Skoosh Hotels Blog

Welcome to the Skoosh blog. If you have any thoughts, questions, suggestions or corrections feel free to let us know, either in a blog comment, to our social media accounts (see right) or via email to me on matt@skoosh.com.

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Mental mini-bars, Cricket and Chocolate Hotel Rooms

Good day to all – spring is here in Brighton, UK, and there is definitely a fresher feeling in the air. I’m always reminded a little of Tom Lehrer at this time of year…

 

Brighton Pier

The Skoosh team will be able to experience the wonders of Brighton Pier without ever leaving the office!

Anyway so to Springwise and their report on the minibar for the mind, a neat little idea to provide something a little more mentally stimulating for hotel guests in their rooms. I’m not entirely sure of the merits of providing Conversation Cards though – if you and the person you’re sharing a room with can’t think of something to say to each other perhaps you should be questioning that arrangement…

 

Want to enjoy the British seaside pier experience from your own home and thus avoid the wind, rain, school parties, smells of old chips, seagulls eating your doughnuts and everything else? Travolution report that those wily souls over at the Googleplex are looking to provide you with just that using their specially-adapted Google Street View Trikes. I think they should really do it from the rollercoaster as well…

Ryanair Ireland Offer

Ryanair cheeky cricket-based ad. From Newswhip.ie

 

Not specifically hotel-related, but always ‘nice’ to see Ryanair engaging in some creative travel marketing, as reported by Newswhip in Ireland. For those (such as myself) who enjoy the sport of cricket it was either disappointing or exciting to see the minnows of Ireland beat supposed giants (and creators of the game) of England in the currently ongoing Cricket World Cup in India. Michael O’Leary and chums were straight onto an advert brazenly advertising Ireland as “The Home Of Cricket”.

 

The cheeky young upstarts at Hipmunk have, with the help of Skoosh partners Hotels Combined, delved into the world of hotel meta-search. They’re really focussed on providing some serious competition to Orbitz-led Kayak in this world. While it remains to be seen if the benefits of hotel price comparison will really exist in a world where everyone has the same rates, it’s nice to see something a bit different happening.

 Locanda Ovidius, Venice

Stunning view from the 'hatch' at the Locanda Ovidius, Venice

 

Barb De Lollis once more provides some interesting points of ‘view’ over at USA Today with her piece on some of the ugliest hotel views sent in to her. This got me to thinking what some of the worst photos might be from our own customers, and I think the photo to the left demonstrates a view that would challenge any of Barb’s for the World’s Worst Hotel Room View award from one of our own customers.

 

Video find of the week is the Chocolate Hotel Room. There’s not much information on the source from the video aside from it’s the Bryant Park Hotel in New York. Further investigation showed me it seems to be a regular Valentine’s Day offer for those guest’s who like to get a bit, well, chocolatey. I’m afraid though that ‘Chocolate’ is yet to be a confirmed room type on Skoosh…

Cheers for now, Matt.

If you ever see anything interesting, funny, cool or anything else let me know on twitter @SkooshMatt, @SkooshHotels, on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/SkooshHotels or emailed to matt@skoosh.com.

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Best Hotel Reviews February 2011

There are always a few hotel reviews that catch our eye on a daily/weekly basis – and we do read them all. The best ones are when everything goes right and people’s expectations are exceeded by the hotel that they book, and in those cases we feel that it’s good to share the love and publicise those great experiences so the hotels know they’re doing a great job and prospective guests can get some great ideas of where to stay to get that unforgettable experience.

 

Wellington Hotel Madrid

Wellington in Madrid's cool & cultured Salamanca District

Everyone loves to make a great new discovery, as Marjorie from Stratford, Connecticut did when she stayed at the Wellington in Madrid last September. She recently submitted her review which was muy alto in its praise. It’s in the delightful Salamanca district near Parque Retiro which is a wonderful setting, and she was very happy with her new discovery:

Everything’s Well at the Wellington

What a fabulous hotel. Everything from the comfort of the beds, concierge services, location, breakfast, staff and cleanliness are all top notch. This hotel truly exceeded my expectations and as a result, I fell in love with Madrid. I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND this hotel. What a gem! ! !

