Traveller letters: Hotel holding charges left me broke in a foreign country

DECLINE AND FALL

Some years ago I stayed in Dubai for three nights at a new, boutique hotel. I arrived at midnight, tired, and handed over a credit card (Traveller letters, February 6). Being used to the system where they took a paper imprint of your credit card for security and then tore it up when you checked out, I took little notice of the comment about a deposit. I had some cash and two cards, one of which I always leave in the room safe for security. The next day I paid cash for a taxi to the nearest mall where I chose items at a favourite shop. Embarrassingly, my card was declined. The ATM refused cash and I knew I had just enough cash for the return taxi fare but not coffee as well. The hotel had taken full accommodation payment and 50 per cent of that sum for the deposit. These charges had used up the card's daily limit and, unfortunately, I had taken that card to go shopping. There was no ATM in the hotel, so I couldn't get cash from my other card. Because of the time difference, for two days I was without financial means, other than what I could put onto my room account. Dare I say, it was a form of hotel quarantine.

Heather Barker, Albert Park, VIC

PLEASE RELEASE ME

I have been on both sides of the hotel reception desk. Pre-authorisations are standard practice as Michael Gebicki's article explained. My advice for anyone who is planning a trip is to have a credit card that is solely used for the pre-authorisations. If you can't have two cards, make sure the hotel charges against the "pre-auth" they took at check in. If you really need the pre-auth released, the hotel can contact your bank to release the hold.

PJ Dwyer, Ashfield NSW

GRATITUDE NOT ATTITUDE

With or without the ability to experience international travel, we in Australia remain truly privileged. Post pandemic, a reality check of one's expectations will be in order. And, yes, I am sad I did not partake in two paid international and one interstate sojourns last year, but I consider this as my small contribution to the COVID-19 elimination strategy that has been adopted. I have since booked multiple three to four day breaks to regional Victoria, putting as much as I can into the local community. I won't complain about the cost or service, having experienced both the good - and truly appalling - in almost 60 years of travel the world over. In fact, I find the worst experiences make for the best travel yarns, like my marathon 1000-metre run with just one shoe on to catch a connecting flight to stay within the minimum legal transit time for flights in the EU. I always remember Mark Twain's adage that "travel is the only thing that costs money but makes you richer".

Bernadette Trifiletti, Toorak, VIC

BANK ACCOUNT

I enjoyed Anthony Dennis' cover story "Me and My Meander" (Traveller, February 6) along the Murray River (from Mildura to Albury-Wodonga). A friend and I meandered down the same river a few years ago. I can well identify with Anthony's reference to the "raucous sound of those larrikin cockatoos" around Echuca, and his mention of the "tranquil speed-boat free" parts of the river. As kayakers, speed boats were our nightmare, as were thoseearly calls from cockatoos. My friend and I took five years (for various reasons) to travel down the entire Murray. It is all explained in my book, The Scruffy Martyr and the Resplendent Gentlemen.

Wilson McOrist, Bonville, NSW

CROWN OF THORNS

Well, well, well, Anthony Dennis, are you sorry you wrote that recent glowing review in Traveller of the new Crown Resort Sydney? You certainly should be with your little Faustian pact. It simply beggars belief that you would deem it appropriate to allow a company, which anyone could see was engaged in criminal activity, to try and launder its own name through the title you edit.

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Kerrie Wehbe, Blacktown, NSW

EDITOR'S NOTE As a travel section and website, we leave the investigative reporting to award-winning investigative reporters of The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, whose news reports directly led to the inquiry into the Crown group. And in the first paragraphs of the review we clearly acknowledged the controversy surrounding Crown.

SPECIAL DELIVERY

Further to the recent round of Tassie tales in Traveller letters, a couple of years ago my wife and I nearly missed our flight to Hobart. My fault, but that's another story. Our bags did miss our flight and when I rang the baggage section at Hobart Airport from our hotel, the chap there confirmed they'd arrived. When I said I'd come back out by taxi to pick them up, he asked where we were staying and brought them to us on his way home from work.

Kim Harris. Mordialloc, VIC

TAKING STOCK

After reading Helen Kidd's description of it (Traveller letters, February 6), I feel the outback needs a shout out. Adding to my previous outback travel, in 2019 I embarked on an organised four-wheel drive camping holiday along the Canning Stock Route with seven others. We travelled in three vehicles from Alice Springs in the Northern Territory along the Tanami Desert Road to Halls Creek, Western Australia. This is the start of the nearly 2000 kilometre Canning Stock Route, with its 51 wells, passing through the Great Sandy Desert, Little Sandy Desert and the Gibson Desert. We experienced amazing scenery, including wildlife, as well as learning about the history of the route. Over 21 days, we did not have flushing toilets or showers but we ate campfire cooked gourmet meals and slept in swags on stretchers under many more than five stars.

Pam Yarra, Heathmont, VIC

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