What does a Hotel Star-Rating really tell you about a hotel.

What does a Hotel Star-Rating really tell you about a hotel.

If you don’t understand the hotel star-rating rating, be prepared to be enlightened.

For those of you who already know what the star-rating is all about, feel free to switch off (or don’t, the more readers I have the better LOL). But, for those of you who find the whole system a little perplexing, prepare to be enlightened.

(note: I took this pic of a hotel we stayed at in Old Quebec City, Canada. It’s called Hotel Clarendon. It was only three-star, but absolutely five-star inside).

Often misunderstood by many travellers, the star-rating system has been designed to help you make informed choices on services a hotel may provide, which can either be good or bad for your holiday; depending on your budget. You would be surprised to hear (for those of you who already know what a star-rating is), there are many people who don’t understand any of it, and I get asked by a lot of people if I know and understand what it all means. So, I decided to shed a little light on the hotel star-rating, to help you better navigate your way through millions of hotels world-wide, when booking for your next holiday.

It’s simple really, so this blog won’t be too long. Of course, here in Australia, our star-rating system is a tad different to that overseas; not too much different, so I will try and keep it broad for anyone around the globe.

Several year ago, a star-rating on any hotel, motel, caravan park, or any other type of accommodation, often represented the types of guest facilities the accommodation had on offer. For example, if you were staying in a hotel which superficially looked like a luxury hotel, but didn’t provide a restaurant, swimming pool or gym, then the star-rating on the hotel may have been an average of either two or three stars. The low star rating had nothing to do with the quality of the accommodation, but on the amount of facilities provided to guests. If you stayed at a similar luxury styled hotel which did have a restaurant, swimming pool, gym, conference rooms and other additional facilities; like cafes, shopping and even a bar. Then this hotel would be given five stars due to the amount of guest facilities provided – make sense?

Today however, this star-rating has now changed. And the rating system is now based on the quality conditions of a hotel. This means, that in order to maintain a star-rating of any sort, the hotel must past a certain 100 point check quality control report to gain stars.

What does all this mean?

Well, according to the UN World Tourism Organisation, the mindset of travellers is shifting towards a more encompassing hotel quality of both service and facilities, and the global tourism sector needs to be ready to meet consumer requirements to enhance their satisfaction. Which basically means, a star rating is now produced under the guidelines of what a consumer is looking for in a hotel. This often comes down to the condition of the bathroom, the staff, presentation and of course the most important of all; cleanliness and general maintenance of the hotel.

This doesn’t mean that a two or three star-rated hotel is bad however. There are many great hotels, motel and caravan parks rated with both two and three stars that are perfectly fit for your holiday. The lack of additional stars may come down to the simple fact, that consumers found the bathrooms to be a little old in the rooms and overdue for a renovation, or perhaps there is only one elevator; causing long waits to get to and from your room.

So, there you have it. I hope this clears up any confusion you had about the star-rating system. Happy hunting on your holiday, and remember, the best way to see whether your choosing the right hotel or not, is to check out the review. But don’t check out the reviews on the website owned by the accommodation brand, make sure to head to trip advisor; or any other source, to read what the consumer has to say about the hotel.

 

 

This has to be the best Zoo in all the world

This has to be the best Zoo in all the world

Whilst visiting my dad on the island of Tenerife; which is part of the Canary Islands, I visited, what I thought, was the best zoo in the world.

Otherwise known as Loro Parque; which is Spanish for Parrot Park, the zoo was first opened as a specialty aviary for many different bird species from across the globe onย 17 December 1972. And now, situated on a whopping 13.5 hectares, it houses one of the most extensive and diverse reserve of animals and plant species, compared to many other zoos, in all the world. And their message is clear, to protect, rehabilitate and breed many endangered species from around the globe.

What an incredible experience. They have everything from Orcas to Penguins, rare white Lions and even Silverback Gorillas. And if you want to pay that little bit extra on entry, you will also get the option to have a personalised tour, which takes you behind the scenes. Here you get to see the Silverbacks feed, the Orcas chilling in their MASSIVE tanks, and even admire the bird breeding program; which includes watching the scientists in a special room examine, and care for little baby birds, which if course is absolutely adorable. They even take you down to the tanks, where all the water is filtered, stored, protected and monitored to ensure the each animal is in as natural environment as possible. Pretty amazing.

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If you go, you definitely need a full day there, especially if you want to spend some time on the personlised tour, watch some shows, or even have that extra time to go hang in the Penguin exhibition; where it snows at certain times of the day and the sun dims at the right time of the day, in order to replicate the Antarctic climate for the penguins. Like I said before, pretty amazing.

If you’re travelling to Tenerife, I highly recommend, you take a day out of your schedule and spend a good day at the zoo.

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Silverback diet

Driving through the Rocky Mountains of Canada

Driving through the Rocky Mountains of Canada

Sometimes, the best way to describe an experience, is to show you through pictures, rather than words.

