Ask RedWeek / May, 2021

Is a road trip through the Southwest a good idea?

My family wants to take a road trip through the Southwest this summer, but we're still unsure about the best (and safest) places to go. What's your perspective on travel in and around Arizona, Grand Canyon and the National Parks in Utah?

Southwest Vacations Are a Popular Choice This Summer

Arizona, Utah, and Grand Canyon are great choices for a family trip in 2021, especially if you can avoid airports and drive to your destinations, but the situation continues to change as states, travelers, and timeshare operators adapt to the changing pandemic.

As historians will attest, normalcy evaporated in March 2020 when the pandemic wrecked domestic and international travel and forced millions of people to stay home. Major League Baseball shuttered spring training, California and New York closed down, colleges cancelled classes and their March Madness basketball rituals — while everyone started working from home, unless they got laid off, kids included.

Now, thanks to the nation's slow return to physical and economic health, the vacation universe is gearing up for a return-to-semi-normalcy as travelers, eager to get on the road, pursue their long-delayed holidays. Here's our take, after a recent visit to some Southwest timeshares, on the best bets for a safe family vacation.

The Road to Recovery Runs Through Arizona

Arizona is home to more than two-dozen timeshares spread between Tucson, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, and Sedona. Because of its warm winter weather, the Arizona travel recovery started booming in February. Resorts are already filling up with limited restrictions on pools, spas, and restaurants. Masks are optional outdoors but still required in many indoor spaces, such as markets.

Based upon the flood of reservations to timeshare owner services, Arizona resorts expect to see near-capacity occupancy this summer and fall. Timeshare sales teams, meanwhile, are optimistic that potential buyers will return, as well. The overwhelming majority of current timeshare travelers are existing owners — not newbies — who may not be in the mood for any upgrades during this unsettled travel period.

Signs of the Times

There are thousands of real-time reminders that the travel universe is recovering from the worst of the pandemic. In vacation spots, particularly, the signs tell the story: "We're hiring!" signs are visible in every timeshare lobby, while restaurants advertise "Inside Dining" and hotels flash "No Vacancy" in bright neon. Gas prices are going up, too.

The Southwest region's road to recovery also includes some bumps. Travelers to Grand Canyon may find that the regular shuttle service from parking lot to rim are still shut down due to COVID. Access to the National Parks in Utah is also limited, which puts the imperative on travelers to research their destinations prior to travel.

In Sedona, tourist traffic already clogs the main highway into town. Newly installed traffic circles turn that slow traffic into a trickle.

Timeshare travelers will also encounter anomalies at some of their favorite resorts. At Diamond's Ridge on Sedona Golf Resort, for example, the lobby is typically empty with one or no concierge staff on duty. Why? Many employees chose not to return to work when the pandemic restrictions eased up.

Minor annoyances, however, don't appear to be darkening the picture for people who are currently on the road. The folks we interviewed were universally happy to travel again in spacious timeshares that used to be their home away from home.

Attempting to Put the Pandemic in the Rearview Mirror

Our final advisory is: strongly consider getting your shots, pack up the car, then hit the road - take precautions but try to put the pandemic in the rearview mirror.

Most campgrounds open May 15, and many will fill up early with a flood of new RV owners. So, if you're driving, plan ahead.

Timeshare reservations are booming as owners shed the virus hangover and return to their home resorts for some quality vacation time. Non-owners are also flocking to Arizona and other Southwest destinations in rising rental numbers that suggest a booming comeback for timeshare resorts.

About the author

This answer was provided by RedWeek contributor, Jeff Weir. Jeff is a California-based journalist who has covered California, Congress, and the White House. He also has roots in Silicon Valley, where he directed public relations and marketing programs for high-tech companies. He is also a timeshare owner and member of

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