Monday, October 19, 2009

Questions to ask when making a hotel reservation

Though staying in a hotel room is no longer an event that we look forward to in our household, you may love the idea of packing up and having a special break away from home. Though I can’t give you a precise formula for finding the perfect hotel room, I can offer a couple suggestions and encourage you to ask a few questions prior to your arrival that may help ensure your stay is a pleasant one.

First, you need to determine what are you looking for in a hotel. Do you plan to spend quite a bit of time in the hotel or resort? If so you may want to ask some specific questions to ensure there are no surprises. If you plan to be out most of the day, you may simply be looking for someplace to rest your head and won’t be that particular. Either way, read on.

For over a year, I worked as a front desk representative at a very nice hotel. During that time, I was amazed at some of the questions that I was asked. So if you feel that yours are silly or off the wall, don’t fret, it has probably been asked before.

Common Questions
Do you plan to save money by taking advantage of the continental breakfast? Then you’ll be disappointed to arrive and find out that the advertised breakfast is simply donuts and watered down orange juice or coffee. Find out exactly what deluxe continental breakfast entails. Does the hotel offer laundry facilities? Do you sell laundry supplies? Are there safes in the room? If you reserve the room on your credit card, when will the room be charged (though rare, some hotels do charge the credit card at the time the reservation is made rather than upon check-in). What is the cancellation policy? What discounts do you offer? AAA? AARP? Corporate? Military? Sr. Citizen?

Traveling with Children
Inquire about special rooms; some hotels have larger rooms that would be especially appealing to a family. If your children are young, it would be best to request a quiet, first floor room. What features does the hotel have that appeal to families with children? Is there a game room? Vending machines? Pool? In room movies or game systems? What are the hours for the pool? Does the hotel offer pool parties? If so, are any scheduled for the date or your arrival? Does the hotel offer complimentary cribs for infants or toddlers? If this is requested in advance, the crib may be set up and waiting for you when you arrive. A nice touch if you’ll be arriving late. Will you need extra bedding? Request this ahead of time. Be specific about what you need. Do you need a roll away bed? Is there a charge? Microwave or refrigerator? If one is not located in your room, is there one in the lobby that can be used? What attractions are in the area that would appeal to families with children? Do they offer family specials or packages?

Traveling When You are Disabled
Ask for a description of the handicap accessible rooms that you have? Are the handicapped rooms on the first floor (believe it or not, they aren't always on the first floor or close to the door)? How far of a distance is the room from the parking lot? Is someone available to help me with my luggage? Do you provide shower stools or is there a built in seat in the shower?

Traveling with Pets
It's sometimes difficult to find a hotel that allows pets so you should certainly ask before showing up with yours. Is there a charge or deposit for cleaning, etc.? Is the deposit refundable? We’ve found that when we travel with our puppy, we don’t like walking him through the interior corridors when he has to go outside so ask if the hotel has the interior or exterior corridors. If pets are NOT permitted, is there a kennel nearby that they can recommend?

Traveling for Business
If you need to use the Internet make sure that it is free and that it can be accessed from your room. We’ve been to hotels where Internet is only available in various ‘hot spots’ located within the hotel. At least you’ll have Internet, but wouldn't you be more comfortable at a hotel where it can be used INSIDE the room? Does the hotel have a business center? Is a copier, fax machine or printer available to you? Is this complimentary? Is there shuttle service from the airport to the hotel, etc.?

Traveling with Groups
How many rooms need to be rented to receive a discount? Is it possible to keep the rooms close together? Are there adjoining rooms? Is there a room that can allow your group to have a ‘private’ breakfast each morning? Do you have room for a bus to park on site?

Romantic Getaways
Perhaps you’re planning a romantic outing with that special someone. Does the hotel offer a romance package? If so, find out specifically what it entails. Do they have whirlpool suites? Is the whirlpool separate from the bathroom? How big is the whirlpool? Can they describe the room? Can candles be burned in the room without setting off the smoke alarm? If you have something delivered to the hotel (flowers, balloons, etc.) can it be placed in your room in advance for a special surprise? Believe it or not, it was common for people to stop by to look at our whirlpool suites.

Parking Questions
This may not seem like a big deal, but if you are planning a stay at a major resort area or larger city, you'll want to know the answers to these questions before your arrival. Is parking on site? Is valet service offered? Is there a charge for parking? If your family is driving more than one vehicle, is there parking available for both? Is there room to park a motor home, tow-dolly, trailer, etc. on premises? Often, people like to see their vehicle from their room. If you are one of those people, request that ahead of time if it's a possibility.

Other Questions You May Not Think Of
Is there a restaurant, bar or nightclub in the hotel? Are safety deposit boxes available? Do you have a gift shop? Is it possible to exchange currency for international travelers? Does the hotel offer cash advance on credit cards or is there an ATM on premises? Do they rent DVD players or movies? If you will be staying in a resort area, is shuttle service to the major attractions offered? If so, is it continuous, what type of schedule is there? Does it have to be scheduled in advance? If you are a single woman you may want to ask if you would feel safe in the area- especially when it is someplace you're unfamiliar with or if you'll be arriving late. You could also ask if they could recommend an alternative.

Make a list of the questions you want to ask before you call so you don’t forget anything when making a reservation. Once again, I hope this information is helpful, if I forgot something, please leave a comment and let us know what questions you ask. Happy Traveling!

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