What better way to mark Best Friends' Day on 8 June, than to share the story of a random meeting of a group of youngsters on holiday in Mallorca in 1978 who got together as friends for the week and who are still firm friends, and still happily holidaying together 40 years on!
Were it not for Susan's husband, Brian, causing a bit of a splash by trying to throw Susan into the swimming pool at the Hotel Bella Colina in Mallorca 40 years ago, the two couples would most likely have been ships that pass in the night. But as lively 19 and 20 year olds, Brian and Susan Collie's swimming pool fun broke the ice so Kim and Martyn Edgar joined in and the rest is, as they say, history! The couples are now planning their next holiday - using Susan and Brian's timeshare and RCI membership - to celebrate what will be 41 years of friendship next year.
The friends are pictured above, from left, Kim, Susan, Brian and Martyn, enjoying their return to Mallorca - where it all began - on an RCI Exchange holiday in September 2014. And below - the way they were back on that holiday where they met in 1978.
"After the pool incident, we just clicked and so hired a car together for the rest of the holiday," said Susan. "And we have been best of friends ever since. We live in Aberdeen and our friends live in Newcastle, we both had families and busy working lives, but through the years we have always kept in touch and we make sure that we get together every New Year in Newcastle."
The distance seems only to have brought the friends closer, as Kim explained: "The lovely thing is that when we ring each other it's just as if we had last spoken yesterday. We have also enjoyed surprise visits. It is a wonderful friendship." Husband Martyn agrees: "Susan and Brian are family to us now. We have friends here in Newcastle, but none as close to us as they are."
In recent years the friends have grown closer as unfortunately, Martyn developed a health issue that meant he had to give up work five years ago which made going off on holiday difficult. Susan and Brian stepped in and, being timeshare owners and RCI members, knew they could use their RCI membership to access spacious holiday accommodation to enable them to take Kim and Martyn away with them.
"We bought our timeshare and became RCI members in 1986," said Susan. "It was two weeks in Portugal at a resort that no longer exists. We now own a week at Four Seasons Vilamoura (2062) in Portugal, a week at Kilconquhar Estate and Country Club (0493) in Fife, Scotland, and a week at Pestana Palms (2829) in Madeira. We also share a timeshare at Macdonald Spey Valley Resort (1848) in Scotland with my brother. So we are fortunate in being able to take many holidays each year."
Though the couple always go to their much-loved Madeira timeshare every year, they use the Kilconquhar Estate and Country Club ownership to get more weeks away with RCI, as it has a high-value trading power. "We get a lot of weeks holiday out of that ownership as it has a deposit trading power of 27," Susan explained. "You must understand how to work the RCI system. Trade up and down, look out for the RCI deals and sales, plus use the RCI Extra Holidays, which are cash only bookings. We got an RCI offer on a week's stay at an RCI Gold Crown resort in Spain for an exchange trading power of only four!"
"This year Brian and I got four weeks holiday in Portugal, four weeks in Madeira and three weeks in Spain at an RCI Gold Crown resort - all out of our Kilconquhar week's ownership and the deposit trading power it gives us to use," said Susan. "Last year we went to Florida for seven weeks using our combined trading power to book multiple Exchange Holidays, plus additional weeks of holiday booked with RCI Extra Holidays."
Time to travel
With families all grown up and moving into retirement, the Collies' have started taking more holidays and taking their friends with them. "Brian and Martyn are like brothers. When we realised the extent of Martyn's illness we were determined he and Kim should not miss out on their holidays and as we love spending time with them, being able to use our timeshare to take them away with us is a bonus for us too," said Susan.
In September 2014, the couples enjoyed a holiday using RCI exchange when Susan and Brian booked a villa in Pollença, in a return to Mallorca together. "We told Kim and Martyn, all they needed to do was book their flights. In 2016, using RCI exchange again, we got a villa in Nerja, a beautiful resort town on southern Spain's Costa del Sol. It was gorgeous, high up on a hill, overlooking the pretty town and the ocean beyond. We were fortunate in getting two James Villas RCI had in its system at the time we made our bookings, but our timeshare apartments are spacious and we'd have been happy to holiday in a timeshare resort had the villas not been available. We now plan to go away with Kim and Martyn every two or three years."
The shared holidays mean a lot to Kim and Martyn, as Martyn explained: "Susan and Brian are always going off all over, we can't keep up with them. It is great to be sharing some of those holidays with them. Our holiday in Pollença was the best we've ever had. The villa was jaw dropping; we walked in and were stunned. The location was so peaceful - all we could hear was a donkey braying - and yet we were close to the ancient old town of Pollença which was a charming place to wander around. We have never had a holiday that was so relaxing. And it took us back 40 years to when we all met there for the first time; it felt like we'd only been together the week before as the years melted away.
"There is an excellent fresh food market in the old town and Brian is such a good cook, so we lived on barbecued fish and prawns! It was also lovely to see the bougainvillea and other flowers that are beautiful but struggle to grow in our gardens at home."
Kim loved the old town too. "It is a Roman town and you can feel the antiquity around you. It really is the perfect place to sit in a café and watch the world go by."
The Nerja holiday also made a lasting impression on Kim and Martyn. "Again, the villa was gorgeous and spacious, this time perched up on a hill with great views against a dramatic backdrop of mountains," said Kim. "The town was stunning. Large awnings across the streets kept you in the shade while you wandered around the quaint little shops. We were serenaded by a guy playing Spanish classical guitar and he was really good so we spent a long time just listening. It was all quite a unique experience."
Not surprisingly, the friends want to return to where it all began. Susan, a former travel agent and a great travel organiser, has plans... "Our deposits are in with RCI already for that holiday next year so we have got maximum trading power by banking early. I'm on it all the time, making the most of the flexibility RCI gives you by looking at all the different ways we can holiday.
"Now we are all so very excited to be going back to our favourite spot, where we met, and taking another look at the Hotel Bella Colina."
Susan is already thinking ahead and planning yet more holidays into the future. "We have exchanged the world over: Hawaii, skiing in Colorado, California - we had a fabulous coastal drive taking in San Francisco, and now I'd like to return to visit the inland wineries in California - but we need a driver to do that one properly and sample the wines as we go!" she says. "We stay home summer long, and then we are off in the winter. We kick off with a stay in Portugal in November, followed by Christmas and New Year in Madeira; then we visit other sunny destinations after that. We don't do Aberdeen winters."
"My cousin, also an RCI member, wanted something different so she called the RCI Guides. They recommended she try Hungary and she went, loved it, and is thinking of going back. That has given me ideas too. Now Brian is retired and I have gone to part time, running a business with my brother, we want to use our free time travelling. We are considering Hungary and Finland, for example, as summer destinations. There's such a lot of the world we haven't seen yet."
With their RCI membership, the Collies' have experienced some amazing holidays all around the world, and as Susan said, they have their sights set on destinations they haven't visited yet. The couple know how to utilise their membership so they get even more holidays by taking advantage of their trading power and depositing early.
If you own timeshare but are not a member of RCI, you could travel the world like the Collies by depositing your weeks or points to exchange. If you want to learn more about our Holiday Exchange programme, click Join RCI below.
If you are looking for more holiday inspiration, or to deposit and book your next Exchange Holiday, click on the RCI Resort Directory below.