Hotel Lounge Trafficking: Hawaii Five-0 Edition

Filed Under: Hotels, Hyatt

So I’ll be the first to admit that I think hotel club lounge access should be more strictly enforced in the US. Outside the US I find hotels are usually fairly strict about access, as an attendant usually asks for your room number to make sure you’re eligible for access, not exceeding your guest limit, etc.

However, at many properties in the US, as long as you have a room key that gets you access to the lounge, you can bring in just about as many people as you want. Like, I can’t even count the number of times I’ve seen one person eligible for club access, and they use their key to bring in basically their entire extended family.

Hyatt Regency Waikiki club lounge

Apparently yesterday I was “that” person, as I was called out for bringing guests into a club lounge. And I’m curious if I was in the wrong.

I’m at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki with a friend, and we’re both Diamond members. We have two rooms, and each is booked for two people (since the price is the same for one or two people). So we were meeting two local friends yesterday. We had a dinner reservation at 6PM, and at 5:30PM we brought them into the club lounge so we could get some cocktails (which they charge for anyway, by the way).

Hyatt Regency Waikiki club lounge bar

I went to the bar area to order the cocktails, and the friendly attendant pulled me aside (I should stress that he really was friendly throughout the entire interaction):

“Excuse me sir, are the other two people staying in the hotel?”
“Well technically not, but we’re both Diamonds staying in rooms alone which are registered for two guests, so we should be able to bring a total of four people into the lounge, no?”
“Well no, there’s a charge to bring guests into the lounge.”
“But both of our rooms are registered for two people. We’re not bringing in guests above the limit.”
“I understand, but they must be registered guests.”
“Okay, should we go to the front desk and register them then? I can do that…”
“To register them they have to be staying here. That’s okay, we won’t charge you this time, but just so you know for next time.”

I never like feeling like I’m taking advantage of a hotel. And to further clarify, we didn’t bring any other guests into the hotel at any other point during the stay, so it’s not like we were doing human club lounge trafficking, or anything. I was curious to follow up as to how they were going to verify who was actually “staying” vs. not, but didn’t want to be a douche.

Technically I get you have to be “registered guests,” though in practice hotels don’t typically even ask for the information for the second guest on a reservation, so I’m not sure what that actually means in practice. I could have gone to the front desk and added their names to the reservation without problem, but I’m also not sure what that would have accomplished.

Was I in the wrong?

  1. I think it is fine. Also, did they not mention that Diamond members now receive free alcohol in the club lounge during happy hour?

  2. I’m going to have to side with Ben here. It seems clear that Ben should have registered the guest, but the attendant clearly made up her mind before the conversation. I would register your friend at the front desk, and if she gives you a hard time the next day, I would ask her to prove that the guest wasn’t staying at the hotel.

  3. Once you registered the guest, the guest is staying at the hotel, regardless if the guest chooses to sleep for 1 second or 1 night in the room.

    Unless the hotel wants to publish a rule of how long the guest must be in the room or hotel or whatever, which is even more absurd.

    This is ridiculous, and the lounge staff should have better things to do.

  4. My understanding would always be that you can take advantage of whatever benefits are there for the maximum number of guests in the room. I’ve stayed on a breakfast inclusive rate and invited a friend in to the hotel for breakfast on one day – the hotel had no objections. However, I wouldn’t e.g. attempt to use a breakfast ‘credit’ from only having one breakfast the previous morning and I doubt the hotel would be happy with it either. It seems to me that you are certainly in the right and I am not sure what the hotel is bothered about.

  5. What does “register guest with the front desk” even really mean? When I travel with my husband, we make the reservation for two, one of our names is on it, and 99% of the time the other person’s name is never added or registered anywhere. We said we have two guests, there are two of us, and only one name is never requested or given. The only real exception is if the one checking in first isn’t the main name on the reservation, then we add that person for the purposes of checking in.

    So, while this certainly could be approaching (harmless) grey area, I don’t think those guests would have ever been formally “registered” beyond making a reservation for 2 even if they were sleeping there.

  6. Yes, you were in the wrong. They aren’t “guests” of the hotel as most people would define the term. The fact that the room rate was the same for one of two people is really irrelevant.

