Fancy, glossy travel brochures and websites are designed to lure you to the destination, cruise ship line, or hotel company. Learn to read between the lines and interpret the images of a travel brochure so you know exactly what you are paying for and are not disappointed on arrival. Ask questions before you plunk down your hard-earned vacation dollars.
Steps from the beach – How many? Enough to add up to a mile? Or is the resort atop a cliff, and sand and surf are via steep, rickety steps or a steep path? Another resort-speak phrase is “walking distance from the beach”. Two miles may be walking distance for your daily treadmill routine, but probably not what you want for a relaxing vacation.
Secluded – This is fine if you want a want a quiet, romantic getaway. But unless your remote destination provides services including restaurants and activities, you’ll be spending a lot of time and money on taxis to town.
Natural beauty – Hopefully, with reliable electric service attached to the picture postcard sunset.
Internet available – Where? In the lobby only? A taxi ride away? The word ‘available’ is resort-speak for not free, and you can expect to pay as much as $14.95 or more for daily internet access. If it’s free, the hotel or resort will promote it as a perk. And even then, ask questions. Recently, I was insanely frustrated trying to log-in to the free in-room wi-fi in my hotel. Turns out it nobody mentioned it was available only up to the fifth floor. You guessed it — my room was above that.
Fitness center – Yes, of course they have one. But is it free, or will you be hit with a ‘resort fee’ to use the stationery bike or sauna? Many resorts automatically tack on a resort fee to the daily room rate or package deal, which make your bargain hotel room significantly more costly and less of a bargain, even if you never use the swimming pool or fitness center. Always dispute resort fee charges you weren’t told about until check-in, or worse, at check-out.
Friendly staff – This is the secret weapon of any company. Unless, of course, their housekeeping schedule means they walk in with the vacuum when your toddler is taking a nap. That happened for three days running at a family ski vacation last season, and we went without housekeeping for half our trip.
Book ahead – You want to make sure the place is open, and not closed for the season.
And finally, beware of any brochure or website that contains an artist rendering rather than a real photo.This usually means the place is under construction and your alarm clock will be a backhoe or portable drill. Or, it’s an old brochure, which should signal you that management doesn’t have the money or attention span to take care of its guests.
Your vacation is too expensive and too precious to be ruined by mis-leading travel brochures and websites. Read between the lines and ask questions to be sure you are getting what you are paying for and avoid hidden charges that could doube the cost of your vacation, romantic getaway or family reunion.