Travel Writers Boot Camp – day one

V!va Travel Writing Boot Camp w:lead writer CritToday started my five day Travel Writers Boot Camp – offered by V!va Travel guides (yes, that’s an exclamation point, not an “i”. Paula, the editor, and Crit, the head writer, are teaching us everything V!va needs from writers reviewing hotels, restaurants and activities.

Here’s the link to the V!va website: http://www.vivatravelguides.com/.

Here’s my first homework assignment, writing two hotel reviews. I just emailed them to Paula and tomorrow they will be critiqued. This is just the 80-word narrative part; the guidebook and website would have all the details like address, etc.

V!va-Hotel Laam that I reviewedHotel Laam

“One block south of Cuernavaca’s 16th century cathedral, Hotel Laam occupies a 1960s-era former school, which was renovated in 2006 into a Mexican Modernist boutique hotel. The airy lobby and pool-side terrace offer tranquil gathering places, removed from the noise of busy Avenida Morelos. The singles/doubles ($69) include a queen-size bed, and while not spacious, they do not feel cramped. Travelers looking for the typical Spanish Colonial décor of many hotels may not be happy here.”

(And this is the 2nd draft after the class and teacher critiqued it.) One block south of the cathedral, Hotel Laam occupies a 1960s-era former school, which was renovated in 2006 into a Mexican Modernist hotel. The airy lobby and poolside terrace offer tranquil gathering places, removed from the noise of busy Avenida Morelos. The small single and double rooms include a queen-size bed, but do not feel cramped. Travelers looking for typical Spanish Colonial décor may not appreciate the aesthetic.

V!va-Hotel Roma that I reviewedHotel Roma

“The 41 rooms of Hotel Roma open onto a bright, covered, plant-lined atrium. Five types of simply decorated, clean rooms are available ($31 – 53): standards with double bed, two singles or two doubles; and suites with one king size bed or two doubles. Private bathrooms feature showers and Talavera-style sinks. One drawback: no window screens. A swimming pool sits alongside a snack bar, lawn and wrought iron tables with umbrellas. The staff is helpful and friendly.”

(2nd draft) A bright, plant-lined atrium connects Hotel Roma’s 41 clean rooms. Centrally located downtown, it offers a variety of well-priced room types. Private bathrooms feature showers and hand-painted sinks. One drawback: no window screens. Snack bar, lawn and wrought iron tables with umbrellas sit alongside a heated swimming pool. There are plenty of eating options nearby, and a big plus is that the hotel’s Café Roma also provides room service. The staff is helpful and friendly and speaks English.

I am VERY scared of what critique I am going to get. It feels a bit like being back in choreography class and I just had to make a dance that was slow, jaggedy, low AND happy…and only 30 seconds long!

There are about ten of us aspiring writers in the class, mostly from the U.S. but one Canadian, one Mexican and one Swede. Our first assignment today, was to create the “persona” of a traveler who might be reading our reviews for guidance. We came up with: Ashley Skye, a 25 year old recent college grad and the child of hippie parents; Lars, a gay german 19 year old, who’s on spring break, broke and a surfer; Nigel and Alicia, married 50 somethings – he cares about decor and thread count, she wants to to do yoga and read a book. Well, there are others but you get the picture.

The trick to good travel writing, they told us, is not to look at a hotel (or restaurant or activity) as whether WE would like it or not. Rather, we have to figure out what kind of traveler would like it. Hmmmmm. Never thought of that.

Cuernavaca-streetlamps at sunset on Calle HidalgoSo after I visited my hotels (undercover, this time) I sat outside at a cafe across from the cathedral to write up my reviews. The sun was setting and I took this picture.

V!va is currently researching its Mexico travel guide, and some people from the Boot Camp may be asked to stay on in Mexico, receive assignments and write sections of the guide book. Pick me! Pick me! It’s not as easy as it sounds: each writer has to write 60 80-word reviews per week, which means visiting 10 restaurants, hotels or activities each day.

Tomorrow, onto restaurant reviews!

Advertisements

About this entry