 

Four Seasons Vancouver

Vancouver's Four Seasons delights with it's considerate service

Hotels that go the extra mile for families can really make what could be a stressful experience into a joyful one. We all love to be delighted by little gestures, and Prakash from Brooklyn, New York was just so when he visited the Four Seasons Vancouver in February this year for a night. Such a difference these things make:

 

We loved the Four Seasons !

From beginning to end, the customer service at this hotel was fantastic. I don’t think we have ever encountered a nicer staff, and we travel a lot. Upon checking in, they offered our daughter her choice of a selection of toys which delighted her of course. The rooms were nice and the hotel is connected to the Pacific Center Mall. We will definitely make the Four Seasons our hotel choice in Vancouver! !

 

 

Hotel Grand Tikal Futura

Guatemala City - Service with a smile!

Sometimes the actions of member of staff even in situations that would test the best of us touch people enough to comment on it. That was the feelings of the Smith-Garcia family from South Carolina who singles out Miguel from the Hotel Gran Tikal Futura’s shuttle service in Guatemala City who lightened their day:

 

Hotel Gran Tikal Futura

Great stay in Guatemala City. The shuttle was on time and Miguel helped us from the room all the way to the airport . . . . we were a family of 5 with a baby in tow. We had 8 suitcases, 5 backpacks, a car seat, and a stroller. Miguel never lost his smile, he was amazing. We found our rooms clean and quiet and all of the amenities were up to par.

 

Finally Louise and Jean from County Clare, Ireland stayed at the Marylebone Hotel in London at the end of February and as well as having a great stay these return bookers gave a great tip on a somewhere to eat nearby. This is just the type of thing Skoosh will be hoping to share more of in the future – great recommendations on things otherwise that could be undiscovered!

Marylebone Hotel London

Great Fish & Chips to be found across from here

The Marylebone Hotel is perfectly situated

Back for third visit – wonderful welcome and enjoyed our stay once again. Only quibble would be that this is the second occasion we ordered a morning newspaper and it did not appear. Ever! ything else excellent. Tried the fish & chip restaurant across the road from the hotel and had a terrific meal in a convivial atmosphere -you can even take your own wine!

 

 

Got a great hotel experience to share or even a warning to avoid somewhere due to a bad one? Please feel free to add your review to our site on your return from your trip.

Matt

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Hotel & Travel News – Sunday 27th February

Every week, more or less, I will be doing a little summary of some of the more interesting, amusing, strange or practical news from the hotel industry that we think will be interesting to our customers and readers of this blog. This will be plucked from some my own favourite blogs, those of the Skoosh team and any others that might be recommended by readers, fans, followers, customers or anyone else.

If you can recommend an entire blog or news listing, or just a particular article that you think people might be interested in, please let me know.

This week:

Christchurch Tram

A tram in Christchurch, which is recovering from a massive earthquake last week

After the grim news in New Zealand of the earthquake that killed at least 75 with still many to be found, the High Commissioner of the country Derek Leask has urged travellers to not be put off visiting what is one of the most beautiful countries on earth, although to avoid Christchurch and Lyttelton. More at Breaking Travel News. Bloomberg discuss the task of rebuilding Christchurch, one of the most popular tourist draws as the country’s oldest city.

Barbara over at USA Today Travel reports on the Fairmont San Francisco who gave over 100 people lifetime VIP status at an ultra cheap rate due to a ‘human error’. Credit to them they honoured it, too! Read more…

Ben from the same source reported on Easyjet’s apology for providing unsuitable food options on a flight from Tel Aviv. It could be questioned if it would even be suitable to include only bacon/ham products as meat selections on a flight to/from anywhere really. Decide for yourself here.

The Travel Ranter Darren Cronian tells us all the 5 things he hates about public transport. My own personal gripe would be the price – on a trip I’m going on to Cornwall from Brighton before Easter it is actually cheaper to fly than to get the train, which leaves an environmental concern but saves both time and money. Let him know your own.

