“Did you call the resort?” I asked Tracey.
“Yeah, we can stay another night, but the deal doesn’t cover it,” she said. “So we’ll pay twice as much for that night as the other four.”
I asked her what she wanted to do. We didn’t have a lot of readies to brandy about. Maybe we’d have to give up on the idea of the extra night.
“I’ve found a place online which is much cheaper. We can stay there one night and then go to the resort.”
“Sounds good,” I said.
I was wrong.
In fact, this conversation was in September of 2009, and only a couple of weeks ago we drove past the motel and we started snickering about how bad the place was. We can only laugh now because it’s seven years later and we survived with our sense of humour intact.
So when Star Ratings Australia asked me to take a look at what they do I immediately thought of this night. I pulled out the photo album for that holiday to check out the photos (yes we took photos, because we didn’t think our families would believe us) and was thrilled to find Tracey had even jotted down some of the more notable features of our room, starting with the phrase ‘we were totally amazed at how crap it was’.
Some of the things she mentioned, albeit with a lot more colour and cussing than I’m comfortable repeating here:
Sofa Collapsed on one side
The fridge froze everything
Two air-cons – one had an ‘out off order’ sign and the other didn’t work
Kitchen cupboards wouldn’t open – we ate off plastic plates anyway
Dodgy power points
Paint dangling off ceiling
Strong suspicion we weren’t the only critters in the room
Toilet door ripped off the hinges
You know the place sucks when having a kid poo in full view of the kitchenette isn’t the worst of it. As Tracey also noted that night in her diary as we went to bed, ‘it reminds me of those dodgy motels in films where an exposed veranda runs the length of the second floor and the police raid rooms full of drug dealers or hookers or escapees on the run’.
How right she was.
“What’s the-” I mumbled at about one in the morning.
“Shhhh!” hissed Tracey.
There were voices outside our window.
“What are they-”
“Shhhhh!” Tracey hissed a little more urgently. “Listen. I think they’re selling drugs.”
They were. But only about $10,000 worth, and not the big stakes $25,000 the next customer wanted two and a half hours later. It was easy to hear them, despite their lowered voices, because the window above our bed didn’t close properly.
Which is why, at 5.30am, we gave up taking turns napping to carry our bags and the kids to the car and, like I’m sure so many of the other patrons had in the past, make our escape.
“Honey,” I said to Tracey as we made our final sweep of the room for evidence – I mean our stuff. I pointed to some squiggles. “Molly’s drawn on the wall!”
It was only a lead pencil, but we’d already packed stuff like erasers into the car.
Tracey stared at it for all of two seconds before picking up the last of our bags and stomping off towards the door.
“Don’t worry about it,” she said, stopping to give the room one last glare. “Half the motel’s probably been doing lines last night.” Even pissed off, she’s funny. “And it’s not like anyone’s going to notice.”
Is there something to be learned here?
As we discovered, photos on the internet can be a little dated (like real grass around the pool instead of the artificial stuff glued to poorly poured concrete), and self reviews are sometimes done with the motel next door in mind.
It’s simple. To avoid paying for sleepless nights like ours, just use the Star Ratings system. At least then you won’t start your holiday out disappointed, cranky and tired.
There’s a competition on their fun new website, Star Tripping, at the moment to win a luxury tropical weekend escape at Niramaya Spa and Beauty valued at $4000, so that’s a great excuse to head over and take a look.
Also, here’s a link to Catriona Rowntree from Getaway explaining the how and why of Star Ratings far better than I could.
Thank you to Star Ratings Australia for sponsoring this story
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Raising a family on little more than laughs.