Think Twice before using 3rd Party


Staff Reports

The Emir in Istanbul.

The Emir in Istanbul.

Think Twice Before Using a Third Party Booking Site

Columbus — When searching online for travel plans, certain deals or ads may steer you toward using a third party booking site. BBB reminds travelers to carefully consider all the available options before using a third party booking site, especially when going through an official airline, hotel or rental car site may not actually be that much more expensive.

Third party sites may use fancy images and advertise great rates, but are you truly getting the best deal? Like any business transaction, it helps to be an informed consumer.

Before planning your dream getaway, BBB recommends doing your research and considering the following tips:

  • Search online. If you are trying an online merchant you are unfamiliar with, make sure they have direct contact information, including a physical location, available on their website. Look for their Business Profile at to find complaints and customer reviews.
  • Guard Your Personal Information. Only provide your credit card information online in a secure environment. Look for the prefix “https” in the web address. The “s” means the site is secure.
  • It never hurts to ask. Based on supply and demand, a hotel may be prepared to offer a rate lower than their published price if rooms are empty. They may also provide a better room than those reserved on third party sites. Check with the hotel before booking to be certain you are getting the best deal.
  • Inquire about extra charges. Third party sites may advertise a price that excludes other fees, such as Wi-Fi or breakfast. You might think you are getting a lower price, but will be in for a surprise when you see your actual bill.
  • Look into loyalty programs. Some airlines or hotels may have perks that will give you a free night or a special deal.
  • Always confirm. If you choose to use a third party booking site, call and verify your stay with the hotel or airline.
  • Make sure you can cancel. Emergencies or a change of plans can happen. Some third party booking sites have an “all sales are final” policy and may not let you cancel after booking a hotel through them.
  • Be aware of who you are dealing with. If you have booked a room or a flight through a third party booking site and something goes wrong, you will have to take it up with that third party site. It may not be the actual hotel or airline’s fault since you chose not to book through them.
  • Know your consumer rights. The same laws that protect you when you shop by phone or mail apply when you shop in cyberspace. If you decide to pay by credit card or charge card, your transaction will be protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act.

For more travel tips, consumers can visit BBB’s Travel Help Center. If you encounter a scam while planning a trip, report the scam to help others at BBB Scam Tracker.

About BBB

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 167 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Central Ohio, which was founded in 1921 and serves 21 counties in Central Ohio.



· The international hotel chain continues its global expansion with its new opening in Turkey.

· Room Mate Emir includes 47 bedrooms and a spectacular design created by the renowned interior designer Lázaro Rosa Violán.

· In 2016 Room Mate Hotels hosted more than 1 million guests and increased revenues by 32%.

Istanbul, 30th August 2017. Room Mate Hotels, the Spanish global company founded and chaired by Kike Sarasola, has increased its portfolio with a new opening in the heart of the exotic city of Istanbul. Room Mate Emir contributes to the international expansion of the company, which plans to inaugurate in the following year 8 new hotels in cities like Rotterdam, Madrid or Paris.

Room Mate Hotels is an innovative company which is based on the idea that the best way to travel is by visiting friends all around the world. Every Room Mate Hotel has a person’s name and a completely different personality. In this case, Emir is elegant, classic and adventurous, the perfect travelling companion to know in depth the marvelous Istanbul.

Room Mate Emir has also a spectacular interior design. In this case, the project bears the signature of the acclaimed designer Lázaro Rosa Violán. Emir is the perfect blend of avante-garde furnishings set in a classical building, making it all the more striking. Lázaro Rosa Violán chose to keep the building’s history alive through a distinctive combination of modern day elements, designer furniture, and different materials, all enhanced with an abundance of natural light. Room Mate Emir offers large and spacious suites with everything that everyone would need for a perfect stay.

Emir, located in the Beyoglu district, next to Taksim square and Galata tower (one of the city’s most striking landmarks), has 47 suites and offers the most outstanding services such as, WiMate (a free Wi-Fi service not just in the hotel but in the hole city) and breakfast until noon.

Its founder and president, Kike Sarasola, is one of the best known and recognized entrepreneurs in the hotelier sector. After succeeding as an Olympic equestrian and working in different business sectors, Sarasola is currently a reference of innovation and creativity in the hotel industry. In Sarasola’s own words: “Room Mate Hotels are located in the center of the most emblematic and cosmopolitan cities in the world and Istanbul is one of them. A place where exoticism and culture merge to offer a unique travel experience. We are completely in love with Istanbul. For this reason, we are very proud to increase our portfolio with Emir, our new elegant, modern and stylish new friend. A really special hotel that will bring our guests closer to the wonders of Turkey”.

Room Mate Hotels was born in 2005 with Room Mate Mario as its first establishment in Madrid and currently has 21 more with presence in Milan, Florence, Amsterdam, New York, Miami, Mexico City, Madrid, Barcelona, Salamanca, Malaga, Granada and now Istanbul. Last year, Room Mate Hotels increased revenues by 32% and hopes to continue with this positive tendency in 2017.

Room Mate’s hotels, which have a total of about 1.500 rooms, have the characteristics of a true host, and their customers are more than guests. They are roommates (Room Mate). Hotels are viewed as “homes” that open their doors to travelers who come to the city looking for comfort, warmth, and the welcoming spirit offered by the chain’s excellent team of professionals.

Room Mate currently has 22 hotels around the world in New York, Miami, Mexico City, Amsterdam, Milan, Florence, Istanbul, Madrid, Barcelona, Malaga, Granada and Salamanca. The company plans to open eight additional hotels in some of the main capital cities around the world. Room Mate offers design, a downtown location, breakfast until noon, and free Wi-Fi throughout the city.

