Accommodation reviews

August 21, 2007 | By More

Before I continue with a few more accommodation reviews – I will publish a new one tomorrow, I would like to make a couple of comments.

It’s becoming increasingly more and more difficult to accept an opinion from places like Trip Advisor without a healthy dose of scepticism. Interested parties have entered the arena of accommodation reviews, whether to extol the virtues of their businesses or to critize the competition. This participation has introduced an ever-increasing noise to the communication process. Recently, there was a pitched battle at Lonely Planet’s travel forum fought by travel agencies based in the region of the Pantanal. The moderation of the forum did not intervene, causing, in my opinion, serious damage to the credibility of the forum in the short and middle term.

[For those interested on the topic, a team from a university in Texas published in February a very interesting article on travel reviews and their impact on travel planning; you can download the PDF here].

The reviews you read on this blog make reference to places where we have stayed during our trips. I publish the reviews with the only aim of helping other travellers who might be considering the same destination. There is no connection whatsoever between us and the places where we stay. We don’t know the owners, they don’t know us. I never disclose I am the author of a travel blog. We do not enjoy any special priviledges. If we get a discount, it is because that discount is available to anyone willing to stay at that hotel/pousada (usually because of a long stay during low season). What you read is the experience of a traveller like you, who is not connected in any way to the tourism industry. We don’t go to the hotel/pousada with the purpose of writing a review of the place. Those after sanitized reviews can find them elsewhere.

I would also like to emphasize we have stayed for at least one night (usually more than that) on each of the businesses we review. If you don’t spend the night at the hotel/pousada you can’t tell whether the music coming from the street is too loud, whether the mosquitoes turn the night into hell, whether it takes ages for the hot water to come out, whether the air conditioning unit makes a noise that resembles a jet turbine, whether the walls are so thin everything you neighbours do can be heard across the room, how is breakfast like. To us, accommodation is a means, not an end, and for that reason, a quiet and stress-free night is the most important thing we ask from the place where we stay.

You will read plenty of accommodation reviews written by authors who haven’t spent a single night at the places they are rewiewing (this is quite common on the big guides, like Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide, but you will find this behaviour in smaller publications as well). The authors go in, have a look around the place, talk to the owners, and leave the place assessing aspects of the hotel/pousada that, while important, don’t tell the whole story – décor, cleanliness, attention.

We have been victims of this phenomenon on our recent trip. We chose to stay at a pousada that receives raving reviews on several guidebooks we consulted. And yes, the décor of the common areas of the pousada is nice, and we can understand why a chance visitor might get a good impression of the place. But in that pousada we did not find the quiet and peace we were after when we chose it.

Category: Reviews: accommodation

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