Is Vanity Fair Being Fair?

A travel article in the May 2006 issue of Vanity Fair really has me a bit annoyed today. But am I overreacting? Would love reader feedback on this one.

Victoria Mather’s “The V.I.P Tour” promises to reveal incredible private guides in cities around the world. I couldn’t wait to read who she chose in Italy. Just because I didn’t know any of the guides she chose didn’t mean anything, but what raised questions in my mind was why her selections in Rome, Venice and Naples all work for the same company – Bellini Travel?

Maybe it just so happens that most of the guides I know work for themselves or one could argue that perhaps Bellini has gone out and found the best of the best…but for the only Italy recommendations to be linked to Bellini? As a travel writer and editor, I would want to provide more of a choice than that — especially in a country where there are so many gems to be found in private guides. Perhaps Mather should have dug further?

Mather brags that her choice of a Rome guide — who again, might be incredible, I do not know — can reserve the Sisitine Chapel and Vatican Museum for private evening visits. I just want my readers to know that anyone can arrange this through the Vatican — for a steep fee. Of course, if you do that you probably do want to have a fantastic guide with you.

And I want to know if the author has actually toured around with any of her Italian guide choices. What makes me think not? Her writing comes dangerously close to the marketing copy on Bellini’s Web site.

Mather in Vanity Fair: “Maria Luisa Gagliardi is a wonder with children, bringing the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum to life for them.”

Bellini Travel Web site: “She is fabulous with children, bringing the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum to life before their eyes…”