Son simplifies hotel search in Internet Age

Sunday, January 23, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:32 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

It has been a very long time since my husband and I have taken a trip away from the old homestead. But when my husband received a call from an old high school buddy (now that’s old) saying that they were having a mini reunion in Arizona at the end of January, we decided to go. The original plan was to take our RV, but the days we could be away from Columbia were tight, so we decided to fly and stay in a hotel. My husband hates to fly and I hate to stay in hotels, but the weather this winter has been so depressing that I have rationalized this would be a mental health trip.

I have a history of making bad decisions when booking any kind of reservation, so I called my son and had him place the order for our plane tickets. I also asked him to arrange for a rental car. I thought we were all set and that all I had to do was choose a hotel. Tucson is a very large town, and I’ve been told that there are hundreds of hotels and resorts. I figured if we were not going to travel in our beloved motor home, at least we could stay in a nice hotel — maybe one with spa services.

I typed “north Tucson” in the little search box. Up came a dozen listings. At first I was very discriminating. I looked at the photos of the hotels and description of amenities and prices. I figured something in the $150 range would suit our needs. The first one I spotted boasted three five-star restaurants and full spa treatments. The listed price was $119 (I didn’t see the word ‘from’). Remembering my fiasco when I booked online several years ago, I decided to talk to a real person, so I called the number listed for reservations.

A very nice young man answered the call, but when I inquired about the room listed for $119 he just chuckled and said that price range was sold out. OK, I thought, I could go a little higher, so I asked what was available.

“The only thing I have for the four nights you’ve mentioned is a suite with a king-sized bed,” he said, being very polite. “It is $750.”

I’m thinking that’s about $180 a night — a little more than I budgeted, but what the heck. We haven’t been on vacation for a while.

“That’s per night,” he added, reading my mind.

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” I yelled.

The politeness in his voice was gone.

“No, ma’am, I’m very serious,” he said with an edge.

All I could manage was a weak, “No thank you” and hung up.

Back to the computer, I started my search again. This time I was a little less discerning.

I found another resort that had rooms listed from (this time I noticed the word) $150 and made the next call.

“Do you have anything available from the 21st through the 24th?” I asked.

“Yes, ma’am,” the sweet young girl replied. “We have a room with a king-sized bed for three of the four nights. But Sunday may be a problem. I only show a room with two double beds open for that night.”

Thinking that surely they wouldn’t throw us out of the room once we were established, I decided to take the chance.

“I’ll take it,” I said with authority.

“Great,” was her reply. “Now that’s four nights from Feb. 21 through the 24th, correct?”

“No,” I said, losing my patience. “That’s January, not February.”

“Oh my,” she said. “That’s this weekend. I’m afraid we have nothing available.”

“What’s going on out there?” I asked.

“It’s winter,” she said, talking to me as if I had an IQ of 20. “Lots of people come out here for the weather.”

Hanging up, I returned to my search. I tried two more resorts with the same negative response. I was down to hotels in the $49 range near the airport, which was more than 30 minutes from our friends.

Acknowledging defeat, I called my son. He asked me a few questions, asked for my credit card number and within five minutes we were booked in a four-star hotel with a spa and a golf course. Suffice it to say that I’m booked in a nice hotel at a reasonable price and if it turns out to be a dump, I can blame my son.

If you have a comment or want to enlist the services of my son’s Internet capabilities, please e-mail me at

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