The phrases used in tour brochures are sometimes hyperbolic, at
best, and can have only a thin relationship to actual experience,
as some travelers and agents know.
In a tongue-in-cheek presentation on the art of writing tour
brochure copy, industry consultant Bruce Beckham left an audience
at the U.S. Tour Operators Association conference in Las Vegas
Following are some of Beckham's examples of commonly used
locutions and what they really mean:Off the beaten path. People have stopped coming here.
Options galore. Nothing's included.
Choice of menu options. It was our choice, and it's chicken
Meet local residents in the lounge. Be prepared to get hit
Activities too numerous to mention. The guide has never been
The small coach lavatory is there for your convenience. If
you're a man, you walk in and back out, and if you're a woman, you
back in and walk out.
The crisp mountain air whets your appetite for a hearty
breakfast. You're going to freeze your butt off because the
restaurant is outside the hotel.
Relax in your room. There's nothing to do.
A survey by Where magazine, an in-room hotel publication, asked
housekeeping departments in major hotels in 11 cities in the U.S.
and Europe to detail what is taken from and what is left behind in
The top items taken are towels, soap, shampoo, bathrobes,
hangers and ashtrays. Regional differences crop up. Towels are the
items of choice in Los Angeles; in New York, bathrobes.
Paris hotel guests covet ashtrays. Bed linens disappear most
often from Las Vegas rooms.
The most unusual items taken include televisions, irons and
ironing boards, pillows, radios and/or stereos, pictures and wall
hangings. A porter at the Hotel Intercontinental in Paris
unknowingly carried a television in a duffel bag to a departing
Someone stole a reclining chair from the Drury Inn Westport in
St. Louis, and guests at New York's Crowne Plaza walked out with a
And what would a visit to London's Marriott County Hall be
without a souvenir kettle and teapot?
The award for the bulkiest theft goes to the Las Vegas guest who
marched unchallenged through the Sahara Hotel lobby schlepping a
six-foot-tall ficus tree.
Hide in plain sight
There'll always be an England -- more or less.
Lately, the sceptr'd isle has seen a few of its old traditions
challenged, though not always successfully.
A move recently was made in Parliament to do away with the
centuries-old practice of printing parliamentary acts on animal
Proponents of the move away from goat and calf hide, including the
government of Prime Minister Tony Blair, focused not on the animal
rights issue, according to the Times of London, but on the "tens of
thousands of pounds" saved per year by making the switch to modern
technology and paper.
The measure was defeated by a vote of 121 to 53. For the time
being, at least, the goat will bleat, and the calf will have its
Caspar and Judy?
Another centuries-old staple of British life, the wildly
slapstick "Punch and Judy" puppet show for children, has been
threatened with a perpetual curtain by the Borough Council of
Colchester, in the southern county of Essex.
The chair of the council said the town was considering banning
the shows, which are based on the Italian commedia dell'arte and
have been performed in England since the 17th century, fearing that
in "an era of broken homes and domestic violence," children might
be disturbed by them.
A puppet master named Glynn Edwards responded: "We're not
actually talking about real violence here. We're talking about
knockabout comedy," invoking the example of the popular
cat-and-mouse cartoon "Tom and Jerry."
Perhaps the puppeteers could mount a "Punch and Judy" in which
the antagonists discuss their differences with sympathetic friends
or a marriage counselor -- a sort of "Ingmar Bergman meets Monty
In another, unrelated development in the British theater, an
Amazon parrot named Percy was cut from the cast of a children's
theater production in Blandford Forum, Dorsetshire, when during
rehearsal he not only went up in his lines but added some
Perched on the shoulder of "Long John Silver" during a
run-through of "Pirates of Treasure Island," Percy paused at his
line "Pieces of eight!" and instead delivered himself of "P___ off,