Tai Power Seeff/BRIDES
Whether it's your honeymoon or that exotic vacation you've always dreamt about, tracking down the perfect hotel for your once-in-a-lifetime trip is a snap. BRIDES magazine shows you how.
1. Crunch the Numbers - To figure out what you can afford to spend on your hotel, calculate your total trip nest egg, then subtract the cost of airfare, ground transportation (car rental, taxis, or train passes), meals and drinks, and incidentals (tour fees, souvenirs, tips). Take that figure, divide it by the number of nights, and you're ready to go hotel shopping.
2. Make a Wish List - Remember: The hotel that seems to offer everything inevitably costs more. Determine which services you'll really use. For example, if you're a couple of foodies planning to eat in local restaurants, it doesn't matter if your resort has six eateries or none. If you're planning to slack off on the workouts until you get home, you don't need a resort with a gym.
3. Scout Out the Crowd - To steer clear of loud conventioneers or massive bus-tour groups that take over the dining room (and the elevator, and the hallways, and the lobby), ask the hotel if any large parties have booked blocks of rooms during your stay. Afraid of screaming kids playing tag on the "romantic" beach? Check out the hotel's website to see if the property is marketed to families, or choose one with a no-kids policy.
4. Be a Good Sleuth - Call the hotel and ask if there's construction scheduled during your stay and, if so, where it's taking place. Another question: Is the hotel on a main drag or near a highway? Traffic noise just isn't charming. Also, if it's in a beach destination, just how close to the water will you be? Even a hotel called The Oceanview may be several blocks from the shore. Do your research before you go, and you can stick to the tricky questions once you arrive—like whether to get lemon or lime in your G&T.
—Paula Rackow, BRIDES magazine