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Meet the IVHE.com Team - Suzie Magnus, Founder


Get to know a little more about each of the International Vacation Home Exchange team.  In this post we have a great interview with Suzie Magnus the founder of IVHE.com.
Tell us a little about yourself? 
I love everything about travelling.  Having a Finnish Father and English Mother and having lived in six countries in my early years it must simply be in my blood.  My partner says that I get anxious when my passport sits idle for more than a couple months!  Learning about different cultures, visiting unique locations, tasting new dishes and meeting interesting people are all very rewarding.  Starting IVHE has fulfilled another dream and that is to enable other to travel the world, experiencing all of the above, while saving a fortune. 
 I also enjoy cooking and entertaining, especially when my daughters are home and we have a full table of family and friends around.  Sharing stories over dinner and watching my girls grow up is certainly at the top of my favourite activities. 
Over the years I’ve been fortunate to have differing businesses interests from owning a wine bar/restaurant and a building company to hair dressing and eventually into property investment, refurbishment and management.  That is what led me to the concept of IVHE. 
What exactly do you do with IVHE.com?
The concept of home exchange is fantastic.  When I first heard of it (pre-internet) I thought great, but at the time, having two small girls, I thought there was no way I would be able to get my own home in a state where I could swap.  Then thinking, about the other properties that I managed the idea formed of setting a home exchange network for people with vacation / second / holiday homes.  Adding in the concept of credits for non-simultaneous home exchanges allows for a lot more flexibility of both properties and availability as we remove the necessity for a direct swap. 
Today I do a little of just about everything in IVHE, from helping members find a dream vacation home to working on new services that enhance our members experiences.  I’m very fortunate to have a great team, in Europe, Americas and Asia, working together to provide the highest level of customer satisfaction in the industry. 
What makes you smile while working with IVHE.com?
The best experience is when our members write about their great vacations.  When we help a member find a wonderful destination and they come back glowing about their time away, I smile.  We often receive compliments on both the exclusive properties but also on the member’s interaction with the IVHE team, this makes me proud of our entire team. 
Are there any properties or destinations that you keep dreaming about?
I don’t think I’ll ever stop dreaming about travel, somehow my bucket list keeps full.  Last year we traveled to Iceland for the first time, an amazing experience of glaciers, mountains, lakes, northern lights and natural hot springs.  Currently I’m planning on exploring Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.  Something about the open space, ruggedness and wildlife of the area is calling me, plus a great place for skiing.
Name your favorite activity outside of family and work.
Having some experience with property I still keep a keen interest in what is happening in the market.  Maybe it is related to IVHE, it is very intriguing to me to see how property prices vary so much around the world.  Over the last year I’ve put my ‘builder’ skills to work on a couple apartments too. 
As mentioned earlier, cooking is enjoyable.  To broaden my horizon, I recently completed a dim sum course.  Not sure I’m an expert yet but they are very yummy and a lot of fun to make, especially with other beginners. 
I love being outdoors; enjoy walking, skiing and scuba diving.  Currently aiming to complete the Ridgeway Trail, an 85 mile ancient Roman and now National Trail in the UK.  It is a nice challenge, beautiful scenery with a chance to see parts of England that are new to me. 
Any comments or advice for our members to get the best trades possible?
We find there are a few things that enable great home exchange trades.  First, get some great pictures of your home and spend a little time adding information about your home on the IVHE.com website.  Make sure your information is up to date and lists all the great features of your home.  Second, communicate with us.  Let us know where you might like to visit or more importantly what you like to do while on vacation.  We can keep an eye on listings for you and maybe identify new properties that you might not have considered.  We have nearly doubled the amount of listing on IVHE in the last year so we have a much better opportunity to find you a perfect destination.  Finally, the more adventurous and flexible you are, the more options you will have for your next wonderful holiday and vacation. 
Thank you, Suzie, we have you to thank for starting IVHE.com!  

