You have found the perfect destination with just the right mix of activities and relaxation to revive and rejuvenate. You have contacted your best friend and it is time to plan for a few days reconnecting.
You have overlooked nothing. You know when the restaurants are open and have chosen some areas of interest in the surrounding town you would like to see.
You arrive, anticipating your joy at reconnecting with your best friend, and everything is perfect until you open the door to your room.
Your room. The space where you will spend your most personal of time, sleeping. Your room where you will begin and end your day. And that room should be perfect. Always.
Nothing is more deflating to a traveler than “Room Letdown.” Anything from a space so small the only place to sit is the edge of the bed or a room with peeling veneers and a bed harder than the cement floor clearly felt beneath the thin carpet.
Unfortunately you cannot rely on the thumbnails and marketing blitz found on travel and destination web sites for an accurate picture of the room.
But you can try to protect yourself from room letdown by asking yourself what is important to you.
One rule to keep in mind is that when spending your time, and money, in a “luxury” type property, it should be equal to, if not nicer than where you live at home.
Right after you decide where and when you want to go, you need to decide if you want a room with expansive comforts such as suites with overstuffed furniture? Or will a space that is elegant but simple suffice? Do you like the quaint Bed and Breakfast or will you be roughing it at the local motel?
Too many times travel planners see the room as just a place to sleep, but it really is much more than that and the perfect room can make, or break, your respite from the everyday.
Hotels versus Resorts
Resorts and hotel accommodations vary by nature. A hotel, by definition is “an establishment that provides lodging and usually meals, entertainment and services for the public.”
The key word being lodging. Hotels are most often seen as a place to spend a night while traveling through an area. The hotel is not often the destination as much as a place to stay while you are where you need, or want, to be.
When making hotel reservations remember that hotels often rely on name branding but properties can and will differ from market to market. A franchised hotel will often fall far short of the accommodations found at a corporate owned property. Regardless, a room for the night or for a week should have clean walls, carpeting and baths. All the bedding should be changed between guests, not just the sheets and pillow cases. Linens and towels should be clean and not worn and of reasonable quality.
For example, a favorite places to visit is the Doubletree Suites, Times Square, New York City. Making this journey yearly for a four to five day visit it is always an enjoyable experience. The rare occasion that something has not been right, one of the able and polite front desk staff has fixed it. Immediately.
One of the worst experiences this travel year was at a Doubletree Hotel, Denver (Quebec Street). The requested suite was unavailable, which in itself was disappointing however the room offered was unlivable and did not come close to the furnishings, cleanliness or quality of the website’s pictures. It was a room that was far below the standards for a Doubletree property and the front desk manager was not interested in helping us to find an appropriate room at the property. (Parent company Hilton did find us other accommodations, but it became a very late night!)
A resort, on the other hand, is anticipated to be much more. Resorts offer entertainment and luxury amenities such as spas, health clubs, large pools with beach chair service and fine dining options. Water front resorts often have complimentary water activities such as sail or paddleboats, swimming rafts, chairs and umbrellas for a late afternoon nap.
Checking into a resort means you are looking for rest and relaxation along with a bit of entertainment, sports, quality eateries and luxury at every turn. You plan on calling it home for at least a few days, more often a week or more. The property may offer every perk you need with lots of play, dining and relaxing options. However for that visit to be truly memorable requires that the room will not only meet, but also exceed your expectations. Your resort vacation spot should be as nice, if not nicer, than your home.
Either way it is a process of caveat emptor, or buyer beware.
Therefore, before you click that “Book Now” button, call and ask to speak to the resort or hotel concierge. With your list of wants and needs in hand, ask the questions that are important to you.
Are the pillows down or foam?
Do the bathrooms have double bowl sinks and are they located within the same space as the shower and toilet, or are they outside the bathing space?
When were the rooms last refurbished?
Your site’s photos show very clean and well kept rooms – can I expect the same?
Remember to write down the name of the person you speak to, date and time and put it in your travel file. Take that information with you. And if your room does not meet your expectations, politely and rationally demand it be cleaned, changed, fixed or reduced.
When booking travel, this is one time to remember, you get what you pay for. And if you are looking to pay motel rates at a resort, well that can happen, but you are liable to have more than one unpleasant surprise. Determine your budget, recognize you get what you pay for and make a list of what is important to you in your room.
If you are paying $189.00 a night for a room in Cocoa Beach, it better be clean and well furnished with reasonable amenities, restaurant and pool/fitness center at a minimum and a professional staff.
If you are paying $375.00 a night for a Cancun resort, the room best have the balcony and ocean bay, not garbage bay, view promised. It should also immediately make you feel that you are glad you came.
So before you click the “Book-It-Now” button, call, or email, and start asking questions and don’t book until you get the answers you need.
Top Ten Suggested Questions (and remember, expectations for a hotel and a resort are vastly different, as should be the price of the room):
- When were the rooms last refurbished? Can I expect a room and hallways that are clean, freshly painted, bathrooms free of mold and/or peeling wallpaper?
- Are there any programs that if enrolled in allow me to request an upgrade? (You may need to enroll before you book so ask first).
- Is the HVAC regulated by a “below the window” unit or central air system? Below the windows turn on and off during the night and might be annoying to a light sleeper. You also want to ask how close to the bed those units are as having cooled or hot air blowing on you can be uncomfortable.
- How large is the room? Does it have a chair, table, and/or desk with chair? Can I request/expect one King Size bed or two queen/full-sized beds?
- Can I request a room near, or far away from, the elevator or pool? What type of view can I request and will I actually get it or is it only offered on availability? Can I request a room without an Eastern exposure? (They can become hot and bright early in the morning).
- Do you have free Internet connections and is it wireless or do I need to bring a cord for my laptop? Most properties supply the USB cord, put it doesn’t hurt to ask. This is one of those “upgrades” you may get for free by being a member of the hotel program.
- What are the quality of the linens and towels?
- Does the hotel have a restaurant and/or room service? What are their hours?
- What time is checkout and can I request a late checkout?
- Do you guarantee my reasonable satisfaction with your property?
Do you have a hotel or resort room pet peeve? A really good story about what not to do? Or something you did that worked out exceedingly well? Do you have a favorite vacation stop? Or a place that is on your “Don’t Go There” list? How about a favorite amenity that always makes your resort or hotel stay perfect. Email firstname.lastname@example.org” and share your favorite good and bad hotel/resort stories. We will also begin listing properties with reviews and scale ratings. As always, there is more to come at Donne Tempo.