Tag: TripAdvisor

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To Trust TripAdvisor Reviews or Not? That Is the Question

November 20, 2012 at 10:38 AM | by | ()

Just when we thought the whole question of TripAdvisor's reliability had mostly dissolved into oblivion, along comes this LA Times article asking, once again, whether we can really, really trust those online hotel reviews.

And while our first reaction is to roll our eyes, there's no denying that this is still a hot button issue in the hospitality world. For starters, it goes beyond just hotels: restaurants, bars, cafes and music venues all fall prey to unnecessarily malicious, or suspiciously enthusiastic reviews from customers with an agenda. But since we deal with hotels around here, we're focusing on that side of things.

The LA Times article refers to a study by a group called Market Metrix, which found a few interesting things. First off, online reviews are almost entirely written by young people (ie, over the age of 50). No surprise there, but still an alarming statistic when you consider that the people staying in hotels (and reading the reviews) span a wide range of ages.

And even if you can get past the fact that people half your age are writing these reviews, the question still stands: are the reviews trustworthy?

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Oheka Castle Is Crumbling (But TripAdvisor Reviews Are Still Good)

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 135 West Gate Drive [map], Huntington, NY, United States, 11743
October 16, 2012 at 9:15 AM | by | ()

A confession: The Great Gatsby was one of our favorite novels as a ninth grader. The fancy houses. The fast cars (well, minus the tragedy). The spectacular parties. We loved all of it. So we're guessing we would also have loved visiting a place called Oheka Castle Hotel & Estate in Huntington, NY, which supposedly inspired a portion of the F. Scott Fitzgerald masterpiece.

Unfortunately, the 443-acre property is now facing foreclosure, as the WSJ recently revealed. Sadness!

The castle, which was built in 1919 and contains 32 luxury hotel suites, is supposedly the second largest private estate in the entire country, and has been visited by everyone from the Citizen Kane film crew in 1941 to Anthony Weiner, who got married there in 2010. And yet, we have yet to be invited for dinner...

See below for a few excerpts from recent TripAdvisor reviews!

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One Year Later, Checking In On: 45 Park Lane

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 45 Park Lane, London, United Kingdom, W1K 1PN
August 28, 2012 at 12:39 PM | by | ()

Last summer, we watched some pretty big-time hotels open all around the world. London made a contribution to the ultra-luxe Dorchester Collection. New York got its first unofficial skateboard hotel. Trump invaded Panama. And now, twelve months into the game, we can't help but let our curiosity get the better of us. What are these hotels up to a year later?

Right off the bat, we had a pretty good feeling about 45 Park Lane when the announcement was made, pre-opening, that the hotel would be housed in London's old Playboy Club. But this hotel has managed to wow in all the right places: excellent service, Hyde Park views, fully pimped out bathrooms, and free WiFi.

And the rates ain't bad, either.

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Hotels Are Making Serious Money Off WiFi Fees And Other Enraging News This Week

August 27, 2012 at 2:54 PM | by | ()

There's even more hotel news flying around this week and we don't have time to give each and every story the love and attention it may deserve, so you will have to settle for some news briefs.

· Hotels to Rake in $2 Billion in Fees: The next time you find yourself shelling out money for WiFi or to use the fitness center access during your hotel stay, remember, it's ok to be really pissed off about it. That's because hotels are set to take in about $2 billion in fees this year. That's up 5.4 percent from last year, according to the Tisch Center at New York University. While the annual take-in from fees isn't expected to keep growing, that's still a crazy high number. All the more reason to raise a fuss if that WiFi connection shorts out. Grrr.

· Seriously Sick at The JW Marriott Chicago: The new-ish JW Marriott Chicago is under investigation as a total of seven people who stayed at the hotel this summer have contracted the sometimes deadly Legionnaires’ disease which is found in water. The Chicago Tribune reports that the hotel has drained its pool, hot tub and fountain and even closed part of its spa. We're guessing that chlorine-free pool might not have been such a good idea after all. While the city's health department said there is "no ongoing health risk at the hotel", the JW Marriott is still working to alert the 8,500 guests who stayed at the hotel between July 16 and Aug. 15. Ugh. UPDATE: Two people have died from the outbreak.