Adriana at Peter Greenberg Worldwide tells the story of how an airline managed to send an 80-year-old Ethiopian lady over 200 miles from her Atlanta, Georgia, USA destination. Scary stuff…

Palms Casino

Palms Casino - more goes on behind that cool façade than you'd imagine!

And finally something a bit different (and my proudest find of the past couple of weeks!) – a cool video “violating the laws of nature”  from one Tom Guilmette which he filmed using some serious high-tech camera equipment in a Las Vegas hotel room at the Palms Casino Resort! Prettyamazing stuff I’m sure you’ll agree.

Found something hotel or travel related that you think we and our readers would be interested in? Either email me at matt@skoosh.com, tweet @Skooshhotels or Facebook us at http://www.facebook.com/SkooshHotels.

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Skoosh Customer Reviews – A Potted History Part 1

Since 2003 Skoosh has been collecting hotel reviews from our customers so in the future those self same customers can make an informed decision about the hotel they are booking. It doesn’t seem such a new idea now even for a site that isn’t purely review-based, but back then Dorian and his much smaller team were breaking a certain amount of new ground in doing this.

The reviews we get range from the purposefully amusing to the maybe slightly more accidentally funny ones to those that are deadly serious. Sometimes we enjoy the ones that don’t mess about and get to the point very quickly, and sometimes the more descriptive ones catch our eye. There are those reviews which make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, which are always our favourites, and sadly occasionally there are those that aren’t so positive.

The beauty is that the guest can sum up a hotel experience far better than a hotel or we can, and that’s what adds the value. There are many of interest we feel one way or the other, and looking through the first year or so of submitted reviews we found a few we thought you’d enjoy.

Amadeus, Salzburg

The Amadeus: Lively at the front, but deathly quiet out back!

So, as I mention, we like short, straight to the point ones:

Very loud!” – Peter Caspar, Hamburg, Germany, who stayed at the Mercure am Westbahnhof in Vienna.

Also, the dryly amusing:

The hotel was on a main street but it was quiet, and at the back was the cemetery so these neighbours were extremely quiet.” - Anonymous, Scarborough, United Kingdom, who stayed at the Amadeus in Salzburg.

The life-changing – one of those warm-fuzzy ones I mentioned earlier:

We booked into the Dorint Hotel and I soon realised that this was one of the great decisions of my life.” – Leslie Forgham, Hessle, United Kingdom.

Zic Zac Hotel

Bedhop with Elvis, Pink Floyd and George Michael at the Zic Zac

The easily misinterpreted (sounds like a cool place though!):

Rock star themed hotel hemmed into the beatiful old town of Zurich. Great value for money considering you can bed hop between rooms styled around rock icons, I went from George Micheal to Elvis and ended up with Pink Floyd.” Anonymous, Manchester, United Kingdom who stayed at the  Zic Zac Hotel, Zurich

The unusual but delightful local tips that you don’t always see:

Don’t miss the secret Wallenstein gardens about 50 metres from the hotel (turn left)a really lovely and peaceful oasis apart from the peacocks!” Josephine Byrne, Johnstone, United Kingdom who stayed at the Blue Key in Prague.

Prague Peacocks

Top Tip: Find peacocks around the corner at one Prague Hotel

And the absolutely delighted & surprised – again another one that we delight in reading, and like to pass back to the hotel:

Then upstairs in the lift to a wonderful surprise….we had our own suite, not just one room,but three!! I think that it must have been where the owners lived out of season because apart from the bedroom there was a kitchen/lounge and a large shower room. The outlook, though looking out over rooftops was, & considering the closeness to the city centre, extremely quiet and the sun streamed into our room in the evenings.” Chris Hurlock, Ipswich, United Kingdom who stayed at the Venezia in Prague.

Although at the same hotel another guest did find time to comment on a bigger concern:

stair bannisters on a couple floors a little wonky“!

These are just a few of our favourites from the early days, and moving forwards I’ll look to dig out more notable reviews – whether they were completely good or bad, or interesting for other reasons. We always appreciate further contributions, and as we receive them I will discuss more current reviews that catch the eye as well.

