas Casa Sandcastle

As this was my 25th trip with THIRDHOME, I knew from previous experience that the website photos never do justice to the beauty and style of each residence.  That was certainly the case with Casa Sandcastle, which is as unique and artfully decorated as any THIRDHOME I’d previously visited.  It was outfitted with dozens of “why would you leave me?” features.  If the infinity pool, hot tub, huge outside decks and game room weren’t enough, the movie room with the enormous screen and a hundred movies would clinch it.  To further entice us into never leaving, the house concierge Angelica had prepared margaritas, guacamole and chicken burritos with arguably the best homemade salsa in the country.

Cabo San Lucas Casa Sandcastle

Sea of Cortez Sunset

One of the truly unique features of the Casa Sandcastle was the ability to watch both the sunrise over the Sea of Cortez in the morning and the sunset over the mountains in the evening from the wraparound upstairs terrace.   An added bonus we discovered the first afternoon was the frequent site of whales spouting, swimming and playing as we watched from the house.  Our entire week the Humpback whales put on a show in front of the house at all hours of the day, leading us to schedule a boat ride to see them close up.  We weren’t disappointed as our captain steered us in close proximity to 6 whales during our 2 ½ hour boat ride.  The highlight was when two humpbacks swam right in front of the boat and dove in unison with their huge tails disappearing at the same moment.

Cabo San Lucas Whale Watching

Cabo San Lucas Boat Tour

Extremely helpful to our group was the advice and assistance given to us by Angelica.  She arranged a private chef for dinner and guided us to excellent restaurants and stores within a short drive of the house.  Upon our request to get deeper into the Baja, she accompanied us to the small town of Miraflores, located 45 miles north of San Jose.  It was in Miraflores that we were treated to the one and only (according to our waiter) “tuna colada”.  In this case tuna was not a fish, but the red cactus fruit referred to as “prickly pear”.   The colada was pink, rich and absolutely delicious.  The perfect complement to the machaca (Mexican shredded beef) burritos that the town is known for.

San Jose del Cabo

Mexico Wall mural

Sandcastle is located just outside San Jose del Cabo, the Baja city referred to as the “little brother” or “charming sister” to Cabo San Lucas.   Over the course of the week we spent time in the more rowdy Cabo San Lucas but preferred the serenity and mellow vibe of San Jose del Cabo.  It was less touristy and featured art galleries, live music every night and a vibrant plaza that was perfect for people watching.  Mariachi musicians were always available for hire at a moment’s notice in the local restaurants.

Cabo San Lucas Mariachi

I’ve found the beauty of traveling in Mexico is more than the beaches, great weather and wonderful food.  It is also the lovely interactions with the Mexican locals and the Cabo cities did not disappoint.  At every turn our Mexican hosts were friendly, helpful, and proud of their city and its attractions.  For all of us Cabo is a “return to” destination, especially when coupled with an outstanding THIRDHOME residence.”

Cabo San Lucas Casa Sandcastle

Larry Grossman shares his experience staying at Casa Carino in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico


Casa Carino San Miguel

“I have traveled across Mexico for 4 decades now and I don’t believe there is a more beautiful city in the country than San Miguel de Allende located in the state of Guanajuato.   In 2013 Conde Nast Traveler named San Miguel the “Readers Choice Award World’s Best City” and I have to concur. My friends and I just completed a week in a glorious THIRDHOME, Casa Carino, located about a 10-minute walk from the downtown plaza. The residence itself is part castle, part mansion, and part museum with unique Mexican art and artifacts scattered throughout the home.   The master suite was large, cozy, and difficult to leave in the morning. There were numerous sitting areas throughout the house with fireplaces and comfortable places to read talk or play games and we took advantage of all the spots in the course of our week. The outdoor terraces at all levels of the house gave us an outstanding view of the city and the downtown churches.

We were told that the home is often the site of weddings and other special events with the pool being covered and turned into a dance floor. The Casa Carino staff were friendly, professional and full of knowledge of what to do in town, and they did everything possible to make our stay perfect. Our Cocinera (chef), Alicia, prepared meals to rival the best restaurants downtown. Pepe and Abraham ensured we were well versed in all that San Miguel had to offer and even provided transportation to selected events.San Miguel Market

Each day we ventured out to explore a different part of the city and the surrounding area. The weekly Tuesday market at the top of the hill was crowded and bustling with fresh produce, bargain clothes, electronics, Mexican candies, live music, as well as chickens, rabbits, and roosters for sale.   The smell of fresh tacos, grilled chicken, carnitas and tamales was everywhere and whole families took advantage of the market to shop, eat and spend time together. It is a photographer’s dream as the market is so colorful and full of energy and people enjoying themselves.

Gil GutierrezOne of the highlights of the trip was an outing to a ranch outside of town named Zandunga that featured a concert with Mexican guitarist Gil Gutierrez and an awesome band playing latin jazz. Gil was an 18 year-old street musician who was “discovered” by Doc Severinson from the Tonight Show. Together, they toured around the world as part of the San Miguel Quintet. The 3-hour concert was fabulous and we all had a chance to talk with Gil and his wife about life in San Miguel. Another day trip into the countryside took us to the restaurant/hotel Nirvana (also a THIRDHOME property) where we took advantage of the spa and a large thermal hot springs fed swimming pool. Following a most relaxing day of great food massages and outstanding service we “melted” into our cab and returned to Casa Carino.

San Miguel DowntownFinally, we always returned to the bustling El Centro (dow ntown) to visit the many shops, art galleries and restaurants that are the heart of San Miguel. Saturday night in particular is a “can’t miss” stop at El Jardin (the downtown plaza). Mariachi bands play at all corners of the downtown and the night we were there three wedding parties celebrated with friends and family a
t Parroquia de San Miguel, the 17th century iconic church in the middle of town. It is “people watching” at its best and great fun to feel like a part of Mexican culture.



This was not my first trip to San Miguel, but it was an exceptional experience, in large part due to the once in a lifetime opportunity to reside at the lovely Casa Carino home.”



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