I have to admit, I’ve almost collected all the editions of the Lonely Planet Magazine and the Conde Nast Traveller since they launched their India editions. However, I don’t read them much. This past month was a reminder why.
While I’m still to write a full review of my visit to the Hilton Shillim, if you read this post, you’d know I had a troubled stay there. I was one of the first guests to make a reservation there, back in February 2013, when they were only a month old after opening. I know new hotels have problems, and so I made a reservation for July, hoping all the issues would have gone away by then. That was a blind bet, and I could have cancelled anytime.
And then I read a review in the Conde Nast Traveller India which cemented the trip. It states:
All accommodation at the 350-acre Shillim Estate is in private villas, and each comes with butler service included. There are 99 villas in total, 15 with private pools attached. The Spa Pool Villas, with their exposed stone walls and open air verandas, allow the resort’s surroundings to set the mood. Cool winds and birdsong come drifting in from outside; completing the experience is an outdoor shower, private deck and pool, where guests can book a Watsu massage while floating on the water.
Nowhere does it state that only 1/3 of the 99 villas are currently operational. The rest are not. That the Spa Pools have crabs inside, it is so close to nature, and the outdoor shower has moss accumulated all around, especially when you go in the rainy season. Well, I had to experience it myself.
To be more direct, it just looks like a press release from the property. My question is reiterated when a mainline Indian newspaper “The Hindu” writes all the flowery language as well.
Luxury at the Hilton Shillim is in the little things – like the personal butler who comes with every villa or the little buggy that he will ferry you around in. Imagine not having to walk more than a few hundred metres to get anywhere – it was nothing short of being treated like royalty.
Hey, what about the fact that your butler could not even organise internet for you in one go, and they assigned a new butler on the second day of my stay because the first one was going away somewhere on vacation or something.
Now, I’ve written for travel magazines back in the day as well, and I know there are Familiarisation trips, media junkets and what not. As blogs become more mainstream, even blogs are being included in these efforts.
But, is the real deal, that only the positives have to be conveyed and not a realistic assessment? What are your views? Have you ever read a travel magazine and then booked up a place only to have a different opinion?