Writing About Resorts,
Luxury Hotels and Lodges,
Villas & Spas
in Your Travel Stories

By Roy Stevenson

Writing about resorts, luxury hotels, lodges, villas and spas is a draw card for many travel writers. However, as many travel writers have discovered, stand-alone hotel stories are a hard sell.

There are literally thousands of beautiful historic and boutique hotels, luxury resorts and villas, rustic lodges, and exotic spas, around the world. And while these great accommodations certainly seem worthy of publication in glossy travel magazines, few editors will run stories about them.

writing about resorts, luxury hotels, lodges and spas means finding unique angles so your can sell your story

Why is writing about resorts and other luxury properties so popular?

There’s a benefit, of course. If you play your cards right, you get complimentary stays at these luxury palaces, sometimes for several days. And you’re treated like a VIP with gift baskets, tours around the property, and often complimentary meals.

Considering that lodging is one of the travel writer’s largest expenses, complimentary stays at hotels, resorts, lodges, and villas save you some serious coin. In fact, they’ve become a necessity for travel writers to survive.

Hotel and resort media reps do not give these freebies out of the kindness of their hearts. They expect something from you. In return for providing you with complimentary lodging and meals, you’re expected to come up with assignments and write articles and posts that will publicize their properties.

Writing About Resorts: What Makes This Resort So Special?

Hotels and resorts are not stories — no matter how beautiful they are and how much you love them. You need to find something unique or interesting about each property. Writing about resorts, luxury hotels lodges and spas means you need to offer particularly interesting angles that will captivate the readers of print magazines and websites.

To sell hotel/resort stories you need to ask, “What makes this hotel so special?”

Is the property . . .

  • An historic building with some great tales to tell?
  • An historic castle with a rich legacy?
  • Haunted?
  • A renowned wedding destination?
  • The most luxurious hotel or resort in the area?
  • Over-the-top luxurious?
  • A romantic fall getaway lodge?
  • A retreat for the rich & famous?
  • Frequented by royalty?
  • Crawling with movie stars or VIPs every time you sit down in the hotel’s restaurant?
  • Famous for its world-class golf course?

You get the idea. Writing about resorts needs to be special or unique for editors to commission stories about them.

But, don’t despair. Finding a unique hotel angle may not be as difficult as it seems. Some hotels have stories that absolutely jump out at savvy travel writers.

So far, I’ve had 56 published travel articles that have featured hotels, resorts, villas, or lodges as the main theme. Sometimes the hotel was a secondary topic. I was able to devote a paragraph or two about the property into my travel stories as a place to stay or a kind of ‘honorable mention’.

Here are a few of my most interesting hotel, resort, and lodge travel stories. While you’re reading through the list, notice what my unique angle was for each story:

  • Bali’s Finest Luxury Resorts and Villas, Global Living Magazine, May 2013
  • Arizona’s Luxury Resorts, Global Living Magazine, February 2014
  • The Northwest’s Finest Rustic Luxury Lodges, Northwest Travel & Life
  • November 2012
  • Romantic Fall Getaways, Northwest Travel & Life, October 2014
  • Cruising the Burgundy Canal in a Luxury Boutique Hotel Barge, Global Living Magazine, December 2013
  • Roche Harbor Resort, San Juan Island—Washington’s Destination Wedding Mecca, Mid-Columbian Magazine, October 2008
  • Chena Hot Springs Resort, Northwest Travel & Life, June 2014
  • Ruthin Castle, Wales, EuropeUpClose.com 2015
  • Apache Spirit Ranch, Tombstone, Arizona, TravelMag.co.uk 2012

My 28-day assignment in Bali, reviewing twelve high end luxury resorts and villas may well have been the high water mark of my travel writing career!

Well, these were obviously ‘sexy’ resort stories, and were easy for me to sell. But, what if you're writing about a hotel that doesn't have enough ‘juice’ to merit a story in its own right?

Have another look at my list above. When I'm writing about resorts or other luxury properties, I consider doing a group of them at a destination. You’ll notice that the first four articles are roundup pieces about several resorts and lodges in various regions. 

Hotel Roundup Stories Sell Well

You see, roundup stories about the finest resorts, villas, and lodges at a destination sell much easier than stories about a single property. You’ll have much better luck querying ‘collective’ stories than individual properties.