    I think the polite and subtle way the hotel staff handled the issue was professional and appropriate. They don’t want people to make a habit of doing this but also recognized this was not exactly a war crime.

  7. @ Arcanum — And I don’t disagree, but how do you define hotel guests? If it’s someone that physically sleeps in a room, that just seems like a dangerously slippery slope, no?

  8. I don’t think you were wrong. What is a “registered guest?” Does it require you sleep in the bed overnight? Is mattress running now wrong?

    The room was reserved for two people. You check in and take possession of the room. The 2nd person shows up at some point and is registered to the room and given the same privileges as person #1.

    I guess following the rules to their strictest sense were to have gone down and registered him to the room.

    You paid for a room for 2 people, and it’s you’re right to designate who that second person is whether they are on property for the whole time or a few hours.

  9. How awkward!! Ok- this is new to me. I figured if you pay for the room and are allowed a guest in the lounge it’s your business who they are and where they sleep. Doesn’t Hyatt have a 4 person breakfast? Is this spelled out/written somewhere?

  10. Ben is in the right. If each room was actually booked and registered for two guests, even if the second guests’ names weren’t given to the front desk, the second guests are “staying” at the hotel. As other people have noted, except in countries where the law requires the hotel to note every person who’s registered, I never give the front desk the second guest’s name unless I expect that person to arrive and get a key independently of me.

    Now, if Ben and his friend were bringing in two different guests every 15 minutes, that would be abusing the privilege. But Ben gets to say who the guests are.

    Sometimes I don’t sleep in the hotel room *myself* if it’s a mattress run, and I still use the lounge. How does that differ from this?

  11. The attendant was correct, access is for registered guests only, however they were being overly pendantic as you could register the guest and meet the terms without the guest actually being obliged to sleep in the room.

  12. I don’t see what you did as wrong. I mean how exactly did the hotel suffer for this? Unless the lounge was packed or your friends ate a lot of free food or whatever I don’t see what the hotel lost anything from this. If anything they gained more revenue from the drink sales.

  13. The ruse began with booking a room for two people when you knew there would only be one in the room. Premeditation. You wanted something for nothing. You are no different than anyone else who brings people in from the outside. Love your blog Ben, but you were wrong. 🙂

  14. Just to clarify, I’m with the folks who say so long as you booked four people then you can bring four people to your room or to anything else available to guests on your floor or in your room category. Who you bring with you or why is really none of the hotel’s business. I don’t think I’d have a problem with it until you got to the point that you were changing guests out more than once per 24 hours. At that point you’d be abusing the spirit of the rules in my view.

  15. Diamonds at HR Waikiki do get free drinks at the club, along with their guests. So, that’s one of the points to make.

    This hotel is well managed — by well managed it usually means a more strict enforcement of the rules, so that’s another thing. Hyatt is by far the “better managed” chain I’ve seen. They ask your AAA number when you try to book an AAA rate, and they aslo strictly enforce full breakfast of diamond and to do that they even include tips for many hotels. That applies to HR waikiki as well.

    Just think about the other way around, you might be able to bring in as many guests into the lounge, but you get a piece of muffin for breakfast, as some W hotels would do. It’s much worse in the later scenario, I think. The overall high standard for Hyatt diamond is because they go by the rules, and not trying to get away with less offerings.

    I don’t think there’s anyone who’s at fault here. The hotel has the rules and they set up their mind to enforce it. Oblige to the rules and register them as guests, and you get away with it. No big deal.

    The definition of “hotel guest” is pretty straightforward, and as the server has pointed out — registered guest at the hotel. Don’t know why and how to make a case out of it.

  16. This is exactly the same situation as what you complain about others doing. It doesn’t really matter if they were right/wrong, but rather it highlights that you have a different view of things when its your friends versus someone else’s extended family… That the danger of criticizing others, it can come back and bite you.

  17. Jesus christ, no you were not wrong. If your room rate is paid for two people, you can bring two people into the lounge.

  18. I’m going to start out by saying i think this is a stupid rule. I think the problem i have with situations like this is when people get called out on a rule and they then push back and try to get the hotel/airline to break or bend the rules for them. The rule is registered hotel guests get use of the lounge. After reading your blog for years, i can safely say you know 100% what a registered guest is. Even if you registered them when you checked in, that would still be a dishonest way of getting them lounge access. I love your blog and think it’s the best on BA, but sometimes i think you walk the line of being “but i’m a Diamond member, Exec Plat, etc” away from being someone elses DYKWIA story.

