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Lonely Planet announces HAYSTACK

Find that untapped jewel with Lonely Planet's new online accommodation booking website, Haystack

If you’re the sort of adventurous traveler in search of excellent accommodation that might be a bit off the beaten path or not beaten to death on every other hotel/travel website or blog, it’s time to find your precious needle in the HAYSTACK. Lonely Planet has launched its independently author-reviewed and recommended online accommodation booking service, Lonely Planet Haystack, at http://haystack.lonelyplanet.com.

Lonely Planet Haystack is a unique ‘invitation only’ booking service that features only properties that have been visited, reviewed and recommended by a Lonely Planet author.

Many of the properties that have already joined the service were not previously bookable online through any other service. As many Americans find it difficult to call internationally to make reservations, Haystack will prove to be an invaluable resource for booking desirable accommodation overseas.

All Haystack properties are hand-picked by Lonely Planet authors and the site features detailed author reviews and information on each property, complemented by reviews from independent travelers.

According to Dan Christian, Lonely Planet’s Haystack Product Manager, “We are inviting our favorite properties from around the globe to join the service - whether it's a backpackers in Sydney, an eco-resort in Yap, or a boutique hotel in Rome .  Haystack is a unique service in that every property listed is recommended as a great place to stay.  Every property review is 100% independent and written by an experienced travel writer.”

Lonely Planet Haystack now has over 1000 properties in more than 58 countries and will continue to develop rapidly. US travelers are the second largest group using the service. So far, the top 3 destinations booked are Barcelona, Bangkok and Buenos Aires. “Haystack will continue to grow daily as more destinations and properties are added to the site throughout 2007 and beyond,” added Christian.

Lonely Planet Haystack can be accessed directly at http://haystack.lonelyplanet.com as well as via a link from www.lonelyplanet.com. Below are some comments from Lonely Planet authors with regards to reviewing properties.

George Dunford, Lonely Planet Author

Any interesting/quirky insights into the accommodation research process?

Whenever you go checking places out grumpy hotel owners say “Why do you guys come at such difficult times?” and that’s exactly why we do it. We want to see places at their best and worst. First thing in the morning when people are checking out is always a good time to see how people handle being busy, plus there’s always a helpful cleaner who might let you see a room that you might not otherwise have caught on the grand tour.

The most important thing is to avoid the “official tour”, where the people at the desk get the manager and you get shown how light switches work or invited for a cup of tea. Sometimes this can mean sneaking around the front desk or talking to people who are staying there or even just breaking up that tour by saying “What about these rooms?” You have to review against what you’re being shown, which often means being pretty annoying to hotel staff.

Sally O’Brien, Lonely Planet Author

Do you have a ritual for inspecting a new place – do you jump on the bed, check they’ve got those tiny soaps on hand etc?
I don’t really jump on beds, but I do look closely to see that the bedspreads are clean (I hate gunky-looking patterned bedspreads), suss out the bathrooms for water pressure and mould, test the windows to see if they can be opened and open wardrobes to look for wire coat hangers (yuck!). I often check minibar prices to see if they’re extortionate, and I like to look at communal areas to see how guests and guests of guests are treated. I like to say hello to the people who clean the rooms to, you can tell a lot about a place by the greeting that’s returned - and I think everyone in a hotel/motel or wherever should be happy to be there, even if it’s for work.

About LonelyPlanet.com
Covering the world from Lombok to London, LonelyPlanet.com provides the latest independent travel information and advice from the global traveler community. Over 4 million unique visitors per month visit LonelyPlanet.com to dream, plan, book and talk about real travels. Travelers can research thousands of destinations around the world, exchange travel advice and opinions with a loyal community of over 300,000 registered members, read blogs and in-depth reports from authors on the road, and book everything from unique hotels to round-the-world air tickets. Travelers can also purchase from the complete Lonely Planet book catalogue.

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