After receiving Kike Sarasola the Medal for Merit in Tourism granted by the Council of Ministers in early 2015, the company has achieved exceptional recognitions. Its WiMate initiative – Free WiFi throughout the City, won the Best Innovation in Digital Marketing prize at the Worldwide Hospitality Awards, the most important award of the international tourism industry. In addition, Room Mate has been named as the Best Overall Hotel by the Travvy Awards and Kike Sarasola has been recognized as GQ Man of the Year for innovation in 2015. Undoubtedly, the best award has been to beat the online reputation record by ReviewPro within its compset with an 90%.

FRA Clears Hurdle For Improving Freight and Passenger Rail

Between D.C. and Richmond, VA

Agency seeks public input for Preferred Alternative

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced the completion of the Tier II Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for the 123-mile section of the Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor from Washington, D.C., to south of Richmond, VA. This action moves the project one step closer to the construction phase of the Southeast Corridor, which will improve freight and rail traffic south of the nation’s capital.

The Preferred Alternative in the DEIS prepared by the FRA with the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (Virginia DRPT) will:

• Reduce passenger and freight congestion and improve on-time performance

• Accommodate planned and funded Virginia Rail Express (VRE) growth of four new round-trip trains

• Accommodate forecasted CSX freight growth through 2045 (doubling from approximately 21 trains in 2015 to 42 in 2045)

• Increase maximum train speeds from 69 mph to 79 mph between D.C. and Fredericksburg and to 90 mph between Fredericksburg and Richmond

• Add nine new round-trip trains from D.C. to Richmond, with four continuing east to Hampton Roads and four south to Raleigh.

“Moving people and goods as quickly and as safely as possible is an important cornerstone of the Federal Rail Administration’s mission,” said FRA Deputy Administrator Heath Hall. “As this project moves forward, it’s critical that we receive feedback from potential passengers and the public at large.”

FRA and Virginia DRPT will accept public comments on the DEIS for 60 days beginning on September 8, 2017. Based on public comments on the DEIS and the Preferred Alternative, DRPT and FRA will prepare a Final EIS (FEIS), which will list environmental commitments to mitigate unavoidable impacts.

The total cost of the project is approximately $5 billion, which is estimated in 2025 dollars to reflect the first year of service; however, no funding commitments have been made for construction.

Publication of the DEIS is a milestone in the NEPA review process. It initiates a comprehensive public comment period before the FRA issues a FEIS and Record of Decision.

For more information, visit

Leaf peepers treated to amazing show in Ohio’s Hocking Hills

Unforgettable activities, quirky lodging add to experience

LOGAN, OH — More than 10,000 acres of unbroken forest in Ohio’s Hocking Hills region — dotted with outdoor adventures and wildly unusual lodging options — offers panoramic views of some of the nation’s best fall foliage. Thanks to the ideal concoction of fiery red Maples, blazes of orange Sassafras, flashes of yellow Hickory, brushstrokes of brown Oak and pops green Hemlock and Pine, the Hocking Hills also offer travelers some of the country’s most diverse accommodations, though travelers encouraged to book lodging quickly via, as lodging fills up quickly in fall; the area’s high season.

An easy, scenic drive from most major cities and an hour from Columbus, the Hocking Hills’ extraordinary rock formations were carved eons ago by glaciers. Rushing waterfalls, soaring cliffs and craggy caves draw visitors from around the globe. Ribbons of twisting, turning roads offer some of the most dazzling fall color drives in North America. Travelers can immerse themselves in the beauty of the region with a hike to Whispering Cave, Rock Bridge, Old Man’s Cave, Ash Cave, Conkle’s Hollow, Cedar Falls, or any of the region’s many hiking trails.

The all-new Hocking Hills Sandbox lets travelers check out the beauty from the seat of real, full-size construction equipment as they drive a bulldozer, maneuver a track loader or manhandle an excavator. They can also enjoy sky-high views of the foliage from the bucket of the Sandbox’s 60-foot high lift.

Dubbed the “Canopy Tour Capital of the Midwest,” multiple world-class zipline operators offer dozens of tours, such as Soaring Cliffs Canopy Tours, a Super Zip and an XTreme canopy tour that takes travelers right through a waterfall and into a cave for a truly unusual birds-eye view of the season’s splendor. Meanwhile, an off-road Segway tour gives visitors a more ground-hugging tour.

High Rock Adventures takes visitors on guided eco tours and heart-pounding rappelling trips, giving adventure-seekers a ringside seat for what may be the most beautiful color show on earth. In addition, kayaking, horseback riding, ATV and other guided and self-led hikes and adventures let Hocking Hills visitors really immerse themselves in autumn’s beauty.

Quirky Lodging Abounds

From cozy cottages, historic B&Bs and charming inns, to fully-equipped cabins and lodges that sleep more than two dozen, many offer a fully loaded gourmet kitchen, perfect for huge groups. Most are outfitted with deluxe amenities, such as a pool table, foosball, gas grill or telescope for viewing fall color and local wildlife or for stargazing under the regions dark skies. Many feature a large hot tub, offering the perfect way to experience Hocking Hills’ magnificent star-filled skies. (The lack of city lights means that the region’s night sky is nothing short of dazzling.)

Located 40 miles southeast of Columbus, Ohio’s Hocking Hills region offers once-in-a-lifetime experiences that make every day feel like Saturday, with plenty of free activities. Unique gift and antique shops, artists’ studios and hands-on activities add to the allure of the Hocking Hills as the perfect place to unplug. Complete traveler information is available or 1-800-Hocking (800-462-5464).

The Emir in Istanbul. Emir in Istanbul.

Staff Reports

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