The Internet has revolutionized (and demeaned) travel writing with its tyranny of immediacy and the democratization of information. Everyone who is anyone (and many who are not) has a web page, if nothing more than a WordPress blog that almost looks like a real web page. Sites like TripAdvisor make everyone an expert. Citizen reviewers are like citizen journalists. Sometimes professionals do a better job.Ã‚ We at least try to get the facts straight before publishing. And, even when we have felt unappreciated by hoteliers, we generally refrain from printing saying negative things. We may damn with faint praise, but that takes some skill. Too often, I have seen someone who had a bad experience or a chip on his/her shoulder lambast a hotel for things that were not the hotelierÃ‚?s fault. I have seen people complain about sulfur hot springs hotels because they smelled bad. Come on! Sulfur has always smelled bad. People go there because of the sulfur.
I have seen people diss a good hotel because it did not have TV in the rooms, when one of the attractions of that hotel was that it was isolated and a place to get away and mellow out. When I owned a travel agency, we lost sales and a good hotel was hurt because someone wrote a scathing review of a spa we represented. The woman had not even stayed at the spa. She had stayed at the hotel by the same name, which was a completely different setup. People who make themselves feel superior by hurting others should make sure of their facts.
Ah, but I rant. On with the story. Eventually, when I have the energy, I will put real reviews of real hotels by real travelers who know what they are talking about. And I will approve them. But that is for farther down the road. Travel writing is more than merely traveling to a hotel, staying a few days and writing about it. It is, at its best, an opportunity to show an outsider a glimpse into the society and area around a destination. It is an opportunity to marry literary excellence with journalistic impartiality. A very few writers have ever achieved that. And among those, some are just so opinionated that they get the facts wrong in order to aggrandize their egos. But hey, I have never claimed to have achieved that lofty goal. I just slog along, reporting what I can, adding a little spice of my years of knowledge.