Eco Village

Did you know an eco-village called Gaia Sagrada is committed to living harmoniously on the Earth and becoming one with Mother Nature? If you want to know more details about this Ayahuasca Retreat Center, visit:

How to Choose a Hotel Online based on the Infrastructures

Choosing a hotel online can be such a difficult decision as you never know what you are going to get when you arrive. Thousands of travellers take to the internet each and every day to find their dream hotel where they can relax, be pampered and have a well deserved break. For some, this perfect paradise dream crashes when they arrive at the hotel to see that it isn’t what was advertised online, which is why you need to know how to choose a hotel online so you are guaranteed to receive what you pay for.

The first thing to choosing a hotel online is to have an idea of what you expect from the hotel and your room. Are you looking for sheer luxury or maybe just a quick relaxing stop over somewhere? This will help you identify if you want to be looking at five star luxury hotels or you are happy with a four or three star comfortable hotel. Do you want a hotel with an on-site restaurant? What about a fitness centre? Maybe a wellness centre? These are important considerations which can help you start identifying the hotels that tick all the boxes.

Set yourself a budget before you start your in-depth search into the hotels available. With a budget you have something to work to, this way you can identify quickly which establishments come in within your budget, helping you narrow down your short-list that little bit faster.

Next identify the location that you feel you want to visit. You may be travelling to explore a capital city or you may be heading to a large city for business purposes. With a location in mind, a budget and knowing what you expect you will be able to browse a host of hotels, put a short list together that can help you make your final decision.

Always compare the hotels in the local area to identify what they offer, their prices, their services and more. When you have one or two hotels in mind in a certain area, having a closer look at the hotels and comparing them against each other is often the easiest way to come to your final decision and book your room or suite.

Take a close look at the facilities and services provided in the hotels you are most interested in. Some hotels will offer particular services or facilities that are more important to you than others, this can also help you make a final decision. Five star hotels will provide you with a host of superior five star services and facilities from free Wi-Fi throughout the building to an indoor swimming pool and an on-site wellness centre to restaurant offering the added convenience of room service.

A five star establishment should also provide you access to a fitness centre. They will have a twenty four hour reception desk and a concierge service for added convenience. Their host of services and facilities will be vast, so you are guaranteed to tick all your boxes with ease and confidence.

With your final hotel in mind, you now want to check availability to ensure that they can accommodate you on your chosen dates. Remember the earlier you book, not only will you get the room you want for the dates you want, but many hotels offer early bird discounts, so you can save money when booking a couple of weeks in advance.

Make your booking and ensure you receive a confirmation that your booking has been secured. Check the dates on the confirmation and keep it with you for a fast and effective check in experience.

The Digital Future of the Hotel Industry Starts at Home

During my many years of travel in the service industry and having stayed in hundreds of hotels worldwide, it’s clear that the past five years have brought about enormous change in the hotel industry.

Innovation with architecture, interior design and guest comfort is at an all-time high. Widespread revitalisation has been incredibly successful in meeting guest expectations. Yet, in an increasingly demanding world, there still also remains a huge opportunity to truly create a home from home for the traveler.

Improvement On the Old?… How Much Has Actually Changed in The Hotel Industry?

In so many areas, the revitalisation of hotels continues to occur through the use of innovative products. Yet, if you look closely, you begin to realise that most ideas are limited to enhancing old, existing structures, whilst missing vital customer life cycles.

In a world where customer loyalty is hard-fought and guest expectations are continuing to rise, what’s truly needed is a shift to more dynamic business models: Low risk, digital strategies that are truly in sync with customer’s loves and expectations.

So, What’s Missing from the Guest Experience?

Be it a family, business clients or honeymooning couples, people are now approaching their travel with exceedingly high expectations. In today’s environment, we have access to so much. We have a plethora of choice in our everyday lives and we expect the same standard of availability, ease and access when we enter a hotel.

Modern Expectations

Take my example: At home, my WIFI works seamlessly, without the need for daily passcodes. I can fill my fridge with my favourite food, available for me whenever I want it. I can order it or purchase it on a whim to make my Friday night extra special. I control the temperature of my house, so that when I come home, it’s comfortable. I book massages or entertainment online to consume immediately.

These are all ‘givens’ for me. And I expect them – and more – from my hotel.

I’d love to be able to choose my preferred pillow prior to my arrival. I want to be able to book a reservation at a restaurant or spa with ease and without constant phone calls, or easily choose a city tour without visiting reception. If I have a problem during my stay, I want it fixed fast – not needing to chase a maid or deal with a busy receptionist.

