Trade to Travel "Where To?"

Friday, May 14, 2010
Leah Powell
Leah Powell, President
Hola, members of Trade to Travel and
owners of luxury properties worldwide,

I hope you've all been extremely well and hope your travels have been wonderful in every way. My mother, Vaniene, and I recently visited "Casa Big Sur" in Costa Rica (T1468 on our site) which was so extraordinary that I had to write about it. Our time in this Garden of Eden was pure magic and fractions of the villa are for sale to a lucky few who will co-own the property. Please let us know (or contact Ben Morris directly) if you'd like to experience the magic for yourself.

In the nearly 2 weeks we were there, I surfed, caught my first sailfish (Captain Melvin said my mom and I were the first women to charter a boat with him in 30 years...we both caught sailfish, then he let me dive off the tip-top of the boat 46 miles out and mom jumped in, too!), galloped full speed on great horses for miles up and down the beach and through the surf with Hector of Rancho La Merced and my mother (who, at the age of 71, kept up with me the whole time and then went back for more another evening while I was surfing...she's amazing!), road 7 ziplines through the rainforest canopy, saw a humpback whale, numerous sea turtles, hundreds of frolicking dolphin, snorkeled the famed "Whale's Tail" and an offshore island with a single palm tree, saw a gigantic Blue Morpho butterfly (the extra-rare kind that's neon blue all the way to the edges of its wings) and jumped out of the car to chase it down the mountain (surreal), saw howler monkeys, sloths, coatimundis, and several "highways" of Leaf Cutter ants (wish I'd seen a Resplendent quetzal and/or a poison dart frog; guess I'll have to go back to seek them out!). We were spell-bound by the special appearances made each evening at the villa by two toucans during the "Magic Hour" - that's what Ben (your AWESOME host, builder extraordinaire, and extreme surfer) calls the late afternoon when jungle colors become even more vivid and critters of all sorts start moving about.

We had four fabulous meals catered by Chef Diana (whose cooking is amazing, plus she's such a cool woman full of great stories...she makes the best carrot cake that any of us had ever tasted and everything she makes is jam-packed with moisture and flavor). Melanie, another incredible woman full of stories, came to the villa to give massages. She makes her own massage oils and I chose "Ylang Ylang" which is the scent of "Chanel #5." There's an Ylang Ylang tree flowering beneath the dramatic infinity pool which perfumes the air around the villa. It's too much. Following an hour-long massage, I walked out the poolside door at sundown to be floored by the sight of a GORGEOUS full moon coming up over the jungle mountain in a sunset-pink sky, shining down on the rainforest and the endless Pacific, reflecting brilliantly on the infinity pool. Howler monkeys roared in trees further up the mountain. It was a WOW moment.

The villa is full of WOW moments (the first of which was seeing it blazing brightly in the jungle night as we drove up the mountain road at Escaleras for the first time). It's a masterpiece. Built using only the finest, most beautiful materials, it was created with loving attention to detail and a grand artistic vision. I'm smitten!

As you walk in the front door, you're awestruck by the grandeur of the house and its art/furnishings/lighting and by the oh-my-God Pacific panorama spread out before you (including a postcard-perfect view of the incredible "Whale's Tail," a jut of land in the shape of a whale's tale where whales and dolphin come to breed). There are 30 foot ceilings, soaring windows, and huge beckoning balconies. There's formal dining for 10 and the kitchen is a cook's dream come true.

The home is 6500 sq.ft. with five bedrooms, two of which are master bedrooms with large balconies and fantastic bathrooms (the views from the spa tubs and showers are divine). There are 5 bathrooms and don't miss the wonderful outdoor shower. There's even a well-equipped gym/excercise room beside the pool and hot tub...a workout with a view followed by a hot soak or cool splash!

There's central A/C throughout, so you're cool as a cucumber in the midst of the tropics, and there's wireless internet for those of us unable to live without our laptops. The binoculars are in the kitchen, you'll want to use them a LOT.

