Can you Build a Hotel Website solely based on WordPress software (2)?

I believe you can, and actually I believe this is the only way a small hotel or Bed and Breakfast should do it!

I’ve seen it being done and I’m in the process of doing it myself, albeit in a more or less triple jumpy way.

I’ve announced this as My Main Project for 2010 already in January. Therefor this is number 2 in what will become a mini series.

However I had started a lot earlier with a post Haagsche Suites – At your service. That post didn’t come into existence than after various trial and errors with installing the WordPress Software, various updates and an unfortunate migration of the site to another server. If you like, you can read What is slowing down the Site Transition?.

The major jump forward (or should I say giant or quantum leap forward?) dates from last week and past weekend and is fourfold now:

  1. I use the booking engine of for guests to book my suites. Last week with their help I finally managed to take the main hurdle. I wanted availability viewable from every page on the hotel site. Now the widget opens in the main body of the site and is easy readable. However, the downside is that I cannot use any other widget than that, at least no other widget that uses an IFrame, because both wouldn’t work anymore.
    Nevertheless: I believe every hotel should consider using They provide very good value for money and are a good counter balance to the other parties on the web who (re)sell your hotel rooms on the commission model. They are awfully costly for the hoteliers. In addition I believe those commission based room (re) sellers are among the largest advertisers on Google who make the fat company fatter and fatter. But I will go deeper into this issue in a separate post
  2. With the release and installation of Thesis Theme version 1.7 of DIY Themes it is much easier to create drop down menus to make navigation of your site simpler for your site visitors. However, I do hope with version 2 they will come up with alternative navigation possibilities, as it is my experience that users do not always understand drop down menues.
  3. In addition Thesis version 1.7 is written for optimal speeding up the load time of your site or blog and there is no other theme alike for fine tuning your site for SEO.
  4. Darren Cronian of Travelrants pointed me again to the Nexgen Gallery plugin for WordPress by Alex Rabe. I had kicked it out earlier, because it didn’t go well with the PHP – MySQL version of my service provider. Now it works fine. I have played around with the size of the thumbnails extensively: As long as it took to get a balance between loading time and visibility of the thumbs, because I believe a homepage should not be packed with images and other stuff. It should be the easily navigable point of entry to my little empire.

Speed Matters
I’m proud the landing page Haagsche Suites takes only 1.43 seconds to load.
I measure the speed with a FireFox addon, Firebug 1.5.3, a nifty little tool every Blogger should have. Not only does it show speed, but it also gives errors. Firebug also tells me I should do away with all those widgets that load faces, little avatars of those who visit my sites. I love to put faces to the visitors of my sites, but “No” Firebus says “You should kick them out”.
Therefore I have taken away already several of such time consuming widgets from here like MyBlogLog and BlogCatalog and some more I already forgot. Recently I found a nifty new widget on the BlogCatalog Site.
I have also taken away the Google Friends widget, in one way or another Google doesn’t succeed in being socially acceptable. Buzz Failed in my opinion and Google friends doesn’t do a lot either and takes tremendous amounts of time to load. Face Book on the contrary made a quantum leap forward wit it’s I’Like program, but the widgets I use here are also much to time consuming.

Final observation:
During the last couple of weeks I’ve been experimenting with another nice WordPress Plugin, Link Within which gives your readers suggestions for similar posts combined with little thumbs of those posts. My conclusion is that I will get rid of it again, as it costs too much time to load and isn’t as to the point as the similar posts plugin.

I thought to provide some good examples of blog based hotel sites for your consideration:

  • Chanters Lodge by @Richard Chanters does a good job with a self hosted blogspot based hotel site. He’s a frontrunner as he started out very early at the now closed Yahoo “platform”.
  • I mentioned the Witt Istanbul earlier here.Now they seem to have moved their blog part somewhere else. Curious to know why, but what a stylish site!
  • I found the Caro Hotel in Romania
  • Umi Hotels in Brighton, UK
  • Hotel Hana Maui

More will follow if and when you or I discover them.

My main 2010 Project: Revamping our Haagsche Suites Website

SCreenshot-Site-Haagsche-Suites-as-at-January-2009Screen shot of the present Haagsche Suites site

Haagsche-Suites-Screen-Shot-of-the-New-siteScreen shot of the new Haagsche Suites site in development

I’ve only one New Year’s resolution: to bring my main project for 2010, the redesigning of the Haagsche Suites website, to a level where it can work stand alone, as soon as possible.

After last year’s unfortunate computer crashes, server migrations and now the unfortunate hacking of two of my sites –  all costing me too much of my precious time I’m underway again. I’m using the Thesis theme for WordPress which has a couple of wonderful features to change the lay out in a simply way.