If you, as a hotel, can provide a solution for me to easily manage my needs – through the entire lifecycle of my experience – from booking, staying, right through to months after my stay, then you will earn both my loyalty and my revenue.

Touch and Influence Through Mobile

But how could a hotel achieve this? By adapting pragmatic digital strategies within the guest life cycle. Mobile as our main form of communication and source of information, is one ideal solution.

Located directly on the home screen of the guest’s own device, you have the opportunity to live, literally, in the palm of their hand and be just a touch away from a direct, on- going connection. Your hotel’s physical attributes offer them comfort, whilst your digital presence offers them a 24/7 relationship with you.

A Thriving, Connected Business

The potential for true connection with customers – before, during and after their physical stay – is vast; the opportunities an innovation in this area, endless. Yet, the fact remains that hotels aren’t yet harnessing a personalized digital customer strategy.

So, how would a hotel begin to implement this chance to own the guest experience in a way that has never been seen? A chance in increase engagement, loyalty and, of course, revenue?

Hotel Security: Top 5 Tips To Staying Safe and Secure In Hotels

Whether guests at a seven star hotel or a seven dollar hostel there are certain things that travelers need to consider when staying in overnight accommodation. Here are our top 5 tips for staying safe and secure in a hotel environment.

1. Room to Improve: If you have the option to pre-book a room or choose where in a hotel to stay think about a few things.

What floor to stay on – the general consensus is between the 2nd floor and 6th floor. This way people can’t easily gain access to your room windows but fire fighters can reach with their ladders.
The risks of the area – Are you staying in a hostile environment? If there is a risk of IED’s, car bombs or suicide bombers think about getting a room at the back of the hotel or the opposite of where cars can drive up to the entrance. Perhaps even away from the general lobby area.

If you are not happy with the location of your room, ask to move to a different one.

2. Fire first:

This is a saying we use to remind travelers that as soon as you arrive at your hotel spend a few minutes to ask yourself, what if there was a fire or other emergency?

As soon as you get into your room, place your bags on the bed and exit the room. Look for your nearest fire exit and nearest fire extinguisher, picture reaching these in the dark and count either steps or number of doors between your room and the these points. You may have to find these in the dark or when there is smoke blinding you. Don’t stop there, check the fire exit and ensure it is in fact a viable option. Then when you are happy head back to your room.

3. Fire second:

There was a tragic story of a whole family dying from a small fire within their home. They were sleeping with every door open and all the toxic fumes traveled freely throughout each bedroom killing the occupants as they slept. When fire fighters arrived they only found the pet dog alive as he was shut in a small utility room. The door had protected the dog from the fire and fumes. This story re-enforces the fact that a room can protect the inhabitants from smoke and heat for a considerable amount of time if done properly.

Fire second is a saying we teach our students. Once you have identified the fire exits and returned to your room, ask yourself again, what if there was a fire? If there is no escape from the exits then this room will be your citadel, your safe room.

Look at the window, does it open, what floor are you on? Can you jump? If not does it open to give you fresh air.
How does the door open and unlock. Is there a key? If so always leave it in the same place.
Is there a bath – in an emergency you can fill this up with water and use it to douse the door and walls.
If there is a fire and you cant escape then wet towels and block any gaps around the door.

If traveling to less developed countries or regions think about taking portable fire and carbon monoxide alarms. Both are cheap, small and easy to use and well worth the small amount of space they take up.

4. Double the Door

Your hotel room door is your best barrier to external risk. When inside your room make sure that you use all the locks provided. Do not open the door unless you are a 100% sure to whom you are opening it for. If there is a peephole, use it.

There a few great items on the market that can provide a second layer of door security think about taking these, as they are small and cheap.

Door wedge
Door lock ratchet

When you leave the room, use the peephole, make sure there is no one outside. When you come back to the room do not assume that it is secure. The majority of hotel room locks can be defeated quite easily, many people have access to the keys and it would be a mistake to assume that no one could have got in. Take caution, have a quick look around and then relax once you have checked and the door is locked behind you.

The Hamas chief Al-Mabhouh killed by Mossad in a Dubai hotel room made the mistake of assuming his hotel room was secure. Mossad used either a very simple and easily attainable machine to decode the electronic door or the tried and tested string and wire technique that can open many doors which have the tiniest of gaps between the door and floor.

It is not just the intelligence services that know these tricks, many criminals and attackers have the means and the motivation to go to these lengths.

