Hey! This Doesn’t Look Like the Pictures…

Hhmmm...what kind of fantasy?

Hhmmm…what kind of fantasy?

It was like something out of a Chevy Chase movie: a fictional family plans a vacation (finally!) and are greatly disappointed when they arrive at their budget motel only to find that the fantasy miniature golf holes are cracks in the cement and the swimming pool looks like this. But this wasn’t fiction, and we’re not the Griswolds. This was the pool at a hotel where we stayed enroute to Florida!



Thank goodness we weren’t there to swim, but what if we had been? Imagine if we’d planned this as our family vacation destination! Luckily, this pool was at a motel we pulled into late one night during a road trip. We spent less than 8 hours at the motel and certainly weren’t there to swim. You might be scared to think of what the rooms looked like, based on the pool. Thankfully, they weren’t bad.

But there have been times that we’ve booked accommodations only to discover that they weren’t what we’d pictured. For instance, the hotel I stayed at on my first trip to China looked incredible online. The facade was absolutely beautiful and looked 5-star deluxe. Once I got there, I realized that the picture was taken from quite a distance. In reality, the hotel was surrounded by construction, parking lots, and mud. There was a sewer-ish smell down one wing of the hotel that other people later told me they’d smelled, too, when they stayed there the year before.

Then there was the “mountainside cabin” in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Doesn’t that sound perfect? I’ll bet you can envision it now. Is this what you pictured: a mobile home crammed in with other prefab cabins butted up against a hill where there’d been a forest fire a couple of years ago? There were blackened stumps and plenty of ticks, and yes – a mountain in the distance. Still, not quite what we’d imagined.

I don't have a picture of our mobile home. This was one of the other cabins set against 'Tick Mountain.'

I don’t have a picture of our mobile home. This was one of the other cabins set against ‘Tick Mountain.’

Luckily, we’re the sort of family who finds humor in the unexpected. The South Dakota trip was incredible and the “cabin” just added to the fun. Actually, what I love about travel is the element of surprise; the experiences that we don’t plan for and that provide stories later. So we stayed in a motel with a brackish green pool. My fictional family’s vacation might have been ruined. But I just chalked it up to part of the adventure on our road trip to Florida — where we swam in the ocean instead.

Have you stayed somewhere that was nothing like you expected?


9 responses to “Hey! This Doesn’t Look Like the Pictures…

  1. Humor is definitely needed to be a GOOD traveler. I’m not sure I laugh enough – particularly when a resort or hotel’s promotion is really false advertisement. When I viewed your first photo, I laughed out loud – yes, I have had the experience of a similar type of hotel, with little kids in tow, and it’s only funny in hindsight. 🙂

  2. Pictures really can be deceiving. I remember going to NYC with a friend and thinking we got a great deal on a four-star hotel. Once we pulled up, I got to thinking the pictures we saw were probably taken at least 30 years ago when the paint was still fresh and the carpets were new. Nowadays, I go by what a hotel’s website looks like. If it looks like it needs updating, I’m willing to bet the hotel does too.

  3. The pool is OK if you ignore the fact that it hasn’t been cleaned for about a year 🙂
    I don’t travel much and I’m easily pleased. A couple of years ago I stayed at a lovely country pub in Oxfordshire (England). No sign of breakfast staff, or indeed any life, the following morning. No problem, I found the kitchen, made breakfast, packed and drove away perfectly happy.

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