Your caretakers, Carolina and Didier, live at the gated entrance. Carolina cleans the villa and is happy to do laundry. Didier takes care of all sorts of things including security, the grounds, pool, hot tub, etc. If you'd like him to wake you to see howler monkeys in the early mornings, he's delighted to do that!

Following is a link to a video which Deborah Rath Howell (globe-trotting travel writer and Los Angeles radio personality on 94.7 "The Wave") put together during our visit. She and her sister and friend (Peg and Margo) were there with my mom Vaniene, Lee (our friend) and me, so you'll see photos of us in the video, but I invite you to imagine that it's YOU and your family and friends enjoying the "pura vida."

In the video, mom is the intrepid adventurer galloping on the beach, riding through the river, hugging the sailfish, and swimming with me 46 miles out. I'm with her in the sailfish photo and that's Ben pulling the blue marlin out of the Pacific (it was a different fishing trip, but the picture was too good to leave out). Deborah and her sister, Peg, are the two laughing and lounging on floats in the pool.

1/8 shares of "Casa Big Sur" are currently available for $395,000 (which will increase to $425k and $445k for the final shares). Please give us a call if you may be interested and I'll be happy to rave at length about the property, the area, local activities, recommended restaurants and services, etc. Before you know it you'll be headed for the southern zone of Costa Rica, claimed by many to be the most beautiful, most biodiverse spot on the planet. Wouldn't you LOVE to own a slice of it?


For those interested in exciting destinations other than Costa Rica, we have a worldwide cornucopia. Below are a dozen samples (please call to find out about hundreds of others).

Feeling like a jaunt to the South of France? A spectacular 18th century bastide with pool and tennis court in Aix en Provence is available for the two weeks of July 25 - August 8. It's T1461 on our site, a very special estate with 10 bedrooms and mature landscaping, including 6 breathtaking ancient plane trees (210 years old). Following is a link to further information on this exceptional property.

T1461 - Click here for more info

Might a trip to the Hamptons sound good? T1273 has 6 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, a 20 x 40 pool, and a 1000 sq.ft. patio perfect for entertaining and relaxing (located beside preserve land). It's available in September and October.

T1273 - Click here for more info

A recent addition to the TTT "family," a San Francisco penthouse with unobstructed 360 degree views overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge, Alcatraz and downtown San Francisco. It sits 15 stories above the world's windiest road, Lombard Street, and is only 5 blocks from Fisherman's Wharf. The Lombard St. cable car stop is 25 steps away and you can take the cable car from the Wharf to Union Square. It's T1992 on our site and has lots of availability. Please give us a call to inquire about specific dates.

T1992 - Click here for more info

"CordeValle" is a "Rosewood Resort" tucked away at the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains in a valley of rolling hills, deep canyons and sprawling meadowlands, amid California wine country (T1990). It lies just 30 minutes south of San Jose and 45 minutes north of the Monterey Peninsula. This romantic resort in California's oldest wine country provides a welcome sense of privacy and serenity on nearly 1,700 acres of picturesque countryside, making it the ideal retreat for a romantic getaway. Guests can indulge in a round of golf on CordeValle's award-winning 7,169-yard championship course by legendary designer Robert Trent Jones, Jr. or discover the vintages of Clos LaChance on a private tour of the on-site vineyard and winery. A host of local leisure activities are complemented by an intimate spa, swimming pool and fitness room.

T1990 - Click here for more info

"La Casa Grande" is a 6 bedroom home with swimming pool and dock in the Florida Keys (Islamorada). This beautiful three story home features ocean views from most rooms, a swimming pool, jacuzzi, and gourmet kitchen with a full bar. Nearby is some of the best fishing in the world, plus great restaurants and local bars, shopping centers, nightlife, etc. Please call to find out which weeks are available in T2000.