5. Complacency is a dirty word:

If you hear an alarm, do not ignore it. React quickly and use your pre-determined exit. We do not mean panic and run out in your underwear screaming, but just make sure you do react. Get dressed, get your shoes on, stay calm, prepare to leave the hotel and take your room key, if there is a fire and there is no escape you may have to get back to your room, close your door behind you. Try and avoid using the hotels muster point or emergency gathering location. Sometimes hostiles will use an alarm to gather people in one spot before attacking or carrying out a secondary attack.
If you wake up in the middle of the night for no reason, check that there is in fact NO reason, take a few seconds to listen, look and sense if something is wrong. If nothing go back to sleep…
If you see smoke or fire when in a hotel do not assume someone else has reported it. Initiate a fire alarm or call the hotel. Especially when you are in your room call the emergency services as well, do not assume the hotel will call them. Hotels are unwilling to call the emergency services until they have checked out the incident themselves for fear of creating a false alarm. This can cause a significant delay. There have been many horror stories of deaths and injuries caused by these delays. Take control of the situation yourself.
Do not assume that because you are in a hotel you are safe. If you are in a lift and someone else comes in that you are unsure of wait for him or her to push a floor before you do. Make sure no one is following you towards your room.

Most importantly as with all of our advice, do not develop irrational fear, do not think that everyone is out to get you. Instead just increase your awareness, listen to your sixth sense and take the time to prepare for certain scenarios. Time spent preparing and planning is never wasted, it can also mean the difference between life and death.

The author is the co-founder of Explorer Travel Security. This is a dynamic and elite travel security company dedicated to travel safety and security of individuals, groups and organizations abroad. it is a full service company offering tailored training courses, executive protection, global rescue, elite travel insurance and electronic tracking and security solutions.

What To Expect From A Luxury Hotel

Things Luxury Hotels Must Offer

Intelligent, easy and respectful planning – Booking must not be complicated. In other words, the reservation process must be simple. And this should be applicable whether you book directly with the hotel, through a travel agent, online, or through its association.

Easy and fast check in and check out – Nothing is more frustrating than waiting on a lengthy check in line if you have spent the day just getting to the hotel. Your luggage must not take more than 10 minutes to arrive in your room. Also, it must offer express check out and quickly settle any issues on your bill.

You get the room you want – The room you are assigned to must be the type of room you want. It must accommodate your request about room level or category, physical location in the hotel, a pool, and special room classification.

Excellent features – You are paying for a great room to enjoy different features. These will include a quiet room, original art on the walls, a firm mattress, robes and slippers, a work surface, adequate storage and hangers, high-quality sheets, a clock, and an efficient, quiet cooling and heating system. It needs to have the overall attention to aesthetic detail.

Enlightened service features – Hotel guests must get the feeling that they are valued and known. They need to expect hotel personnel who will greet them with at least a smile at each encounter. Hotel housekeeping must be thorough, quiet and dependable. Maintenance personnel and handymen must appear at your room minutes after you called for their needs to attend to your jammed coffee maker, locked safe, or what ails you. Outdoor workers like gardeners should not interfere with the guest’s enjoyment of the property.

Excellent hotel dining – Luxury hotels will offer guests with at least one excellent place to eat. Even a small hotel must offer its guests a place to eat and another place to drink. Of course, the restaurant and bar must be attractive. Room service is also being offered. Some also include breakfast with the room rate. Oftentimes, these breakfasts are excellent buffets. But there are those that offer complimentary breakfast, including cottony bagels, packaged cereals, and many more.

Important Things To Consider When Choosing A Hotel

Choosing a hotel to stay in is one of the most important decisions to make when planning a trip. This can be difficult, especially when embarking on a journey to an unfamiliar destination. A perfect choice can help make the trip a more exciting experience while a poor choice could ruin the trip altogether. Below we will discuss five major factors to consider before booking a hotel.

Choosing a hotel that suits your travel budget is a key factor to consider. This would help you save some cost if well thought out. Hotel prices are affected by location, hotel type (luxury or budget hotel) and also by the facilities. With the right research you can get a good bargain in a top hotel (especially when they offer discounts).

So many questions would come to mind when considering the hotel’s location. Is it close to the venue of your primary reason for travelling? Is it in a secure location? What is transportation in the area like? What are the tourist attractions around the area? Are there any medical centres around? All these questions and more need to be properly answered to make sure you are close to everything you would need throughout your stay.

This is one very important factor to consider because it helps you understand what facilities are available at the hotel compared what the ones you need. Therefore helps you avoid unpleasant surprises. For instance, it would be discouraging to find out that the hotel does not have Wi-Fi and internet connection, especially for those on a business trip. How about finding out that you might need to share the bathroom or some other conveniences.

Getting true value for money spent can only be done by comparing prices of the different hotels simultaneously. You can ask for discounts and other lucrative offers ad save some money. Apart from considering the price of the hotel, you can also research about value added services like laundry/dry cleaning, internet access, extended room services, etc.

