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No Time to Research? Here's How to Pick the Perfect Getaway


In the early days of alluxia, I was conducting site inspections of Byron Bay houses and unique accommodation to start our collection and met with the charming owner of a relatively well-known property.

As the owner took us on a tour of the property, I was really underwhelmed and disappointed. The property looked tired, the furnishings looked old and not particularly fashionable. The rooms in the main house were oddly constructed like an afterthought and one room was even more like a pool cabana than any type of luxury accommodation.

My instincts said this property was not up to standard, but the owner kept regaling us with stories about all the happy guests they have, that their return guest rate was really high and showed us all the positive and high scoring reviews they'd been receiving on Tripadvisor.

It really felt like an Emperors New Clothes kind of moment. The Hans Christian Andersen tale is about two weavers who promise the emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid or incompetent. When the Emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, no one dares to say they don't see any suit of clothes until a child cries out "But he isn't wearing anything at all!"


As I toured the property, I didn't dare tell the homeowner that I thought their property was of inferior quality, didn't look at all luxe, and I worried maybe I was stupid for thinking this? Maybe it was just me? Maybe it just wasn't to my style or minimalist aesthetic, a bit more country style perhaps, that others might love?

The property owner then outlined a plan that they'd like me to arrange a media visit to showcase the property with a review in one of Australia's leading publications. I was nervous, but as they'd been in business far longer than me, ran a successful business, was on the local tourism board and had a great reputation, they must be right so I reluctantly agreed to make the arrangements.

Nervously the date drew near and the journalist looked forward to their weekend getaway. They'd seen the photos online and thought the retreat looked great! The journalist checked in and I got the dreaded phone call. Essentially the journalist cried out "But he isn't wearing anything at all!" or more to the point, "this retreat is not luxury and we're checking out straight away".

The journalist kindly agreed not to write the review, as it would have been a really bad one but the property owner demanded a positive review or payment for the stay. After careful negotiations, we agreed to part ways and the property was immediately removed from our website and no review surfaced. You can still book this property today on all other major travel websites and a quick check confirms this property continues to receive only positive reviews on TripAdvisor as recently as last week.


What we've learned though, is to trust our gut, our instincts and intuition and ensure only the best of the best makes it to the alluxia collection. That was four years ago, and we've continued to navigate some difficult conversations with owners who wanted their property to appear on alluxia, but we felt just wasn't the right "fit". That's why we continue to travel Australia, staying and inspecting each property with our secret little checklist to independently verify each holiday house or hotel for quality. No one wants to be caught out naked again!

Have you had any experiences where what you've booked online just wasn't reality?

BTW - pictured in the story is some of our quality Byron Bay accommodation which we've visited and can verify are deluxe and delightful!! Not the inferior one mentioned (obviously!) 

Image credit: Vantage, ITSecurityGuru, LaVista
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