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Glad to see that "Powder" is carrying on a St Bernard tradition that I may have started back in the late 60's. I "inherited" a full grown Saint by the name of Josh who not only hung out on the hay bales of an old International pickup in the area parking lot but also designated himself as a quasi taste tester for the burgers at the "A Frame" cafeteria at the base.
Josh was also one of the first testers for the Animal Control Officers when Steamboat instituted a leash law. At close to 200lbs, animal control quickly learned that he would gladly jump into the front seat instead of being wrestled into one of the cages in the back of the trucks! He was an expensive dog in the early days of Steamboat's leash law.
I guess I use my own set of analytics for TripAdvisor that I have developed through the years? Actual ratings may get me to start to take a look at an establishment but rarely play into our final decisions.
We do quiite a bit of traveing in Central and Southern Mexico (no coastal resorts). For restaurants, I do read the reviews written by those who I feel are credible and honest in their comments. I look at customer supplied photos, copies of menus, location and often do a driveby using Google Street View to get an idea on things like the neighborhood, the potential for excessive noise or traffic smells, outside seating opportunities and accessibility on foot since we really enjoy walking to/from dinner in the evenings from our hotels. When we visit Steamboat, we pay attention to the opportunities presented by the Transit Buses since I will NOT drive after even one beer or cocktail. I just checked today's listing of the top 30 ranked restaurants in Steamboat. While we have tried probably 60% on the list, I can say that a number fit our "comfort zone" and a number of others qualify for a no return. The ones in our comfort zone have received repeat visits and will likely remain on our positive list after we retire to Steamboat later this year.
Hotels are a totally different animal for us. Large comfortable rooms and an outside area for relaxing are high on our list. Fancy amenities mean very little because we tend to be constantly on the go from the moment we finish our morning coffee till we return for an early evening break before heading out for dinner. We have a friend who happens to be a professional photographer who makes a living shooting glowing photos of hotel properties and he has explained the tricks of the trade. So once again, customer supplied photos are weighed more heavily. I do look through reviews for comments on the comfort factor of beds and the noise factors. We happen to be really big on location and how it may compliment our enjoyment of our non-driving hours. In Steamboat, we pay attention to the accessibility of the Transit Buses for our evening activities.
When I see ratings of 5's accross the board for restaurants or hotels, I tend to discount them entirely! Don't know what the numbers are today but I can remember when Michelin only rated 20 restaurants in the world as 5 Star. I have also read a number of stories where restaurant owners or chefs have asked Michelin to lower their rating one star because customers where showing up with too high of expectations! In the US, we seem to have an obsession with ranking something the very best and why?
As active travelers and users of TripAdvisor, it dsgusts us to see the obvious manipulatng of ratings. We find it to be quite revealing to hold the cursor over a reviewer's user name/avatar to see a chart of a given reviewer's ratings. Have these people ever heard of a bell curve or bothered to view rating breakdowns from other rating services such as Michelin, AAA, etc? Or is it their egos coming into play that they refuse to admit they made poor choices?
Face it, most reviewers have zero professional training when it comes to providing a subjective rating about a restaurant and its food. Fair game are service, cleanliness, parking, staff presentation and ambiance. But preparation of a given entree?? The training simply isn't there. So when giving back by writing reviews of our restaurant experiences, it is more about the total package and experience. We often include photos of the facility and the food but you will never see a selfie in any of our reviews since it isn't about us. But a restaurant has to be very unique and primo in every aspect to earn a rating of 5 from us. To be sure a rating of 4 or 4+ indicates that a restaurant is well above average in our book.
Hotels ratings are far different since there are tangible aspects such as cleanliness, noise, room size, parking, shower quality, temperature controls, condition of furnishings and the very subjective evaluation of sleep comfort. But again, to expect a rating of 5, an establishment has to be very darned special!
For whatever reason, we seem to have the false expectation that all that we do is the very best and that we cannot be happy unless we follow rating systems designed to make decisions for us. What is wrong with making our own decisions and admitting it when we make bad ones? Isn't it about the total package and how they contribute to our knowledge and experiences?
After reading the story, we find another positive to add to our list of reasons to retire in Steamboat Springs. We recently spent a weekend in Taos, NM and were put off by the condition of streets, alleys and sidewalks after they had dried following a snowstorm. The historic plaza had up to an inch of sand and the entire town was a giant dust bowl. As I wrote in a couple of TripAdvisor reviews: "there was an obvious lack of civic pride in the appearance of the town while trying to come across as an art community and resort".
We commend Steamboat Springs and the State of Colorado for having the foresight to address such an issue!
Omar as Daniel Patrick Moynihan stated: "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."
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