Tips and Tricks for Picking Hotels and Resorts

Happy Thursday Hidden Gem Travel community!  Can you believe that we’re halfway into October and only 6 weeks until Thanksgiving? Time is flying this fall, and I’m excited that things are getting back to normal and are super busy.  Over the next couple of months, I’ll be giving you the scoop on international travel to Europe and the Caribbean by cruise ship from personal experience.  Hopefully, the reports from my travels will both inform and inspire you for your own trips in 2022.  Stay tuned! 

An important PSA about American Airlines – their new conditions of carriage terms aren’t consumer-friendly.  When you book your ticket and check the box where you agree to their terms, you are accepting this new policy. I won’t get into the details here but generally, if a delay or cancellation causes you to miss your flight, American will no longer rebook you on the next available flight and will only be required to look for seats on flights operated by them or their partners.  So, you may be stuck in a connection city much longer, possibly miss a day of your vacation, or need to book an unexpected overnight stay before your flight the next day.  There are more details to this change, so read up if you fly American Airlines. 

In this week’s newsletter, I share some tips and tricks for picking hotels and resorts.  Read on for the scoop…

Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires

Consider These Questions

Below are a few questions relating to selecting your accommodations:

  • Do you feel that your accommodations should be just functional or are an important part of the overall experience?
  • Do you prefer a hotel/resort room/suite or a larger space like a villa, cottage, or standalone property (either part of a resort or an independent unit)?
  • What vibe do you want in your accommodation – traditional, modern, sustainable, family-friendly, adult/romantic, etc.?
  • What onsite services do you prefer (i.e., restaurants, bars, spa, shuttle service, adjoining room availability, beach or pool, kitchenette)
  • How important is it to be central in your destination?  How far from the airport?
  • Would you prefer to be able to walk to restaurants and experiences?
  • What is most important to YOU for THIS vacation?

These factors and others are important to consider when planning a vacation.  Personally, I believe that accommodation choice makes a big difference in the overall vacation experience.  

Vetting accommodations yourself is tricky and success varies based on the level of due diligence and oftentimes a bit of luck.  You can read reviews online (be wary of the paid ones that are disguised as real people – very common) and scour websites.  There are usually many options, and you can quickly find yourself in the internet black hole. 

An easier way is to work with a travel advisor.  I recently recommended a hotel to a client who hadn’t known it even existed despite much research before they came to me.  It turned out to be the perfect choice (and they got the insider perks!).

Belmond Grand Hotel Europe St Petersburg

Hotels & Resorts – Getting You The Perks

With hotels and resorts, you can miss out on perks and upgrades when booking yourself.  How do you get perks, amenities, upgrades, and top-notch service at better hotels?  You book through a travel advisor who is on their preferred partner list.  I’m on the list for Hyatt, Accor (brands like Fairmont, SLS, and Sofitel), Four Seasons, Belmond, all Virtuoso network hotels, and more.

Perks can include:

  • Room upgrade at check in (example, paying for a garden view and receiving an ocean view room)
  • Breakfast daily (can often be very valuable)
  • Credit for the restaurant, spa, other services (example $100 per stay)
  • Early check in and check out priority
  • Wi-Fi upgrade
  • Welcome amenity (example, chocolates or wine in the room)
  • VIP service – see example below
  • Exclusive experiences

If you’d like to read more about hotel perks, here’s a great article:  And you can book a Virtuoso network hotel yourself and receive some of the listed perks here.

My Process

Unfortunately, you can’t VIP yourself.  When I book my clients into one of my network 4 to 5-star hotels, villas, or professionally managed accommodations, I confirm your reservation with the general manager to ensure that you will receive all available perks, top-notch service, and the best available room upon arrival.  Since GMs know that travel advisors like myself will recommend them to more clients (and industry colleagues) after receiving great client feedback, they are always happy to put my clients at the top of the priority list.

A recent example was with a client (staying at the Andaz Maui) whose luau was canceled last minute.  The management contacted me about the issue, and I had my clients rebooked by the time they arrived back from their day tour.  A spot was secured before anyone else because they were Hidden Gem Travel clients and my relationship with the team on site.  This was key because they were going home in a few days, and a luau was at the top of their must-do list!

Site Inspections

Travel advisors like me do ‘site inspections’ where we take a thorough tour of the hotel or resort.  Last month, I did a site inspection of the Peninsula hotel in New York City.  It’s a fantastic option for special weekend getaways for families and couples alike. More on this property to come.  In NYC, I’ve done relatively recent site inspections of the Lotte New York Palace in midtown (across from St. Patrick’s Cathedral), and the newish Equinox hotel located in Hudson Yards just a stone’s throw from the Vessel.  I will be doing monthly site inspections in NYC in the future as I have so many fantastic partners and NYC is back (for people who are vaccinated).

Since I can’t get everywhere myself, I have a network of colleagues who share their feedback from their own site inspections which is invaluable when I’m researching for my clients. 

💎 Hidden Gem Tip: The Peninsula New York has a gorgeous rooftop bar serving fabulous cocktails and tasty bites.  Their plans for holiday time this year are fantastic and family-friendly!

Inspired by these tips and tricks for picking hotels and resorts?  Here’s the link to schedule a chat with me

Follow my Facebook/Instagram pages this week for more travel inspiration: or Instagram:

Wishing you and your family continued good health,


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Hi, I'm Susan Wilson

I’m the founder of Hidden Gem Travel Consulting. As your personal travel advisor, I craft custom worldwide itineraries that astound and inspire you.


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