Travelling Within the Boundaries


You’ve seen the photos online, maybe on Facebook or Instagram, of a tourist stretched in all directions like he’s playing a game of Twister, but one foot is officially in the state of Utah while another foot resides in Colorado.  It’s the most common photo taken at the Four Corners at the Navajo Reservation in the USA.  The Four Corners represents where the borders of four U.S. states neatly meet up: Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.
So why stop there? Why not draw up a “bucket list” to visit other well-known national and international lines of demarcation? Better create your own Instagram page before setting off on your adventure. 
Royal Observatory Greenwich – marks the spot of the world’s prime meridian (the planet’s line of zero degrees longitude) and the line by which all time zones are set as well as Greenwich Mean Time (the local time at the zero meridian) and the standard by which all clocks are set. The observatory, which is located at Blackheath Avenue in Greenwich, England, also hosts a planetarium, museum and observatory. There are many events happening at the observatory for kids, teens and adults such as live planetarium shows, Sci-Fi exhibits, presentations and talks, films, and much more. It is open every day (except major holidays) from 10am to 5pm. Entrance to the Astronomy Centre is free. For tourists and that bucket list, you can get a certificate declaring you were in two hemispheres at the same time.
The Equator – ask any sailor or Naval officer, and they can tell you straight away if they’ve crossed the Equator (a source of pride) or not. The equator is the line that divides the northern and southern hemispheres of the planet Earth. At the equator, you may see a sign that reads “Latitude: 0 degrees – 0 degrees – 0 degrees.”  If you look at a globe, a large portion of the line of the equator is drawn over the ocean, which is cool if you cross it in a ship. For those who prefer dry land, there are a few countries that straddle the hemispheres such as Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Indonesia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda, to name several.  For that bucket list photo, head to La Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World) in Ecuador (or to be more precise, the Republic of Ecuador which translates to Republic of the Equator).

International Date Line – is an imaginary line of longitude running from the north to the south that marks where the date changes by one day. It passes through the middle of the Pacific Ocean and is an uneven line so as not to cut certain countries in two (see below). Can you imagine the confusion if your neighbor was going about their business as if it was Tuesday and you are still watching Monday Night Football?  Attention all tourists with cameras: head to the small island of Taveuni in Fiji where you can unofficially stand on the International Date Line. Spoiler alert: officially the dateline was shifted so as not to have two time zones on the small island, but no one in Fiji will tell.
For exclusive homes for exchange in many of these locations visit IVHE.com.  

Singapore is a 'fine' city.


This is not an unusual term for a person who has been to Singapore.
Known for its clean roads, impressive skylines, multilingual and friendly people, Singapore has its own charm- from religious temples to colorful night life. Recently, Singapore has gained a status of being the world’s second largest casino gambling market.
Many Singaporeans, though not all are bilingual. Most speak Singlish (Singaporean Colloquial English with a heavy accent) and other language. Most commonly Mandarin Chinese, Malay or Tamil.
Singapore is served by the only airport – Changi International Airport, located in the eastern part of the country from where people can easily commute to the down town through different means of transport systems. Jump into a cab or ride an MRT or SMRT or just pay 9 SGD to be transferred to your hotel on a bus by a locally owned Ground Transfer Desk which could be found in every terminal of the airport.
Singapore’s MRT system is the easiest way to travel around the country, as you could reach almost every corner of the country in a short time. 
Singapore’s China town is an ethnic neighborhood featuring distinctly Chinese cultural elements and a historically concentrated Chinese population.  Located within the larger district of Outram, Chinatown has its own MRT station which makes this easily accessible.
Sentosa is a popular island resort in Singapore, visited by some five million people a year. Attractions include a 2 km long sheltered beach, Fort Siloso, two golf courses, two five-star hotels, and the Resorts World Sentosa, featuring the theme park Universal Studios Singapore.
The country has a lot to offer to its visitors in every corner, if you have rode the 135m tall London Eye, Singapore has its own 165m tall Singapore Flyer offering a rewarding  view of the entire city  , including the Indonesian islands of Batam and Bintan, as well as Johor, Malaysia.
Marina Bay Sands is an integrated resort fronting Marina Bay in Singapore. Developed by Las Vegas Sands, it is billed as the world's most expensive standalone casino property at S$8 billion, including cost of the prime land. Stretching longer than the Eiffel tower laid down or four and a half of an Airbus A380 Jumbo Jets, with an impressive 12400 square meters of space.
A must see for all travelers, the Night Safari showcases nocturnal creatures using special lighting that allows them to go about their business while visitors cruise by on the park’s guided trams. You also can get a closer look by taking one of the walking trails. The "Creatures of the Night" show, a fire dance, numerous dining options and a fish spa (where small doctor fish nibble dead skin off immersed feet) round out the evening entertainment.
Singapore has a lot more to offer, I have just mentioned about some of the major attractions of the city, doesn’t matter what you are looking for, Singapore will offer all that to you with an open heart. 
Thank you to Sreeram Hariharan, our guest traveling blogger and photographer.  You can read  more of his adventures at www.backpackways.com.    
View IVHE.com's home exchange in Singapore.   

