Posted by Ric Garrido

Hotel review site Oyster.com now has a new travel companion after Travel Channel buys a $5.7 million stake in the 2009 travel site start-up. Oyster.com hotel review site gets one concept across to consumers that actual hotels just don’t seem to get – numerous photos of the hotel property and room types. This is my favorite feature of Oyster.com and why I have returned to this site over the past two years as it has grown its library of hotels and hotel room images.

I look up the St. Regis San Francisco on Oyster.com and I find 337 high-quality photos of the hotel, urban surroundings, restaurants, lobby, room types and the kind of visual information lacking from most hotel property websites. I go to the St. Regis San Francisco hotel website and I find only 32 photos.

Oyster.com even has a section called photo-fakeouts to reveal the hotel website image discrepancy from an image taken by an Oyster.com reviewer.

Here is my example of a photo-fakeout from St. Regis San Francisco.

One of the photos is not even a real photo of Yerba Buena Terrace.

St. Regis SF website terrace photo

The Westin San Francisco Market Street Hotel white skyscraper would be towering in the San Francisco background if it were a true photograph from Yerba Buena Terrace.  

Actual Loyalty Traveler photo from Yerba Buena Terrace

St. Regis San Francisco website has three photos of a standard superior guest room. Oyster.com has 86 photos of the superior room.

St. Regis San Francisco website has one photo of an Astor Suite. Oyster.com has 39 photos of an Astor Suite.

St. Regis San Francisco website has one photo of a Metropolitan Suite. Oyster.com has 31 photos of a Metropolitan Suite.

I am baffled that the St. Regis San Francisco does not have more images of the Astor Suite selling at $900 for the night of June 15, 2011 or the $1,200 Metropolitan Suites. Here is my HD review Part One of the St. Regis San Francisco detailing a corner room upgrade from a June 2009 hotel stay. Part Two details the aspects of the St. Regis hotel that I did not like.

Oyster.com rates St. Regis San Francisco as the best luxury property in the city. I loved the beds and bedding.

I realize now I should do another Loyalty Traveler post on the St. Regis San Francisco to show more of my 400 or so images I photographed during three stays at the hotel in 2009 including two nights in a Metropolitan Suite. The hotel rooms and facilities are luxury living and I enjoyed the rooms, particularly the wide marble sills around the room allowing me to peer down and across the city from a large window seat.

Wide window ledge in St. Regis San Francisco Metropolitan Suite

The St. Regis San Francisco hotel Metropolitan Suite hovering over the corner of Mission and Third Street had a lovely urban architectural view.

St Regis San Francisco room view of other major hotels

This is a pretty picture, however, this image is unlikely to be seen on the St. Regis San Francisco hotel’s website since the photo shows three skyscrapers that from left to right are the massive Marriott Marquis hotel, Four Seasons hotel and the Westin San Francisco Market Street Hotel.

Traveler Tip for San Francisco:

Marriott Marquis San Francisco has The View Lounge, a bar-lounge on the 39th floor offering some of the best 360-degree views in San Francisco. Here are two short YouTube videos I posted in July 2009 showing the views from the View Lounge looking south-east and west to north. This is a nice place to blow $20 or $30. Grand Hyatt San Francisco Grandviews Bar-Restaurant (36th floor) is another good location for drinks or fine dining with a view.

Oyster.com Suffers from Limited Hotel Coverage

Oyster.com has the limitation of only providing hotel reviews for eight major cities in the U.S. and seven resort destinations in the Caribbean islands and Hawaii. Areas covered include hotels around Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Orlando, San Francisco and Washington DC. Beach locales include Aruba, Bahamas, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Hawaii, Jamaica and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The company has tackled destinations in a sensible way by building on the largest domestic travel markets. The site does a good job at covering a large number of hotels for each of the different cities listed. Hotels are categorized  to capture the ambience of experiential objectives travelers seek in hotel stays like Best Happy Hour or Most Romantic Hotels. Hotel review subjective ratings on quality and amenities are backed with written and photographic evidence.

Oyster.com sample of New York City website categories for hotel types

My Loyalty Traveler take on Oyster.com is if you want to “see” the hotel before you book, then Oyster.com provides a valuable resource for checking out hotels and different types of hotel rooms. Oyster.com fills the gap hotels leave open in their overall poor job of displaying their own images for the public to see.

I imagine Travel Channel financial backing will improve the Oyster.com hotel reviews photo library with video imagery. I am glad to see Oyster.com shows potential for continued growth in the hotel review sector of the travel marketplace. Whenever I check out a hotel review on Oyster.com I feel the urge to upgrade my camera!

2 Responses

  1. Isn’t Oyster.com the company that fired every reporter on their staff a year or so ago? They’re still around?

    Comment by Samantha on May 3rd, 2011 at 11:22 am
  2. I remember when they first came around in 2009 the benefits were pretty good for an Oyster.com job. I haven’t followed the employee saga since then.

    Here are some news links:

    Dec 1 2009 http://www.mediabistro.com/mediajobsdaily/another-here-today-gone-tomorrow-media-story-oyster-com-scales-back_b1730

    March 17, 2010
    http://www.mediabistro.com/fishbowlny/oyster-com-shifts-to-freelance-model-amidst-rumors-of-layoffs_b14124

    Apparently Oyster moved away from its original model of staff reporters for hotel reviews to a freelance reporter model while expanding hotel booking capabilities.

    Perhaps not the dream job anymore for good pay and hotel living, but I’m certain many freelancers will settle for the hotel living.

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