With so many vacationers booking their own travel packages online, or doing serious online research before contacting a travel agent, online review sites have become an essential part of the travel-planning process. But it can be frustrating trying to get a good picture of what a hotel is really like when there are great reviews mixed with terrible ones – leaving you wondering if the travelers could possibly all have gone to the same place.
When checking out vacation resorts in tropical destinations like Mexico.Cuba, and the Dominican Republic, there are a few complaints that you can safely ignore, since they will not impact the quality of your vacation or your tan. Here are the top 5 complaints you should ignore in any review of a tropical vacation destination.
1. My flight was delayed the weather was bad
While a delayed flight and an unseasonable rainstorm will certainly impact how much you enjoy your holiday, these things are totally beyond your hotel’s control. While the flight and hotel are often booked together for vacation packages, the hotel is not able to control the airline’s scheduling or behavior (never mind the weather!). Reviewers’ negative comments about flights and weather can be totally disregarded when choosing a hotel. For those who have had negative flight experiences, rather than take the problems out on the hotel, write a seperate flight review, contact your travel agent, tour operator, or airline for assistance or compensation.
2. There was a cockroach in my room Welcome to the tropics! If you find a cockroach in an upscale hotel room in New York City, you should certainly call it to the attention of both hotel management and others who might be thinking of visiting that hotel. However, in warmer climates, cockroaches thrive outside, and often come in through open windows or doors. The presence of one in your room, while disturbing, does not mean the room is dirty or that the hotel has a roach problem. Giving a hotel a bad review because of a cockroach in your room in the tropics makes about as much sense as panning a hotel in Chicago because there was a little spider in the bathtub. Unless reviews mention entire families of cockroaches taking up residence in the hotel, this complaint is safe to ignore.
3. There were too many locals the staff didn’t speak enough English
If you want to be surrounded by your fellow countrymen, speaking your own language, you’re best off traveling in your own country. It shocks me every time I see the “too many locals” comment in a review, but it pops up surprisingly often. Why not enjoy mixing with the locals instead of hoping for isolation from the culture you’re visiting? In terms of English, any hotel catering to American, Canadian, or European tourists will have someone on hand with enough English skills to get you through any emergency situation. But for day-to-day interaction at the hotel, why not try to brush up on your abilities in the local language instead? Unless you want your vacation experience to be exactly like home, but warmer, this complaint can be totally disregarded.
4. The buffet was bland/repetitive (especially in Cuba) There are two reasons why this common complaint can be ignored (and a third why it should be ignored if you’re traveling to Cuba). First, a buffet is meant to serve a wide variety of tastes, and it’s not reasonable to expect you’ll like every item. Keep in mind that if things are a bit repetitive, you don’t have to have every item you like every day it’s a buffet, so there are sure to be lots of choices, even with repeats. Second, no all-you-can-eat buffet is as gourmet as a formal restaurant or even at home. You should keep your expectations for gourmet dining in check at any all-inclusive. If things really are boring and repetitive, try some of the foods that are aimed at the local visitors with new sauces, spices, and flavors to try, you should find the choices anything but boring.
Unless, of course, you’re in Cuba, which is where that third reason comes in. When you travel to Cuba, you must remember that you are visiting a country that cannot get any goods from the United States, and lacks the infrastructure to transport perishable goods within its own borders. This situation, combined with a general lack of wealth in Cuba, means that many items you’d expect are simply not available. This is true across the board at Cuban resorts. If you can’t handle a few green tomatoes and repetitive food, don’t go to Cuba. If you do go, remember that no matter how bland your food may be, you are getting so much more than any local. Ignore this complaint and be thankful that you have so much at home that boring food on your vacation could possibly seem like something worth complaining about.
5. The bed was too hard This is a cultural preference. Canadians and Americans seem to like their beds much softer than anyone else in the world, so when traveling we’re often uncomfortable on hard beds. This does not mean, however, that the beds are cheap or the hotel is attempting to punish its guests, local visitors actually prefer the beds this way. Most hotels that cater to Canadians and Americans will have egg-crate-style foam mattresses available as mattress toppers. This softens the bed significantly, and deals with any discomfort for those used to soft beds. Just ask for one to be added to your bed on check in. Unless you have special chiropractic needs, this complaint can be safely ignored.
So there you have it all the top 5 reasons to ignore a bad hotel review. Use this list to help you get the real scoop on a hotel before you book, and know what to expect when you arrive. Keeping your expectations reasonable is the best way to ensure a happy holiday.
Photo Credits: iStockPhoto.com and ilhan gendron.