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A kind letter from Buenos Aires tells of old-style hotel bookings

August 29, 2011 - Carla Tracy

It’s always amazing to me, even in the advent of the internet, when I receive correspondence from some far flung place on the globe.

My most recent off-island correspondence came from Buenos Aires. Peter Winterble thanked me for my “exceptionally informative story about the various hotel managers and officials in Maui.” What Do Maui’s Hoteliers Do for Fun?

He wrote that he’s a retired newspaper reporter, who met Ezra Crane (a former Maui News publisher) in the 1960s at a newspaper convention in San Diego. That’s when Winterble traveled a lot and he added a story about how convoluted it was to check into hotels in those years.

I’d like to share this part of the letter with you:

“Unless you happen to be a fellow Old Person (!) I doubt you would be familiar with the world as it was in 1964, especially as it had to do with travel and newspapers, but suffice to say things were a bit different, especially in the areas of communication and access,” says Winterble.

“When I started visiting France in 1966, the way you got a hotel room was to write a letter (preferably in French), stating your preferred dates, and enclosing a funny thing called an International Postal Reply Coupon, which paid for the postage the hotel would use if it wrote back, and they usually did.”

“Then when they wrote and confirmed, with price, you would again write to re-confirm and send an International Postal Money Order to pay for at least the first night of your stay and (one hoped) to guarantee the room. At the time this was the cheapest and easiest way to organize budget travel, because only the big properties had travel-agent access and their prices were inflated.”

“I'm sure that telling you all this has both bored your socks off and impressed you with unnecessary information, but you can imagine how the advent both of credit cards and instant internet communications has made the traveler's task vastly easier.”

Wow! Can you imagine??!!

“Finally,” he continues. “This really is to thank you for your story, because outside of an occasional feature article on some famous hotel person, I don't think I've ever read the interesting kinds of personal information you described about the Maui hotel folks.”

“I've always known being in the hotel biz was serious, but am again impressed with the life these men and women lead, and how their work includes their private lives and social lives as well. While I think it sounds like a great career, I imagine I would have some trouble being so on-display, available, and at the center of various data-storms that must occur. Sounds like they're all interesting people who have both led interesting lives and also done well for themselves and their employers. Doesn't get much better than that.”

“So there we are. Thanks if you've made it this far!”


Peter Winterble

Buenos Aires

I must say, this is one of the nicest letters I’ve received in all of my years at The Maui News and to take the effort to write is also first class. This letter really made my day. But after reading it, I’m so glad I can just google “Booking Buddy” or some other travel company, type in the blanks and book whatever hotel room I need — Carla Tracy.


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