Could some in the know please help me with comments either here,

  • or there: about the general idea of turning the whole upside down: changing from a dedicated static site maybe with a separate blog into a dynamic site with an integrated blog. Am I stupid?
  • or there: do you know of better alternatives for automatic machine generated translation?
  • or there: the pros and cons of having dedicated “language” urls, or should I install WordPress MU?

Thank you for your cooperation.

The Mr & Mrs Smith Presentation (Winding Down from the T-List – PhocusWright Travel Blogger Summit #ITB09 in Berlin part 2)


It is really refreshing when you are sitting at a conference with presentations and discussions of travel and hospitality and tech types who only seem interested in their good self or their own product or service and are not outgoing and not interested in the guest, their clientèle, or only maybe in the money of the guest, to get a presentation of a really passionate couple. James Lohan and Tamara Heber-Percy (see also my interview with Tamara) , the husband and wife who founded the Mr and Mrs Smith Collections under the caption: Luxury and Romance meet Technology.

Yes, I agree. It’s all about Respect!

They both come from a completely different background than travel and hospitality. Again their success shows that innovations in this industry frequently come from those outside the industry.

They started out with the production of the Mr & Mrs Smith guides. They described their difficulties with getting the guides published. Never before was a guide produced with one editor and one photographer for all properties. Eventually they decided to pyblish the guide all by themselves. The interesting thing is that added to the guides is a Mr and Mrs Smith membership card which gives the holder some extras as upgrades or a little present from their shop. That gives the brand a tremendous crowd to source from.

They are adamant about the properties being inspected by themselves or a member of their team of +40 in the meantime, because they strongly believe you cannot review a hotel properly without having experienced the look and feel of the place. In addition they sometimes team up with unusual partners for the hotel industry like lingerie brands. They also understand that you sometimes want to stay in a self catering accommodation or luxury chalet, rather than a hotel.

They seamlessly have merged their Blog (in the air since July 2005) into their main site. However Tamara was already out there scoring whatever was said about the brand in 2004: Shortly after I became aware of their guides via a post of my fellow editor Willem Vos at the Dutch language Weekend Hotel Blog she already commented there – note the date of the comment is not correct, as Willem had some problems in 2008 to migrate the blog to his new platform running on Ruby on Rail…whatever that may be, but I know I made the comment already in 2004-.

Here you see some footage of one of the rather unconventional and hilarious ad they presented at the keynote.

If even Gesa Noormann of Escapio says in a comment under Kevin’s Travolution coverage of the presentation:

Thanks Kevin for the fab article. Despite the fact that Mr and Mrs Smith are Escapio’s UK competitor, I can’t deny that their presentation was fantastic!

then you know your presentation was good even if you were dead tired.

Some personal notes:
I don’t understand jot from what Kevin’s caption means: “Corporate Barbarism does not begin at home say The Smiths”, but that could be my Dunglish.

If you are curious to see who the guy behind Escapio is look here. Even if I say it myself, I like the picture.

I think Willem should start talking with the two portfolios mentioned here, Mr & Mrs Smith and Escapio, or alternatively they should start talking with Willem, to see if there are possibilities to team up to cover The Netherlands and Belgium better than they do now separately.

Added March 24, 2009:

Via twitter I got the link of the same video on their site: Mr & Mrs Smith | Get a Room!. It has a bit better quality than the YouTube one

Hoteliers Beware: A new Blog on the Block might disrupt your website!

Paper-thin bed cover, now in baby spew green

It was Wendy Perrin’s post Hotels I’d Pay not to Stay in that pointed me to this fairly new Blog on the Block: Unfortunate Hotels Hotel websites begging to be mocked.

It started in November 2008, but seems getting momentum with more posts now. In a witty way the websites are taken apart.

What to think of following quotes?

The website might fool you at first – beautiful color scheme, high-end photos, flash galore. The dining room is fit for a wedding reception, and the lobby has obviously had a makeover in the last decade.
But not even the fade-in on the artfully cropped photos can save these sad, sad rooms.

Or this one:

The home page of the website for the Silver Reef Hotel states,

Just completed, a totally new hotel with 20 tastefully decorated rooms located in the downtown area of Udon Thani. Convenient for all your business and leisure needs.

We’ll see about that:


I’d like to discuss the merger with you. Shall we get a drink at the bar?

If this happened to me as a hotelier I would fire my photographer or web designer.

I have a feeling this could become a similar big hit as another Hoteliers’ Horror: (originally) Chris Clarke’s Bed Jumping….still alive and kicking.

BTW: Where the Hell is Chris?
Answer: Chris Clarke went to Dubai and works there in one of those luxury hotels. However the price for that luxury is you have to be very careful on social media. So I believe Chris choose to be invisible on social media.

Unfortunately Unfortunate Hotels stopped updating …. The site is still there but only two posts remain.
Last Edited by gje on February 4, 2017

Web Art 1: Jackson Pollock

Just click the site and have fun, like me:-)

Jackson Pollock by Miltos Manetas