Do Hotels Owe You Anything When They Close Public Spaces For Events?

Filed Under: Hotels

My friend SINJim emailed me a great question that I figured would be fun to address in a separate post. I witness this stuff all the time, and I’m curious how you guys feel about this. Here’s what he said:

Do hotels owe guests an alert when the hotel will close strategic facilities in order to make additional money, such as when holding a corporate event in the pool area?

This weekend will be the Singapore Grand Prix.

Several hotels have great positions along the street course, allowing their guests to potentially watch the action from their room windows.

One hotel, the JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach, is in a particularly good position. For months, they have been charging approximately a 100% premium for a standard room during the race. For example, this evening the JW is offering a standard room “from SGD367” while on Saturday the same room is “from SGD740”.

The Marriott website clearly considers its position along the Formula One course a benefit:

“The Ebb6 Sky Garden at the JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach is located on the sixth floor and offers a swimming pool and views of the Formula One racetrack.”

However, when I posed as a potential guest of the hotel a month ago, I asked if any part of the hotel would be closed. It took the hotel about an hour but someone did get back to me to say that the Sky Garden would be closed for a special function. Here’s more on the special function.

Does Marriott owe its guests the courtesy of alerting them to the closure of the part of the hotel with “views of the Formula One racetrack”?  If yes, should guests be afforded a no-fee cancellation or even better, free/reduced admission to the event?

For anyone wondering, tickets to the event at the pool are 278SGD per person on Saturday, and 348SGD on Sunday. That ain’t cheap.

Now, I haven’t dealt with the above situation specifically, where most people staying at the hotel are presumably there for the Grand Prix, yet they won’t have access to what should be a standard hotel amenity with a great view of the event.

In 2015 I did write a post entitled “Hotel Weddings And The Guest Experience,” about my stay at the St. Regis Monarch Beach (which has since been rebranded) where there were six weddings in a weekend, to the point that I felt like they were diminishing the guest experience.

A couple of weeks ago I stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel (just near the former St. Regis), and basically dealt with the same. There were several weddings going on, some of the pools and gardens were closed for weddings, etc.

On one hand I see this from the hotel’s perspective. They make a ton of money from hosting events. They’d be stupid to turn down the revenue, even if it diminishes the guest experience.

At the same time, there’s no denying that hosting a bunch of events outside of conference rooms does diminish the guest experience, whether they’re closing down restaurants, gardens, pools, etc.

Unfortunately this is one of those cases where hotels do this because they know they can get away with it. I do think they should have notices posted about what facilities will be closed. It might be tough to do for every little event (like if a hotel has a bunch of weddings), but at a minimum in the case of the Marriott above, they should be informing guests, since this is major.

Should hotels offer guests something when they’re inconvenienced in situations like this? Yes, I think so. Will they offer guests something? Typically not, unless a guest specifically complains. In the case above, if I were at the Marriott and specifically paid more to stay there and were attending the Grand Prix, I’d absolutely complain if I wanted to use the pool and found out it was closed for a private function. It’s only reasonable for the hotel to offer something — a free meal, some points, a further upgrade, a discount, free cancelation, etc. — if they’re not meeting guests’ needs. Most people won’t complain, though, so in the end the hotel comes out ahead.

I fear this is just handled on a case-by-case basis, and hotels won’t actually change their behavior.

What do you guys think — under what circumstances should a hotel inform guests in advance if facilities will be closed, and what’s reasonable compensation?

  1. It’s the same situation as Airline delays, most people just suck it up and deal with it. The select few that complain will most likely get something but no way a hotel should proactively just offer compensation.

  2. My wife wandered out by the pool at the jw marriott in Cannes during the film festival ! Some little worm started yelling at her that she could not be there ! she was just taking a look . He kept saying private party ! I then showed up and he backed off a bit!
    Arrogant little shit. But hey it’s Cannes right?