T2000 - Click here for more info

"The Dali Hale Estate" is a 9 bedroom beachfront plantation on the north shore of Kauai. T1191 is a luxury estate situated above the spectacular and romantic "Secret Beach," one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The Dali Hale Estate is renowned as a perfect site for destination weddings and honeymoons, yoga and spiritual retreats, spa getaways and family beach vacations. This romantic Polynesian hideaway with stunning views of Secret Beach, the Kilauea Lighthouse, and the Kilauea Point Wildlife Refuge, is a splendid property which can accommodate up to eighteen guests . Guests have access to a private path to leading to secluded Secret Beach.. Situated on three acres of lush, tropical beauty, this 6000 square foot home features an eternity pool connecting you to the Pacific, 2000 foot wrap-around lanai, hot tub, and private tennis court. It has been featured on the "Fine Living Network" and in "Golf Magazine." Please call or email to inquire about availability.

T1191 - Click here for more info

"Hale Mauka Makai" is a 3 bedroom with swimming pool on the island of Maui. Gazing toward the mountains you see Haleakala Crater, the worlds largest dormant volcano, and looking toward the ocean you have a panoramic view of the Pacific. The home is decorated with an Asian and European influence with beautiful artwork throughout the home. The entryway leads into a spacious living area with inlayed hardwood floors. "A chefs dream" is the best way to describe the custom gourmet kitchen. The master bedroom is spacious and elegant with large closets and a California King and is positioned for an optimal view of the mountains. The master bathroom is equipped with a shower and Jacuzzi tub (with magnificent ocean and mountain views). A private lanai is attached to the bedroom, giving you a perfect area for reading or just to have a peaceful moment. The first guestroom is equipped with 2 twin beds, spacious closets and is adorned with artwork. The private bathroom features a shower and also has a Jacuzzi tub. The second guestroom is decorated with artwork and is equipped with a Queen bed, private bathroom and private lanai. The large covered lanai which is adjacent to the living area features comfortable wood patio furniture and a superior barbecue grill. The grass area is immense, providing a wonderful area for children to play, practicing your pitching wedge, or just admiring the tranquil waters of the Pacific Ocean, which provide the perfect backdrop. It's available for a week in October.

T1161 - Click here for more info

In Manzanillo, Mexico, two great villas have weeks available this Summer. "Casa de Suenos" is a fully-staffed 8000 sq.ft villa with 5 master suites and two swimming pools in the prestigious Las Hadas resort (considered one of La Punta's most noteworthy homes). It's nestled on a cliff just forty meters above the spray of the Pacific. There's a cooling rock waterfall, two large sunning decks, a shaded palapa bar, and outside living and dining areas with sunset views that are absolutely beyond belief. Nearby you'll find deep sea fishing, water skiing, parasailing, wind surfing, jet skiing, snorkeling, sunset cruises, scuba diving, a fitness gym, four private lighted tennis courts, discos and night clubs, a host of multinational restaurants, a world-class Pete Dye 18-hole golf course, a 27-hole Von Hagge Signature course which boasts 11 oceanfront holes, and an 18-hole ecological preserve course designed by David Fleming in the center of a 12,000 acre jungle.

T650 - Click here for more info

"Casa Lucero" is a stylish 4 bedroom villa with a horizon pool and a full-time bilingual staff of 4. Overlooking the Las Hadas resort, it's located in the "La Punta" enclave of magnificent villas and gardens. Guests at "Casa Lucero" (T1131) have access to a private beach, tennis courts and teaching pro, a lap pool and exercise room. Lounge in the pool or relax in one of the many art-filled rooms. The staff will plan golf outings, special picnics for the beach, deep-sea fishing or horseback riding excursions, etc.

T1131 - Click here for more info

WALT DISNEY WORLD, FL: Several new members with properties extremely close to Disney World have availabilities this summer. They're T1997, T1476, T1477, T1478, and T1479. If you and the kids/grandkids would like to head for the "Magic Kingdom," we'd love to be of service.

