Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Excuse me, this is not a theme park

tripadvisorLike everybody else, I often wander over to trip advisor to check out people's comments on various hotels. Whether one believes that these reports are real, or skewed by those who want to put their own places into a particularly positive light, is a matter of debate. Thus, of course such reports have to be taken with a grain of salt - one man's heaven is another man's hell. However, I occasionally stumble across some comments that truly amaze me. Some travelers obviously do not have a grasp of what it means to travel in a developing country. Just because they encounter a Hyatt or Ramada Hotel somewhere near the international airport that looks and feels almost exactly as the ones at home, does not mean the rest of the country is on equal par. Yet, that is what some travelers seem to expect - coffee-makers, tv and phones at a jungle lodge, and of course, flawlessly running hot water and plumbing in the middle of the jungle, not to forget 24h electricity - ecologically produced, of course. These travelers seem to think that Costa Rica or Peru is just a bigger version of the Epcot center. It does not occur to them that things like electricity and clean running water are a luxury in most countries of the world and that tourists, even in the most basic hotels generally enjoy a higher standard than most of the population around them.

eco-luxury is not the Hyatt
I am not making an excuse for flea bag hotels here - I think that any place that offers a service to the public should have a minimum standard of cleanliness and comfort and a friendly, helpful service staff. But TV, phones and 24h electricity are not part of the minimum standard in my books, especially when the hotel is many hundreds of miles away from civilization. Vacation times are also about experiencing something entirely new and different, and about disconnecting from the normal run of the mill. Providing TVs and such in wilderness places undermines some of those benefits. Plus, connecting remote wilderness lodges to the mains would destroy the very habitat that makes their location special. And thus, it can sometimes happen that things don't work as smoothly as they should or that getting replacements can take longer than it would in downtown Manhattan. But, I would hope that people go to these remote places not only for the hotel, but first and foremostly to enjoy the often stunning and remote locations where they are situated and take a minute to consider where they are at, before they start complaining - or, just visit the Epcot center instead.

Just my 2 cents.