The Corliss Group Review on 10 Hotel Booking Mistakes

Booking a hotel seems pretty straightforward, right? And most times it is: Pick a destination, choose your dates, enter payment info and voila, happy travels!

However, there are some big blunders you could be making when it comes to hotel reservations. From booking on the wrong sites to forgetting to check some vital information, these mistakes could easily make or break your trip. Read on to find out what you must avoid when booking that hotel room.

Always expecting the best room

I was recently chatting with a front-desk agent about how her hotel chain distributes rooms at check-in. Curious, I asked what method her staff uses to determine who gets the best-located rooms. She revealed this surprising tidbit: Those who book through the hotel website or are hotel loyalty members usually get first dibs on room assignments, with the better views and quieter locations. Travelers who book through online travel agencies (OTAs), like Priceline, often receive “run of the house” rooms (what she called “ice-machine rooms,” or basically whatever is left). The agent couldn’t tell me just how many hotel chains do this, but she said it was a “fairly common practice” and that it sweetens the deal for travelers who book at regular rates.

Using incorrect arrival and departure dates

Of this travel sin, I am guilty as charged. On an overseas trip several years ago, I noted that my flight left on May 14th, so I booked my destination hotel starting the night of May 14th. Rookie mistake. I completely neglected to check that my flight was a red-eye that landed early in the morning of the 15th. This means I paid for an expensive (and nonrefundable) room that I didn’t need.

Not using a credit card

When booking a hotel, credit cards are king. Not only do credit cards offer rewards like airline miles, free night stays or cash-back bonuses, but they also offer certain guarantees that debit cards and cash do not (such as fraud protection or immediate refunds for mischarges).

Making reservations for the wrong hotel

Travelers, beware: A misleading hotel name or location description could lead you to book an airport hotel when you think you’re getting centrally located accommodations. You would be surprised how often travelers see the name of the hotel and reserve it quickly without checking to see if it’s located in the right place. After all, some hotels may call themselves “located near the heart of downtown,” but a quick search could reveal that it’s located at the airport … two hours away.

Not accounting for taxes and resort fees

Back in March, contributing editor Ed Perkins reported one of the most outrageous resort fees we’d seen yet. At a hotel in Colorado, the decent $170 room rate was artificially inflated with a $35 cleaning fee, a $40 resort fee, a $10 pool-and-spa fee, and a $5.10 processing fee. Ouch.

Not checking reviews

If you’ve ever taken a spin on Oyster’s Photo Fakeout feature, you know that hotels go to great lengths to make their properties seem perfect. But upon arrival, that infinity pool could really be the size of a postage stamp, and those sumptuous linens could feel like sandpaper. Take anything a hotel says about itself with a grain of salt (or sand).

Booking at the wrong time

As most procrastinators will readily admit, waiting until the last minute to make travel plans can have dire consequences for your credit card balance. Hotel rates can soar in the days leading up to a particular date, and you could be left without a room if everything books up (or if nothing left is within your budget). On the other hand, being an advanced planner can have its own disadvantages: Sure, you may want to have all of your travel ducks in a row as soon as possible, but it can actually cost you money to book your hotel room too early.

Not comparing prices

Saw a hotel you loved advertised at a “great price!” and immediately plunked down a credit card number and booked? Wrong: Without doing proper research, you could be missing out on big savings.

Booking nonrefundable rates

Every wondered why nonrefundable rates are cheaper than the regular rack rates, even if the room is the same? It’s because the hotelier benefits from the lower price, too. Locking you in at that low rate guarantees she or he won’t have an empty room, which would cost the hotelier money. Of course, trying to pinch a few pennies will end up costing you if you need to cancel.

READ THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE: 10 hotel booking mistakes you don’t know you’re making

The Corliss Group Review on Travel Facts and Tips in Norway

In fact, many of the roads in Norway are closed or otherwise inaccessible the rest of the year. The weather can be beautiful in the southern and urban areas.

In the northern parts of the country however, it can be very cold.

If you’re planning on traveling much farther north than Oslo, you will need a warm jacket, hat, gloves, etc.

Good to know before you travel

Passport and visa requirements On arrival in Norway, you must show a valid passport or other official document that satisfactorily establishes your identity and nationality.

Travelling with pets. Norway is one of few European countries where rabies is not found, and every precaution is being taken to maintain this status.

Dogs, cats and ferrets from all EU countries must have pet passports, ID marking and valid rabies vaccination. Dogs must also be given approved tapeworm treatment, minimum 24 and maximum 120 hours before arrival.