If anyone has any further questions about reviews on Skoosh, let us know.

Matt

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Skoosh now accepts Maestro for all currencies

Maestro Logo

Good Friday! A little bit of news, nothing too exciting but practical for our customers all the same.

This week we’ve added the ability to pay for bookings on Skoosh with a Maestro card in all currencies accepted on Skoosh – it was previously only available in Great Britain Pounds. This probably won’t affect those who pay in US Dollars, Canadian Dollars or Swiss Francs, but given that Maestro cards are issued in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Austria, Slovenia, Italy and Croatia, as well as the UK, this should provide further flexible options to pay for hotel bookings on Skoosh for those in the Eurozone.

Whilst we’re discussing the admittedly dry subject of card types, it’s worth quickly summarising which card types we accept for hotel bookings on Skoosh for each currency:

Great Britain Pounds: Mastercard, Maestro, Visa, Electron, Solo, American Express

United States Dollars, European Euros: Mastercard, Maestro, Visa, Electron, American Express

Canadian Dollars & Swiss Francs: Mastercard, Maestro, Visa, Electron

If you think that we can improve this, and believe that our customers would benefit from adding further currencies and/or card types please do let us know and we’ll see what we can do!

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Photo Blog – The Best From Our Guests Nov 07-Oct 08

Since November 2007 we have been asking guests who have a Skoosh account to submit photographs of their stay, either of themselves, the hotel itself or the destination they stayed in. These photos can vary from examples of the best the hotel or destination has to offer to images from some less positive experiences. We’re constantly surprised at the quality of some of the photos submitted and it’s one of the bright spots in our week when we’re reviewing and approving photos (only for suitability, not content!)

We’re soon going to be sharing the latest photos as they come in, but we thought we’d recap on the past 3 years and 3 months of guest photos to show some great examples of interesting photos, revealing photos, candid guest photos or just some great scenery. There’s quite a few to choose from so this will take more than one post to give some of the highlights.

Don’t forget if you’ve got a photo related to a hotel stay you’d like to share then log in to your Skoosh account and get it uploaded!

Fortuna Hotel, Ancona

From Vicky who stayed at the Fortuna Hotel in Ancona Italy - a view of a nearby rocky outcrop and stream

See more info about the Fortuna Hotel, Ancona.

Oakes Hotel Overlooking The Falls

Sheila wasn't so keen on the Oakes Hotel Overlooking The Falls back in 2008 (2/5) but loved this view of the Falls that she got from it

See more info on the Oakes Overlooking The Falls

Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina

Linda "was so taken in with the wonderful view from the tower on around the 7th floor over looking the pool" at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina

See more info about the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina.

Eurostars Zona Rosa Suites

E & T Gonzales enjoyed the Eurostars Zona Rosa Suites, Mexico City, including the suite with some interesting Mexican artwork on the wall!

See more info about the Eurostars Zona Rosa Suites, Mexico City.

Maritim Jolie Ville Luxor Resort

"Nice" from Cairo reviewed the Maritim Jolie Ville Luxor Resort as follows: "I have travelled all over the world, but this must be the best hotel on planet Earth. Being on an island in the middle of the Nile, no buildings around, nothing but greenery and birds around. The sunset at the huge heated swimming pool overlooking the Nile takes you out of this world. It exceeded our best expectations." Incredible!

See more info on the Maratim Jolie Ville Luxor Resort.

Well, that’s the lot for now – I think you’ll agree some great examples of scenic shots, candid photos of the hotel and just pure enthusiasm for the hotels and destinations in question! All very ‘Skoosh’ and just what we love about our customers!

There is a growing amount of photos in our archives, it would be great to see more so feel free to upload them from your account.

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Skoosh City Guide Brighton and Hove

Brighton beach & pier, and one the local residents

In the first of our new series providing detailed information on some of our customers’ favourite destinations to stay in,we thought we would start with our own favourite to stay in – the home city of Skoosh – Brighton & Hove, UK! We love our home town and everyone at the company lives in Brighton or Hove, now very much joined together as one city since 2004.