Reading through the experiences of others who have stayed at any of the hotels you are considering would help to authenticate the quality and standard of the hotel. Though you can’t solely rely on this factor, most times these reviews are honest and vital resources needed when deciding between hotels. These reviews help you answer questions like are the hotel rooms clean, are the air conditioners working, how friendly is the customer service and whether the food at the restaurant is any good.

The Division of Power in Hotel Rwanda

Can you name a film that changed the way you see the world? Yes, I can. “Hotel Rwanda.”

I had seen the movie once before, but it wasn’t until I watched it a second time during the course of a class titled, “Race and Gender in the Media,” that I deeply understood the root causes of the fight amongst the characters within the film. I blame some of my ability to see deeply into the politics of the film’s story on the new material that we studied in the class, including our readings from the book, “America on Film: Representing Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality at the Movies,” written by Harry Benshoff and Sean Griffin.

However, another big reason why the film resonated with me at this point in my life was because prior to watching the film, I had recently been awakened to the oppression that black Americans, including myself and my family, experience here in America even today that has been strategically set up in this nation by the powerful ideation of white male Christian supremacist privilege. I had already been going over in my mind countless new ideas of what I could do to help the plight of black Americans who are oppressed in the U.S.

Therefore, seeing the film “Hotel Rwanda,” and finding out that, at the core of the issues between these beautiful black people who call themselves Hutus or Tsunis laid a manipulative idea of hierarchy spawned by white people who once had control and power in the Rwandan area, was digusting and disheartening to me, but yet so familiar. Paying close attention to the film, I realized how the briefly alluded to white people who once controlled the region were the most corrupt leaders in the entire story, and they barely had active roles on screen in the film.

I found the following excerpt on the Modern History Project which explains how and why the division was created amongst the human beings in Rwanda:

British Indian army officer John Hanning Speke was the creator of the racialist hypothesis known as the “Hamitic Theory”. In his writings, Speke suggests that the Tutsis are more European than the Hutus. Their caucasoid facial features, combined with their smoother personalities was proof enough for him that they were more cultured than the Hutus. This theory was basis for all racial and cultural division between the Hutu and Tutsi in later years. It made specific definition as to how one race was superior to the other, therefore giving said superior race much power and influence.

This information is somewhat relayed in the film. With all that being said, I finally realized that a system of distrust, jealousy, privilege vs. non privilege can be created very easily and does not require black and white skin tone to do it. It only requires subtle differences, evil or greedy intent, and resources to provide to one group vs. another. European colonists are at the root of so many divisions between groups of people. This film was powerful because from it, I was able to see the real magnitude of the issue which ripples beyond blacks in America, but also see the commonality in the issue which is the ill intentioned stone the creates a negative ripple.

What films have changed you or your worldview significantly and why? Visit my Facebook page, The Historically Black Incubator for more content on the topic of Black People in America.

How to Manage Your Hotel’s Online Reputation

Every hotelier today is aware of the fact that they can boost profitability with improved guest satisfaction levels and productivity.

Consumer reviews are significantly more trusted – nearly 12 times more -than descriptions that come from manufacturers. (eMarketer, February 2010)

This is where next-generation guest intelligence and analytics steps in. It can empower properties to leverage efficient internal operations as well as simplified ORM or online reputation management strategies for hotels.

ORM for hotels is basically done by building intelligent semantic algorithms which go through guest reviews minutely to analyze customer sentiment. So the powerful algorithm can actually break this data down into quantifiable points and metrics that can be further leveraged to come up with a unique scoring mechanism for a hotel.

Guest reviews form the base to calculate certain strategies on the basis of logic and factors: These include:

• Reviewer age

• Frequency

• Source variance

• Guest preference

With this data, hoteliers can identify core strengths as well as market them better to all the consumers, to draw more positive words on social forums and metasearch sites.

83% of all holiday shoppers are influenced by customer reviews. (Channel Advisor “Consumer Shopping Habits Survey”, August 2010)

This is also the best way to address weaknesses immediately, in a subtle manner without much ado. A good understanding of such consumer preferences can align guest services in agreement with a hotel’s ultimate revenue goal. This exercise can push incremental revenue for a hotel revenue manager further ahead.

Things that are published online stay forever!

More than one third of consumers will not book a hotel room without reading reviews first. (Late Rooms, November 2012)

As per reputation management gurus, this might not be true all the time. Hotels face several other challenges in their business. In order to overcome the same, there are just top two or three things which the staff and departments can do proactively to safeguard brand reputation. One of them is data monitoring in all social media mentions (like Google posts, meta search posts, online review site listings, FB posts, Tweets etc.) These are the places where online reputation of a hotel begins to come together.