  19. @ Iolaire McFadden — Not at all. My issue is when one room is eligible for club access and they bring in 10 guests. They didn’t pay for a room which has 10 guests in it. Meanwhile I paid for a room which has two guests in it.

  20. This may have been technically wrong as violating the hotel rules, but it’s not ethically wrong as you have two people who booked rooms for 2 people which include lounge access, so that should entitle 4 people to the lounge.

    In 2014, I booked rooms at a couple Marriotts for trips with friends and had concierge lounge from being Gold Rewards, and there was never an issue from having a guest in the lounge. Granted, it was one person and not a group of 5 or 6 or 7.

  21. @ Shaun — So registered guest=someone that sleeps at the hotel? I’m a fan of rules which can actually be enforced and aren’t arbitrary. I paid for two guests. So if the standard of whether someone is a “registered guest” or not is whether they sleep in my bed, well, that just doesn’t make sense to me.

  22. @ herbertgzb — And I should clarify that all things considered I was REALLY pleasantly surprised by this hotel. Great property, and far exceeded my expectations.

  23. Not sure if you were right or wrong but let me take this to another angle. As you said, hotels never ask (at least I was never asked) for the names of guests staying with me in my room. I always get a room for 4 (me, wife and two kids) and I was never asked for the names of my wife and kids. Thus, what would happen if you lied to the guy and said they were guests? As you said you had a reservation for two people in each room so unless they went to your room and did a DNA test to see if those two friends really slept in the room there was no way for them to say otherwise. I agree you should not be able to bring family and friends to the lounge but in your case you and your friend could both bring a guest each.

  24. So, if you booked the rooms for two people and considered your friends to be the other guests in each room, why didn’t you answer “Yes” when asked if the other people were staying at the hotel?

    The rules seem pretty clear; only actual guests of the hotel have free access to the lounge.

  25. Lucky,

    You were right. No one defines a room guest has to stay overnight. For the ones I have been..the strict ones were in Hong Kong – Conrad & JW..both lounge ask for your room number and ask how many guests you have. One time we brought a local friend (so we had 3 people instead of 2) at the Conrad..they advise they will charge for one (which is fine since it’s pretty much open bar/buffet there). Second time at JW, we registered 3 guest in one room and brought a friend (so 4 total) and they charged for one since we had three listed under our room (just #, not by name)…all in all..I think it’s fair to be charged for over your allowance but not while you are in line with the #.

  26. Well,

    I certainly support properties policing rules, as “self upgraders” compromise the integrity of the experience enjoyed by those who are paying for upgraded amenities.

    But when one registered guest has lounge access due to status or payment, the CL staff should presume that a second person accompanying that person is a “registered guest” even if they are not a registered guest in the most formal sense.

    Of course, you could have wasted everyone’s time and formally registered the guests at the front desk if that would make them happy.

    I do note, however, that if you have paid for two adults on the booking, it is well reasonable to limit lounge access to, of all things, two adults.

    But I would prefer for them spend their time policing the rule against the very odious practice of plopping a towel on a lounger by the pool at 7:00 am to claim ownership over it for the remainder of the day . . . .

  27. Lucky this fella was being a condescending asswipe. I wouldn’t even bother with this. Using the lounge flying domestic in Oz we have top FF’s bringing in guests to Lounge for the freebies and aren’t even travelling . You were def entitled and you’re a VIP..

    Tara I have 2 words for ya as kath would say to kim “Kath and Kim”

    Get A life lol

  28. Tough call. Hyatt’s website doesn’t’ explicitly say any guests must be registered, but does say that the points benefit for the times a lounge is unavailable is per registered guest, up to a max of 4. I could see that someone following the letter of the policy would do that. Also, perhaps that particular hotel has had issues with lounge traffickers and are extra-vigilant. I wouldn’t be surprised about that, given the location. They probably do have large groups staying in multiple rooms all trying to get in there on the basis of one person’s status.

  29. If a hotel doesn’t ask for the name of a second person at the time of a check-in then it was fine for you to reply that they were a hotel guest — there’s nothing deceptive about that.

