Category Archives: Hotels

Travel Hotels Humor

The World’s Best Hotels That Let Me Stay for Free — Hacienda Del Sol — Tucson, AZ

Have you ever read a travel story and wondered if the author was getting a free room in exchange for writing such a glowing review? In my new series, “The World’s Best Hotels That Let Me Stay For Free,” you needn’t wonder any longer.

Each story is carefully crafted to reflect that no matter what the experience, I know which side my toast – which often accompanies the (hopefully) included breakfast — is buttered on.

The idea for the series came to me after I got an email from a lovely woman who does public relations for the Hacienda Del Sol, an historic jewel of a ranch-style luxury resort in the foothills north of Tucson, Arizona, which, according to Travel + Leisure magazine, is one of America’s most underrated cities.

“I was meandering through travel blogs as I often do,” the lovely woman said, “and found Now I am recovering from a full-on case of giggles after reading about animals on airplanes [including members of certain college fraternities] and telling kids that there is no luggage heaven.

“If you are looking for an excursion close to home [I live in Scottsdale, AZ] but away from the ‘run of the mill,’ please let me know. I would love to have you check in and check out my client, the Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort. Hopefully, you won’t find too much humorous about it.”

An award-winning member of the Historic Hotels of America, the 59-room property, on 34 secluded acres, has a Spanish Colonial style of architecture that gives it the feel of a traditional Mexican village, except that no one is trying to sell you Chiclets, Viagra, or plastic surgery.

Opening in 1929 as an exclusive boarding school, Hacienda Del Sol provided an excellent education for the daughter’s of some of America’s wealthiest families. How excellent is suggested by the school’s 1938 yearbook, in which it is noted that among the gifts graduating seniors left to their younger classmates were “A collection of lipsticks to Betty,” and “a raft of men to Jennnie.”

In 1944, the school was transformed into a guest ranch that proved popular with Hollywood celebrities, among them John Wayne, Clark Gable, Howard Hughes, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. Nostalgia buffs can even stay in the same accommodation, the Casita Grande, whose privacy Hepburn and Tracy appreciated when they were hiding out from his wife.

After decades of neglect and disrepair, the Hacienda Del Sol was given a new life in 1995 when it reopened under the ownership and management of a local group of investors who have lovingly upgraded it to a luxury resort, most recently adding 32 rooms, some looking out on that most Southwestern of icons, a golf course.

Resort amenities include two pools (one with a mosaic on the bottom of a presumably drowned cowboy and his horse), a delightfully cozy spa, a riding stable, a fitness center, and a botanical garden, among which are scattered forty works of outdoor art. Ten of the works are by one of the property’s owners, who, it might be helpful to note, is by profession a realtor.

The Hacienda Del Sol’s two dining rooms and award-winning culinary team – along with the new 5,100 square foot Casa Luna Ballroom — make it an ideal venue for all types of events and celebrations, including wedding receptions, occasionally highlighted by having drinks packed in by donkey, which after a few prickly pear margaritas, won’t seem too humorous.

When BobCarriesOn Editor in Chief Bob Payne is not staying at a hotel for free he often pays for it. 

Hotel Scandal: Possible links between fake views and leaks


A special government committee has been convened to investigate allegations that an increasing number of hotels in the U.S. are exaggerating the descriptions of what their less-expensive rooms look out on.

According to unnamed sources, these fake views sites also appear to be the same ones that have prompted more and more hotel guests to complain of leaks.

“It used to be you could expect a little overstatement,” said a New York City hotel guest who was in town to see the recently updated Broadway musical, The Lyn’ King. “But now, no matter what they promise, it seems the views are of walls, walls, and more walls. And the leaks? Oh my gosh! You practically have to wear a raincoat to bed.”

As might be expected, hotel owners are pushing back, one stating, “Nobody respects hotel guests more than me, but some of them are losers. And anyway, who’s making these complaints about fake views and leaks? It could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds ok? They are just real lightweights who need to get out more, preferably to the hotel restaurant and gift shop.”

Sources from inside the committee said the investigation is moving slowly, in large part because the hotels involved all seem to be owned by shell corporations whose origins become lost in the morass of the bureaucracies of nations such as Russian and China.

“You know you are at a dead end,” one source said, “when you dig up promising paperwork on a company, only to discover that the chief financial officers are Tomas Dzheferson and Abrakham Linkoln.”

Another source, who declined to identify himself, other than to say he was not Howard Johnson, claimed that despite conflicting viewpoints from within the committee itself a possible solution to the fake views problem, at least, seemed to be emerging.

