Writing for Hotels

It's very difficult to write fresh, convincing copy for Israel's hotel industry. Probably for the hotel industry everywhere, but my experience has been mainly with Israeli hotels and resorts.

Whatever you do, it all tends to come out sounding the same… How many different adjectives can you use to describe the "sumptuous" rooms (or meals), the "breathtaking" view, the "sophisticated" equipment in the gym or in the business lounge, and so on?...

The other day I was asked to translate (Hebrew>English) a promotional text about a certain hotel chain I'd never heard of, let's call it The Hercules Heights. Unsurprisingly, the Hebrew text was a disaster: muddled and badly written. Looking for help online, I found that the hotel chain actually had a pretty decent website, written in pretty decent English and employing all the usual suspects -- I mean adjectives -- in a relatively creative way. No idea who wrote it, but someone both professional and imaginative. The website helped me bypass the hurdles of the Hebrew text and produce an acceptable English version. (Thank you, Mysterious Colleague, whoever you are.)

Thursday morning, leafing through the J. Post's Weekend magazine, I came across a one-page promotional text about a different hotel, let's call it The Tantalus Towers. Guess what: it contained nearly the same description as the stuff written about the Hercules. Let me be clear: I am not for a moment suggesting that the writer borrowed text from that, or any other, similar hotel website. It's just that, well, they all use the same phrases… (Actually, it just occurred to me that both texts may have been written by the same writer!)

Be that as it may, it would be nice if we could restrain ourselves and try, from now on, to produce text that's a bit less pretentious and trite:

  • Try not to go overboard with your praise. Don't exaggerate. Not every view of a bit of sand and sea is "breathtaking" or "spectacular".
  • Think twice before applying an overly liberal dose of: luxurious, sumptuous, opulent, pampering, sophisticated, innovative, unique, exclusive, etc.

Of course, if your client – the hotel – feels gypped by the tame nature of the adjectives you've chosen, you may have no choice but to recant.

Now, I may be picky, but something bothered me about the penultimate sentence of the article:

"Those wanting a massage can close their eyes, snuggle in a cozy robe and slippers, and listen to the rainforest while sipping hot tea."

Why don't you read it again and try to imagine the scenario: You want a massage. Presumably, you go down to the Spa. You close your eyes, then you lie/sit down in robe and slippers, listen to the rainforest (?), and sip hot tea. End of story.

I wonder whether an editor/proofreader who was in a hurry, or perhaps a layout person, just chopped off a few words in order to make the story fit better on the page (and the hell with logic.)


Inga Michaeli said...

You have no idea how much I can relate... been doing this for 15 years, and in Hebrew I don't even have all the adjectives you can work with :-)

Patricia said...

And I thought I was going crazy trying to imagine being massaged while drinking tea, with robe and slippers to boot.

Israel hostels said...

Once I visited in a hotel (not in israel) that said that it has a stunning view. But in reality, if you would try to open the window in the room you whould see a wall infront of you

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