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Old January 2, 2007, 08:39 PM   #1
Teresa
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Resorts: Grand Seas, Americano, Tropic Sun Towers, Tropic Shores, Ocean Beach Club, Sea Gull, Ocean Landings, Maverick, Georgian
What's your experience in trading into 'slow season'?

I know it's called 'slow season' for a reason. But have you ever traveled during white/blue/green season and been pleased with your experience?

We often travel using 'Flexchange' with II but haven't taken the leap to go 'green' (low season). You know, Myrtle Beach or Ocean City, MD in January (or something similar). I'm tempted to try it - just to experience 'it'. I'm thinking I might expand my horizons a bit by going for 'the road less traveled' (or, in this case, the resort not visited during this time). I'm thinking I MIGHT like it (or maybe that's wishful thinking). After all, sometimes the reason no one goes there at certain times is because the resort is very kid-friendly and all the kids are in school (well - not us homeschoolers). So, of course, the demand is low.

I don't think it's only the officially green weeks that are 'deserted' sometimes either. We were at a small resort (10 units) in Florida a few years ago during what is red season (but not a red-hot week - that was the following week) and had been the only people there for nearly the entire week (the front desk said it was like getting the whole resort for the cost of one of the units). It was weird and 'cool' at the same time.

Let me hear how your trip into a green week went. Suggestions for doing it right also appreciated. Maybe I'll take the plunge.
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Old January 2, 2007, 09:26 PM   #2
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It depends. Sometimes it's "low season" because the kids are in school, sometimes because the weather is good in other places, and sometimes because the weather in the "slow season" resort area is terrible. In that case, all or most of the businesses might be closed, it might be too cold to swim, the ski lifts might be closed and/or the mountain too muddy for hiking/biking.

For example, May in Orlando is usually very nice weather, everything's open, and the crowds are small.
But December on the ocean in the northeast US can be cold, windy and mostly closed down.
Summer in the Caribbean is low season because it's good vacation weather in the northern US and Canada and it's hurricane season in the Caribbean. But it's a good time for SCUBA divers to vacation in the Caribbean because the water's warm.

Decide where you'd like to go and what you'd like to do there. Then investigate the weather and recreation available there during "low season".
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Old January 2, 2007, 09:51 PM   #3
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All Red.

All our timeshare exchanges have been red season, but slow time (off season) nonetheless, relatively speaking. That is to say, all our timeshare exchanges have been into Florida timeshare resorts during the non-peak red times of January & September. (We've checked in at our floating-week Orlando timeshares other times -- but that doesn't involve the exchange system.)

Before we ever got into timeshares, those off-season dates were the times we vacationed in Florida anyhow. Moving up to timeshares just put us into luxury accommodations for Motel 6 & Super 8 costs, instead of actually staying at Motel 6 & Super 8.

Lately, however, we haven't been doing so much actual timeshare exchanging as taking advantage of Last Call bargains & raiding the weeks inventory via Instant Exchange. In fact, we have 2 overlapping Orlando reservations starting later this week -- 1 Last Call + 1 Instant Exchange. Who'd a-thunk?

Our final non-timeshare Florida vacation illustrates the slowness of the slow season. It was January 2002 -- just a few months after the world changed on 9-11-2001. Airline traffic slowed way down. Tourism dropped way off. We went on PriceLine for a 1-star place around Clearwater FL, naming some ridiculous price like $21 a night (I don't think it was any less than that). After we named our own price, the computer screen cometized briefly then showed a message saying Congratulations -- Your Offer Has Been Accepted -- You Have Been Upgraded To 2 Stars. They put us up in a FairField Inn By Marriott that I think was actually closer to Pinellas Park FL than Clearwater, but never mind. When we showed up to check in, there were 9 cars in the parking lot -- & some of those might have belonged to hotel staff, I don't know. We had the place practically all to ourselves. It was semi-spooky.

One time we got a straight week-for-week exchange into HGVC Sea World, a 3BR unit that was outstanding -- swapped for our standard-grade 2BR overseas timeshare. The RCI reservations person said we could have had an HGVC 4BR unit if 1 had been available. That was September 2004 -- another non-peak season. We had a great time.

