The Hotel Stay Survival Guide: What You Should Know That They Won’t Tell You

Whether you travel a lot for business, or occasionally for pleasure, sooner or later you’ll be staying overnight in a hotel. Location and a good rate are just two aspects of an enjoyable stay. Here are some “inside” tips and hotel etiquette to help ensure you have a safe, healthy, and happy stay.

Beware of CO in hotels. You’re probably aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO), and may even have a CO detector in your home. As a refresher, CO is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. Because it is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes, CO-often called “the silent killer” – can kill before a person is aware of it. The effects of CO varies from person to person, but symptoms generally include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue.

CO, is such a threat that the National Fire Protection Association says CO alarms should be near bedrooms in every home. However, only a handful of state or municipal laws require hotels to have CO alarms, even though there were 30 incidents of fire departments or government officials finding elevated levels of CO at U.S. hotels between 2010 and 2102, according to a USA TODAY analysis of more than 1,000 media reports and local fire departments.

And in early 2012, CO leaking from a swimming pool heater exhaust pipe hospitalized 16 guests, and killed one, at a West Virginia Holiday Inn. No CO detectors sounded because there were no CO alarms in the hotel.

So, when booking a room in a hotel room, ask if they have CO alarms installed in the rooms. If not, don’t book or accept a room equipped with a fuel-burning device, such as a wood-burning stove or gas fireplace. If you stay there anyway, definitely do not let the unit run through the night.

Also, do not book a room that opens onto an enclosed parking area, or next to an indoor garage. There could be CO gas in the air. You may also want to invest in a portable carbon monoxide detector.

If symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea, weakness, and/or confusion occur, get to fresh air quickly.

Think twice about valet parking. Remember that scene in the movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when the garage parking attendants took Cameron’s father’s prized 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California convertible for a joyride? “Borrowing” parked cars goes on more than you may realize. Granted, it usually happens with really nice cars, so if you’re just tooling around in a rental, you probably don’t have to worry.

Beware of bedbugs. It’s not pleasant to think about, but bedbugs are a problem in many hotels across the nation. In fact, CBS News recently reported the 15 worst cities for bedbugs.

If you’re worried about bedbugs in a hotel, you can check for them yourself in the bed, sofa, and chairs. Pack a few useful items for identifying bedbug infestations, including a flashlight and a magnifying glass. You can also use an old credit card to scrape and dig for signs of bedbugs. Here are some telltale signs to look for.

  • Adult bedbugs are flat, brown, oval, and wingless, about 1/4 to 3/8 inches long.. They change from brown to purplish-red after they eat, becoming larger and more cigar-shaped. Young bedbugs look like adults, but smaller.
  • Check the bed’s mattress, box spring, and sheets for any signs, such as rusty or reddish stains on bed linens, pillows and mattresses.
  • Look at carpeting or flooring around and under beds. Bedbug excrement leaves dark spots, about the size of a period on a printed page. Bedbug waste “bleeds” on fabrics like a pen or marker would.
  • Inspect the furniture for bedbug eggs and eggshells, which are white and about 1 mm in size. Open and inspect zippered coverings on furniture and pillows, and at frames and feet of sofas and chairs.
  • Check walls, wall hangings, paintings, clocks; baseboards, floorboards, and electrical outlets. Use an old playing card or credit card to probe and scrape out any live bedbugs, remains, or waste.

BYOG: Bring your own glass. It’s a little known fact, but hotel housekeepers sometimes use furniture polish to ensure the hotel room glasses sparkle, and don’t have any spots. So, it’s probably a wise idea to pack your own drinking glass, or ask the hotel bartender if you can borrow a clean glass during your stay.

Don’t sleep with the duvet. Most hotels wash the sheets and blankets on a regular basis, but few, if any, ever wash the duvet covers. So, do yourself a favor and strip that bad boy right off the bed when you get there. If you think you might get cold at night, call the front desk and (nicely) request a clean extra blanket.

Be nice to the staff. It goes without saying, but basic manners go a long way in hotels and restaurants. Be kind and appreciative to the staff, especially the front desk agent who checks you in. He or she, more than anyone else, can make your stay either a pleasure or disaster.

