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Are Americans too picky about accommodations abroad?

Are Americans too picky about accommodations abroad?

Jul 1st, 2008, 12:53 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,008
MissPrism, I think you need to reread the thread. The OP did say that her husband talked to the owner.


My husband made it very clear to the owner within the first five minutes that the house was not what we expected. The owner's response was to accuse us of being imposters (!!!).

bettyk is offline  
Jul 1st, 2008, 01:17 AM
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I have just spent an enjoyable few minutes reviewing the photographs at www.stronvar.info and also Googling the name of Colin Gompertz, who is the owner.

The general dilapidation reminded me of a 1960s or 1970s student house, but you could easily find the same in any house for sale today where the owners were old or had not taken much care. I have also worked in publicly-owned buildings such as schools which showed a similar level of disrepair.

It was not uncommon to find holiday properties like this twenty or so years ago, especially in more remote areas like North Wales. Where the season is short, and demand mainly from people who want scenery rather than facilities, it is hard to get a return on any investment in improvements to a property.

The number and variety of ways in which the owner advertises the property would seem to indicate that he does not get repeat business or bookings through recommendations. It may also be that no agency would accept the low standards offered.

If you are seduced by the romance of Braveheart, and the stories of Rob Roy and Bonnie Prince Charlie, it is worth remembering that the land of the loch and the glen does have its drawbacks
chartley is offline  
Jul 1st, 2008, 01:48 AM
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Not exactly - what I was trying to say was that you can't generalise about "four star hotels in Europe" simply because each European country measures/rates them in a different way.

Fair enough, but only to some extent. We can still generalize a bit about how European 4-stars compare to American or Asian 4-stars. In such a comparison, it doesn't matter whether a 4-star in Spain is better than a 4-star in the UK. If neither one is better than an American 4-star, then the US advantage remains, it will just be greater in one country than in another. Take the best, the worst, or the average European level, I still don't think the point loses its validity.

FWIW, I do think the Spanish 4-star is closer to the American 4-star level than a UK 4-star. By quite a bit.
travelgourmet is online now  
Jul 1st, 2008, 02:49 AM
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It's a pity that the owner can't enter the fray and tell us his side.

However, I think that the moral of this tale is that you should book through a reputable agency.
I'm sure that when the OP made their original posting, they will have had many suggestions from people who have actually used such agencies.
The agency will be very open to suggestions and criticisms as it has a reputation to maintain.
You may pay a little extra, but you get what you pay for.
Josser is offline  
Jul 1st, 2008, 03:34 AM
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>>>It's a pity that the owner can't enter the fray and tell us his side.<<<

You can read the owner´s side from the tripadvisor link Schuler provided.
elina is offline  
Jul 1st, 2008, 03:49 AM
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You can read the owner´s side from the tripadvisor link Schuler provided.

Only it isn't very convincing.
travelgourmet is online now  
Jul 1st, 2008, 07:31 AM
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''In such a comparison, it doesn't matter whether a 4-star in Spain is better than a 4-star in the UK. If neither one is better than an American 4-star, then the US advantage remains, it will just be greater in one country than in another. ''

Only if the price of the US hotel is the same as the other two, or less. Otherwise it's a pointless comparison.

BTW, As someone tried to point out earlier, star ratings do not mean the same thing from country to country. And it's not just a subjective thing either - many countries have specific lists of facilities that must be provided before you can get a high star rating - it's nothing to do with luxe. For example, the French system necessitates things such as multi-lingual staff to get a three star rating or above.

All that aside, I don't really care what the OP paid, mould and broken windows are not acceptable at any price.
RM67 is offline  
Jul 1st, 2008, 08:48 AM
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Does the U.S. even have an official star rating system? I know of the AAA ratings and such but...and in those cases, I take their ratings with a large grain of salt.