"Sandhurst" is a 7 bedroom, 6.5 bath home on Captiva Island, FL. It's a three story designer-decorated home which sleeps 16+ in 6000 sq.ft of luxury. Located in Bay Front Estates, "Sandhurst" was featured on the "Home and Garden" Television Show "Vacation Living" as the ultimate dream vacation home, and was the location for the "Leaf Print Fabrics" article in the July/August 2000 issue of "Martha Stewart Living Magazine." It comes complete with an elevator, two car garage, wet bar, fireplace, vaulted ceilings, Jacuzzi tub, private tennis court, swimming pool, lovely outdoor decks, patio, and a recreation room with ping-pong table. All bedrooms have a private bathroom and three of the bedrooms have decks and beautiful views. This is the best of all worlds with the beach just steps away across the road and a private dock on the sound in your back yard. Sailboats and motorboats are available nearby to tour islands or fish. Please inquire about additional fees associated with this property. In 2004 it was featured on MTV's "Summer Rentals" with Usher.

T132 - Click here for more info

Beachfront on exquisite Half Moon Beach on Providenciales, this 3 bedroom, 2 bath home sleeps 6. It's an ultra private beachfront villa, one of only four homes on a mile of pristine beach with crystal waters (in the Turks and Caicos). It has a pool, an expansive deck, BBQ grill, two outdoor showers, a private tennis court, air conditioning, and benefits from great sunsets. You can enjoy a nature trail, casino, numerous markets, Loyalist ruins, golf, fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, and sailing just minutes away. Please let us know if you'd like a week between now and November 30.

T645 - Click here for more info

A wonderful home in Manhattan Beach, CA, is available May 22-29. With 3 bedrooms and 3 baths, it's beautifully furnished. After enjoying a day on the beach, step home to a cool refreshing drink while catching the panoramic ocean sunset on one of two furnished glass decks. Have a delicious dinner at any of the 20 plus eateries within walking distance (casual to five star) or throw something on the barbecue. If dining at home is your desire, you'll find everything you need in the fully equipped ocean view kitchen. Daily catch and prime aged beef are just steps away at Manhattan Meats & Seafood...known as one of the best in the area. If you want to indulge, we can arrange for your own chef to prepare and serve your every culinary desire. Enjoy a wonderful whirlpool tub for two in front of the fire, while listening to your remote controlled stereo. We can arrange for an in-home therapeutic massage in front of a roaring fire, or up on the secluded upper deck under the stars. You're just steps away from: the beach, unique shops, art galleries, live entertainment, local pubs, and world-class volleyball, tennis, and surf tournaments. Nearby are golf, tennis, basketball, bike riding, fitness centers, miniature golf, amusement parks, fishing, wildlife viewing, horseback riding, live theater, cinemas, museums, swimming, snorkeling/diving, boating, sailing, water skiing, surfing, windsurfing, parasailing, jet skiing, whale watching, shelling, etc. Pets are okay with prior approval (requires additional security deposit and cleaning fee, 15 pound maximum). No children under the age of 12.

T1137 - Click here for more info

6 bedroom home in St. Augustine, FL, is a 5 minute walk to the beach. It's 4200 sq.ft. of custom built luxury, with a large gourmet kitchen, spacious living areas, large bedrooms with walk-in closets, flat screen televisions in all bedrooms, and a great master suite with a spa-like master bath and jacuzzi. Deluxe children's play set. Parking for 8 cars or motor home or boat. T1475 is available beginning October 15.

T1475 - Click here for more info

Martha's Vineyard, 5 bedroom home with swimming pool within walking distance of South Beach. T889 enjoys an excellent location in the Katama area, only two miles from Edgartown's center and shops. It's situated on a quiet and private 1/2 acre lot and has a large screen porch, deck with gas barbecue, and beautiful gardens. Available June 5 - 19 and September 10 through October 31.