“We are leaning toward the British model, as demonstrated recently by the budget accommodation easyHotel, the source said.

According to news reports, easyHotel advertises fake views, which are in reality photos of London landmarks attached to the hotel room wall. The photos are promoted as an upgrade, and guests are charged extra for them.

As for the leaks, the source said it might take a bi-partisan effort by Congress to get those fixed.

“Fat chance of that happening,” one of the hotel owners we spoke with said. “Fat chance. Four-hundred-pounds fat.”

As readers would expect, considering the BobCarriesOn expense budget, travel humor writer Bob Payne has spent years  investigating hotels that have fake views and leaks.

5 sure signs you are stealing hotel soap

Let’s be honest. Stealing at hotels is widespread. Egregious examples include $60 resort fees, $100 breakfasts, and $1,500-plus junior suites. But putting aside the shortcomings of management, let’s look at a question many hotel guests struggle with: Can taking hotel soap be considered stealing?

Yes it can.

You are stealing hotel soap if:

While a housekeeper’s cart is left unattended in the hallway, you load the cart’s entire supply into an empty suitcase you have brought along just for that purpose.

Noticing that the housekeeper has left another guest’s door ajar while servicing the room, you claim to be that guest, say you just need to duck into the bathroom for a minute, and make off with any toiletries you find. You increase the severity of your crime if, confronted by the room’s bona fide occupants, you claim to be a reviewer for TripAdvisor.

You actually are a hotel reviewer, and while an assistant manager waits patiently on the balcony, hoping you won’t notice the ants crawling up the wall, you strip the bathroom of everything you can fit into your camera bag.

Discovering the same soap in the hotel gift shop, you slip it into your tote bag and walk out without paying because you can’t get over how much they are selling it for.

You are a professional burglar, and are ransacking the room anyway, and take the soap because it comes in an expensive looking wrapper that makes it ideal for re-gifting.

If you do plan to steal hotel soap, the world’s best hotels to steal it from are:

The Hotel Principe di Savoia Milano

Lowest room rate: $353
Soap brand: Acqua di Parma
Soap cost: $35/3.5 oz.
Number of bars needed to recoup room rate: 10
Also worth considering: Recently re-designed by Thierry Despont, the Principe Bar is opulent, and its liquor stock not particularly well guarded.

Burj Al Arab Jumeirah Hotel, Dubai

Lowest room rate: $1,767
Soap brand: Hermes
Soap cost: $16.99/3.5 oz.
Number of bars needed to recoup room rate: 104
Also worth considering: One of the hotel’s chauffer-driven guest Rolls Royces will blend into local traffic for a clean getaway.

Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest

Lowest room rate: $333
Soap brand: L’Occitane
Soap cost: $7/2.6 oz.
Number of bars needed to recoup room rate: 48
Also worth considering: Nespresso coffee machine will fit inconspicuously into all but smallest bags.

Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur, India

Lowest room rate: $321
Soap brand: Kama Ayurveda
Soap cost: $10/2.65 oz.
Number of bars needed to recoup room rate: 32
Also worth considering: Chandelier in the lobby is not vintage, but of high quality.

The Langham, Chicago

Lowest room rate: $490
Soap brand: Chua Spa Private Label
Soap cost: $10/3.5 oz.
Number of bars needed to recoup room rate: 49
Also worth considering: Upgrade to the infinity suite and you’ll have the option of making off with the custom-painted grand piano.

The Peninsula Shanghai

Lowest room rate: $403
Soap brand: Oscar de la Renta
Soap cost: $12.90/3.5oz.
Number of bars needed to recoup room rate: 31
Also worth considering: Artwork on walls at Salon de Ming lounge should prove easy enough to remove.

                                                                                                                                                                                                             Big Stock Photo

Hotel desperate to have guests complain about ghosts

Recognizing that a reputation for being haunted can be good for a hotel’s business, the manager of an aging resort in the Great Smoky Mountains is making every effort to get guests to complain about ghosts.

Bob Payne, who has been running the Shady Indian Resort, just outside of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, for more than 20 years, said that knowing the financial bonanza hotels such as The Crescent, in the Ozarks, and The Stanley, in Colorado, have made from their resident spirits he thought it could be worthwhile to scare up a ghost or two for his own property.

But getting people to believe in ghosts, and, more to the point, complain about them loudly enough to garner national, or even regional, press, has turned out to be much harder than Payne anticipated.

“Doors that seem to open and close on their own, unexplained cold blasts of air in the hallways, skeletons in the closet – I’ve tried to blame it all on paranormal activity,” Payne said. “But guests just assume it’s the result of poor maintenance.”

