7 On Your Side

Get what you pay for at hotels

Friday, May 20, 2011

What you see may not be what you get.

The difference between a room with a view and one with a glimpse is Jennifer Garfinkel's job to document.

"We're just out to show the hotel the way it's really is. So people can decide if it's right for them," said Jennifer Garfinkel, of Oyster.com.

Marketing photos may use cropping, lighting and angles to showcase the property.

"The pool gets a lot bigger, it actually very small, but you crop it and you make it look much bigger," said Elie Seidman, the CEO and co-founder of Oyster.com.

Elie Seidman dreamed up Oyster.com after having too many dream vacations shattered.

"A hotel is a product that you can't see before you buy and can't return once you arrive," Seidman said.

His website features what he terms photo fake outs putting pictures from hotel websites next to ones they take.

One Miami pool appears to go on forever, but at another angle it's a different story.

One hotel showes a model with surfboard in its pool, but the pool is not big enough to surf in.

One look at a rooftop oasis in Los Angeles shows the mall, but the real picture doesn't show it.

"All that experience of yes we looked at their brochure and then we get there and they're not the same," Seidman said.

On the Holiday Inn Wall Street's website the picture of the king size bedroom is shot toward the window.

Eyewitness News checked in to check it out.

It's a pretty tight squeeze between the door and the foot of the bed, in fact at its smallest point at about 9 inches.

And the fitness center photo? Inside it was all mirrors.

Next, the trendy Hudson Hotel's website is filled with wideshots of the common areas.

But when it comes to the room, you get a shot of half the bed.

When Eyewitness News checked it out, the $400 a night room was so small, the Oyster editor and 7 On Your Side's Nina Pineda could hold hands across the room.

The bed's called a 3/4 bed, so tall people may not fit.

The Hudson does give room dimensions on their website so there's no surprises.

So before you book your vacation do a little independent research.

Ask about:
Find out square footage
Inquire about construction within or next to the property during your stay
And always ask what large groups or conventions are booked at the same time

Huge crowds are a picture no hotel would ever show you.

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