Dolphins and Manatee, see both from Marco Island


Imagine relaxing on your own private dock and watching majestic dolphins or maybe even an awesome manatee swim nearby.  From the pool area you can watch all the marine life while enjoying the sun and relaxing and keeping cool, fantastic! Marine life is one of many great attractions for you to enjoy during a Florida vacation. 
IVHE property #0102, is a two bedroom with two bathrooms detached waterfront villa, located on Marco Island is a perfect vacation destination for enjoying Southwest Florida.  There are plenty of reasons to simply relax at the property; a good size pool, private dock, garden, barbeque and even a couple bikes for you to use while explogin the island.  Or you can take a short walk to the local beach to experience some warm Florida sand between your toes. 
Learn more about this luxury home and its owner’s experience in home exchange travel by listening to a IVHE.com Podcast.  They are free to listen or download from here.  The full home swapping podcast series is available here
Near Marco Island is the larger city of Naples.  The area, also known as Paradise Coast, has plenty of festivals and events throughout the year.   Obviously being located right on the Gulf of Mexico you can enjoy great fishing or sightseeing boat trips as well as some of the freshest seafood restaurants anywhere.

If you are adventurous, a short car trip (or boat trip) to the Florida Everglades will continue to fill your senses.   The Everglades National park is a massive 1.5-million-acre wetlands preserve that is home to hundreds of birds and animal species including the elusive Florida panther, leatherback turtles, manatee and of course alligators.  Spend a day or two learning about the area and it’s unique ecosystem.   





Yellowstone, nature and an exclusive home (video) – Wyoming, USA


While Wyoming is not one of the better known states in the USA, most of us have certainly heard of one of Wyoming’s greatest attractions, Yellowstone Park.  For those of us at a certain age, we also have fond memories of Yogi Bear and his plights in Jellystone (a parody on Yellowstone) park.  Yogi has become synonymous with National Parks around the USA giving us advice on how to take care while visiting these natural settings. 
So what make Yellowstone so famous?  It is known to be the first national park in the world, with Old Faithful Geyser, one of many geothermal features, being a popular site to see in the park.  Spanning over 3,400 square miles, nearly 9,000 square kilometers, Yellowstone park is home to hundreds of species of mammals, birds and fauna including spectacular grizzly bears, wolves, and free-ranging herds of bison and elk.  The bison herd is the oldest and largest public bison herd in all of the United States.
Wyoming is great for seeing natural beauty.  Walking, hiking, biking, motorcycling and touring are all very popular ways to see the stunning landscape.  When you are not exploring the countryside, why not have an exclusive vacation home to stay in while visiting Wyoming? We are pleased to feature this wonderful 3 bedroom (sleeps 8) log cabin home with many amenities, including your own indoor pool.  Situated on a hilltop you will enjoy spectacular views of Big Horn Mountains through cathedral windows.  To enjoy your time indoors, there is plenty of space to relax along with internet access, televisions, Blu-ray player and a sound bar that connects to your iPad, smartphone or mp3 player.  International Vacation Home Exchange property #1185.  



Experience the best of Wyoming and plan your next home exchange vacation with IVHE.com 

Enjoy the Dolce Vita, we do the rest.


