Where’s the sexy lady by the pool? Oh no, it’s a photo fakeout

riuYou don’t have to read Federal Trade Commission rulings for a living to enjoy this guilty pleasure.

My friends over at the hotel review startup Oyster.com have an irresistible new feature called Photo Fakeout that compares reality with a hotel’s brochure.

It’s jarring, funny, sad — and often, infuriating.

My favorite is the missing “sexy lady” (their words, not mine). The RIU Negril wants to believe lithe models hang out at its pool.


In fact, this is what you’re likely to see …


Where did the woman go?

There’s more. Here’s a before-and-after of a buffet at a Dominican Republic resort. Yuck.

Destination wedding anyone? You probably want to avoid the drunken, sunburned people who will be joining you at this hotel.

Here’s a resort that learned how to use Photoshop. Wow. My seven-year-old could do that.

This feature is an inspired idea. I hope travelers will read it — if not for the warnings, then for the laughs.

(Photo of the Riu Negril beach … I think. Hat tip to Paul.)

  • Bert Kaplan

    I just checked out this feature and I love it! We need more stuff like this. They have a really cheeky writing style and it’s fabulous. For that matter, so is the quality of the reporting on this site. Instead of complaints and whining by folks with unrealistic expectations, this looks like a review service put together by pros. And it’s FREE! Between Oyster & Consumer Traveler, looks like the hotel biz is covered.

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  • Isembard

    Personally, I found that entire site a complete waste. Is is actually surprising that hotels would use photos which show their facades, rooms, and customers at their most attractive and in the best lighting whereas the daytime reality is a bit starker? Really, are there people out there who don’t understand what advertising is all about? Some of the room examples were a bit barer than originally advertised, but again, should that really surprise anyone? As for photos showing a lack of people or unattractive people in contrast to the original ad photos, does anyone expect that any hotel keeps a stock of models around to make the place look prettier or busier than it actually is? Absurd waste in my estimation.

  • http://www.luxurylatinamerica.com Timothy

    I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t trust any hotel photos because they pull so many tricks to make things look bigger and better than they really are. I don’t expect them to put typical fat vacationers in the shot instead of models, but at least show what the place looks like to the average guest, not what it looks like when you’ve brought in scaffold lighting, 50 extra candles, and a very patient photographer who loves Photoshop. The room photos are the worst—usually done from the floor with a wide-angle lens, pasting in a view that you would never get from that angle. For the hotel reviews in Luxury Latin America, we almost always use ones from the actual reviewer because I know those haven’t been faked.

  • Laura Townsend Elion

    I’m not sure the two buffet photos showed the same buffet. Look carefully at the table sides, floor and other surroundings – they’re completely different from one photo to the other! The photo on the left has a lattice screen design on the side of the buffet, the photo on the right has slats of wood. Unless they re-did the entire place to make it look crappier, that is not the same location.