Driving through the Canadian Rocky Mountains is an experience I will always remember. The size of their incredible alps, painted across the blue skies were out of this world. Many people might tell you the best way to experience these alps, is by train, on the Rocky Mountaineer. But I disagree – by car is best. That way you can stop when you want, take the back road if you must, and discover many unique places most likely missed as you pass it by on the train.

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Is it safe to travel to Egypt?

Is it safe to travel to Egypt?

I get asked by a lot of people, whether or not Egypt is a safe country to travel to. In short the answer is, yes. Egypt is actually very safe to travel to.

And, although it was a while back when I travelled there; 2012 to be exact, I found Egypt to be very hospitable and safe to travel through. If you have been following my blogs however, you would have read about one bad experience I had in Alexandria. In no way would I judge Egypt for this one bad travel experience, as I spent a good 19 days travelling around Egypt, from Cairo all the way down to Luxor and every place I travelled to, I never felt unsafe or threatened, not once. Since travelling in Egypt in 2012, my father has returned solo; which was in 2014 (I think), and he had an even better time the second time around. So, there is definitely truth in the tale, when I speak of how safe it really is to travel to Egypt.

Of course, it goes without saying, that a smart traveller wouldn’t just simply book a ticket after reading this, and be on their merry way to Egypt – nothing is without precaution.

If you do make the decision to travel to Egypt, do speak to a travel agent. This is probably the most important piece of advice there is. Not only do you require specific visas (which are far easier to obtain through a travel agent), a travel agent can better advise on the safest places to travel in a middle eastern country. This includes, recommendations on the best tour group to travel with. You most certainly need a local guide in Egypt, and not just because of the language barrier. In a Middle Eastern country, being accompanied by a local guide, means you will always know what areas to stay in, or what ones to stay away from. Our guide was with Geeko Tours, and he was amazing. He knew when protests where happening, and where areas of conflict where, so he was able to tell us what parts of the city (particularly in Cairo), we should most certainly stay way from. I highly recommend you don’t travel through Egypt alone, or without a tour group.

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The incredible night life of Cairo in Egypt, never stops.

There have been many a horror story of travellers entering Egypt alone, without a guide to meet them at the airport, and the misadventures of terrible stories start from there. From start to finish in Egypt, we had someone at the gate waiting for us, who was even on hand to obtain bags from the carousel, to assisting us through immigration and customs. All with ease and without stress.

I spent many an hour, both by myself and with my dad, wandering through different parts of the city; without a guide, in places I was told by my guide where it was good and safe to go. And these places were far from commercial, so don’t think just because you are with a tour group, that you will miss out on the grassroots experience of a country. If you specify what you want on the holiday with the travel agent – they will most definitely help you chose the right tour package for you, so you can have the most amazing, and safe experience in Egypt ever.

 

 

5 of My Favourite Things to do in Liverpool

5 of My Favourite Things to do in Liverpool

I promised you a blog on my favourite things to do in Liverpool, well here’s five.

If you read my last blog, you’ll know I’m in love with Liverpool and really enjoy spending time there. From the vibe, to the activities and the people, there’s something real special about this groovy northern English city. So, here are my favourite five things to do there.

Visit the Beatles Museum:

This is a must, I mean you are in Liverpool after all. Where it all begun for The Beatles. The museum is worth every penny; which is about 14 pound. Well it was when I went; not sure if that’s changed. From start to finish, the museum follows along the entire story of the Beatles. Starting from when John Lennon was just a small boy, to his death in New York City. The museum is called The Beatles Story, and it’s located at the historic Albert Docks.

Take a walk along on the Promenade:

Sometimes, the best sightseeing can be done, walking through a lonely seaside park, listening to the seagulls call out across the waters, whilst enjoying fresh air and getting some chilled out exercise at the same time. Otterspool Promenade, is an awesome location to do all that. I caught a cab to the main park area of the promenade, and then slowly made my way, all the way back to Albert Docks. There are heaps of historic things along the way to see, and a nice change of pace from walking the city.

The Cavern Club:

If you don’t mind being squished in a typical English pub/club, to listen to some pretty awesome live music, then the Cavern Club is definitely the place to go. Mostly due to it’s history. This is where it all happened for The Beatles – where history was made. And for many other bands too, like Queen. A little warning though, it gets really really packed, and there isn’t a great deal of sitting space.. I didn’t spend much time there, as I am not a huge fan of crowds. But, it was still enjoyable, and the vibe is pretty awesome there.

Ditch the maps and take a stroll:

Grab the camera, leave the map in the hotel room; or wherever you may be staying, and just take a walk through the streets. You will be amazed at what you will find. Stay away from where all the general shops are though, and hit the outer streets of the city, where the old meets the new. There are streets of ancient architecture melded with modern streetscapes, which makes for great photographs. Liverpool is filled with amazing historic buildings, all of which hold great tales and stories of a long lost era. So, don’t just stick with the general sites, like the Albert Docks – make sure to take the back streets and you will be amazed at what you’ll discover.

