Travel Agents vs Big Booking Sites

February 27,2013

Luna Blue Hotel in Playa Del Carmen, MexicoOne of the most common questions we get is “why do people need a travel agent these days?” Surely, with the rise of the internet and big self-booking websites, travelers are more empowered than ever to research and organize travel than ever before. But as ever, Global Basecamps stands by its philosophy that booking through a knowledgeable, experienced travel expert with personal relationships to hotels and lodges is always preferable. At the end of the day, booking through a company like Global Basecamps benefits not just the traveler, but the destination!

This month, SFGate.com published an article that we believe outlines the benefits of booking your travel through an agent over a booking site. The article tells the story of the couple who own a hotel in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. After a series of miscommunications, the relationship between the 18-room hotel and the website collapsed. Through what the article calls a “descent into the surreal” the website used its considerable clout in the travel industry to hurt the hotel’s business instead of supplementing it.

Though travelers may find the occasional deal on a booking site, their biggest downside is actually the reason they are so successful. Big booking sites prioritize volume, and the bigger the hotel, the more rooms they can sell. Too often, the smallest hotels in the world don’t garner the attention they deserve from a booking site, and are relegated to a secondary status. Too often, those small hotels are often the world’s best!

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Best of Basecamps: Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge

October 02,2012

Rhotia Valley Tented CampNestled between two hills on the border of Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area in Tanzania, Rhotia Valley Tented Camp is a special place whose mission does not end with being one of the most warm, welcoming and beautiful lodges in the country. On its website’s guestbook page, messages in four different languages sing its praises. It boasts a coveted five stars on its TripAdvisor profile with one reviewer mentioning the words “Heaven on Earth.” And even if you completely forget its special purpose, it is still one of the best safari lodges in the world.

In addition to being a world-class basecamp, the property is also home to thirty six children - mostly orphans - from around the Rhotia Valley (thirty six as of October, 2012). Profits generated from the Tented Lodge directly support the Rhotia Valley Children’s Home, bringing the local community together under a common goal of creating a better future for local children, as well as employing many residents of the village.

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Best of Basecamps: Ol Pejeta Conservancy

August 21,2012

Ol Pejeta RhinoOn your custom Kenya safari, you are spying one of 700 eastern black rhinos left in the wild, an elephant is not too far off, and a small herd of mooing cattle wanders into your field of vision as you snap the perfect photo of a grazing zebra. There is one place in Kenya where the cows are not out of place, and in fact are welcomed into the environment. This week we’d like to feature a basecamp in Kenya we all get very excited about, Ol Pejeta. Though it is more of a wildlife conservancy, Ol Pejeta is home to a number of lodges and camps, all run by the non-profit organization.

Ol Pejeta encompasses multiple wildlife sanctuaries within its borders. The largest groups of black rhinos and chimpanzees in Kenya live here, as well as the largest herd of Boran cattle in the world. Overall, the park displays a model for wildlife conservation that is effective and inspirational.

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Sustainable Travel In Light of Lonesome George

July 31,2012

Lonesome GeorgeThe news broke a few weeks ago, but it will always be relevant. Lonesome George, the world’s last Pinto Island Tortoise and a recognized symbol of the Galapagos, died on June 24th, 2012. If you have ever been to the Galapagos Islands, there is a good chance you saw him. Discovered in 1971, he grew slower and more lackadaisical as the years came and went, but he was still a wonder. The last of his species, he was a living reminder of the dangers that accompany a human presence.

We’d like to take this week to acknowledge the species of the Galapagos that are still in critical danger of extinction. According to the Galapagos Conservancy, we know of thirteen vertebrate species that are now extinct, and of those, humans have witnessed seven of them cross the threshold into non-existence.

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Best of Basecamps: Awasi

July 06,2012

Awasi SuiteChile’s Atacama Desert is home to salt flats, snowy peaks, unique desert culture, hot springs, and even a few luxury resorts, but if you didn’t stay at this particular luxury resort during your last visit here, you didn’t do it right. This week we’d like to feature one of our favorite hotel properties in the world, Awasi. Hidden away in one of the most secluded corners on the planet, you wouldn’t expect to find world-class gourmet food, perfectly personalized service, and jaw dropping accommodations, but lo and behold, it’s all there.

We won’t act like the main attraction to Awasi isn’t the Atacama Desert itself, because it is. One cannot deny the awesomeness of the mountains surrounding it, nor the vastness of the empty, arid desert. This geological nook is home to much of Chile’s ancestral heritage, thanks to the water springs that dot the landscape, and any trip to South America should include this place whether you are backpacking or going Awasi-style. Like any other desert, temperatures here fluctuate between night and day, but daytime temperatures are nearly always perfect (72°-82° year round). Named a desert thanks to its low rainfall, water still makes an impactful presence here, as thermal pools, geysers and marshes burst their way through the dry ground, giving life to Atacama’s strangely varied flora and fauna.

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