"This was Venice, the flattering and suspect beauty this city, half fairy tale and half tourist trap, in whose insalubrious air the arts once rankly and voluptuously blossomed, where composers have been inspired to lulling tones of somniferous eroticism." -Thomas Mann
Oh Venice, such a wonderful experience...marvel at masterpieces, get a tour to the Laguna on a luxury boat, enjoy the breathtaking panorama from the sky...And what about Florence and its Artisans or Rome and its roman cuisine or the Dolce Vita Capri? What is the essence of all this places? How to make your trip the most enjoyable or most memorable?
What about having a personal assistant and lifestyle concierge in the same time who will have all the answers for you? 

Home exchanging is a fantastic way to become immersed in other cultures and explore new corners of the world, having a private concierge at disposal will enrich and in the same time facilitate the experience. Everyone knows that concierge can provide you a map or a dinner recommendation. But stick to those rudimentary requests, and you’re missing out on the wealth of information and network of contacts– private jet pilots, jewelers and personal shoppers. Private concierge can plan your trip, do personal shopping, buy gifts or in other words can just simply take care of your needs. You really like the best things in life, we will save your time and help you take full advantage of them
Urpass.co is your key to Italian excellence. We will help you to get the real essence of Italy, whether it is itineraries, music, art, food, drink, clubs, spas, restaurants. Most particularly we are committed to the highest quality of service one can offer. We know where to taste one of 5 most expensive cheeses in the world (2 of them are in Italy), how to order your tailor made wine, where to buy the best bespoke shoes, which are the best experiences on your way from Florence to Amalfi coast.
Sounds interesting? Drop us an email on info@urpass.co or visit our website, do not forget to mention that you are enjoying  your stay with IVHE vacation home exchange for a special gift.
As Roman Payne said - “You must give everything to make your life as beautiful as the dreams that dance in your imagination.”
Your faithfully, Bella Belagarokova and Urpass.co team


Exclusive Villa in the British Virgin Islands


Imagine waking up every day in paradise, enjoying the best of staying in the Virgin Island’s!   This exclusive villa is very well appointed and with 4 bedrooms, a Great Room, 2 kitchens and balconies on 3 sides, there is plenty of space for everyone in your party. 
You will be staying on Virgin Gorda which is the third-largest of the series of islands.  Legend has it the island’s name came from Christopher Columbus, "The Fat Virgin", because the island's profile on the horizon looks like a fat woman lying on her side.
From this spacious villa you can walk to the famous "The Baths" with all of their splendid beauty and enjoy relaxing at Spring Bay.  The island is perfect for sun worshipers, beach lovers, fishing, diving and most water sports. 

In the island's North Sound is the high-end Bitter End Yacht Club, now a five-star resort. In the North Sound you'll also find other great destinations frequented by boaters from around the world.  Here you will also find plenty of entertainment, shops and restaurants for a great vacation. 
Learn more about this luxury home and its owner’s experience in home exchange travel by listening to the IVHE.com Podcast.  It is free to listen or download from here.  The full home swapping podcast series is available here
Below is wonderful entry in the IVHE guestbook from another member staying here:
We just returned from a wonderful week at the Bigger Splash Villa and highly recommend this exchange. Our correspondence with Josette was perfect, and we can unreservedly recommend her as a reliable exchange partner. 
The villa on lovely Virgin Gorda is very spacious and our 4 children (3 of whom are teenagers) had plenty of room to spread out. The views from the top of the villa are lovely, and it was a favorite place to take our morning coffee or evening pina colada.

The pool was pristine and refreshingly cool after a day at the beaches, with plenty of floats and pool chairs for those who wish to bask in the sun.   – Peggy 2015

Vacation Home Exchange – made easy!


