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If you are thinking about booking a package holiday, or are about to book one, then it might be worth your while taking a look at this website. Even if you have already booked, it may still be of interest to you, but only if you are prepared to read reviews of your chosen destination/accommodation that you may not like ! It may be a case of shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted !
The site consists of 2 main things :
A database of over 25 000 holiday reviews by ordinary holidaymakers.
A Holiday Resource Centre.
Both are extremely useful. Basically, if you haven't decided where to go on holiday, but have one or two ideas, then the database will give you information that the travel agent / tour operator / brochure don't. That is the good points AND bad points of a particular destination and / or accommodation. You can use these to choose where to go, after taking all the points into consideration.
For example, if you don't like walking, it's no use going to a hotel that is a long way from all the amenities. Or if you love sunbathing all day on the beach, you won't want to go to a resort where the beaches are the size of postage stamps, meaning you have to lie about 2 inches away from a perfect stranger. Thinking about it, that may not be such a bad thing... Anyway, back to the website.
If you have decided where you are going, and where you want to stay, you could take a look to satisfy yourself that you have made the right decision before you actually book. And, of course, you can find out any advice that the reviewer might have about the resort, and about things to do, and places to visit.
The Purpose of the Site ==================
The site describes itself as giving the real truth about package holidays by real holidaymakers. The owners say that it is not a complaints site, and that the aim is to give a balanced view. Of the various reviews that I've read, I must say that this seems to be achieved.
Layout of the Site =============
Once you have entered the site, the opening page is split into the 2 sections already mentioned. On the left side, there is a drop down box with various contents, the main one being the reviews section. On the right hand side is the Holiday Resource Centre.
Along the bottom of each page are links to certain individual sections. These are -
This is a drop down box with the following contents-
1. 25 000 + reviews 2. Add review 3. Newsletter 4. Site guide 5. Weather forecasts 6. Web search
This a breakdown of what each consists of.
1. 25 000 + Reviews ----------------------------- This is what the site is all about. Over 25 000 people have written their opinion on a particular resort / accommodation and posted it on the site. You don't have to be a member of anything to do this. Unfortunately, I haven't had chance to read them all yet ! Maybe by the end of next week ...
The ones that I have read have been related to places I have been to, and on the whole, I agree with what they have said. One or two may have gone over the top with their criticism, but it is their opinion, and they are entitled to do that.
You can read a review, add your own review, and also you can send your feedback on a particular review. Sound familiar ? If you think that a review has been inaccurate or unfair, then there is a form that you can fill in and submit. This feedback is not published on the site.
It is easy to use the review section. You simply select the resort / country from a very extensive drop down box. They are listed alphabetically. The vast majority are European, and these are split into resorts. For example, Majorca has 30 resorts to choose from, Cyprus has 15, and Tenerife has 21.
As well as the more popular ones, there are also entries for Barbados, Cruises, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Gambia, Goa, Jamaica, Kenya, Maldives, Mexico, Skiing, Thailand, Tunisia, USA Florida, and USA. If you still haven't found what you are looking for, then each continent is listed, as is the Rest of the World.
Unfortunately, there is no search facility to use, which means you have to scroll down the very long list. This is a little time consuming. It would be much easier to type in a name and click on search.
Once you have selected your destination, all the relevant reviews will appear, as well as related links to that destination. Again, you have to scroll down the list of reviews which are listed alphabetically by name of hotel / apartments or resort. Each review is separated by a line. A search facility enabling you to choose which accommodation you want to look at would be a big improvement.
Each review contains the following information -
Name of resort /destination Name of hotel / apartments The tour operator and date of holiday The review writer's name, where they come from, when it was submitted, and the ages of the people who travelled Rating of the resort Rating of the accommodation The opinion itself
When you have read the review, you can then send any feedback that you may have on it, using an easy to complete form. You can also add a review of your own.
2. Add a Review ------------------------ This is very simple to do. You are asked the relevant questions, and then invited to write your review. It must not contain any offensive remarks, and it must be a balanced opinion about a holiday you have taken in 2003 or 2004. There is a list of terms and conditions to read also. Other than these, you can write what you like.
3. Free Monthly Newsletter -------------------------------------- You can subscribe to this by simply entering your email address. Nothing else is required. The newsletter contains the latest news from the resorts, any good deals that are available, and excerpts from the most funny or unusual reviews that have been received during the previous month.
4. Weather Forecasts -------------------------------- This is very useful in itself, even if you don't want to read any of the reviews. It gives live weather reports for the most popular resorts, such as the Algarve, the Spanish Costas, Greece, Italy, Majorca, Tenerife etc.
Each destination has the current time and the current temperature .Also, each has a link to lastminute.com, and to Thomson holidays for late deals that may be available. Plus, if you click on each resort name, you are taken to wunderground.com. This gives a VERY detailed forecast of the present time and for the next 5 days. This site in itself is wonderful !
5. Web Search ---------------------- These are simply 2 general search engines to use. You can use Ask Jeeves and UK Sites.
6. Site Guide -------------------- This basically tells you how to use the site via a tutorial, although the site is pretty straightforward anyway.
These are all the things contained in the left hand side of the screen. The main disadvantage is that you can't make it go full screen, which would make it a lot easier to read. Still, there is a lot of very useful information contained there !
The Right Side ============
This is the Holiday Resource Centre, and consists of hundreds of links to the best holiday and travel sites on the Web. This part does have the option to maximize to full screen, which is an advantage.
The quick links are - Bargain holidays Car Hire Cheap flights Cruises Hotels Travel insurance Villas Credit cards
There is also a drop down box containing other choices.
These are - Adventure holidays Holiday cottages Flights Holiday finance Package holidays Useful holiday links Weekend breaks Short breaks Holiday shopping Last minute holidays Travel ( all )
I honestly cannot think of anything that is not covered. You simply click on the heading that interests you, and a list of sites will appear. There is a brief description of each site and a picture, and you choose which one you want to visit.
Conclusion ========= Overall, this is a very good site and it is extremely interesting. It does have some bad points as I have mentioned earlier, but these are outweighed by its usefulness.
I have read some very good reviews, annd some bad ones. All in all, they are honest reviews by ordinary people.
Once or twice, the site has been a little slow, especially when trying to leave it, but generally, there has been no problem.
If you are going on holiday, then take a look. Especially if you haven't booked yet.
Thanks for reading.
PS When I've read all 25 000 + reviews, I'll update !