Recommended Reading: A Great Guidebook
Posted by Tony & Cheri on January 24, 2009
When we first bought the hotel, we didn’t know a thing about marketing. We naively thought it was just a case of writing or calling up companies that published guidebooks and telling them we were open for business. Haha! We quickly found out that’s not the way it works.
Getting mentioned in a guidebook can be difficult. If you’re not already a known entity (which we weren’t) you might not be mentioned because there’s only so much space in a book and the writers already have their favorites. And, even if the book is updated, you may have to get on a waiting list for a couple of years to be mentioned.
We also discovered that reviews of hotels in the travel writing industry sometimes are the result of the hotel’s “generosity” to the reviewer. Many large hotels finance press junkets and pay for rooms, airfare, food and other perks for travel writers. We had two problems with that. First it seemed kinda phony that you could buy a good review in a travel book and secondly…we couldn’t afford it. So we resigned ourselves to the fact that we wouldn’t get much mention in the world of guidebook publishing.
However, in the early days of the Luna Blue Hotel we had a young travel writer stop by to look at our hotel. Joshua Eden Hinsdale was working on a guidebook for the Riviera Maya with an emphasis on Playa del Carmen. Josh had lived in the area for many years, was active in the travel industry, and knew his way around the Mayan Riviera. He was enthusiastic about spreading the word that Playa was the hottest place to travel and wanted his guidebook to be as up to date and detailed as it could be. He wanted visitors to have the same insider information that locals have. Best of all, he wasn’t looking for a handout or compensation; he just wanted to write the best guidebook possible.
We spent a lovely afternoon talking with Josh. Several months later a guest in the hotel showed us a copy of his newly printed book, “Playa del Carmen, Tulum and the Riviera Maya: A Complete Guide” published as part of the Great Destinations guidebook series. In our opinion, it was everything Josh had said it would be. We were especially happy that he had done a very complimentary review of the Luna Blue Hotel. It was our first guidebook mention! We even stole one of his quotes from the review to use on our website: “The Luna Blue Hotel…has a lost in time quality that’s not easy to find in a modern resort destination.”
Over the next couple of years we couldn’t count the number of people who have shown up at our front desk with his book in hand. It obviously has been a real help for visitors to Playa del Carmen.
Then, last year, Josh stopped by again. He explained he was updating his guidebook and wanted to see what was new with the hotel and get our feedback on changes, improvements and additions to Playa del Carmen in general. He also asked if he could interview us for a sidebar inclusion in the book. Oh yeah, twist our arms! We spent a pleasant couple of hours with Josh sitting in the garden next to the waterfall and talking about one of our favorite subjects, Playa del Carmen.
Fast forward to today. This morning some guests in the hotel came to the front desk with a copy of the new 2nd Edition of Joshua’s guidebook which they had brought for us. (We have the nicest guests!!) We just finished leafing through it and have to say it’s even better than the first one. The information is detailed in a way that most guidebooks aren’t. It offers specifics about where to go, what to do, how to get there and how much to pay.
But what makes this book really special and different is the insider commentary about things in Playa del Carmen that visitors often don’t see or hear about. Joshua talks about our famous fire department, the Bomberos, and tells people how they can help support it. He offers a long list of items that are needed by the local Playa del Carmen Children and Family Services Department with information about where to bring such items. He also peppers the book with entertaining commentaries such as the “Top 10 Songs to Load on your iPod” before coming to Playa (Margaritaville tops the list of course); suggestions for walking tours and stories about Mayan history and myth. He even does a review of local “adult” clubs with pricing information! There are plenty of maps and lots of photos. He also tells the reader about other sources of local information, including the website www.intheroo.com which he notes is “favored by many locals.” (We might have put in a good word. )
Of course our favorite pages are 142, 143 and 192. It’s here you can find favorable reviews of the Luna Blue Hotel & Garden, the Luna Blue Bar (which he recommends) and almost a full page story about us which he called “Living the Dream.” It was pretty cool to see that. Now we’re just waiting for someone to purchase the movie rights.
So if you’re going to be coming to Playa del Carmen soon or just want a book to take you there on a cold South Dakota winter’s night (that’s for you, Tim & Ruth), pick up a copy or order it from Amazon.com and make the mailman trudge thru the snow with your copy. We think you’ll like it.
Here’s an excerpt from the book that shows Joshua’s spot on attitude about traveling south of the border:
It May be Paradise, but it’s Still the Jungle
Don’t forget, even though Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya are exotic and wonderful beach vacation destinations, they are still relatively undeveloped and are in close proximity to the jungle, and you should set your expectations accordingly. You should also remember that there are hassles and frustrations inherent to any travel situation. You’re on vacation to have fun and celebrate life, so try not to let little challenges you encounter bother you.
If a chicken walks into your beachfront restaurant and pecks at your crumbs, don’t get mad–take a picture. If a gecko streaks across the wall of your hotel room, don’t call the front desk–give him a name and consider him a pet. If your shower runs out of hot water, don’t complain to the concierge–it’s good for your sunburn. And most importantly, if you find yourself at odds with your travel partner, it’s time to hit the nearest bar, order a margarita, feel the warm breeze, and remember why you came here in the first place.