Enjoy traveling and meeting new people?  Combine the two on vacation; a great way to meet locals is through home exchange
           Experience new places and live like a local
           Savour all the amenities of a home while on vacation
           Travel while saving thousands on accommodation costs.
Enjoy this fun short video and learn about the home swapping with International Vacation Home Exchange, IVHE.com.  
video


Meet some of our members, listen or read about their experiences when home swapping with IVHE.com.  We help you find the perfect location for your next trip.  Contact us today

Local Golf Hot Spot between Vancouver and Whistler


There are places for tourists and places for the locals.  In beautiful resort destinations, you’ll be pampered with all the relaxation perks tourism culture wonderfully provides.  And then there’s the local life.  Where you’re part of the community and you feel like you’re home.  It’s those local places that are the best kept secrets.  And that’s the golf course I want to share with you:  Squamish Valley Golf & Country ClubYou won’t feel like a stranger; they’ll make sure of that.
The town of Squamish is the halfway point between Vancouver and Whistler - a 45 minute drive either way; famous for its massive slab of rock called The Chief.  (When I say massive, I mean remarkably gargantuan where climbers look like ants.)
Dan Trevisan is the Head Pro at Squamish Valley Golf & Country Club and he instructs all levels of golf.  As a player, Dan also knows what it’s like to win championships.  Ya, Dan!  I’ve been fortunate to play the course with him and his wife, Dianne.  Fun rounds!  If you need any golf tips or tweaking, definitely go see Dan The Man (But, don’t call him that.  I just made that nickname up while writing this blog post.  Or…try it out when you see him and tell him you read it in an article on IVHE.  Let me know if he likes it.)  Speaking of like, everyone likes Dan!  You’ll see what I mean when you meet him.
Squamish Valley has some of the best customer service, by far, in Northwest BC Golf.  I have played there many times.  It’s one of my favourite go-to courses on any given day.   (I may or may not have regularly skipped out of work to play Squamish…I’ll never tell.)
The course is well maintained and groomed with great care and BC pride.   Plenty of evergreens and splendid mountain peaks surrounding the 18 holes.   Green fees are very reasonable.  Psst, keep that a secret! We don’t want them upping their prices.
Stay and have dinner.  You’ll enjoy the delicious selections on their menu and the spacious patio that overlooks the 9th and 10th holes with its mountain range backdrop.
This is the second in a series from our guest blogger, Karen ThrallBusiness Coach and Golf Fanatic.  
Go to IVHE.com golfing properties for more information. 

Where is my book?


Ahh…summer vacation. The warmth of the sun on our skin, the sound of the birds and the ocean, the feeling of silky sand between our toes – nothing feels better than a beautiful, sunny summer day to anyone who recently experienced a harsh winter.
When the lazy days of summer arrive, most of us take a vacation. We may head to the beach or a house with a pool, most definitely armed with the joyous anticipation of the hours ahead with our favorite book. With no shame or guilt, we could easily spend hour upon hour reading the latest bestseller by our equally-favorite author on our vacation, the weekends, or while the sun stays out late, keeping us company in our comfy chair.
Some of the best books to read on vacation are heavy on characters and plot and utterly engaging. There’s always an excitement to browse the bestsellers’ lists and see what’s new and exciting.
Here are a few of the latest and greatest and most popular reads out there. Stock piling, hoarding and coveting are allowed.   Happy Reading!

Fiction:
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – a ‘whodunit” that will keep you guessing through every train ride to and from London.

Finders Keepers by Stephen King – when it’s a King novel, you know there’s a deranged character just waiting in the wings to snap.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – a teenage boy’s life is permanently changed when he and his mother are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Nightingale by Kirstin Hannah – the lives of two very different sisters in occupied France during WWII.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. If you haven’t seen the movie, read the book first. Did the husband do away with his wife on their fifth anniversary? Read on and find out.

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  A blind girl navigates through her young life during the time that the Nazis occupy Paris.

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty (also anything by this author including The Hypnotist’s Love Story, Big Little Lies, and What Alice Forgot) Lives are shattered and tales are intertwined in this modern day tale of mayhem in Australia when a wife discovers too much, too soon.

Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian by E.L. James. OK, you read the first three, you might as well read the fourth. No one will tell.

Non-Fiction: 
Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America by Jill Leovy. For every white woman murdered in Los Angeles, 100 black men were murdered.

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson. Story of the 1915 sinking of the luxury liner on its way from New York to Liverpool.

Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon.  A 30-year historical memoir of the Sonic Youth artist and musician. 

The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy by Masha Gessen. A look at the immigrant family of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnev, or better known as the Boston Bombers. 

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