I don't know whether we'll be doing any more week-for-week timeshare exchanges. So far since we got into timeshare points, it's been more advantageous to do Instant Exchange for 9,000 points (or fewer) than to do a straight-weeks or a straight-points exchange. If we decide we're tired of those off-season reservations, though, we may have to ante up for exchanges that require a full ration of points, or go back to straight week-for-week trades. We'll see.
-- Alan Cole, McLean (Fairfax County), Virginia, USA.
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Old January 2, 2007, 10:59 PM   #4
talkamotta
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Every year I use one of my cheap timeshare weeks to trade into either Marriott Mountainside or Westgate during the first part of September or we trade into the Cliff Lodge at Snowbird during the last half of September. We live in Salt Lake so these places are less than an hour's drive. We use the Park City ones for fishing up at Strawberry; the lake has turned over and the fishing is great. Nothing beats a hard day of fishing, (Cody drives the boat and retrieves my fish, while I am the queen bee sitting with my feet propped up, the sun on my face, and a fishing pole in my hand). After fishing we will either go out for a good Mexican meal or fix dinner in the condo, then go out to the hot tub. Its a hard life. Park City cuts the trip into half and its a cheap vacation. I dont use the whole week, so my kids come up and take turns having an overnight vacation away from home. The Cliff is during Octoberfest, and of course the colors of the Cottonwood Canyons are in full bloom. September is great for hiking and mountain biking.

We love Orlando and Longboat Key the last two weeks of October. Plenty warm, only got caught in a hurricane once (Wilma-it only stopped us for one day), and the crowds are way down.
We were able to get the Royal Mayan, 2 bedroom, with an Orlando week for the second week of December. This made a great early Christmas present for one of the kids.

September and October, I think are generally slower seasons in Hawaii. But how can Hawaii have a slow time? Was able to get Fairfield Flagstaff, Labor Day week. The weekend was a little crowded but not bad at the Grand Canyon and the rest of the week there were only a few at all the other places we went to. Weather was cool, so we took a light jacket.

You have to know your area. It helps to know the activities that are happending during that time, that can make a big difference. You wont see me doing Florida or Cancun during spring break or summer. Others that are tied to a school calendar dont have the flexibility that I do. Weather is always a risk, just have a contingency plan in place.
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Old January 3, 2007, 03:55 PM   #5
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I agree with Alan, there are 2 kinds of slow seasons. Going off season to an area which is red all year (like Hawaii or SoCal in the fall) and going somewhere during their green or white seasons. Going off season red is wonderful and not to difficult to do. Going somewhere were many of the business are closed because it off season can be very disappointing.

We went Martha's Vineyard in early April and many stores which either closed or just opening. Several people said that during Feb there may be only one or two restaurants open in the whole town. Sometimes you have to go to the next town to get a meal. That is just a little too deserted for us.
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Old January 3, 2007, 04:30 PM   #6
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Weather

If your vacation activities are weather dependent, it would be a good idea to go to weather.com or other reference site. Check the average daily highs and lows for the period you're looking at. Then check the general trends for this year in that same area.

I have been looking at certain areas in AZ and TX for spring break, and I was surprised that the temps would not be nearly as balmy as I had hoped for. Based on what I saw, the outdoor pools and ocean would be nearly useless. Not exactly what I fly out of the snowdrifts to get on vacation!
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Old January 3, 2007, 07:14 PM   #7
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Depends on the area and the resort

At some resorts, there's plenty to do at any time of year. At other resorts, the entertainment and recreation opportunities are pretty limited during the slow seasons. However, those times are great for just relaxing and having a change of pace and scenery.
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Old January 4, 2007, 01:31 PM   #8
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While I don't specifically know what "green season" is, we almost exclusively travel off season, to avoid the crowds.

We're not people that care about most of the tourist attractions, so are never disappointed that some are closed. We're more interested in exploring the area and parks generally don't ever close, nor do galleries and restaurants.

We don't usually run into crowds, and we like that. At the resort, amenities aren't as busy, and we like that. There's more unit selection offseason, too.

Travel is easier. Highways aren't as crowded for non-holiday weekends and flights don't spike for no reason, either.

Try it and you might like it. Or not. But then you'll know!
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Old January 16, 2007, 11:24 PM   #9
jkweber
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Cool Coastal California in January

