After a December visit to Amara Creekside Resort in Sedona with her husband and young kids, a Phoenix woman let the boutique hotel know what she thought of the place.

The beds were comfortable, the concierge helpful and the fire pit perfect for roasting marshmallows. The view from her room, though, was awful, and there were slim pickings in the lineup of complimentary DVDs. Bottom line: It was just OK, even at a fraction of the usual rate.

She sized up the hotel not on a traditional comment card or its newer e-mail cousin. She posted an online hotel review at

The travel site is wildly popular with vacationers and business travelers planning a trip or just back from one, with more than 4 million first-hand reviews and related reports from the front lines.

But it also has attracted a loyal following among the subjects of the reviews. Hotels and resorts mindful of their reputations in this era of do-it-yourself travel planning can't afford to ignore this growing force.

Comment cards are invaluable, read religiously and here to stay, but Internet postings carry a punch they don't: they are public.

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