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How to choose the right hotel?

A lotís of people ask our advise about which hotel to choose. Of course, we cannot experience them allÖ Some of them we stayed at and relay our personal experience, we also try to visit as many hotels as we can when we travel. Others come up from our clients recommendations.. But we have an access to information resources that give us ability to make recommendations. We simply know where to find them and how to use them, and we can put them to work for you.

Here are the steps to think about:

1. Do you want brand name?

There is a general sense of what, say, "Hyatt" and "Sheraton" readily means. We know what every chain represents or - does not represent. It is a familiar name to a traveler (especially the ones who travel often for business). In many cases a brand name means plenty. Marriott, Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons, and Hampton Inns, for instance, keep their properties of predictable quality. Hotelís collections, like Leading Hotels of the World, also promise a uniform standard (though the nature of each property will be totally unique). But, in some cases you cannot depend on a brand consistency. For example, there are Hiltons that are extraordinary, others are merely adequate. One clue: In some cases the hotelís "subtitle" indicates the property quality level within that chain. For instance, Park Hyatts are the chainís top properties. Next in line are Hyatt Resorts and Grand Hyatts, which in turn tend to be more luxurious then Hyatt Regencies, which are better then properties labeled merely Hyatt. Here is a rough breakdown of brand-name chains based on average quality of each chain, as an example. Remember! This is just a guideline, there are many exceptions.

Luxury High-End Mid-Range Budget
Four Seasons Canadian Pacific Clarion Best Western
Peninsula Crown Plaza Embassy Suites Comfort
Regent Doubletree Hilton Days Inn
Ritz Carlton Hilton Resorts Holiday Inn Hampton Inn
Shangri-La Hyatt Regency Hyatt Howard Johnson
Inter-Continental Ramada La Quinta
Marriott Sheraton Quality Inn
Meridien Sterling Suites Travelodge
Omni Wyndham
Renaissance
Sheraton Resorts
Westin

2. Where do you want to stay?

Itís a matter of individual preference. For example, if you plan to drive around Los Angeles and Orange Counties, you will like hotel located at a strategic point of a freeway system. Upscale shoppers, though, might prefer a Beverly Hills hotel. Sightseers in more traditional cities probably want hotels within walking distance of key attractions - it thatís economically feasible. If not, then a location convenient to public transportation is a must.

3. What are your lodging preferences?

This step might take a while, but itís worth it. Here are some questions to consider:

Once we know this, we have a verbal "snapshot" of you hoped-for hotel. Now, is it geographically plausible? For example, huge hotel resorts are in Hawaii, but rare in Rhode IslandÖ.

And, is it realistically within your budget? Here is where is the next step comes in..

4. What is the budget?

What do you see as the most youíd be prepared to spend, letís say, per night? Try to be realistic. For example, if you want to stay in Paris in high season for under $90 per night, it is not going to work (at least hotels we recommend). However, one way to overcome this "sticker shock" is to come up as average cost of the trip. For example, lodgings in the countryside are normal for this price, so you can combine a couple days in Paris with the countryside exploring. Plus, country hotels often include wonderful breakfasts and dinners, so it will help your budget. Donít forget that in Paris hotels include breakfast for two, which is about $15-20 if you pay in restaurant. But, honestly, this budget cost will give you just barely adequate hotel. If you really prefer better hotels, consider staying outside of Paris with good train connections to town. Or, even, choose your destination to more budget friendly where you can buy more for your money, for example, Ireland or Portugal.

5. Based on a previous Ďinterviewí, we come up with 2 or 3 hotelís recommendations and prices. When making selection, think about upgrading. Even you think it is expensive, think about how it will benefit you and fulfill your needs. You will not believe how many clients came back and told us they wished they booked a better room category, and it was not available at the resort. One family booked quad room for 2 adults and 2 teenage children, and they said they really would be much happier in 2 rooms. But it pays off to plan in advance!

Think about what you will spend, but also what you will get. It is cheaper to stay outside of Disney and Ďcommuteí to the parks. But, the monorail transportation within resort, early admission to the parks for guests staying at the resort, quick trip for a noon break by the pool and a preferred dinner reservations will make a hotel stay very enjoyable, less stressful and memorable for the whole family.

6. Once you make the selection, we check availability, using your first choice, second and third (if the first one is sold out). It is recommended to book as soon as you make up your mind since the hotel available today may be sold out tomorrow.

7. After hotel is booked, you will receive a written confirmation with a hotel address and phone number. We recommend hold on to your confirmation. Confirmation number is the one you will need in case there is a problem at check-in.

8 . Once reservation is made, read carefully cancellation procedures. Some prepaid hotels have very strict cancellation penalties. In this case travelers insurance is strongly recommended. Other hotels (most U.S. ) ask for credit card only to guarantee reservation and you can cancel it at the day of arrival, if you change your mind. Please keep in mind, if you forget to cancel, your credit card will be charged for the first night of stay.

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