Situated just a 55 minute train ride from Central London, and just 20 minutes from major transport hub London Gatwick Airport, Brighton is a popular destination for travellers from all over the world, and has a distinctly cosmopolitan feel with its many language schools, two internationally recognised universities and varied nightlife.

What to do

Home to a number of annual cultural festivals (Brighton Festival, Great Escape, White Night Brighton, Gay Pride), there is a vibrant and energetic feel to the place, even in the cold depths of a UK winter! Brighton has great independent shopping in the Lanes and North Laine, while Hove boasts some impressive architecture and serene beachside walkways.

Both towns benefit from a lengthy stretch of beach which in the summer is buzzing with life from dawn until well after dusk, next to which there is a string of seaside café’s bars and nightclubs. Other attractions include Brighton Pavilion & its gardens, the famous Palace Pier and Hove Lagoon.

Where to stay

Amongst the better hotels in the city is the Old Ship Hotel on Kings Road on the sea front. A four star Georgian hotel with great views, it is perfectly positioned to explore Brighton located close to the town centre and the major attractions. The most famous hotel is the De Vere Grand, part of the famous chain, and was made famous in the 1979 film Quadrophenia as where Sting’s character Ace Face works! Situated further up the seafront it commands pride of place for those seeking that extra bit of luxury.

Those on more of a budget might want to try the Royal Albion, right next to the Palace Pier, or the West Beach Hotel right next to the famous Preston Street with eateries from every corner of the world.

The view over Brighton taken from Skoosh HQ at sunset

One hotel that we don’t feature on Skoosh currently is the Hotel du Vin – it’s a favourite of our own Mike, who especially recommends the (in his words) “pricey but cool bar”… we can only hope that one day we’re ‘cool’ enough to be able to sell it!

Where to eat

With such a wide & diverse selection it’s hard to break this down, but we asked two of our resident foodies Pete & Mike to recommend a few!

Firstly from Pete there is Terre a Terre on East Street, one of many vegetarian restaurants in the city. It’s unusual to find vegetarian fine dining, and this is it at its best – both inventive and most importantly tasty. Showcasing Brighton’s foreign tastes, the Famous Sichuan on Queens Road is something a bit different and not for the faint hearted. Ask for something ‘ma la’ and you will get something that tastes like you were punched in the face, which Pete thinks is a good thing! Along alternative Oriental Lines is the Chilli Pickle on Jubilee Square – a top end Indian eatery using only the best ingredients and original recipes that stands out from a competitive Indian restaurant crowd.

Mike recommends some must visit restaurants of a more classical style perhaps. The Cote on Church Street shares the same owner as the famous Ivy in London, and provides classical French dishes in a bistro environment. Pascale’s in Hove is similar in style and is, in his words, “great to sit and while away a sunny afternoon whilst enjoying French food and great wines”.

Well, who can argue with that?

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5 of the best – Luxury honeymoon hotel hotspots

Our reservations team are asked on a daily basis to recommend hotels for specific cities, areas and specific attractions & venues. We’re often asked for a hotel more by type than location, for example by a couple looking for something romantic for a special occasion. We had two such customers recently who were looking for the perfect hotel for their honeymoon, with the only stipulations being that they wanted a hotel on an island destination either in the Mediterranean Sea or the Canary Islands.

Being a bunch of hopeless romantics (well, in most cases…) the team scoured our database and the web for some really special locations. Here are 5 of our favourites from what we found:

Capri Tiberio Palace Resort & Spa, Capri, Italy

A classy 5 star hotel in the heart of the town of Capri on beautiful Capri island, the Tiberio Palace was originally used by a selection of artists, poets and writers after the discovery of the Blue Grotto in the early 19th century. Its beautiful combination of Regency and Mediterranean architecture now mixes confidently with modern amenities, and its Restaurant “Terraza Tiberio” is the perfect place to while away a romantic evening with fine food, wine and a stunning view over the town, sea and rest of the island. The Bellevue Royal Suite is the hotel’s crowning accommodation jewel, but even its standard “Superior Rooms” offer elegance, comfort with superb attention to detail.

