Chris BaldwinThis Week at Dec. 12, 2007

High-end hotels: Give golf travelers a break, drop the ticky tack charges

The easiest way to tell if you're in a high-end hotel isn't to check the thread count on the sheets, the plushness of the pillows or the swiftness of the room service. No, the surest sign is to check how much you're paying for an Internet connection.

If it's at least $10.99 or, more routinely these days, $14.99, you're in a hotel that thinks pretty highly of itself. If it's a $30-a-day, no-chance-to-decline resort fee, you're living large. Or at least shareholders in the hotel's parent company are living large off you.

Welcome to the ticky tack zone of nice hotels.

The better the resort and the more expensive the room rate, the more likely it's going to hit guests with more hidden surcharges than a third-rate credit card.

Stay in a Hampton Inn or similar chain where the rooms are often as nondescript as those in a nursing home and you get more freebies than a Hollywood Starlet collecting Oscar gift bags. Your Internet access comes with the basic room rate, as does a breakfast buffet and parking.

In a 4- or 5-star hotel, all that can easily set you back another $60 a night.

It's the bane of fine-thing-loving golf travelers who pay their own way (something I'm not going to pretend travel writers do). It's also as absurd as Michelle Wie ever being compared to Tiger Woods.

Do you think providing guests with Internet costs a four- or five-star luxury hotel any more than it does a Fairfield Inn?

Better hotels hit their guests with ticky tack charges because they're confident their customers are just going to shut up and take it.

From the wonderful beach-hugging resorts of Hawaii, to the Mickey Mouse palaces and golf resorts of Florida, to (gasp!) even Canada's nature wonderlands of Whistler and the Okanagans, the places you dream of staying charge you extra for every little thing they can think of while you dream.

Filmmaker Michael Moore may swoon in envy of Canada's universal health care, but when it comes to ticky tack luxury hotel charges, our neighbors to the north are in the same boat as us.

It's time for the intelligence insults to stop, though, time for the high-end chains to show as much respect for their financially comfortable guests as a Best Western does for their budget ones.

Great hotels need to rise above low-down charges.

As always, welcomes your comments.

"Hooters & Shooters" Golf Package

Vegas Golf Special Dates: November 19, 2007 - January 24, 2008

Enjoy a 4 days / 3 night stay at Hooters Resort & Casino and play 3 rounds of golf at Silverstone Golf Club, Desert Pines Golf Club & Black Mountain Country Club, starting from $146 per person, per night.

Price Range: $146 - $186

For more information, please call 1-800-767-3574 or click here.

Reynolds Plantation's National Golf CourseRanking Georgia's golf resorts: Reynolds Plantation and Sea Island Resort lead the pack

Georgia is a big state with terrain as varied as its variety of peaches and soul singers. Mountains in the north, ocean to the east, swamp to the south. If you're thinking of traveling to Georgia to get in some golf, Tim McDonald has ranked the state's best resorts, with emphasis on those multi-course facilities. Kudos go to Reynolds Plantation, Sea Island Resort, Callaway Gardens, Hampton Club and more.

Also: Heading to Atlanta? Be sure to bring your clubs

Little Balls Big DreamsWinter reading tips: Books for hibernating (or traveling) golfers

The flights of fancy of the hibernating golfer know no seasons. Short of a trip to the Sun Belt, nothing's better to keep you focused on the course through the winter months than a tall stack of golf books. Here's our recommended reading for this winter, including the latest from James Wolfe, Scott Gummer, Dave Andrews, and Lynn Marriott and Pia Nilsson.

PodcastPodcast: Author Dan Shauger on building a powerful swing

Revive With Five

Orlando Golf Package Dates: August 21, 2007 - December 31, 2007

Stay at Mystic Dunes Resort & Golf Club and play Mystic Dunes Golf Club, Orange Lake Golf Resort - The Legends, Hawk's Landing Golf Club, Ridgewood Lakes Golf Club and Orange Co. National - Crooked Cat starting at $402.00.

Price Range: $402 - $679

For more information, please call 1-800-767-3574 or click here.

Prescott Real EstateOld Wild West Prescott now Arizona's cool golf retirement spot

A thriving real estate market and golf courses such as Prescott Lakes Golf Club are turning Prescott, Arizona into a happening golf retirement community. In fact, U.S. News & World Report just ranked Prescott as one of its 10 best spots to retire in America. How is this changing things in this laid-back Arizona town? Not too much, actually, except for the fact that real estate prices are continuing to surge.

Tip: Heading to Arizona to golf? Check out these package deals


Residents find the finer things in life at the Rarity Rivers in Dayton, Tennessee

Rarity Rivers is a planned community with all the benefits of small-town America. Dayton, Tenn. enjoys good schools and a low crime rate and the area offers a diverse economy with a wealth of employment opportunities surrounded by scenic farmland, lakes and bluffs. A nationally recognized championship golf course designed by Pete and P.B. Dye Golf adds a note of pure pleasure to life at Rarity Rivers.

Also: Request more info on Rarity Communities, Inc.

Carlsbad Golf Packages
Dates: January 18, 2018 - December 31, 2018
Walk in the footsteps of golf legends like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Gary Player and test your game at one of California's most iconic golf venues with Unlimited Golf, designed for the ultimate golf trip with savings of nearly 50%.
Price range: $289