Explore the underground tunnels:

Everywhere you go in England, it seems their cities are filled with underground tunnels, holding onto stories of murder, corruption or wine and people smuggling, from the early 1700s; maybe even earlier. In Liverpool they are known as the Williamson Tunnels, and it’s surprising to know, that not many people who live in Liverpool know much about them, nor have they visited them. And they are pretty fascinating, and worth a visit. These particular tunnels are a labyrinth laying beneath Edge Hill, and where built under the direction of eccentric businessman Joseph Williamson between 1810 and 1840. Many interesting artifacts have been found in the tunnels.

 

 

Why I keep returning to Liverpool

Why I keep returning to Liverpool

Liverpool city is probably one of the most underestimated cities in all of England, and it’s probably the reason why I love to keep travelling there.

Of course, it helps when your big brother lives there – as you get to see and experience a more personal and intimate side of the city, but really I think its the whole vibe Liverpool gives off through its streets and through the people living there.

It’s historic enough to give you a taste of old England, yet modern enough to keep you up to date with the rest of the world. And you can forget about London shopping, it’s all happening in Liverpool. They literally have all the high street shops you need, without ever having step foot in London. I almost shopped until I dropped and found everything I needed; for pretty good prices as well… Well, as good as it can get when you are transferring Aussie dollar to British pound.

Aside from the shopping, Liverpool has a lot to offer when it comes to site seeing, exploring and especially food. Being an almost vegan and absolutely gluten-free, when I travel around many parts of England, it’s difficult to find the right place serving up my kind of food. Liverpool has totally stepped up in the last few years, providing a massive range of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free food options. Making the stay there far easier than most. Especially for a tourist, when you are still finding your way around the streets and local eats.

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It’s difficult to describe in words the full feeling you get when visiting Liverpool. The energy running through this amazing city is the perfect fusion of a chilled out vibe meshed with a vibrant modern urban city – and I love it. So did my partner. And, I seriously get why my brother lives there. Of course, having my brother live there, certainly creates an even stronger connection with the city – probably more so than many other tourists who visit there. But I still think, if you visit there, you will fall in love, just as much as I did.

Stay tuned for another blog, where I share my top six things to do in Liverpool.

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If you’re planning a trip to Alexandria – don’t go! Here’s why

If you’re planning a trip to Alexandria – don’t go! Here’s why

Far be it for me to tell you what to do, but in my opinion I would highly recommend you stay away from Alexandria in Egypt.

It is possible of course, that many a person who has travelled to Alexandria in Egypt have had an amazing time. But, for me, my experience there will forever leave me with a bad taste in my mouth. This of course, is no judgement against Egypt as a country, as the people of Egypt; in particular those who live in Cairo, are warm, kind, friendly and great to be around. Alexandria however, is in an entirely different culture, and one I didn’t like at all, whilst travelling through there.

Okay okay, I am probably being very hard against all people who live in Alexandria, as the women and men who worked at the hotel I stayed in were absolutely amazing. But on the street, I felt un-nerved by the looks and intimidated by most. Which was a strange feeling, considering I had just spent over three weeks in Egypt already, and had experienced the most magical time throughout my whole stay there. Even wandering through the streets of Cairo alone, I never felt threatened in anyway, by any of the locals.

It was an entirely different story in Alexandria. I didn’t trust the people, and I got the feeling they didn’t want me there. Didn’t matter what I was wearing, which was long pants, long sleeved top, barely any skin exposed. I wasn’t wearing a scarf, but you didn’t need to – as there is a dense orthodox residency in Alexandria, of which many women don’t wear anything to cover the head.

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The un-safeness I felt went from bad to worse, when a man from the beach selling cold drinks starting walking towards me and the rest of our tour group, with a large machete. Why he felt the need to hide a machete behind his back, whilst trying to coerce us into going over to him to purchase cold drinks is beyond me. But, we walked extra fast in the other direction to get away from him as quick as we could. And, not withinย  minutes of this occurrence, we then found ourselves being followed by a man, who had dry blood all down his front shirt and a rather large piece of jagged metal sticking out of his pocket. As we weaved our way throughout the crowds, he quickened his pace to keep up with us. His face was angry and I was tired from feeling threatened.

I was also just recovering from food poisoning, so my patience was running thin. I stopped walking, turned aggressively to face him, threw my hands in the air and yelled out WHAT! That certainly got his attention, and many others passing by. But, I didn’t care, by this stage, I had just had enough. And my approach was enough to turn him away and leave us alone. I was lucky, it could have gone the other way. I certainly would not recommend anyone doing what I did.

I was happy we were only spending one night in Alexandria, I could not wait to leave this unwelcome place. Sad really, because of the history such a place holds. But I stand true to my words, which is that I would not recommend anyone travel there. There is little to no tourist locations to visit there, as much has been destroyed or lies under water. If you were thinking about going – I would seriously think twice.

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Very few people in Alexandria showed us this kind of friendliness.