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New Mexican (Newspaper) - October 2, 2005, Santa Fe, New Mexico TRAVEL Everyones a critic By Gary Lee The Washington Post When it comes to hotel reviews denly everyones a critic And that can be a problem One citizen reviewer on complained that service at the deluxe Renaissance Mayflower in Washington sags on weekends after business travel ers have checked out Another wrote on that the grime in a guest room at SuperClubs Breezes in Montego Bay Jamaica was so thick that a message written on a glass win dow said Clean me Im Still other commentaries drip with syrupy praise others are thoughtful and nuanced With the increased prevalence of hotelreview sites that publish critiques by guests any traveler with an urge to share his or her views on the quality of linens the firmness of mattresses or other aspects of a place of lodging can be a critic Hotel publicrelations people and professional writers have their ways of getting out their word on said Josh Feuerstein vice president of hotels at one of the first sites to include user reviews This is the publics chance to express its views on the quality of a place and the service it Whether they rant or rave the reviews are often so subjective that they work best when supplemented by guidebook magazine or newspaper rec ommendations and ratings from AAA Mobil etc Until recently critiques by guests were mostly a curiosity the travel equiv alent of reality TV Now more travelers are using them for advice on where to stay or avoid and for sharing their own views on properties they have patronized Tripadvisor the biggest and most frequently used site includes million user reviews of hotels world wide up from a million just seven months ago The Aventura Spa Palace in Mexico has drawn more than reviews By Feuersteins account the number of guestwritten reviews on Travelocity doubled to in the past year The popularity of user reviews has spawned a of new sites offering them Besides Tripadvisor and Traveloc ity the most widely used are Igougo com Expedia Jim Worth StarTelegram com and Each offers a slightly different format focus or tone Travelers can navigate find reviews for thousands of properties across the globe ranging from the anight Four Seasons in New York to the Friends Hostel in Paris an online travel aggrega tor includes with its hotel listings links to guestwritten reviews from several Internet sites Besides the sites where users can post reviews a handful offer those who log in the chance to post and answer ques tions about specific hotels They include and LonelyplaneLcoms Thorn Tree As more and more vacationers regu larly log on to research trips and make reservations the appeal of user reviews is logical They offer uptodate infor mation sometimes available within hours of a guests visit Critiques posted on Travelocity and several other sites are removed after a year the listings on hotels in many guidebooks can be a couple of years old But the biggest attraction is the raw candor The writers often take a refresh ingly undiplomatic approach and most sites edit or censor the views lightly if at Some reviewers arc welltraveled pro fessionals who critique hotels and other travel services as an avo cation Jim Rosenberg of Wausau is a public utility offi cial who stays in hotels more than 40 nights a year He has written reviews on dozens of properties for Tripadvi sor and Igougo I have often used reviews by other travelers for Rosenberg said in an interview And the results have almost always been good I figure offer ing my own comments about hotels is a way of repaying my debtedness to other His writeup of the Holiday Inn St Germain des Pres in Paris published earlier this year on Igougo typifies the nononsense approach many of the reviewers take Some refurbishing would be he wrote of the threestar property Finding a room with a view would be a he added even though the hotel is in a his toric neighborhood His conclusion It has a low to nonexistent charm factor that may leave you wondering whether you might have been better off going with one of the areas many twoor threestar properties that would provide comparable or better accommodations at a lower Others are even more blunt Sev eral guests at the Radisson Lexington Avenue in New York complained on Tripadvisor that the guest rooms were tinier than bathrooms in Manhattan apartments Rather depressing is how Antoinette Gumey of San Diego described the Aston Kaanapali Shores on the Hawaiian island of Maui on Wheretostay It has old decor and dark echoing she added We had to change rooms several times because of bad odors or faulty air Like the hotels they cover the user review sites have their flaws too Among them They are too often based on a single negative experience What might 14 SUNDAY Oct 28 2005 The New Mexican magazine
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