Don’t be cheap-tip well. That leads us to the next insider tip: tip well, especially a bellman if he brings your luggage up to your room, or downstairs, in a timely manner. Don’t forget to leave a tip for the housekeeper on your room desk or night stand before you check out, and again, the all-powerful front desk agent – give this person a $10 bill when you check in, and it will help ensure you’re stay is a pleasant one.

Double check incidentals and mini bar bill. If you’re billed for incidentals and/or the mini bar, be sure to review the bill and make sure charges are legitimate. Hotel staff has been known to steal from a room’s minibar, sticking the guest with an unwarranted bill. If the charges aren’t yours, dispute it – and try to avoid room extras and bring your own supplies.

Your Quick and Easy Guide to the Top Must-See Sights of Phuket,Thailand

The island of Phuket is filled with various attractions, that it could be a daunting task to choose from. So, here’s a Phuket travel guide depicting the top five must-see destinations in this city.

The Big Buddha

The Big Buddha or Phra Puttamingmongkol Akenakkiri Buddha of Phuket is located at Chalong Bay and sits atop one of the highest points on the island. It can be seen from most places in South Phuket. The statue itself sits at 45 meters high. It was constructed using approximately 135 tons of Burmese white marble, which shines in the sun, making it a natural symbol of hope. The lofty site offers the best 360-degree views of the island and travelers may enjoy sweeping vistas of Phuket Town, Kata and Karon beaches, as well as Chalong Bay.

Wat Chalong

Wat Chalong Temple in Chalong Bay is the largest and most important temple in Phuket Island. It is also the most visited, as many locals and Thai tourists come to pray and pay respects to several revered monks who were the founders of Wat Chalong. The Grand Pagoda is said to contain a bone splinter from the Lord Buddha himself. The walls of the pagoda are adorned with murals depicting the story of the Buddha’s life.

Phuket Town Night Market

If you are a shopper, but want to get out of the overpriced shopping centers, you must visit the Night Market in Phuket Town. There are many vendors here selling their own unique collection of wares. Shoppers can expect to find a variety items that make for perfect souvenirs and gifts. As with most night markets, haggling is common and expected. So, don’t be shy to negotiate for a bargain price.

Phang Nga Bay

This scenic bay is located off the mainland peninsula of southern Thailand. It is famous, not only for its distinctive islands and cliffs, but also because it appeared on two James Bond films, “The Man with the Golden Gun” in 1974, and “Tomorrow Never Dies” in 1997. Known for its majestic limestone rock formations, most visitors explore the area on a one-day tour via kayaking, but some larger islands have accommodation available in nearby Thailand resorts.

Bangla Road (Soi Bangla)

This road located at Patong Beach is what made the beach famous. Soi Bangla is a colorful spectacle that must be seen in person, as no words can adequately capture its energy. Lining both sides of the main road are numerous bars and clubs. There is several side roads called Soi, which leads to more entertainment complexes.

Apart from bars and clubs, the popular Patong Beach also boasts a growing number of boutiques, resorts, and hotels including the romantic Patong Paragon Resort and Spa. Among the destinations in this Phuket travel guide, Patong lets travelers get the best of both worlds, with its unspoiled beaches, superb restaurants, and thriving nightlife.

Book Review – A Travel Guide To Heaven

“If heaven is anything at all, it’s fun.” With that opening line Anthony Destefano sets a tone for his book that turns out to be as much fun to read as the place it is describing. Reading these words in the preface, I was buoyed up with the hope that A TRAVEL GUIDE TO HEAVEN would combine sound theological teachings on the afterlife with a bit of humor and grace – but without the stuffy jargon of philosophers. Destefano does not disappoint his readers. He gives us concrete images of heaven that we can grasp (a perfect rose, a beautiful sunset, breathtaking views) combined with new ideas of what it means to go on the vacation of our dreams (frolicking simultaneously with tame “wild” animals and even dinosaurs).

A little background on this book will help to explain its wonderlust theme. This international bestseller actually represents Destefano’s second attempt at writing a book on heaven. After attending 15 funerals of friends and relatives over a seven-month period, Destefano wrote his first manuscript, which he called HEAVEN, designed to make the afterlife more physically real than what the priests and ministers had done in the 15 funerals he attended. But this attempt at writing turned out to be so boring that Destefano never finished it.