Small rodents, cage birds and rabbits must have valid import permits issued by the Norwegian Food Safety Authority.

What clothes should I pack? Whatever the season, the Norwegian weather is liable to change from day to day. So it is a good idea to bring a selection of items.

Your luggage should include some light clothes, items you can layer (that way you can add or remove layers depending on temperature), at least one warm jumper, waterproof coat and/or umbrella and comfortable walking shoes/boots/trainers.

If you go during the winter, you will need an overcoat, scarf, gloves and warm shoes/boots.

In autumn and spring, you may want to bring waterproof trousers and boots.

For the summer, lighten up, but remember that even summer evenings and nights can be chilly, particularly in the mountains.

The Corliss Group Review about Travel Buddies iOS App

Whether we’re innocently stalking our crush on Facebook or tweeting our deepest feelings into the depths of cyberspace, our iDevices have become integral to our daily social networking needs. Knowing this, app creators work tirelessly to come up with new ways to integrate various aspects of life into a social framework – new reasons to connect people. In this regard, developer Toby Gunston has come across a rather unique proposition: we all love to travel, but who wants to travel alone? That’s where Travel Buddies comes in…

The Travel Buddies app is the the mobile component of an already successful online hub for world travellers, and brings with it a rather useful suite of social functions for holiday-makers, road trippers and weekend wanderers. Aimed at users with a penchant for meeting new people and discovering new places, Travel Buddies builds a social network around the concept of looking for travel partners.

It’s a simple yet well executed idea: once your profile is set up, you’re free to look for likeminded people planning trips in your area or travellers who will be following a similar route to yours. Perhaps you’re lining up a European boat tour but are looking to make a few friends along the way? Just load your travel plans on your Travel Buddies profile, and you can easily zone in on users who will be in the same area at the time. Whether its a continent-spanning road trip or a weekend getaway, there’s bound to be someone with the same idea in mind. Alternatively, search for tourists planning a trip to your area and arrange to hook up and show them a good time in your homeland. The search parameters and inputs could do with some refining – you’re limited in both your searches and your own trip details – but it’s enough info to get a conversation going.

 

The user interface is clean and straightforward, a breeze to use for anyone familiar with mainstream social media apps. It’s a matter of moments to familiarise yourself with the menus and various options to put together a list of potential travel partners. There are inherent risks involved with something like this though – you’re planning meet-ups with people you’ve never met, after all, so it’s important to exercise caution before heading off on a secret mountain camping trip with a bearded man with face tattoos.

 

The social infrastructure of Travel Buddies is built around a number of networking options. Users outline their plans on the public wall, or detail them within their own profiles, showing their scheduled stops and so on. Find someone you are interested in joining on their travels, and you can get in touch with them via direct chat or email to make that a reality. It would be good to see more detailed profile information on prospective travel partners though – perhaps something that could be addressed in future updates.

 

While we all love a holiday, that’s not to say that Travel Buddies will be useful for everyone. It’s aimed exclusively at those keen to explore the world with strangers. Whether it’s worth the asking price depends on your affinity for social travel, but at least it’s a once-off fee, so once you’ve bought the app you have access to every aspect of it. If you’re part of the target demographic though – those adventurers who like to try new things, maybe take a few risks, or simply hate the idea of a lonely holiday – Travel Buddies could be the networking tool you didn’t even know you were waiting for.

The Corliss Group Review about Travel in Edinburgh

Summer is festival time in Edinburgh, with thousands of visitors descending on the Scottish capital to see some of the best new talents in the arts and entertainment world.

From grandiose theatres to tiny, dark pub back rooms hewn from volcanic rock in the medieval Old Town around the Royal Mile, every nook and cranny becomes a stage.

Visit the top half of the Royal Mile, which links Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace, and you will find it full of performers showing off and advertising shows they hope will make their careers.

And what of the shows themselves? Well, they could be almost anything, with genres spanning comedy, theatre, dance and cabaret.

There is no one single Edinburgh Festival; instead there are 12 festivals spread throughout the year, with a flurry of activity in July and August. Details of them all can be found at http://www.edinburghfestivals.co.uk

The largest and loudest is the Fringe (www.edfringe.com), in August. International talent rub shoulders with plucky newcomers hoping to make their name with a decent run.

The Fringe is based around a hub in George Square, which features seven theatres as well as bars and stalls serving street food. Many other venues can be found on the other side of the city close to the Royal Mile.