You can use hotels as collateral for complimentary stays by listing them at the end of a general destination roundup story. These listings are usually in the ‘Where To Stay’ section.

‘Where to Stay’ listings will usually satisfy PR/media reps at hotels and resorts.

I’ve stayed at some lovely hotels and B&Bs around the Puget Sound, Leavenworth, and Tri-Cities, in Washington State; Portland, Oregon; Bisbee and Tombstone, Arizona; Juneau, Haines, Fairbanks, Petersburg, and Ketchikan, Alaska; and Sacramento, California.

This principle works just as well when I’m writing about resorts, hotels and spas internationally. It’s led to some of my most memorable stays ever. I’ve had great accommodations in Wales; and in Baden-Baden, Wiesbaden, Heidelberg, The Black Forest, Erfurt, Koblenz, and Berlin, Germany.

In 2012, I was able to use hotel listings as collateral for comped stays in Rotorua, Queenstown, and Picton, during a trip to New Zealand. Two of my roundup travel stories required a listing of three hotels (budget, family and luxury) in each of those towns.

Before I traveled to New Zealand, I did some homework on the hotels and resorts at these destinations. After locating suitable properties, I politely requested complimentary stays with the hotels on my list, and soon had my luxury accommodations covered at what turned out to be some spectacular properties.

And these properties were always thrilled to receive the publicity when my stories were published.

Step-by-step Guide for Resort & Hotel Roundups

  1. When writing about resorts, villas, luxury hotels and spas: if any of your articles have "Where to Stay" sections, you need to get busy emailing the hotels and resorts at your destination to request comps.

  2. Track down the hotels via the Internet. And then send out a whole bunch of polite requests. Make sure you spell out exactly what the properties will get in terms of articles, mentions in “Where to Stay,” social media, blog posts, photos and videos. Make sure you specify exactly how many nights you are requesting at your target hotels. Be reasonable.

  3. Send your request out to one or two dozen hotels and restaurants. Don’t hold back. There are always hotels for publicity that will be willing to work with you.

Writing About Resorts and Luxury Properties: Ethics and Comped Lodging

There are some unscrupulous travel writers. I know some journalists who flash their business card at the hotel’s front desk and announce they’re travel writers. They request a comped stay on the spot — and sometimes they get it.

Unfortunately, many of these writers disappear into the sunset, never to be heard from again. They seldom produce a story about the hotel, or one that even mentions the hotel. And, if the truth be told, they probably never intended to write a story that mentioned the hotel.

This practice is unethical. Travel writers who abuse a hotel’s trusting nature like this ruins things for the rest of us. Eventually, the hotel media reps become gun shy and decline travel writer’s requests for comped stays.

Because some travel writers have worked the system like this, many hotel media reps who have been burned. They now ask for evidence of an assignment before they sign off on the writer’s comped stay. Fair enough.

No assignment, no comped stay. Travel writers earn their comped stays by providing the property with some sort of agreed upon publicity. Quid pro quo.

Don’t abuse the system. When writing about resorts, villas, luxury hotels and spas, always have an assignment or two, in advance, that will give the hotel primary or secondary coverage. Do this, and you’ll find other hotel doors opening for you. Cheat the hotels and you’ll find doors slamming shut.

Roy Stevenson sitting in front of his computer.

If you want to break into writing about resorts, luxury hotels, villas and spas, my 12-chapter, 130-page manual, How To Break Into The Luxury Travel Writing Market tells you how to do it. It walks you through each step of the process. You’ll learn how to get luxury travel assignments and leverage them to land luxury travel trips. I’ve used these techniques to land assignments at dozens of the finest luxury resorts and spas in the world.

This manual contains an up-to-date list of 150+ print magazines and travel websites that publish luxury travel articles. It’s the most comprehensive list of luxury magazine outlets you’ll find ANYWHERE. Having immediate access to these lists alone is worth the price of the eBook, saving you hundreds of hours of research.

Learn more ...

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Roy Stevenson sitting in front of his computer.

Roy Stevenson is a professional travel writer and the author of www.PitchTravelWrite.com.  Over the past ten years, he’s had more than 1000 articles published in 200 magazines, trade and specialty journals, in-flights, on-boards, blogs and websites and has traveled on assignment around the U.S. and to dozens of international destinations.