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Are you getting the best hotel for your money?

When planning this summer's holiday for my family, I changed our accommodation arrangements three times. I was looking for a resort in Ontario, close to a beach, for three nights. The first two bookings I made were at hotels that had all the features we wanted, but were more expensive than I expected. The third, and final, reservation was with a popular resort offering a discounted family package rate, making it the cheapest choice by about 65 per cent.

This is our one family vacation getaway this year and it's important that our lodgings be well-located, clean and come with all the amenities we need to keep our young kids comfortable and entertained. But price is a deal-breaker and not all hotels are worth their asking rates.

A recent survey by online hotel reservation service found that even if guests enjoyed their hotel stay, many ultimately gave a critical review of their personal experience when they assessed the price paid for their accommodation. They questioned whether the room was truly a bargain or should have been less expensive. Often the answer was that they were not getting good value for their money.

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The survey identified the top cities in Canada, based on customers' reviews, where hotel operators offered good service at a fair price. Edmonton topped the chart with the highest customer ratings, while Niagara Falls, last year's number one contender, fell to the fourth spot. The top five was rounded out with Halifax in second place, Victoria in third and Ottawa in fifth.

Most hotel operators were unable to keep the level of quality offered constant compared with the price demanded, according to, which resulted in many cities changing places in the rankings.

In last place for the second year were hotel operators in Banff. According to the reviews of guests, these hotels were once again unable to provide convincing quality for the prices they commanded.

In any family's vacation budget, lodging is one of the biggest costs. It is inevitably disappointing when a hotel fails to live up to expectations, so it is important to research all of your options and find the best deals.

J.D. Power and Associates, a marketing research firm, recently released its North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study, identifying the top hotel chains based on responses gathered from more than 53,000 guests who stayed in a hotel between May 2009 and June 2010. The study found that guest satisfaction has improved considerably over the past year, measuring factors such as reservations, check-in/check-out, guest room, food and beverage, hotel services, hotel facilities, and costs and fees.

The following hotel brands rank highest in guest satisfaction within their respective segments:

Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton

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Upscale: Omni Hotels & Resorts

Mid-Scale Full Service: Hilton Garden Inn (for a second consecutive year)

Mid-Scale Limited Service: Drury Inn & Suites (for a fifth consecutive year)

Economy/Budget: Microtel Inns & Suites (for a ninth consecutive year)

Extended Stay: Homewood Suites

You can find the full ranking on J.D. Power's website.

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