Coming to terms with your hotel

Nothing ruins a beach vacation faster than learning that the "ocean-view" room you were promised requires you to lean out the window to actually catch a glimpse of the water.

So before you book that dream vacation, ask about the hotel terminology.

*Request an "ocean-front" room. This way you can sit on the hotel balcony and watch the sun dip into the sea.

*Ask about "easy access to beach." It may mean the beach is on hotel property, or it could be a five-block walk or a bus ride away.

*Ask about the hotel's "free breakfast." Is it coffee and doughnuts in the lobby or a full buffet in the restaurant?

*If the hotel says "parking available," find out if it's free. Downtown hotels in New York and Boston charge about $25 a day to park.

Finally, make any special requests known at the time of reservation. If you want a quiet room, be sure it is noted - you don't want to spend vacation nights over the disco.

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