So when it comes to online reviews, potential damage can be caused when cybersecurity gets threatened. Especially, in case of data breach, huge reputational problems arise. In order to curb this, hotels need to stay prepared as far as interacting with communication departments is concerned, as these areas are a huge concern. Then, correct engagement mechanisms can be put in place to resolve ORM loopholes:

You should gather reviews from hundreds of sources globally that span through videos, blogs and travelogues in all languages
You should have a single screen or dashboard to view and respond to all online reviews
You should share reviews externally (across online channels) and internally (among departments)
You need to collect guest feedback while the guest is at the hotel or post check-out
You have to leverage customized guest intelligence applications
You have to determine the efficacy of internal operations with a score
You must track competitor data department-wise

In case these online wounds still fester, you need an automated hotel online reputation management system.

Hotel managers must be concerned about scores of other things because hotel reputation management is the only feasible solution.

“Online reputation management is becoming hugely important to Hotels because reviews have a direct correlation with demand, the holy grail of revenue management.” (Corin Burr, director of Bamboo Revenue, London)

Guest reviews and revenue performance are interlinked. When a proper ORM strategy is in place, hotel owners can watch their revenue bottomline upsurge in leaps and bounds. So its high time that hoteliers realized a lot is in stake at the hands of online reputation of their property.

Constant work such as PR-campaigns, social media activity and content creation are some of the few important ways to present to the world. However, it is one thing to engage actively in order to promote hotel online reputation once in a while and another to keep constantly monitoring recent developments and staying interactive with the guests. That might be easier said than done. As a Hotel Manager, one is regularly very busy with handling daily business.

Remember, there is never enough time to manage online reviews to expand the Hotel Reputation Management. However, less emphasis in this field causes hotels to miss out on an opportunity to activate huge revenue channels. Besides, potential guests always do online research before booking a hotel. So it is advisable to hire professional hotel ORM solution provider who can monitor and improve your reputation in the digital arena instantly.

3 Hotels In Uvalde, TX That Are Worth Checking Out

Choosing a hotel can entail a number of things depending on the reason for your travel. However, when it comes to choosing from hotels in Uvalde, TX, the decision suddenly becomes a bit more nuanced because of the rich history of Uvalde, TX.

Admittedly, most of the lodging in Uvalde tends to be in line with either well-known hotel chains or local motels, but for travelers seeking something a little different, these three hotels in Uvalde, TX should fall on any traveler’s radar if their goal is to break-up the monotony of Lone Star State travel.

1. The Inn of Uvalde – This hotel is unique in that it serves as a simple hotel that has been operating for four decades. While the most exciting on the surface, it is worth noting that it is a hotel that caters to the outdoorsman. A visit to their website proudly professes their desire to make hunters and outdoorsmen of all interests feel welcome (“The Inn of Uvalde: Home for the Hill Country Hunter”). Per their site, “The Inn of Uvalde Hotel offers its guests Uvalde, Texas Southern Hospitality and charm.” This hotel also offers its guests a centralized location for those exploring the area’s many visitor destinations such as Piedras Negras and the Texas Air Museum at Stinson Field – San Antonio, TX.

2. Live Oaks Bed and Breakfast – While not technically a hotel in the traditional sense, this traveler’s destination is one that perhaps breaks the mold in more ways than one. Not only does Live Oaks cater to the area traveler seeking a refuge from the world, they offer it in very well-appointed ‘guest cottages’ and rooms. Each residence on the property takes on its own little world by virtue of each residence name. Guest rooms include The Mustang, The Flight Deck, The Big Lazy, whereas the guest cottages include The Treehouse, The Lodge, and The Poolside Cabana. As they put it via their Facebook profile, the Live Oaks B & B “… is the perfect lodging alternative for the leisurely traveler, modern businessman or the retreating couple.”

3. The Kincaid Hotel – The Kincaid Hotel has been in existence since 1927, and in nearly the century that it has been in operation, it has been done more than most hotels. In fact, it is no longer operating as a hotel, but as part of a major renovation and preservation project in Uvalde, TX, the Kincaid has found life as a place for retail spaces, office units, and studio apartments. In its earlier life as an operating hotel, the Kincaid served as a meeting place for cattlemen of area, in many ways being the place to be for cattle industry players. For history buffs, the Kincaid Hotel received a nod from the Texas Historical Commission in 1981 and served Texas governors as well as Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan. The hotel also stands in walking distance from The Grand Opera House, first open in 1891.