  3. The price we pay for a room includes those public places. I would be pissed if I would have booked a hotel with a pool and be told on the day of arrival I cannot use it because of a wedding. Either they rebook me to a hotel where I can use those facilities or they give me a discount.

  4. I tend to think that when a major guest amenity is taken out of service for any reason, whether it’s for maintenance or use in a private function, guests should be notified prior to booking. If that’s not possible, the terms of cancellation need to change, with the final option being an after the fact compensation, such as points, an additional amenity, etc.

    If I book a resort type property, for instance, that has a spectacular pool, I’ve baked that pool and my use of it, into how I value the room. If a private event blocks my access, then the room is intrinsically less valuable than when I booked.

  5. Along the lines of what Mallthus says, I’d consider this a form of bait-and-switch. Even more so if room rates clearly go up in anticipation of the Singapore Grand Prix knowing full well that people will book rooms for the very convenient viewing position assuming they’ve paid a premium to be able to do so. If the Marriott then limits or removes a benefit they’ve clearly charged for, then they’ve essentially changed the terms of the (albeit very informal and unspoken) contract. If they fail to mention this during booking, then I’d start with a letter to corporate. If I was given no or not-meaningful-to-me compensation, I think I’d initiate a chargeback with my CC and just lay out all the facts.

  6. They should! I might stay somewhere specifically for the pool, and if that’s shut to me with no notification I’d want my money back – all of it!

  7. I have complained to the front desk manager before when pools are closed for private events (or just not working because of a malfunction) I was really hoping for some type of discount or point/voucher. 2 separate hotels offered me access to a health club or alternate property pool. But its no fun when you only want to swim for 30 minutes to leave your hotel and go somewhere else…..

  8. Had this situation when I booked the Andaz San Diego during ComicCon, the rooftop restaurant was closed for an event for “The Walking Dead.”
    I spoke to the manager when we were checking out, and told him that the Sunday brunch at the restaurant was one of the main reasons I booked the hotel, and I was really disappointed it we didn’t get to experience it due to the private event (which was completely true). He gave me 10K Hyatt points and his business card, and told me to buzz him next time we were in SD and he’d take care of us.

  9. Most of them don’t care. And some hotels are just impossible to relax or even stay in public area during summer week end.
    Not acceptable and never mentioned during reservation.
    I remember a place : crazy noise till 4am, no pool access, restaurants close, bar close, limited room service, lounge close and lobby full of drunk people during 2 days (full week end). Guess what : no discount / not even a “sorry” / no voucher for anything and the answer after complains was like “everybody has the right to get married and having fun”.
    Since then and because of other reasons related to poor customer support and diamond benefits changed : I avoid HYATT at all cost.

  10. United was beating passengers because it could get away with it. Hotels do this because they get away with it. Equifax will get away with selling your info because you won’t do anything.

    People will just take anything just to appear civilized

  11. I agree. They should inform the guests.

    P.S. what did you think of the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel. Also have you stayed at the Montage near it. I’ve stayed at both and they’re really good Lucky.

  12. This is a tricky one. They will always have a fine print somewhere where they say they can do whatever they want. We were on vacation in Italy and Greece where the hotel pool areas were closed on a day because they had a wedding event. Well, if we guests are unable to use the pool we should be compensated since we booked a hotel with a pool.

  13. Hilton refunded 50% of my points for a 5-night stay when they had Nickelodeon filming a game show at the Hilton Waikoloa on the Big Island during my stay and the film crews shut down one pool and most of the access to the lagoon.

    The film crews didn’t give a hoot about other paying guests nor their roping off of outdoor areas.

  14. Not surprised JW Singapore is monetizing the space. It’s unrealistic to expect them not to, especially in SG.

    Some hotels are better about this than others. A different JW comped my breakfast when I commented on the main restaurant being closed for a function on Sunday morning, forcing guests to eat breakfast in the bar.

  15. All hotels in Singapore during F1 Weekend jack up their prices, and the ones on the circuit are the most astronomically priced (as one would expect). They monetize every space they can, they’d be foolish not to.