We just got back from two weeks in California, January 2007. One week in Dolphin's Cove, Anahaim, and one week at Carlsbad Seapoint, Carlsbad. The crowds were sparse at all the theme parks, the daytime temps. were 50-70 degrees, the resorts were empty, and we had a wonderful time. Cold at night though...froze 75% of the orange crop the last week we were there.
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Old January 16, 2007, 11:46 PM   #10
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I still don't understand the color coded weeks.
I would not want to go to the desert in the summer.. no matter how easy it is to get a trade.
We go to Park City the last week in May or first week in June... there are no crowds, some restaurants are still closed. We love it as the crowds are not there. The weather is nice. We can play in the snow at higher elevations.
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Old January 17, 2007, 06:52 AM   #11
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We love slow season! And the trades are easier. We have done Disney World in January (gorgeous weather) in a 1 bedroom Boardwalk Villa; Grand Timber lodge, Breckenridge in August(beautiful resort & great weather); San Luis Bay Inn Ca. central coast in March (rainy); Williamsburg in May(beautiful weather); Worldmark Coral Baja in October(deserted & lots of stuff closed). Our almost annual trip to Hawaii is always in October, no whales but no crowds & perfect weather. Scottsdale/Phoenix in April & May is another favorite. This year we are going to Sedona in late September. Just returned from 2 weeks in Palm Desert & Mesquite where it turned really cold but we still had a great time.

We wouldn't take a high season summer beach or "spring break" week anywhere even if they were free! Been there, done that. No fun. The grandkids have to miss some school to travel with us.
Julie (in frozen No. Cal. brrrrrr )
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Old February 1, 2007, 09:52 PM   #12
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The trick is to check the chamber of commerce or visitor site for the area you are interested in. You might find that some big festival or show is in the area that would make the trip well worthwhile. Or if the area normally has a lot of shopping in addition to the red season draw then green season may have bargains galore (ski areas in late may). I try to use my unit for Hilton Head in the off season for recreational shopping. If I'm lucky its warm out and maybe the resort has a heated pool.
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Old February 2, 2007, 06:13 AM   #13
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I do this often for Europe. Early November and late March usually have weather that is okay, the air tickets are reasonable for building up ff miles, and you don't have to fight the crowds. One does have to check to see if tourist sites are open. Many that close seasonally reopen on March 1. Low season on air tickets runs to late March. An exception, of course, is if we are going to a beach location in Europe.

I learned my lesson on doing this for the Caribbean some years ago. I traded in for September, the height of hurricane season, and ended up spending one of my nights riding out the edge of a hurricane in a hurricane shelter. Two days were also impacted by the hurricane. It was just lucky that the hurricane didn't make a direct hit or the whole week would have been shot from the damage. September in the Caribbean is low season for a reason.
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Old February 2, 2007, 08:16 AM   #14
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The first couple of weeks of December are often the lowest of the low.

We traded into Hilton Head the first week of December and had perfect weather - 70's and sunny the entire week. But that's unreliable.

There are also reliably warm-weather destinations for this period, right before Xmas, a better idea if you're locking in an exchange before you have a weather report.

Early June in Italian Alps is low season, and we had a great exchange there.

May for many other European destinations is pretty low, and usually a great time to travel there too. They used to have really cheap airfares extending into this period, but are harder to find now.

We own at a Myrtle Beach resort which gives us almost-free bonus time there Nov-March, if we want to take advantage of it. So we've been there during all the off-season months, in all kinds of weather. January can be warm or freezing, clear or stormy. Sometimes for me, it's enough to watch the ocean for a spell, even if I'm sitting indoors behind the sliding glass doors. There are lots of birds, more than in the summer. Some theater attractions and a few restaurants are closed, but movies and shops are open. So I like our bonus time, but I'm not sure I'd want to use a whole maintenance + exchange fee to get there.
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Old February 2, 2007, 09:46 AM   #15
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We also like to travel in slow seasons. We went to Orlando for the 2nd week of Dec in 2003. Weather was warm to us upstate NYers (we left a blizzard at home) and there were no lines anywhere. Not the warmest for sunning by the poll, but, warm enough to walk along the beach. We went to Sedona AZ first week of May. No crowds anywhere and it was warm enough to sit by the pool 1 afternoon. Cape Cod in Oct found less things open, but, no crowds either. Warm enough for us to walk along beaches, go on a great whale watching cruise and relearn some history. We do a few meals in our unit anyway to save some $$, so, fewer restaurant choices doesn't bother us. We do our homework online before we leave, so we're prepared for what is and isn't open.
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Old February 2, 2007, 11:20 AM   #16
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Hi Teresa,

I don't know what color week it was, but we purchased a getaway to Marriott's Grande Ocean (Hilton Head, SC) in December of 2003. I think we paid $249 for the whole week in a large 2BR unit. We loved it! There were no crowds, the weather was nice compared to home, and we could still enjoy activities that continue regardless of the time of year, such as renting bikes, shopping, golf, etc. We enjoyed it so much that we traded into Hilton Head again for the end of March this year. We usually take such a fast-paced vacation, then we need a vacation from our vacation! This is a nice alternative for us to focus on enjoying time as a family and not running around trying to fit everything in.

