Latin America

Why You Should Trust Our Professional Hotel Reviews


Here at Luxury Latin America, we promise to only bring you professional hotel reviews by contributors who are well-traveled and have a long history of evaluating luxury properties.

reviewer at Four Seasons Punta Mita resort

 

That shouldn’t be such a stretch to claim for any publication telling you where to stay, but it is. As someone who attends travel conferences and surfs around Facebook groups regularly, I can promise you that a whole lot of hotel advice is coming from writers who have never set foot in the place, much less spent the night there. Sometimes they pulled plagiarized summarized descriptions from ChatGPT and those are their “reviews.”

Then you get into the well-documented problems with TripAdvisor where you’ve got competitors posting fake reviews, the hotel itself posting fake reviews, and Aunt Millie giving her opinion about how a hotel is not worth the money, even though her last vacation was three years ago.

User-generated Hotel Reviews: Use With Caution

When you read a professional hotel review or resort review on Luxury Latin America, you can be assured that the person writing the article is speaking from first-hand experience. We don’t report remotely and we don’t play the travel agent game where they’ll do site inspections of six hotels in an eight-hour day. It all blurs together in that kind of scenario.

Most of the time, we’ve spent the night unless it was high season and they were booked up. In that case we’ll occasionally spend the day there instead, seeing different rooms and taking original photos. (We rarely use the staged stock ones with perfect lighting and professional models as we want you to see what the place will really look like when you visit.)

There’s no doubt that TripAdvisor has been a boon for travelers and a great motivator for poor hotels to get their act together. I use it sometimes as another tool, just as I use the tools from OTAs and study the Airbnb reviews before booking to see the common threads. Unfortunately, any service with this much power is just begging to be gamed.

There have been plenty of articles since we launched way back in 2007 that have focused on the review system itself, and how different those reviews can be between TripAdvisor and the others. Some alternatives (Expedia, Hotels.com, and Booking.com) only let people who have booked the hotel through them write a review. So you can’t be a competitor posing as a past guest and write a negative review. You also can’t pump up your own review from the inside. But they don’t have as many reviews—or readers—as the dominant player.

Google and Bing haven’t helped, often filling half the first page of results for “best hotels in ____” with TripAdvisor pages, even though sometimes they’re mostly one- or two-sentence “user generated content” reviews that don’t provide any details.

In one of those articles I came across, Arthur Frommer commented at the end, “Hotels are so dependent on reviews that of course they will generate their own. They would be crazy not to.”

You’ve probably been pressured in the past to write a review after your stay, either in person or by e-mail, and then badgered a few more times if you didn’t react. Some people leave a review just to make the annoyance go away.

So look at these reviews, but don’t take them as gospel, especially when they appear on TripAdvisor. The person writing it may travel in a whole different style than you, their priorities may be different, and they just plain might not know what they’re talking about. After all, who has stayed in enough hotels in a specific city to tell you which ones are the best? I haven’t stayed in every hotel in Los Cabos in order to compare every one to every other and I’m a professional hotel reviewer that does this for a living. How can we expect American vacationers who take off once or twice a year (often to different destinations) know how their resort stacks up against the competition?

If you spend much time on TripAdvisor, you’ll notice that their ranking algorithm doesn’t make much sense either. Because are the best hotels in Buenos Aires really places called Palo, Duque, Eurobuilding, and Mine? We do kind of like #1 on that list: Fierro Hotel. But there are superior hotels to that in the city. How do places like Four Seasons Buenos Aires, and Park Hyatt Palacio Duhau not make the top 10?

Follow this link for our list of the rest of the best hotels in Buenos Aires and Argentina. Unlike with that other site, you’ll get detailed reviews from an experienced travel writer who knows what luxury travelers are looking for.

Professional Hotel Reviews From a Reliable Source

Our writers are experts in the areas they cover, so you can trust them to not only describe that hotel or resort with an experienced eye, but to compare it to all the others as well. Most of our contributors have already written extensively about the area. They’re guidebook writers, contributors to big travel magazines, and freelancers who have returned to the country a dozen times or more for assignments. Or often, they live there.

We currently have multiple correspondents based in Mexico, one in Belize, and ones living in Chile, Peru, Argentina, and Costa Rica. See a rundown on our Luxury Latin America contributors page.

reviewer at Viceroy Los Cabos

You would think this would be true for every publication reviewing hotels on a regular basis, but it’s not. Many are simply pulling info from a press release, throwing up a stock photo, and saying they know which hotels are the best. Many of the writers or editors haven’t spent much time on site—if at all. I’ve read reviews in major print magazines that put the hotel in the wrong neighborhood, talked about a pool that never existed, or described a clientele that could have only been a freak accident based on who is there the other 364 and a half days a year.

Sometimes they do set foot in the place, but they are breezing through in a hurry and don’t have time to really experience the service and talk with other guests to get their feedback like we do. I was surprised when Conde Nast Traveler confirmed what I’d long heard from some of its writers in a story called “Confessions of a Hot List Reviewer.” Here’s how some of those reviews go down, quoting the anonymous writer.

“This year, I stayed in 15 hotels in 17 days, on a trip that took me from New York to Hong Kong, Luang Prabang, Bangkok, Phuket, Bangkok, Koh Samui, Hong Kong, and then back to New York.”

If you have a little extra time, you spend it visiting competitors in the area to make comparisons-is the hotel you’re staying at doing its job better or worse than the places that already exist?” [Italics mine]

“I was 16 nights into my Hot List blitzkrieg and ready to go home.”

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather read a review from someone who knows the country well, who knows what the other hotels in that city are like without banking on finding an extra hour in a super-hectic schedule. If one of our writers heads to Cusco or Cartagena to add hotels and update reviews, they’re not also going to ten other cities in ten days. They’ll spend enough time there to soak it all in.

professional hotel reviews from experts who visited

Sometimes this means we have to put a disclaimer in our professional hotel reviews to say that information is out of date. When the Ritz-Carlton Cancun switched over to a Kempenski, for instance, we almost immediately heard from readers saying, “It’s not on the same level as it was.” When we asked to come check it out post-handover though, they flatly turned us down and seem to be keeping all the media at arms length.

That’s a red flag, but we haven’t been there personally yet, so all we can do is say, “Tread carefully and read the guest reviews on a site like Booking.com, not on the company’s own site (where they can cherry-pick only the positive reviews) or on TripAdvisor, where fake reviews to the plus and minus side are tough to police.

Our professional hotel reviewers only cover Latin America, so we can’t help you with the rest of the world, but if you want to see detailed reviews of the best hotels in Mexico, Central America, and South America, you’ve come to the right place. We may not put out a lot of hype about who’s hot this year, but you can be assured that our writers have spent enough time on site to tell you why to stay there, what the food is like, and often which rooms to book as well.





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