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Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report

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Old Jan 28, 07, 3:54 pm
  #1
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Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report

Does anyone subscribe to this newsletter?

If so, is it worth the fee?

Thanks,

Brigitte
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Old Jan 28, 07, 4:43 pm
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Andrew Harper Hideaway

I've subscribed for several years. Whether it is worth it to you depends on a lot of factors I could not know. Zagat has a good section on U.S. Hotels but as far as I know does not deal with foreign properties, or does so on a very limited basis. The hotels chosen by Harper are generally at the very top of the heap in any area. The depth of choices in any market is very limited. Put another way, there may be some very good choices omitted that are not at the very high end but may be terrific values or have other characteristics that are not top of the heap, but still might cause one to want to stay there.

For us, it's been helpful but incomplete. Because of the comparatively few properties reviewed in any one issue and only twelve issues a year, the total number of properties covered (out of everywhere in the world) is comparatively small. In other words, the observations can get stale fairly quickly as properties change.

We have generally been pleased by the properties we have chosen that were listed in The Hideaway Report, especially in Asia, South America and Europe. The one big disappointment for us was The Observatory Hotel in Sydney, which was nice but had a number of drawbacks (for us.) As you will see later in this reply, your mileage may vary.

The free on-line sites like tripadvisor.com have reviews that are difficult to evaluate because it is impossible to tell if the reviewer regularly stays in high-end properties or the review was of their first stay in one. Harper has a reasonably discernible baseline for forming opinions. In addition, the feedback postcards he would receive (some are included as a part of the subscription) would generally come from a more informed portion of the customer spectrum since they cared enough about luxurious accommodation to subscribe in the first place.

Some subscribers might be turned off by the offers "approved" by Harper that tend to come from time to time. There are optional-at-additional-cost add-ons that can be purchased above the basic subscription price. Those relate to making reservations through the Harper organization and obtaining various advantages therefrom, as well as offers for fractional-use secondary residences, etc.

There is an auction run every week with a number of properties shown online that can be bid on. Even with some of the restrictions placed on the auction by the resort or hotel involved there can be some very good bargains if one is certain they can use the offer being auctioned. For example, there might be a three-day stay at a particular property offered for the one week the auctions are open that would include a particular grade of room, etc. Generally it seems to me the final bids represent perhaps generally about a 25% discount from what might be obtained with diligent searching elsewhere or through a Virtuoso travel agent, etc. It is hard to gauge what the discount is because it varies from property to property and week to week.

When it's all considered, I have not found a better alternative but it's far from perfect for us. Your mileage may vary, etc.
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Old Jan 28, 07, 5:00 pm
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I assume you are American?

Harper is more focussed on the US market. The main competitor is "The Gallivanters Guide", which is UK based albeit still with a global focus. Gallivanters has no ads and no commercialism - its written by a wealthy couple who used to work in advertising, aged mid-50's I think, and now spend their time travelling the world (usually a different city for every monthly issue) and report on the top 2-3 places there. They go out of their way to visit places which have recently seen major openings. Each issue is usually 8 pages with glossy photos - production values are very high.

I've got Gallivanters Guide for about 3 years and highly recommend it. I don't slavishly agree with everything, but I have arranged numerous holidays around places they have recommended and they have never let me down. Price to UK residents is GBP 120 per year, US is roughly the equivalent. They are also very responsive to emails if you have comments or queries. There used to be some samples extracts on their website.
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Old Jan 28, 07, 6:31 pm
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The Hideaway Report and its companion The Harper Collection are good but The Gallivanters Guide and Nota Bene are both better.
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Old Jan 28, 07, 6:51 pm
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Originally Posted by Raffles View Post
The main competitor is "The Gallivanters Guide", which is UK based albeit still with a global focus. Gallivanters has no ads and no commercialism
But the Gallivanters folks drop the names of hotel GMs ands execs as if they were old buddies. They take a bit hit with their credibility IMO because of that.

