Frequently Asked Questions
Before you email us a question, please read the following list of frequently asked questions and answers.
What is Simon & Baker Travel Review and Luxury Travel Review?
Simon and Baker Travel Review (SBTR) and Luxury Travel Review (LTR), the companion newsletter with email subscription and social media links, offer first hand information and exceptional photography of some of the most comfortable and luxurious and ecotourism destinations, accommodations, voyages, products, restaurants, spas, and attractions for the discriminating traveler. We feature extensive and detailed coverage of luxury travel, ecotourism and game viewing Africa, gourmet restaurants, spa facilities and occasionally with audio and video content. Sign up for a complimentary subscription to our newsletter at LuxuryTravelReview.com (http://luxurytravelreview.com/)
Who is your audience?
Our readers are savvy vacation business and world travelers in the top ten percentile looking for unique, comfort and luxury oriented travel opportunities. Increasingly we have visitors from across the globe. Most SBTR readers are located in North America and Europe although we regularly have visitors from many other places including Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, and Latin America to name a few.
What makes SBTR special?
Everything we share with our readers is editorial and based on the first hand experiences of our teams when they travel, visit a destination, stay at a luxury property, try a product, dine at a restaurant, have a spa treatment (someone has to do it!), etc. Our articles are based on actual experiences, emphasizing the aspects they liked most. Our teams do not write based on site inspections and third party photos as many articles you find elsewhere. Most people we have asked prefer to read about luxury travel places and voyages based on the real trips of our team members including what they did, ate, saw and liked.
All our content is editorial except for ads which are clearly marked and distinctive.
All our articles include the date of the review so you know when we were there or tried it. Our teams of writers and photographers are passionate about travel. They love the travel experiences and want to share them with you, our readers.
The majority of the photos on the website were taken by our photographers when they visited the destination except for old articles or instances when photography is not possible such as in museums where flash photography is prohibited, some areas of spas and at shows where the flash of a photograph could affect the performance. Look for the SBTR watermarks on the photos. Although we showcase what makes a property special, we do our best to show places as they were when we visited them, without adjusting furniture, fixtures or embellishing the photos. We crop and size photos to fit our publication style and sometimes lighten or darken them as traditional photographers used to do in the dark room. We never colorize or modify them in an artificial way.
We cover what we think is outstanding and worth noting. We emphasize the qualities and describe the overall experience to allow our readers to decide for themselves if it is a fit for them.
Although properties sometimes host our representatives and offer products and services on a complimentary basis so that we may sample them, this is not a guarantee of a feature or mention. Nor does it guarantee positive coverage if we publish an article. Our editorial content is editorial only. We never feature pay for placement content in our editorial pages.
Although we include destination information, most of our articles are dedicated features with details about the property, attraction, restaurant, product, voyage and spa.
What topics do you cover?
Luxury travel is our bread and butter. That includes destinations, accommodations like hotels big and little (mostly four and five star although in remote places we make allowances) and rental homes, spa facilities, ecotourism and safari, gourmet news and restaurants, books and travel products and attractions which vary depending on the destination and preferences of our team members.
How much time do you spend at a destination?
Our teams stay anywhere from a long weekend to a week or more at a destination. Dedicated city hotel features are at least one night and almost always two or more nights long. Our teams usually spend a week at rental homes, including villas, and destination resorts. Our teams usually stay three nights at safari properties and list details including amenities, facilities, meals and the game they see during their time there. Each article lists the length of stay as well as the month and year of the visit. Voyages are generally the length of the actual voyage.
What is your Conflict-of-Interest policy?
At Simon & Baker Travel Review and Luxury Travel Review (SimonAndBaker.com and LuxuryTravelReview.com) we share information based on our teams’ first hand experiences only. They describe their impressions of the trip, destination or voyage based on their trip and taste. Our team members strive to be objective in their choices and avoid conflict of interest based on their relationship with the person or company who owns or works at a property.
Do your representatives get freebies?
As is common practice in the travel review industry, our contributors often receive complimentary access to products and services to review. They may be hosted on a complimentary basis or receive media rates at hotels, lodges, camps, rental homes, restaurants, voyages and to attractions while on assignment. They may receive items on loan and sometimes may receive media rates or free items to keep such as books, DVDs, CDs and software. Receipt of complimentary or discounted services, accommodations, admission or products does not guarantee a review nor does it necessarily result in positive coverage on our sites.
What does the information mean for me?
It is up to readers to make use of the information as it pertains to their needs, likes, budget and time constraints. Only you can guess how your personal tastes and preferences and travel dates and choices will affect your experience. We share the detailed experiences and photographs of our contributors as well as the length of stay and month and year of their visit to illustrate what their experience was at the time of year, given their specific accommodations, weather conditions, and activities. It is up to you to decide how useful that is in your decision making based on your preferences, group size and composition, budget, travel dates and needs.