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'Upmarket Hostel' In NYC Skimps On Space, But Delivers On Low, Low Rates

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 276 Canal Street [map], New York, NY, United States, 10013
August 16, 2012 at 9:38 AM | by | ()

Looking for a cheap new place to stay in NYC? You might want to take a look at newcomer Tribeca Blu, which opened back in May and has slowly been building itself up as a basic, convenient option for folks needing lodging near Soho, Tribeca, Chinatown, or any other of Manhattan's trendy downtown nabes.

The hotel's amenities are what we'd call..."limited." No restaurant, no bar, no business center, no refrigerators, no fitness center. But the one perk TB does have going for it is low rates—and for many cash-strapped travelers, that's a big perk.

We logged onto the website this morning and found rates of just $169.15 (WiFi included). For that kind of money, who needs room service?

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Maybe We Should Start Taking TripAdvisor's 'Style' Recommendations With A Grain Of Salt

Where: Tucson, AZ
May 16, 2012 at 9:30 AM | by | ()

Just the other day, we were planning out an upcoming trip through Arizona, and we decided to browse some hotel reviews on TripAdvisor; specifically, places in Tucson. But just as we were about to scroll down through the list of results, we noticed a row of boxes at the top of the screen with labels like "business," "romantic" and "trendy," each of which corresponded to different categories of hotels.

Or, as TA calls them, "styles" of hotels.

We dubiously clicked on the seventh one, which yielded four results. And, while we can't say anything bad about them, by no stretch of our imagination would we hasten to call any of these places "trendy."

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Have You Ever Been Bullied Into Writing a Positive TripAdvisor Review?

January 31, 2012 at 9:00 AM | by | ()

During a routine sunrise Twitter-browsing session this morning, we came across this story about employees from the Irish-based Carlton Hotel Group being instructed by their managers to post fake reviews on TripAdvisor. Needless to say, the reviews had to be positive, posted from non-hotel IP addresses, and include photos that were "not professional" but "good quality." Because you've got to be subtle with these things!

Which is impossible to do when said staff memo, which was originally sent by one of Carlton's sales and marketing directors, gets leaked all over the internet. The wily, conniving underbelly of hotel management: exposed!

But this made us think. How many times have you been co-erced (or simply asked) by a hotel to post positive TripAdvisor reviews after your stay? Would a free upgrade or restaurant voucher give you more incentive to say something nice? Or do you generally not make a habit of posting reviews in the first place? We want you to weigh in, fellow lodgers!

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Have You Stayed at One of These Top Hotels in the U.S.?

January 20, 2012 at 1:30 PM | by | ()

TripAdvisor is doing away with their infamous dirtiest hotels list and is instead focusing on their Traveler's Choice lists like the "Top 25 Hotels in The U.S." as decided by the most favorable reader reviews.

Topping the list is the luxury Chicago hotel, The Elysian, which is now a part of the Waldorf-Astoria Collection. Taking the #2 spot is The Grand Del Mar in San Diego who won us over with their less stuffy teatime. Coming in with the bronze is the perennial award-winner Four Seasons Maui.

Also making appearances on the list are the Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square (which we called a semi-secret, super luxe option in EssEff back in 2010), The Hotel Palomar Chicago (see our gorgeous photos of the hotel here) and the Sky Lodge in Utah where we fell in love with their freestanding waterfall bathtubs.

And while we are certainly familiar with most of the hotels on the list, we haven't actually stayed the night at many of them. But maybe you have? Please, fill us in.