Anonymous reviews are best and Gallivanters falls short in that area too often IMO.
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Old Jan 28, 07, 7:13 pm
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ALso, you can no longer subscribe to the Hideaway Report for just $99US anymore. You have to get the Q-Club membership as well, so the minimum 1-year renewal is $189. I'm not sure it's worth it anymore. But at $99, I felt the Hideaway Report has been worth if for several years.
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Old Jan 28, 07, 9:06 pm
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Originally Posted by laf747 View Post
The Hideaway Report and its companion The Harper Collection are good but The Gallivanters Guide and Nota Bene are both better.
Nota Bene is indeed better - less fusty than HR and the GG.
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Old Jan 28, 07, 11:39 pm
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how is the Q club compared to FHR/Virtuoso? anything worth the additional fee?
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Old Jan 29, 07, 3:33 am
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Originally Posted by DrivingRain View Post
But the Gallivanters folks drop the names of hotel GMs ands execs as if they were old buddies. They take a bit hit with their credibility IMO because of that.
True, but it works both ways. They are not anonymous, so all of the major hotels would have a flag for their names in any event, even if they tried to travel incognito. They also try to get inside as many different rooms in a hotel as possible so they can recommend the best choices, which you can obviously only do if the hotel is willing to help.

They do pay for top suites wherever they go, so they are presumably not won over by upgrades. In fact, my only gripe with it is that they do often focus too much on top suites and not on standard rooms.

Nota Bene - I have trialled this but cannot fall in love with it. I don't want 'destination reviews', I want 'hotel reviews' - and Gallivanters focuses on hotels better than NB. I'm happy to leave the guide book stuff to the guide books.
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Old Jan 29, 07, 3:37 pm
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I can tell you, having represented a resort he reported on, that 'Andrew Harper' does not always travel anonymously, as claimed, which definitely skews reviews...
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Old Jan 30, 07, 4:42 pm
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I've generally found the Hideaway Report helpful though, as noted above, hardly exhaustive. I guess I'm particularly grateful for a terrific recommendation a few years ago for a travel agent in BA.
I don't always agree with their reviews (I've hated a couple of hotels they've lauded), but often find them useful.
I've been a Q Club member for a number of years. Though I'm not sure it's worth it, I have on occasion (more in the past than the present) found their deals better than the competition.
I scored a very good deal (offseason, but it suited my travel plans) on one e-auction; I had the impression, though, that ANYONE can bid, but perhaps that's incorrect.
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Old Jan 30, 07, 5:50 pm
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how do the standard contract rates/benefits compare to FHR/Virtuoso?
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Old Jan 30, 07, 9:18 pm
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Originally Posted by Raffles View Post
Harper is more focussed on the US market.
Are you talking about its subscriber base or the hotels it reviews? If you are talking about the latter, I don't understand the statement at all.
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Old Jan 31, 07, 3:17 am
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I'm saying that (of the few issues I've seen) Harper reviews properties in locations where US tourists are more likely to visit.

Gallivanters tend to visit places where UK tourists are more likely to visit - for example they have never covered Mexico in the three years I have been a subscriber, but there have been 3 issues (off the top of my head) focussing on Middle East destinations where the British tend to be the No 1 foreign tourist market. There were also 2 issues on the Maldives recently which also tends to be more focussed on UK honeymooners.
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Old Feb 9, 07, 1:54 pm
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I have been a Hideaway Report and Collection subscriber for years, and one of the initial members of the Q Club. I would have to dispute one person's note that they don't cover the world - they cover just about everyplace. We have also found that the discounts for a couple of stays at major hotels at Q Club rates more than make up for the subscription costs, and we are usually treated very well because of the Q Club. I have also used them a lot for business, and have one of their overseas travel consultants who has taken a lot of time to make suggestions and arrangements when travelling in Europe.

Although they don't always find the little, out-of-the-way, less expensive places that exist and I am sure are good, as a general rule you cannot go wrong with their recommendations. We only had one hotel, in Salzburg, they recommended that we absolutely hated, so that is a pretty good record. (one note, they do go for the places Americans like, so that can be a turn-off sometimes if you don't want to run into a lot of Americans) They take their time recommending new places so don't go for the latest thing just because it has just opened.
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