Payne said it was particularly hard because in all his years at the Shady Indian the only violent death he could recall was when he accidentally checked a family with a small cat into a room already occupied by a circus performer who was traveling with his pet boa constrictor.

“And without a death worthy of a headline it’s really hard to conjure up any kind of story about an apparition,” Payne said.

He said he did think he had a winner one night when guests began complaining about shrieks and moans coming from what appeared to be an empty room. “But it just turned out to be a honeymoon couple who had somehow managed to get themselves under the bed.”

With Halloween upon him, Payne said he would give the haunted approach one more try, perhaps by having the maids draw images in soap on the bathroom mirrors of the contents of guests’ luggage. If that didn’t work, he said, he would go back to claiming “Washington Slept Here.”

Court rules no deception in hotel case where “Room with a view” is of freeway

The California courts handed down a landmark ruling today that will have far-reaching effects for travelers who purchase accommodation based entirely on information provided by hotel websites.

The court ruled that any hotel room with a window has, by definition, a view, even if it is of a brick wall, and that unless the hotel falsely describes what the view is of it cannot be held accountable for whatever guests may choose to imagine.

“This is a great day for justice and a great day for the 87% of hotels with rooms that do in fact look out on brick walls,” said Bob Payne, a spokesman for the National Association of Maximum Yield for Less Desirable Hotel Accommodations.

The case was the result of a 2011 incident in which a honeymooning couple paid extra for what a California hotel described as a room with a view that turned out to be so close up to Interstate 5 that for the length of their stay the couple had to endure rude remarks about the bride from passing motorists.

“It was totally humiliating,” said the bride, who claimed the couple did not simply close the shades because of the principle involved, and because without turning the light on it would have been difficult to get in and out of the costumes they were wearing.

In a related matter, the court also ruled that photos circulate for so long on the Internet that a hotel can’t be held responsible if images that don’t accurately represent the current condition of the hotel can be found online.  That case involved a Miami hotel which visually represented itself as being on the water when in fact documented evidence showed the only time that could have been possible was during Hurricane Andrew, in 1992, when everything in South Florida was on the water.

“This is a great day for justice and a great day for the 87 percent of hotels who claim to be on the water but are not,” said Bob Payne, a spokesman for the National Association of Maximum Yield for Less Desirable Real Estate.

When not working for various hotel associations, Bob Payne is the editor in chief of, an online site that has been sharing accurate, reliable travel news and advice since before Columbus landed at Plymouth Rock.




Hotel guest finds paper-thin walls ideal for making confession to priest in next room

“Where’s a priest when you need one?” is a question frequent traveler Bob Payne has never had to ask.

Payne is one of a growing number of travelers who choose their accommodation by scanning hotel review sites in search of  hotels with partitions thin enough to hear conversation and activity without having to resort to the traditional method of holding a glass to the wall.

“With the priests, it’s the convenience factor, mostly,” says Payne, who admits that having lived and traveled long, his tally of experiences is not without moral blemish.

“There was that time in Bangkok with the two elephants, and I can tell you that while finding a priest at a place of worship at 3 a.m., especially one that admits elephants, is just about impossible, there was a priest in both of the rooms on either side of me.”

The added benefit of making a confession through a hotel’s paper-thin walls, Payne said, is that once you give even the politest of knocks from your side you know you will have the priest’s complete attention. “It’s not like in a regular confessional, which is traditionally seen as an opportunity for priests to finish the crossword or work on a Sudoku puzzle,” Payne said.

“Of course it is not all about religion,” said Payne, who currently travels the world selling Old Testament apps for the iPhone. “There is also a good deal of natural selection taking place.”

In that regard, Payne said most of his experiences have been positive. “I seldom call down to the desk to complain until the selection process has been completed.”

Like many travelers who look for hotels with paper thin walls, Payne confesses that listening to procreative activities of guests in the adjoining room can be “interesting.”

“The only exception is if the room is occupied by your parents, especially if you know your father is down in the hotel snack bar,” Payne said.

Plenty of other factors make paper-thin walls desirable, Payne said. “Let’s say you want to charter a fishing boat for the day, but don’t have your credit card number handy, and a guy in the next room reads off his while ordering a pizza. Voila! The fish are as good as in the boat.”

Still, the most satisfying aspect of thin-walled hotel rooms, Payne said, is not the practical but the spiritual, as anyone knows who has listened to a night of: “Oh God, ohhh God!, ohhhhhh God!!”

When travel humor writer Bob Payne is not selling Biblical apps for the iPhone he is the  Religion Editor for, your online source for travel news and advice since before Columbus landed at Plymouth Rock.

BigStock photo.