Paradise Lost? Your Hotel Doesn't Quite Look Like That

Hotels Exposed: Oyster.Com
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Ever check in to a hotel, only to find it hard to recognize from the photos on the Web site?

That spacious room with lots of natural light is actually an oversized closet facing a brick wall. That quiet pool overlooking the sea turns out to actually be next to a highway, near the ocean. And that gym with state-of-the-art workout equipment looks a lot more like your high school gym class.

Now a new hotel review Web site, Oyster.com, is trying to expose some of these kinds of discrepancies through a popular blog that it calls "photo fakeout."

Hotels Exposed: Oyster.Com
Hotels Exposed: Oyster.com

"We are just trying to show that what you see in the photos is not what you are always going to find," said Will Begeny, editor of the site.

The blog highlights some of the tricks that hotels often do to make their properties look as pretty as possible. There are over-generous crops, creative angles and pictures taken early in the morning before the crowds take over the beach.

Begeny said that none of these are dishonest but noted that some are bending the truth a bit more than others.

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For instance, one Miami hotel shows on its Web site a surfer with a wet, see-through T-shirt climbing out of the hotel pool, surfboard in hand. The problem, the pool is roughly the size of a hot tub. Not really much room for the model, his surfboard and anything else. But you would never know that looking at the hotel's Web site. In fact, the tightly cropped photo is the only pool shot on the site.

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"The priorities are different. When the hotels are taking the photo, they want to sell the hotel," Begeny said. "Of course, we don't fault somebody for trying to sell the hotel."

The Workout Room Without a View

Then there is the Jamaican hotel with a beautiful workout room, with stationary bikes overlooking the ocean. A hot guy and girl are checking each other out. Sounds like a great place to get some exercise, right?

Well, when the Oyster reviewer visited the Holiday Inn Resort in Montego Bay they did find the cardio gym equipment and they did find pretty views. They just didn't find them together. Instead, the stationary bikes were in another room, a room without the view.

"And it's yellow, which we assume is supposed to make you happy enough to forget about the fact that your expectations of ocean breezes and hot, confident and into-you dudes on cardio machines have been thwarted," wrote the reviewer.

A spokeswoman for the hotel's owner, InterContinental Hotels Group, said the hotel, which is located on the beach, does have a workout area overlooking the beach. It is located on the other side of the wall of the gym from the yellow room. Sarah-Ann Soffer said in an e-mail that the hotel's photo, which is still on its Web site, "was an accurate photo at the time it was taken."

"The cardio machines used to be housed there, but the hotel has been going through extensive renovations and they have since moved the cardio equipment," she said. The area pictured on the hotel's Web site is now used for floor exercises.

InterContinental said the photo Oyster took is outdated because of further renovations since the Sept. 1 blog posting.

"The hotel is currently working to have the photography updated as the renovation nears completion to depict the new look of the hotel's amenity offerings," Soffer said.

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