How can I propose a topic for inclusion?
If you know of a wonderful place, property, restaurant, spa, or attraction we should consider, feel free to leave a comment or email your suggestion. If you own or represent a destination, property, restaurant, spa, attraction, or travel product and want to be featured on our pages, tell us which category you think it fits and why by emailing info at simonandbaker dot com
How can I place an ad?
We offer banner and tower ads, eblasts to our subscriber list and more (subject to approval). To find the the combination that meets your needs, contact sales at simonandbaker dot com
How do SBTR and LTR select destinations, properties, restaurants, travel products and attractions for review?
We focus on a geographic area and identify potential candidates. We gather information on destinations, properties, attractions or products to decide if they are of interest to our readers. We look for distinctive, comfort and luxury oriented, customer centered candidates who excel at what they do and are friendly to online media and our online audience.
How often do you update the articles?
As often as possible. When revisiting a destination we give priority whenever possible to properties, attractions, spas, and restaurants we have featured before. Often there are several posts each one for a different visit.
Look for the freshness date (date of most recent visit) on every article. We rely on our travel writing and photography teams to visit and share their impressions with you.
Visiting the destinations is costly and time consuming. We do our best to share changes and closures as soon as we become aware of them. If you know of news relating to a destination, property or feature or want to share updates, photos, or other news feel free to email us at info at simonandbaker dot com. You are also welcome to leave a comment on the profile of or feature page.
We often receive compliments on our photography. Kudos go to our gifted and dedicated photographers who carry cameras and equipment across land, sea, small airplanes, trains, boats and airport and border security check points and a seemingly infinite number of bumpy safari roads to take the photos you see, and to our talented photo editor, who dedicate countless hours to their efforts. Most of the photos on the website were taken by our own photographers. You can identify them easily by the Simon & Baker Travel Review watermarked logo. Whenever you see the logo, it means we were there and took the photos on the date listed on the article.
How soon after a visit or trip are articles published?
Processing the thousands of photos that result from a trip of several weeks and verifying information requires time. Most articles are published 4 to 6 months after the end of the trip or receipt of the item. Sometimes they are published early. To find out more, contact our editor or visit the website and look in the destination pages.
Sometimes photo policies, lighting, weather, safety or the privacy of guests prevent us from taking photos and we rely on third party photos if we consider they illustrate the feature accurately. These are exceptional and, as you can see on our pages, a rarity.
Will an article drive sales to my property, hotel, restaurant, spa, product pages?
Although we appreciate and welcome hostings, product samples and loaner units, we never promise in any way shape or form to deliver sales, customers, bookings, traffic to a website or business. Our job is to experience the destination, restaurant, property, spa, or product and decide objectively whether we like it and why, then share our findings and photos with our audience. If, whether and when they choose to follow up with a booking, purchase, visit is entirely up to them and we have no control over or way of tracking that so we never, ever, ever promise referrals.
We have noticed that often those properties who share the news of our profiles with their clients, fans and friends benefit the most from the exposure. Properties are welcome to share news of the articles with their customers as well as posting quotes and links to our profiles and notes on their websites.
Do you stay in every luxury hotel in each destination?
No, we select a few attractions, restaurants, and accommodations and share our findings with you. Some destinations offer limited options while others offer many choices. We strive for a high comfort level as defined by our demanding audience. This includes clean, aesthetically pleasing and comfortable surroundings with good to excellent food and outstanding customer service or a combination of these relative to what is available in that area. We also prefer to work with destinations, properties, and attractions interested in and appreciative of what we do and in our audience.
Do you include properties that are not traditionally considered luxury accommodations?
Yes, we define luxury depending on the location and the standards available at the time we visit. While generally speaking in urban areas we feature four and five star properties there is no hard and fast rule for luxury that applies universally. We base our selection on the options available and the features offered at a particular destination. There are magical places worth sleeping outdoors.
If the best or only way to enjoy a remote location with limited accommodations is by staying in relatively modest accommodation like a tent and we find it worthwhile, we will include it. Some tents we have stayed in would rival urban hotels in the service and quality of the accommodations and surpass them in many other respects.
What happens when a SBTR/LTR representative does not like something?
Our goal is to share accurate, objective, first hand information from our experiences to entertain and help our audience make optimum choices for their life and travel style. We focus on places and things worth mentioning in a positive light. We research topics and destinations in advance to ensure our teams have safe and fun trips that result in great articles we can share on our websites. On the odd occasion, we discover a well-known voyage, property or restaurant that disappoints us in the extreme. When that happens may we publish a note with our thoughts.
What about food and restaurants?
We provide information and descriptions of meals in hotels, attractions and during voyages. Restaurant selections focus on gourmet experiences. Whenever possible, we include photos of the dishes we are served, information on the service, wine, decor, chef and specialized staff.