    The Ritz Carlton Millenia western facing half of the building has prime viewing of the circuit right in front of it as well as the Swissotel (the old Westin from many years back).

    I personally find F1 Weekend in Singapore and all the ancillary events to be extremely overpriced and expensive; even tickets to the race for a decent seat are astronomically expensive. I’m not into motor sports but I know die hard fans of F1 love the atmosphere in Singapore. It’s quite a unique circuit.

  16. Berlin Marriott had a loud reception/party in their lobby during a stay. They had it roped off so close to the front door that it was difficult to get to the front desk or from front door to elevators. In addition, it is an atrium hotel so the noise carried. No compensation offered or asked for but staff was unapologetic about the use of the lobby for the event. I vote with my feet and stay at Autograph Am Steinplatz or some other hotel now.

  17. It would be especially galling if you had to pay a “resort fee” which the hotels typically claim is for things such as the pool.

  18. If the hotel advertises the public area on their website or promotions, then they absolutely have an obligation to provide guests with access to the public area. This has nothing to do with DYKWIA.

    You wouldn’t be ok with a restaurant advertising a 7-course meal and only providing you with 6. Why is it any different with a hotel? Is it ok if hotels downgrade you into a lower category room if the room you booked is being renovated as well?

  19. I work for a third party vendor that deals with resorts and not hotels. Standard policy here is is any part of the resort is shut down or if there is going to be construction going on, we and the guests being affected are notified and offered a free refund.

    I think the notification is a must and an option to cancel for free too if nothing else.

  20. Yes, if the pool, gym, and/or spa is advertised as one of the amenities, and they are not available because of a private event, or even out of service, then the guest should be compensated in some form. The guest booked the room with the expectation of using those amenities, as advertised.

  21. I’d settle for hotels under renovation or with facilities temporarily closed actually disclosing this in visible text during booking. Sadly, too few of hotels do this. I can’t tell you how many pools or saunas have been closed during stays.

  22. As a point of comparison: I was staying at the Renaissance Rio de Janeiro. Without special notice during our stay, the rooftop pool got closed for a wedding. We complained and got the affected night for free + free dinner for two in the hotel’s restaurant.

    In my opinion this was the right way to do from the hotel. As others stated, with your paid room rate, you buy the right to use all the facilities which the hotel promotes. If some of that is taken away in order to make more revenue for the hotel through additional events/weddings/private functions, then the other hotel guests should receive compensation as their value is lowered.

  23. So what the hotel is saying is you get to pay the resort fee but not use the resort. Sounds about right but only from the hotels perspective.

  24. I absolutely do believe they owe you compensation. When you book a hotel, you book a room and the amenities, since the amenities are highly advertised on the website as one of the selling points. They are meant to attract guests to the hotel. In fact, if prices and location are similar, I may even choose one hotel over another based on the amenities – so yes, absolutely, they owe me something in return. I’m a big believer in getting what you pay for- this isn’t me being a diva, and of course sometimes unexpected things come up, but if this is expected construction/renovation or a party booked ahead of time, they absolutely can and should let you know that you will not be receiving what you paid for.

    Another question, of course, is what you do when you’re not even receiving the basic amenities the hotel comes with – for example, if they advertise a coffee maker, or functioning elevators, and arrive to not have them. I’ve had the latter happen: the elevators (in a 20 story NYC hotel) were barely functioning, and the Hampton Inn (Grand Central) even had a no-questions-asked “satisfaction guarantee,” yet refused me any compensation for something so basic as, well, functioning elevators. What’s next, they give you a room without a bed and don’t even say sorry?

  25. I have experienced this at two Marriott properties, both in the Caribbean. They really pull out the stops for private events to the detriment of normal guests. Our worst experience was in Grand Cayman where the Marriott only has a small beach, but never the less they fenced off a significant proportion solely for wedding guests for many days and there were not enough spaces left for others. I really don’t think that the hotel cared less – no apologies, just that this area is reserved… blah, blah

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