Re: previous posts mentioning Orlando in January and Williamsburg in May, those areas tend to not really have an "off-season." Now, the Outer Banks November-April, that is off season. We own a unit there that we never trade...we just go and use it late March/early April to have some downtime together as a family. We still continue to book at least one to two "go do it all in season" vacations each year, but we appreciate the rejuvenation an off-season escape can offer. Hope that helps!

Jeni
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Old February 2, 2007, 03:59 PM   #17
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We're going to London in two weeks, for President's Week. It's a peak travel time for families with kids, but they aren't going to London! But I've been in London in February on business and the weather's similar to NYC, maybe a bit milder--and there are almost no tourists. Flights that will be $600-$700 in summer will be $440 in February.

We've also been in the Poconos in November and it is pretty quiet. However, the resorts are only half full and there's plenty of room in the indoor pool. (The indoor pool is a must.) Atlantic City in the winter was freezing, but again, a very nice indoor pool, so the kids were happy.

Sometimes in the summer we go somewhere that is so crowded it's really stressful. You're sitting there in traffic thinking, "Why did I think this was a good idea?" Off-season is more like a vacation, very relaxing. If there's nothing much to do, you might as well watch the kids splash in the pool and read a book.
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Old February 3, 2007, 12:10 AM   #18
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Slow season - not for everyone!

Hi Teresa,
Slow season is not for everyone.
Before our kids went to school, slow season meant quieter holidays with less crowds - making it a really relaxing holiday.
Kids mean crowds, noise and usually hot, sticky weather when everyone wants to holiday at the same time. Cooler weather just means different activities - walks along the beach instead of swimming.
Now our kids are older (having both left school) we are back to planning our holidays whenever we want (unless they both decide that they want a free holiday)!
We have in recent years gone to the US during your winter - but not to ski resorts. It has definitely been quiet and we have learnt to pick our resorts carefully. Our kids (then 16 & 14) keep reminding us of them going to the resort restaurant for breakfast and being the only ones under 70 years old!
The downside is that many things are closed so you have to look for places to go and things to do before you book your resort.If you plan on making new friends with the "neighbours" slow season probably won't cut it.
We have been fortunate that we are "very, very flexible" with our travel plans. If we can't see one thing we find an alternative even if the kids aren't that impressed. Some of these places eg Sedona have certainly left an impression on them (they never want to go back but I do!)
That said, choose carefully both destination and season, have an open mind when you get there and no matter where you go, you'll have a great holiday.
Gillian
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Old February 3, 2007, 02:32 AM   #19
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We like interesting weather... places like Depoe Bay, OR with it's fantastic winter storms or Puerto Vallarta (or Tuscon) during rainy season with amazing lightening displays can be very kewl.

We also enjoy going to beautiful places (like those around Colorado) anytime... sometimes that means that not all the businesses are open, so we try to plan accordingly (we do have a condo with a kitchen and all the time in the world to cook... so for us it's no big thing).

How can you really have a bad time when you are with people you love?

Kim
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Old February 3, 2007, 09:35 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by labguides View Post
I still don't understand the color coded weeks.....
Here's my interpretation of what the color codes mean:
Red means the area is a tourist destination at that time. This (sort of) justifies most of Florida being red year-round, since it is indeed a tourist destination all year.

White (or yellow) means the area is only sort of a tourist destination at that time. Some tourist businesses will be open, but probably not all, or some important tourist activities will be unavailable.

Blue (or green) means that the area is not a tourist destination at that time, with many of the tourist businesses closed.

That said, often the exchange companies do not perfectly match the color code to the tourist demand. I own a week 11 in the Smoky Mountains that is yellow in II and blue in RCI, but the resort tells me they are pretty full that time of year. The week is a tiger trader in II.
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Old February 4, 2007, 07:36 AM   #21
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As to ''off season'' it would depend on how you define it. The ocean front resorts on the Outer Banks are generally full from mid- March through Thanksgiving, and I wouldn't call full being off-season. There are regularly vacancies in weeks 48-50 and January-February, and to a degree in early March.

While Williamsburg is interesting all year (I love the Christmas season there), it is overbuilt with timeshare, and has regular vacancies much of the year.