Who writes the articles?
SBTR/LTR representatives are people like you who are passionate about luxury travel. They are ethical individuals who seek to better themselves and share their findings with others through their work. Many of them are fans of responsible tourism. Many are experienced travelers who have visited dozens of countries. Among our contributors, we have artists, filmmakers, photographers, engineers, techies, gourmets, published authors, amateur cooks and travel writers, several of whom are multilingual and several who have advanced academic degrees. Over the years, they have visited most of the United States, more than 50 countries, many islands, and almost 100 game viewing properties; had the pleasure of dining at some of the best restaurants, and meeting some of the world’s top chefs. They work full time and travel on their time off, like some of our readers.
We coordinate visits with public relations staff and destination representatives and also visit incognito. Although we welcome complimentary hostings and media rates when appropriate and a fit for our editorial requirements, we also may visit on our own at a date and time of our team’s convenience without notifying the staff on site.
Are incognito visits better than visits coordinated with the property or destination?
We find that properties that strive for excellence do well overall and lesser properties do less well. That is to say it usually will not make a huge difference if the property knows our team is coming. They can only be as good as they are capable of being and if their facilities, room, service and attitude, and meals are less than stellar that is what our team will discover no matter how much advance notice and coordination they receive. Our teams are discreet and strive to blend in within the regular environment to seek out at natural experience.
At the same time, we try to replicate a guest experience by having them stay, sleep, dine, explore the actual property, restaurant, spa, attraction and destination. After all guests don’t only walk around and look at the property, meals, services and facilities; they stay and experience them. Our audience doesn’t want to read a promotional brochure or about what a travel agent or writer saw when they did a site inspection; they prefer to read and see photos of what our team experienced first hand during a real stay, meal, tour, performance, etc.
Most properties, successful ones especially, set aside marketing funds for promotional efforts including ads, familiarization media trips, and VIP hostings. Hosting a team for a real experience is part of the funding and provides prospective guests an opportunity to know what real travelers (rather than industry people or promoters) think. Complimentary hostings and media rates facilitate team visits, provide real information for readers and exposure opportunities for those we cover. It’s a win win situation for everyone.
While we focus on the positive aspects of a property if there is a salient feature we make note of it. That is to say if we think the view is good we will mention it, if there is poor sound insulation that affected the quality of our team’s stay we will share that. On the other hand, if we don’t say the service was good don’t assume it was. A property, product, service, meal is seldom perfect in every way. We look for balance and an overall experience that is worth repeating and recommending to like minded people.
Can a property see, correct or approve an article before it is published?
No. It is against our editorial policy to show our editorial articles to property representatives in advance of publication.
How can travel writers submit stories to your site?
We are always interested in fun-to-read, well-written luxury and comfort oriented travel stories based on ethical first hand experiences contributed on a volunteer basis. Desirable topics include: Ecotourism, voyages/tours, gourmet foods and restaurants, top and boutique hotels, luxury villas, new and interesting attractions or interesting perspectives on existing attractions, and exceptional travel products experienced within the last six months. If you would like to submit a story, please contact us. We only accept content from vetted contributors.
Are you hiring?
We have no full-time openings at present. To be a volunteer (nonpaying) intern please send us your contact information, your dates of availability, amount of hours available per week, time of day you are available, and describe your interests, experience and skills (e.g. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, multilingual) by email at info at simonandbaker dot com.
What are your submission guidelines?
First and foremost, you must love to travel. All SBTR and LTR articles are based on a recent first hand experience. Likewise for photos. If you are a professional travel writer and photographer who needs to pay the bills from your submissions, please note contributors are responsible for their own travel expenses and logistics. We do not pay for article submissions or photos.
Still interested? Email us at info at simonandbaker dot com
Will you accept articles resulting from a fam trip?
Although we seldom participate in familiarization trips, occasionally we find one that’s a fit. Yes, we accept articles resulting from familiarization trips sponsored by a third party provided the article is the result of our personal impressions. Contributors may not receive payment for any article from the sponsor or organizer of the trip; and are in no way affiliated with nor receiving compensation from their company.
I’m planning a fam trip and would like to invite an SBTR/LTR writer to join us. What should I do?
Please send us details on the fam trip, how it fits our content, number of people invited, and a detailed itinerary. Due to our editorial requirements our teams seldom participate in organized group fam trips although we do make exceptions. Please note: participation in a fam trip never guarantees publication of an article or a positive review.
I have been invited on a fam trip. How can I obtain an assignment letter?
To be eligible for an assignment letter, writer and photographers must be existing SBTR/LTR contributors.
Still have a question we haven’t answered or want to share feedback?
Email us at info at simonandbaker dot com
Thank you for your interest!