T889 - Click here for more info


DAVID PHILLIPS: We have a new "Director of Member Services." His name is David Phillips and he came to us with 11 years of experience as a travel agent. He's only been with us since January, but quickly took on a leadership role and has been such a delight to work with. He takes his job to heart and will always do his very best for you. When we hired him, one of his references said, "I'd trust him with the keys to my house." That's the kind of integrity he brings to his job, along with his passion for his work and sense of responsibility. We're so happy to have him! If there's anything he can do for you, please email him at or give him a call at 800.922.6001.

NEW "FRACTIONAL OWNERSHIP" PAGE: The "Fractional Ownership" page of our website just got a facelift, featuring the video of Casa Big Sur. We're currently creating a worldwide directory of fractional ownership properties and private residence clubs, which will be posted once it's complete.

MANHATTAN: Since NYC has always been our toughest challenge (because it's SUCH a popular destination and because members often only want a weekend or several days there), I thought I'd let you know about an arrangement we have with 2 members there who are often willing to accept offers of half trade/half rental. "West Eleventh" historic townhouse apartments are in Greenwich Village and they're T1480, T1981, T1982, T1983, T1984, and T1985. The five apartments are situated between two major city districts - Midtown and the Wall Street area. Their website is and if you'll please use their website to request availability (letting them know you're a member of TTT), they'll respond to let you know if they can offer a half rental/half trade for your desired dates. If they can, please let us know and we'll send the paperwork!

25 Central Park West at 62nd street between Broadway and Central Park West. Central Park is 1/2 a block away and we are within walking distance to all Broadway shows, AOL Time Warner Building, Lincoln Center and many other NY city must-sees. This location is hard to beat. The apartment is spacious and each bedroom has a king bed. It is newly renovated and in one of the best doorman buildings on Central Park West. If you'd like to inquire regarding a half rental/half trade, please give the staff of TTT a call to ask about T1423 and we'll contact the owners in your behalf.

TWITTER: Since we always have new properties and availabilities, we've recently taken the advice of members who've asked us to use "Twitter" to announce some of the highlights. There's a link to our Twitter account on our website (just below our left menu) and following is one for your convenience. If you know of friends/family who may be interested in membership or in renting fine properties when they travel for business or pleasure, please let them know they can "follow" us at

FREE WEEKS: To enjoy an endless array of properties FREE OF CHARGE (no points and no transaction fee), simply contact owners of properties you'd like to visit and introduce them to our services. Let them know you're a member and that as a member you are able to offer complimentary membership (normally $2500) plus full rental value in the form of TTT points in exchange for having you as a guest for a week (or longer). They can even use the points they'll receive for hosting you FREE of charge BEFORE your visit to their property, so they can give our services a try entirely risk-free and will soon be on their way to a great vacation!

DOUBLE POINTS: Since some members are already making plans for Thanksgiving/Christmas/Hannukah/New Years, we'd like to remind you that we offer DOUBLE points for all major holidays. Or, if you'd prefer to offer a half rental/half trade arrangement for one or more holidays, please let us know and we'll pass the word along.

PREAKNESS & BELMONT STAKES: My mom, dad, and I will be at the "Preakness" tomorrow to cheer for "Super Saver." We're hoping he'll win the "Triple Crown" like his jockey, Calvin Borel, thinks he will (Calvin is on a SERIOUS lucky streak). If any of you will be there, I'd love to hear from you so we can get together for a Black-Eyed Susan or two!! If "Super Saver" wins the Preakness, we'll be going to NYC for the "Belmont Stakes," so if any of you plan to be there, we'd love to see you!

Below are a few photos which were too blurry to include in the video, but they're lots of fun, so I thought I'd leave you with a few additional images of what an adventure the TTT lifestyle is. The title of the last photo could be, "The TTT life is GOOD. Dive in!"

Wishing you a fantastic weekend. Please let us know whenever there's anything we can do for you.

Pura vida!!!!