Skoosh price based on 2 adults sharing 3 nights in July (subject to availability) Standard option: £1231.86 including breakfast.

Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahia Real, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain

Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahia Real restaurant view

The view from the Gran Hotel restaurant

On the sought after island of Fuerteventura in the small town of Corralejo sits the Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahia Real.

Overlooking the 7km of beautiful sandy beach and the island of Los Lobos, this hotel features all the amenities & services to make your stay without worry or hassle. With Arab and Colonial influences the hotel has a distinctly luxurious feel to it both inside and outside, and the terraced restaurant (pictured right) and luxury spa make this a great place to enjoy your first few days of marriage.

Skoosh price based on 2 adults sharing 3 nights in July (subject to availability) Junior Suite:£668.86 half board.

Forte Village Resort, Sardinia, Italy

Want to rub shoulders with the rich, famous and beautiful people? The Forte Village Resort could be for you. Featuring 7 hotels in total this is the ultimate in manmade luxury. Beautiful surroundings sandwiched between the beach and forest make this feel like a world away from the hustle and bustle of nearby Cagliari. With plenty to do – from swimming pools to horse riding and even an ice skating rink – this is the honeymoon resort for those who enjoy doing things as well as just relaxing with a cocktail. And keep an eye out for the Beckhams, the Stings or other jetsetting celebrities, you could be in esteemed company.

Check for Skoosh rates (subject to availability) at the Forte Village La Pineta Hotel on Skoosh and the Forte Village Resort Il Villaggio.

Andronis Luxury Suites view from the infinity pool

The view from the Andronis infinity pool

Andronis Luxury Suites, Santorini Island, Greece

A small luxury hotel in the sought after village of Oia on Santorini, the Andronis has individually styled spacious suites with Jacuzzis, sea view verandas and even in the Pool Suite a private infinite swimming pool! Overlooking the other Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea the spectacular views – especially at sunset make this a hotel ideally suited for a romantic break away. Oia is known for its slow pace of life so you can be sure you won’t be rushed as you enjoy your honeymoon. With stunning beaches and quaint local shops, cafes, restaurants and art galleries aplenty you should find enough to keep you occupied.

Skoosh price based on 2 adults sharing 3 nights in July (subject to availability) Premier Suite:£1397.04 right through to Pool Suite £4585.47, all including breakfast.

Jardines de Nivaria, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

Family run on the Blue Flag beach Playa Fañabé, the award winning Jardines de Nivaria is eco friendly and reputably boasts the best customer service on Tenerife. The handmade stained glass dome on top of the main building is a splendid backdrop to this unique holiday setting. The bright rooms are beautifully furnished and of varying styles to suit your tastes. The gardens have a number of swimming pools including one heated seawater pool and a Jacuzzi. A Spa, golf course and a number of other leisure facilities complement your stay, while the local area boasts distinctive boutiques, restaurants and cafes to help you get the best from your honeymoon.

Skoosh price based on 2 adults sharing 3 nights in July (subject to availability) Junior Suite Garden View:£464.34 including breakfast.

A brief summary I know, and we’ve missed a thousand and one fantastic locations I’m sure. Given a limitless budget (and a potential spouse, of course!) I’d plump for the Andronis Pool Suite. Just beautiful views, wonderfully sculptured architecture and THAT infinity pool. Now, just to find someone to take……

Matt

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A quick introduction…

Hi and welcome to the Skoosh blog. This is where we will discuss new developments here at Skoosh, the favourite travel destinations of our customers and our team, events worldwide and ideas of where to stay for them, the best customer contributions to Skoosh such as reviews and photos, and of course our main business - hotels.

We hope to make this informative, useful, interesting and even maybe entertaining in places. I’m Matt and will generally curate proceedings but we will have contributions from others in the team as we go, including the existing Skoosh blogger, our MD Dorian Harris.

So have a look around, take part and let us know what you think – even if you think we’re talking absolute rubbish! If there’s anything you’d like to hear us talk about or you have any other comments please let us know – either in a blog comment, to our social media accounts (see right) or via email to me on matt@skoosh.com.

Enjoy

Skoosh team

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