Internet makes vacation planning easier, and I do not mean cheap prices. One is able to determine what one will find upon arrival.
Before the Internet, most trusted travel agents, hotel brochures, or dumb luck...all of which often led to disappointment or worse. Carefully cropped publicity photos fooled travel agents and customers alike. No one mentioned nearby construction, unsightly neighbors, or noise pollution. Some people simply jumped in the car and drove to their chosen destination, hoping to find a good place to spend their holidays. I recall searching for maps, city tourist brochures, and brochures of neighboring hotels to get a better idea of what to expect. France was the easiest to research, because Michelin maps are very detailed. Other countries required more work to. Travel agents were rarely helpful, relying of hotel publicity for their “expertise”.
Now, it is easy. Google Earth lets you study the environment of a hotel and often provided photographs of the location. Tripadvisor offers photographs, maps, and individual reviews. If one knows how to interpret euphoria or anger in these reviews, one can form a rather good impression of a hotel. Carefully cropped publicity photos on a hotel website are easily debunked by checking the satellite view. A good example is planning a trip to Dubai. Hotels show lovely beaches, but not the Palm Island build just off shore or massive high-rise blocks overshadowing their property. One quick look at a satellite photo reveals that beaches of the Jumeirah hotels enjoy an unrestricted view of the gulf and are not surrounded by high-rise towers. Their immediate neighbors are the ruling family: they do not permit high buildings, which would offer a view over the walls of their vast properties. Another example is Florida. Hotel publicity show a long, sandy, uncrowded beach, with the ocean on one side; the property adjoining the beach is cropped. A look at the satellite reveals one high-rise hotel or condominium aft the other lining the beach. The photo must have been taken before the masses flooded onto the beach. An ocean view often mean the necessity to lean over the railing of a balcony and crane one's neck to spot the water.
No one should book a hotel without checking its location and surrounding property. A review of all photographs at multiple sources will help to remove most disappointment.
Look before you leap and caveat emptor...
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.