If you want to see big name stars, plan and buy tickets in advance, because they often go like hot cakes. Towards the end of August, many of the biggest names are either likely to be sold out or will have already finished their run.

But a lot of the smaller shows are cheaper – or even free – and tickets are easier to come by, giving you the potential opportunity to brag about seeing so-and-so before they were famous, in rehab, or appearing on I’m A Celebrity…

Be warned though, if you are bringing children, some of the shows feature adult content – including nudity and swearing – so it is worth doing some investigation beforehand.

A lot of the shows are quite short, meaning you can nip into plenty of pubs for a pint or a wee dram.

And it’s not just the punters who often stagger from one show to the next – many of the performers spend a month or more in Edinburgh seemingly surviving on a diet of whisky and haggis!

Of course, you can also have an amazing time without alcohol.

August sees the International Book Festival (www.edbookfest.co.uk) take place amongst the neo-classical magnificence of the Georgian New Town, with talks and signings by big-name authors.

Its purpose-built park setting gives the place an almost college campus atmosphere, and it’s a great place to while away an afternoon away from the hubbub of the city.

There is also the Edinburgh Art Festival (www.edinburghartfestival.com), held at venues across the city, with sculptures and other specially-commissioned works displayed on streets and in parks across the city between July 31 and August 31.

 

The Corliss Group Review: Evoc Bike Bag Review

Taking your bike overseas can feel like more hassle than it’s worth. Thankfully, the Evoc Travel Bike Bag is here to help, writes Jonny Cooper.

A confession: the first time I took my bike abroad, it took me two and a half hours to pack it adequately into my bike box. Like many modern cyclists, the value of my bike is (shamefully) disproportionate to my mechanical know-how; I hesitated over every dismantling step, fearful that I’d never be able to put the thing back together again. And then there was the tetris-like puzzle of working out how to squeeze the fractured mess into a box that felt like nothing more than an oversized Samsonite suitcase. Those two and a half hours were far from fun.

So, taking a bike abroad can be a stressful experience – and that’s long before you’ve even reached the airport and signed over your prized steed to the absentmindedly boisterous attentions of the baggage handlers. When it came out the other end, my rear derailler hanger was bent out of shape and I had to find a mechanic to come to my rescue.

In the context of such a fluffed transit, the Evoc Travel Bike Bag is a minor Godsend. This structurally strong canvas bag has been well designed to hold and protect a road or mountain bike with a minimum of fuss.

To get your bike into the bag, you take off both wheels and pedals, and unhinge the handlebars (they stay connected to the frame via the brake and gear cables). The frame and bars fit into the bag’s main cavity, where a succession of adjustable straps hold them securely in place, while the wheels slot into two pockets on the side. The bottom bracket is protected by a huge foam pad, and the pedals slip into a side pocket.

And that’s that. It took me 50 minutes to get my bike into the bag and zipped up the first time I tried – and that reduced to 20 minutes on the second attempt. It’s impressively straight forward.

Of course, bike bags have to be more than easy to use: their primary purpose is to protect your bike from the vicissitudes of transit. A cursory glance around bike forums reveals a number of sob stories on this front – and a healthy debate over whether soft shell (the Evoc) or hard shell (for example, the frequently recommended Bike Box Alan) is better. Hard shell cases are supposed to protect against external knocks better than their soft siblings – but then the bike can also move around and bang against the hard internal walls. Or so the arguments go.

All I know is that the one time I travelled with a hard case, my derailer got bent, whereas my bike has been fine in the Evoc. One thing that’s surely worth doing is padding the bag on the inside with enough bubble wrap and/or old sheets to ensure your bike is well cushioned from internal or external movements.

A definite benefit of the Evoc over hard cases is its foldaway nature. The bag is kept structurally strong by 8 removable rods; take them out and it collapses in on itself, allowing you to store it in a cupboard or under a bed. A major boon for cyclists already in trouble at home over their space-sapping hobby.

The only slight let down is that unlike other bike boxes, the Evoc has two rather than four wheels on its base, which means you have to pick up one end to wheel it along. You start to feel a bit jealous of those who gently push their four-wheeled boxes around when you’ve got one arm going dead thanks to the weight it’s lifting. A minor complaint, but two wheels good, four wheels better.

The Evoc Travel Bike Bag comes with two optional add ons. An aluminum bike stand fits into the bottom of the bag and screws onto your bike’s frame via the fork ends, lifting the bottom bracket off the foam pad and lending extra stability to the setup. The ease of mind it creates will cost you £89.95 – if you don’t fancy shelling that out, there’s a protective foam fork pad available for £19.95.