As for the U.S., Lord knows there are plenty of ratbag hotels, laughable "resorts", and so on. But OTOH, the average flophouse usually doesn't advertise itself as a family destination to overseas tourists. Ditto for the grubby, rundown rural motels hunters and anglers frequent. They prize those hotels not for the quality of their rooms and dining facilities, but for the quality of their bait shops and owners' knowledge of the local terrain.
BTilke is offline  
Jul 1st, 2008, 09:09 AM
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"You have to expect a bit of mold with a damp climate like ours."

flanneruk, plenty of people live in humid climates, if not in a flood zones. Please stop sounding like an indignant schoolmaster, it's not like non-Britons are ignorant of the problem.

I don't know how much exposure to mold is required before it can cause health problems, but make no mistake, it can cause such problems - anything from allergic reactions such as asthma or allergic rhinitis, non-allergic reactions such as headaches, and other symptoms [including] lung and breathing infections (source: Health Canada, 2003).

Either way, just because something is expected, doesn't mean it is benign. Besides, it's in the owner's best interests to dry his house - google CMHC (Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and see "about your house - general series - water damage, mold, and house insurance" for more info.) Mold can damage drywall, carpet, books, wood.

Generally if you're getting mold in places anywhere else than an occasional mildew in the bathroom then you have a house that has sustained or is sustaining water damage - not necessarily from penetration, sometimes from condensation. Either way it is NOT a good sign, and will be extremely expensive down the line to fix if not attended to promptly.
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
Jul 1st, 2008, 10:01 AM
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I don't care if the house slept 12 or 20, "cheapskate" is a little bit harsh for a $3300 bill. The OP posted a reasonable comment and question, and her feelings about the house are borne out by the photographs. With luck, someone else will avoid the place in the future, and isn't that one of the reasons for these forums? To warn of the less-than-stellar, in addition to pointing out the great "finds"?

Rmkelly, I think you answered your own question though -- this house seems to be an exception among the houses you have rented in the past -- rather than generalizing about European standards, perhaps the lesson for the rest of us is to avoid direct rentals unless you are extremely comfortable with the information that's made available.

Having said that, we rented a SMALL cottage directly from the owner on our recent trip to Scotland, and could not have been happier. It was cozy, clean, and exactly as represented. And having an agency involved does not always mean the house will be impeccable, although one hopes the mold and peeling walls you experienced would not pass muster with most reputable agencies.

Barbara_in_FL is offline  
Jul 20th, 2008, 11:22 AM
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I think I've now run down every thread relevant to this discussion, and all I can say, Mrs Kelly, is that I'm very sorry you had this house to put up with in my country. The house is clearly in pretty poor condition.

Now, there are some ways of guessing that from the owners' web site, and I say this not to indicate that in any way I think the OP should have known better, but to warn others for the future. I have rented a big house somewhere in Scotland at least once a year for the last 20 years and have some little experience of the subject.

1. They have NO photos of the interior of the property (I typed that, and then I found them. That house looks fabby- but from the photos elsewhere it clearly isn't)

2. It was a Youth Hostel!!!!

We have rented this house twicebr /> http://www.lhhscotland.com/property?id=123

Both times at New Year. It had, the first year, broken window pane, and the back sitting room was so cold- even with the heating- I had to get my husband, who was coming late, to pack space heaters in the car (He ended up being portered in by the Keeper in his Landrover, since the roads in were blocked by snow. But we needed him. He had both the wine and the New Year roast beef in his car). We then booked it again, and spoke to the agency and both problems were, not too surprisingly, fixed by the next year.

The place we've stayed this most reminds me of is garth House in Glen Lyon. They seem to have stopped renting since I can't find their own web site any more; but this will give you a flavourbr />

It was a former youth hostel too, and believe me it had seen better days, but it was clean and neat and the owners were slowly doing it up.

The one thing I think wouldn't have worried me is the water. We do get brown water where it's from a private supply in a peaty area, and tehre's nothing wrong with it; but I guess you'd have to know that.
sheila is offline  

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