As to Orlando, a quick look at the Availibility tables in the European version of the RCI directory clearly shows that it does, indeed, have an off season. Again, this is also influenced by it being overbuilt. Those tables rate availibility for exchange on a 1 to 4 scale, with 4 being ''very good availibility''.
They have 3 months of the year that rate a 4. That is clearly an off season.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeni View Post
Hi Teresa,

I don't know what color week it was, but we purchased a getaway to Marriott's Grande Ocean (Hilton Head, SC) in December of 2003. I think we paid $249 for the whole week in a large 2BR unit. We loved it! There were no crowds, the weather was nice compared to home, and we could still enjoy activities that continue regardless of the time of year, such as renting bikes, shopping, golf, etc. We enjoyed it so much that we traded into Hilton Head again for the end of March this year. We usually take such a fast-paced vacation, then we need a vacation from our vacation! This is a nice alternative for us to focus on enjoying time as a family and not running around trying to fit everything in.

Re: previous posts mentioning Orlando in January and Williamsburg in May, those areas tend to not really have an "off-season." Now, the Outer Banks November-April, that is off season. We own a unit there that we never trade...we just go and use it late March/early April to have some downtime together as a family. We still continue to book at least one to two "go do it all in season" vacations each year, but we appreciate the rejuvenation an off-season escape can offer. Hope that helps!

Jeni
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Old February 4, 2007, 01:04 PM   #22
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Quote:
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As to ''off season'' it would depend on how you define it. The ocean front resorts on the Outer Banks are generally full from mid- March through Thanksgiving, and I wouldn't call full being off-season. There are regularly vacancies in weeks 48-50 and January-February, and to a degree in early March.

While Williamsburg is interesting all year (I love the Christmas season there), it is overbuilt with timeshare, and has regular vacancies much of the year.

As to Orlando, a quick look at the Availibility tables in the European version of the RCI directory clearly shows that it does, indeed, have an off season. Again, this is also influenced by it being overbuilt. Those tables rate availibility for exchange on a 1 to 4 scale, with 4 being ''very good availibility''.
They have 3 months of the year that rate a 4. That is clearly an off season.
Perhaps I misunderstood the OP- I was thinking in terms of activities and "off season." Yes, while Orlando has slower times of year, I guess I don't think of it as a true off season, as everything remains open. Same is true for Williamsburg. However, take the Outer Banks and Hilton Head during the off season and activities are greatly reduced, as are dining choices. While the timeshares may start booking on the Outer Banks earlier than the summer season, many popular activities and restaurants will remain closed/reduced hours until May. And the hotels have plenty of availability and discounts through March/April for that reason. I guess it's all in how you define off season. For us, we look at it from the standpoint of what is available for us to do, and how nice will the weather be.
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Old February 4, 2007, 04:03 PM   #23
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The only OBX attraction / activity that comes to mind that is not open in March/April is the Lost Colony outdoor drama, and that does not open until June. Otherwise, anything that is seasonal, including restaurants, tend to reopen in March. With hotels, although they may often have vacancies on weeknights, weekends tend to be rather full in Spring and Fall. I know of one t/s resort manager, who with no vacant timeshare units for board members for an annual HOA meeting in November last year, had to call quite a few motels to find rooms availible for those board members. Actually, one of the major Outer Banks activities, fishing, runs counter to beach season. The worst months for fishing are the summer months, and while Fall is best overall for fishing, winter is also excellent offshore.

As to restaurants and off-season, Queen Anne's Revenge in Wanchese is open yearround, but runs an offseason special, mainly to appeal to the locals, which is a superb Sunday buffet. That off-season special is only offered in January and February. The rest of the year, they have enough business from tourists that they don't offer it.

And as to Williamsburg, I wonder if one of their major attractions, Busch Gardens is open yearround. My recollection is that it either is not or at least has limited hours.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeni View Post
Perhaps I misunderstood the OP- I was thinking in terms of activities and "off season." Yes, while Orlando has slower times of year, I guess I don't think of it as a true off season, as everything remains open. Same is true for Williamsburg. However, take the Outer Banks and Hilton Head during the off season and activities are greatly reduced, as are dining choices. While the timeshares may start booking on the Outer Banks earlier than the summer season, many popular activities and restaurants will remain closed/reduced hours until May. And the hotels have plenty of availability and discounts through March/April for that reason. I guess it's all in how you define off season. For us, we look at it from the standpoint of what is available for us to do, and how nice will the weather be.
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Last edited by Carolinian; February 4, 2007 at 04:15 PM.
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Old February 5, 2007, 04:08 AM   #24
sfwilshire
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Originally Posted by Carolinian View Post
And as to Williamsburg, I wonder if one of their major attractions, Busch Gardens is open yearround. My recollection is that it either is not or at least has limited hours.
As I recall, Busch Gardens closes for a while and is only open weekends at some times of the year. We went to Williamsburg in March one year and it was only open on the weekend then.

Sheila
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