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What do you make of this re: apartment in Varenna?

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I'm researching apartments in Varenna for a September trip. (I have a backup plan in case the apartment doesn't work out.)

The Albergo Milano hotel in Varenna has apartments attached to it. I read some of the reviews of the apartments on TripAdvisor, and they were mostly favorable, so I contacted the hotel and asked about availability. Their answer: Sorry, we're booked. OK.

Then I got an email from TripAdvisor. Their software apparently kicks out an email to you if you do a search on a certain area and don't book anything. The email said one of the apartments operated by Albergo Milano was available for my specified dates and offered me immediate booking through a third party.

Just out of curiosity, I emailed the hotel again to ask about apartment availability. Answer: fully booked.

So: Is it likely that the hotel would put some of its properties in the hands of a 3rd party and give that 3rd party exclusive rights to book the property, cutting out someone who might contact the hotel directly? Or is there another reason for this scenario?

I'm putting this post in the Fodorite Lounge, too.

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