The Corliss Group Review at Artist Residence Penzance

Artists, and art lovers, have been coming to western Cornwall for centuries, but the picture-postcard appeal of St Ives, with its Tate Gallery and Barbara Hepworth Garden, tends to steal the limelight from its plainer sister, Penzance.

Yet this historic port has much to love: atmospheric pubs, smart restaurants, designer-y shops and galleries that have established it firmly on Cornwall’s art trail.

Gallery-cum-boutique hotel Artist Residence is on Chapel Street, the most charming and browsable street in Penzance’s old quarter. But for art lovers the real draw is the original designs by British artists in the hotel’s 14 bedrooms.

The reception area opens into a spacious cafe-gallery hung with paintings of Cornwall (all for sale) and mismatched shabby-chic tables and chairs. On a sunny Saturday it’s buzzing with couples and young families, setting a laid-back tone for the rest of the hotel.

Friendly staff show us to the Picture Room, a light and airy double with crisp white linen and walls hung with playful graphic prints saying things such as “Rise and shine”. It’s modest rather than spacious: a comfy double bed leaves room for two stylish arm chairs and a desk with views to the neighbouring buildings. (Only the two attic rooms have sea views.)

My favourite room is one by artist Jo Peel with a Chapel Street scene in orange and turquoise murals. Designs range from Sinead Geary’s Dolly Devine, with delicate butterflies in soft green, clean seascapes of the Muju Room, whose designers have a gallery in St Ives.

A 40-minute stroll along the coast takes us to Marazion, for a dip in the bay and a pint in the Godolphin Arms overlooking St Michael’s Mount. Back at the hotel we freshen up in the small bathroom – just room for a clawfoot bath and powerful shower with BeeKind products. The hotel doesn’t serve evening meals but the Bakehouse a few doors up does a mean steak, and we follow it with a nightcap at the Turk’s Head, Penzance’s oldest pub.

Next morning my exemplary cooked breakfast (all locally sourced ingredients) makes me wonder why it doesn’t branch out into full meals. The homemade fruit compote with Greek yogurt and granola would have been a healthy option if I hadn’t chomped it down as a first course. While coffee-lovers may bemoan the Nescafe sachets in the rooms (what no Nespresso!), the Artist Residence has personality in spades. It’s cheering to find a hotel that celebrates this area’s artistic culture. And best of all is waking up in your own mini art gallery.

The Corliss Group Review of Hotel in New York about $500 bad review fee

A small hotel in upstate New York suddenly found itself in a media maelstrom (and a flood of bad online reviews) on Monday, and all for what it says was a joke.

The Union Street Guest House in the Catskill Mountains in Hudson, New York, got slammed by bad online reviews after a story in The New York Post stated it had a policy of charging customers $500 for each negative online review posted by wedding guests after they stayed in the Greek Revival establishment, built in 1830.

As of early morning Monday, the hotel’s website did have a policy statement in its weddings section that stated: “If you have booked the Inn for a wedding or other type of event anywhere in the region and given us a deposit of any kind for guests to stay at USGH there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review of USGH placed on any internet site by anyone in your party and/or attending your wedding or event. If you stay here to attend a wedding anywhere in the area and leave us a negative review on any internet site you agree to a $500 fine for each negative review. (Please NOTE we will not charge this fee &/or will refund this fee once the review is taken down).”

Later Monday, that policy was removed. When contacted by CNBC, the hotel said it was all in jest. “The policy regarding wedding fines was put on our site as a tongue-in-cheek response to a wedding many years ago. It was meant to be taken down long ago and certainly was never enforced,” the Union Street Guest House said in an email to CNBC.

The story in The New York Post, followed by other media outlets, yielded dozens of one-star reviews on Yelp and one from Jonathan S. who wrote: “That’s funny. Yelp doesn’t publish real reviews I’ve gotten that are positive but they’ll publish all these negative reviews from people that have never been to the establishment.”

Experts say the policy probably would have been difficult to enforce, anyway.

“Legally it probably has the same effect as a no-smoking policy,” said Gene Policinski, the chief operating officer of the Newseum Institute and senior vice president of the First Amendment Center. “It’s maybe more to do with intimidation than enforcement.”

A policy like that wouldn’t fall under First Amendment laws because the inn is not operated by the government, so enforcement would likely have fallen under contract law as an agreement between the hotel owner and the customer, Policinski said.