By Ed Perkins, Tribune Media Services, Ed Perkins - On Travel Posted 01/24/2012 at 12:00 am EST
The world's best hotel, says TripAdvisor, is the Phoenix Resort in San Pedro, Belize. Others in the top 10 range from Cape Town to Fes to Peru to Killarney, but you have to get to number 11 before you find one in the United States -- the Elysian Hotel in Chicago. With winter season rates starting at $375 a night, the Phoenix Resort should be good, but lots of hotels charging more don't make the top list, nor are all of the top 10 that expensive.
-- The report shows separate "Top 25" lists not only for the World and the United States, but also for Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, South America and the South Pacific as regions, plus 30 major destination countries individually. As far as I can tell, the only important country not covered separately is Switzerland -- but one token Swiss hotel makes the "Europe" list.
-- Even more important to most of you, TripAdvisor also shows separate top 25 lists for bargain hotels, all-inclusive resorts, B and Bs, luxury hotels, relaxation and spa accommodations, those with best service, and the "trendiest," whatever you think that means either to TripAdvisor or to you.
Let's zero in on what I consider the most important group: bargain hotels. As with overall bests, separate lists cover the world, the United States, the same seven regions, and most of the same 30 individual countries. Here, the world's top spot is the HueNino in Hue, Vietnam -- a result that many of us who knew the Vietnam War as a national nightmare will no doubt find ironic. But at least the SeaCoast Inn in Hyannis makes it to number three.
Within the United States, some of the findings were surprising:
-- Four of the top 10 are chain motels, as are six of the next 15.
-- The definition of "bargain" is fairly elastic, with nightly rates ranging from around $50 to as high as $170.
Worldwide, the bargain list is more chaotic even than the best list. But the results are still quite interesting. Among the key points:
-- The European region list contains a surprising and disproportionate number of entries for the quaint British seaside resorts of Torquay and Llandudno, along with quite a few in Eastern Europe, Greece and Turkey. It also includes nothing in Switzerland -- perhaps reflecting the feeling that with the franc so high there aren't any bargains in Switzerland.
-- Not surprisingly, big cities don't do well: None of the UK bargains are in London, none of the French bargains are in Paris, and none of the Japan bargains are in Tokyo, although, in Italy, at least two spots make it in Rome and one in Florence.
I could go on: The wealth of information in the complete report is almost overwhelming. Fortunately, you can mine the vast database easily through the website at www.tripadvisor.com. You can also click through from each hotel evaluation to any of several online travel agencies to check rates and availability.
As you probably know, TripAdvisor bases its ratings on reports from individual travelers like you. Some folks in the industry criticize these ratings on two grounds: (1) most individual travelers do not have sufficient knowledge to assign consistent ratings within a global context, and (2) contributed reviews are subject to false reports from a hotel's owners, staff, PR consultants, or main competitors. Both arguments have some merit. On the other hand, lots of travelers find the reviews extremely helpful. And, in most cases, each hotel generates enough different reviews that an individual owner's rave or competitor's trashing gets lost among the many others. In any event, these results are an important input to anyone planning a trip to an area where they don't already have an accommodation selected.
Send e-mail to Ed Perkins at firstname.lastname@example.org. Perkins' new book for small business and independent professionals, "Business Travel When It's Your Money," is now available through www.mybusinesstravel.com or www.amazon.com
'Best' hotels? Ask TripAdvisor
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