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A Look at Shelborne South Beach's Renovated Rooms

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 1801 Collins Ave [map], Miami Beach, FL, United States, 33139
December 28, 2011 at 9:55 AM | by | ()

Hotel makeovers: fun when they're finished but hell in the meantime? That may have been the case for the Shelborne South Beach, but the hotel has almost finished its massive overhaul, with 50 of its guest rooms now renovated to look like this.

As one commenter pointed out last time we got an update, the hotel's TripAdvisor reviews have not been kind during the construction phase. Not having stayed at the hotel, we can't speak for the service, but we can say that if the photos of the new rooms and the poolside cabanas are true to life, then the new Shelborne is nothing if not pretty. If you want to book a room that pleases the eye, though, make sure you ask for a Premiere Room (above). These are the renovated rooms.

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TripAdvisor Names The Top Ten Dirtiest Hotels, Hotel Owner Gets Mad

October 28, 2011 at 9:14 AM | by | ()

Hotel owners, take note: when you're trying to build credibility for your brand, it might not be a good idea to let over eight years' worth of god awful customer reviews pile up on your TripAdvisor page without taking action. Kenneth Seaton, owner of Pigeon Forge Grand Resort Hotel in Tennessee, is suing TripAdvisor for $10 million for placing him smack at the top of their Dirtiest Hotels 2011 list, citing 87% percent of reviewers gave the place a thumbs down.

According to The Mountain Press, Seaton's lawyers are referencing "flawed" rating systems that "distort" the actual performance of the hotel—further, they accuse TripAdvisor of "contriving...to cause respected customers to lose confidence" in the hotel.

Um, right. We bet all of those "respected customers" were just clamoring to stay another night here after browsing through the pre-existing reviews and photos. Roaches in the door frame? No thanks.

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What Does The Public Think of Public?

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: 1301 North State Parkway [map], Chicago, IL, United States, 60601
September 27, 2011 at 4:53 PM | by | ()

We gave you the complete lowdown on Ian Schrager's brand new Public Chicago hotel the other week but today we decided to check in with the rest of the general public on TripAdvisor to see what their reactions are. And so far, so good. Or as good as it can be with just three reviews.

The first reviewer claimed to stumble across the hotel by accident but is now a devoted fan, especially of the delicious The Pump Room:

The other thing...I don't often eat in hotel restaurants, and I've NEVER done this before but I stayed two nights and ate lunch and dinner in the hotel both days. The Pump Room may very well be my favorite restaurant, so even if you aren't staying there definitely go for lunch or dinner. There's a great bar on the other side of the lobby too where you can get some some of the lunch entrees.

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How Much To Tip The Concierge

August 18, 2011 at 10:40 AM | by | ()

He's known as @ConciergeCorner on Twitter who's not afraid to dish on all the crazy things that guests ask concierges. But he also might be the concierge fielding your requests during your next hotel stay and he's got a few tips on how to get the most out of your concierge contact. This week, here are his thoughts on How Much To Tip the Concierge. (And no, that's neither @ConciergeCorner or his hotel in the photo above.)

To tip, or not to tip: an age old question in the hospitality industry.  In an industry where at times over 50% of one’s pay is derived from gratuities, tipping is always appreciated. That said, my HR department pays each (hourly) position differently depending on what they feel we likely receive in gratuities.  Sadly, their gratuity estimates are quite high and unrealistic.  

Yelp ain't got nothing on us.

In the past, boarding passes, dinner reservations and transportation arrangements would be some of the most common concierge requests, but the emergence of sites like Trip Advisor, OpenTable and Yelp has changed this.  Today, many guests will skip the concierge, opting instead to utilize websites.  There are still some who will utilize our services, especially in the luxury segment.  You can imitate the human touch, but you can't duplicate it.  When it comes to a last minute dinner reservation at a popular restaurant or a sold out performance, I'm far more likely to be able to secure them for a guest than a website is.  Given that this is something that only I, the concierge, may be able to accomplish; common gratuity is $5 or $10. For me at, I'd say the most common gratuity left is $5.  

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