A few months later on his fifth wedding anniversary, he wanted to treat his wife to a surprise overnight stay at a posh Beverly Hills hotel but found the hotel had lost his reservation. The Presidential Suite at the hotel was not in use that night, and when the hotel generously allowed him to stay in the suite instead, Destefano walked into a room so immaculately furnished that one might say it was a little piece of heaven on earth.

“You enter and there’s a beautiful Steinway grand piano, and it’s a Steinway, not some (cheap imitation), and there are fireplaces in every room and his and her bathrooms and saunas and Jacuzzis, and a dining room for 12 and this giant kitchen and butler service, OK? There’s a bottle of champagne in every room and a terrace that extends the whole length of the hotel overlooking Sunset Boulevard, and at first my wife says, ‘You did this for us?’ And I say, ‘You’re worth it, baby’. I got away with that for about five minutes.”

The feeling of joy from being surrounded by luxurious accommodations immediately suggested to Destefano the ingredient he needed to make a book on heaven seem more tangible to his readers: comparison to a vacation in the Presidential Suite of a five-star resort. Of course, in heaven the luxurious accommodations don’t stop with the hotel furnishings, they include a fabulous makeover of a new body (Chap. 2), interesting fellow travelers on the vacation (Chap. 4), and angels for tour guides (Chap. 7). Forget about resting in peace, heaven is going to be filled with so many fun and interesting activities that we will naturally go from one activity to the next learning more, experiencing life at its fullest, and growing in our own spirituality.

Destefano contends that the physical location of heaven is Earth. Citing portions of the New Testament that refer to “a new heaven and a new earth,” Destefano argues that eventually earth itself will experience death, resurrection, and transformation so that the “new earth” will in fact be heaven. Many of us have assumed heaven exists in another dimension beyond the three-dimensional limitations of earth, but Destefano argues continually that heaven is not a spiritual concept but a physical place that we will inhabit with our new and improved physical bodies. Given that humans have existed on the earth for about a million years, the physical size of this newly transformed earth must obviously be much larger than earth today, otherwise there would be congestion and shortage of space for all those people.

Because of this nexus between heaven and “the new earth,” Destefano is able to depict concrete images of life in heaven based on the best scenery that has existed throughout all of history on earth. God spent millennia creating beautiful waterfalls, golden meadows, as well as various exotic plants and majestic animals. “God is not going to waste anything he spent so much time and effort creating.”

Throughout his book, Destefano provides citation to the bible to back up his claims about what life will be like in heaven. Judging from the praise his book has received from people in different Christian denominations, his scriptural citations seem to please a wide Christian audience. For example, Destefano claims that prior to Christ’s resurrection, none of the souls of the faithfully departed were allowed into heaven; the gates of heaven had been closed. Destefano cites 1 Cor 15:20-23; Phil 2:8; Rom 5:18-20. His first citation contains the phrase “For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life.” His second citation contains “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” The third citation states “In conclusion, just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all.” None of those citations indicate the gates of heaven were closed.

Destefano would have had stronger support for his claim by citing John 3:13, “And no one has ascended into heaven, but he who descended from heaven, even the Son of Man.” Yet biblical scholars have noted that line is contradicted, e.g., by 2 Kings 2:11, which says Elijah went up to heaven (hundreds of years before Christ was born). Reading John 3:13 in context, Christ is pointing out to Nicodemus that by questioning whether Christ is correct, Nicodemus does not yet understand he is speaking to the Son of God. In our modern language, Christ might have said, “No human being can speak from personal knowledge of heaven, as I do, who came from heaven. No human has traveled up to heaven and come back to earth to talk about it based on direct observation.”

A TRAVEL GUIDE TO HEAVEN is well-researched and draws from scripture for inspiration. I conclude with a quotation from the book that will inspire the reader to contemplate a paradise in which “eye has not seen, ear has not heard” the marvels that await us. “And don’t forget the children. God knew very well when he created the first tyrannosaurus and brontosaurus that little boys and girls would be thrilled by the very thought of them billions of years later. In fact, God might have made the dinosaurs and allowed them to roam the earth for millions of years for that reason alone.” In order to enter the kingdom of God, we must accept it with the eager anticipation of a child. We should not underestimate God’s desire to make us happy in heaven and give us child-like joy at the wonders of his creation.