    If hotel rules say that a Diamond member has to provide names of all guests so they could enjoy club/lounge access then next time I’d register them beforehand.

  30. If the front desk clerk did not ask you to identify your guest in your room at check in, then the lounge attendant has no place to complain, but your answer should have been “yes, they are staying with me” and that would have ended the discussion.

    The hotel can’t have it both ways – they don’t want you bringing a second person to the lounge, make the second person show up at the front desk. But since sometimes people go to hotels because they won’t want the world to know who the second person is, that could get a bit tricky….

  31. A registered guest is a person staying at the hotel. I think if you ask any hotel chain, that is pretty close to the definition they will give you. Hyatt’s website even references registered/non registered guests. Since they have the rooms they set the rules.

    And I would argue you didn’t pay for two guests, you paid to rent a room. The rate was inclusive for up to two registered people staying there. It was not for one person + access for two to the lounge or amenities.

    Your room rate allowed for two registered guest to access the lounge. You had one registered guest. No matter how you spin it, your friends were not registered guests staying at the hotel.

  32. @Tara

    “The ruse began with booking a room for two people when you knew there would only be one in the room. Premeditation. You wanted something for nothing. You are no different than anyone else who brings people in from the outside. Love your blog Ben, but you were wrong.”

    Wow. What if I make a reservation for two, fully anticipating that I will be the only person sleeping in the room but rather much hoping that I will get lucky that night?

    More particularly, a “guest” of a hotel is not limited to those staying there. While in Phnom Penh, I slept in dumpy $24/night digs (less than what I spent to kennel my dog), but was quite pleased to pay $20 to use the facilities of the Raffles Royal. Ditto my guest use of the Meridien Dubai. And I find no problem when a guest pays for an additional registered guest who intends to use only the hotel’s facilities.

  33. What I find interesting is your inquiry on whether you were wrong, as if soliciting true opinions, and then proceeding to defend your actions with virtually everyone who disagrees with you.

    In reality you were actually soliciting was support that you were in the right.

    By the way, I disagree with you. In my opinion, you were wrong. Just my two cents.

  34. This is a very grey area.

    Sometimes I book rooms for my parents in a different city/country, with my name on the reservation. I call ahead and inform the hotel that the reservation is for my parents. They never have any problems with it. So theoretically I’m the guest, but practically my parents are the real guests.

    I think if the hotel wants to implement/enforce “guests only” policy for breakfast, they should’ve given you some kind of coupon, voucher, token etc when you checked in, that they collect prior to breakfast. In my experience, this was the case in Embassy Suites in Niagara Falls, whereas a Hyatt House in NJ didn’t even check who’s a guest and who’s not.

  35. I stayed at the same hotel in October and saw no such lounge enforcement going on. Granted it was the low season and the lounge was only a quarter full at any given time – if that. The employees probably recognize guests if they see you around the hotel a few times, so if they see you with new people it might raise questions. In any case, I see nothing wrong with bringing in guests when you paid for 2 people per room.

  36. I’m with Lucky on this one in general. If he puts his friend’s name in the front desk as a registered guest, that person should get lounge access regardless of whether or not they sleep there. We should note, however, that some Hyatts actually take the name of the guest and may require it for benefits. Most domestic Hyatts don’t. So my point is more valid at Hyatts where actually name listing is required.

    Basically, I’d say that registration with the front desk defines “guest” in the letter of the law, not where one sleeps. The times when many many Hyatts let this definition slip is likely a loosening, not a de facto establishment of the rules.

  37. @gobluetwo:

    You say “Hyatt’s website … does say that the points benefit for the times a lounge is unavailable is per registered guest, up to a max of 4.” It says “[When the lounge is unavailable] Diamond members will receive 2,500 bonus points per stay plus daily complimentary full breakfast … for each registered guest in the room, maximum four (4) people.” I’ve always parsed that as, first, I get 2,500 points for the stay and, second, every guest gets breakfast. I’ve never understood “for each registered guest” as applying to “2,500 points per stay plus daily complimentary full breakfast”. Has anyone ever gotten 2,500 points per guest for more that one guest?!

  38. I don’t you think you’ve done anything wrong and i’m pretty sure most lounger personnel in Asia would have figured out your logic. Americans are generally idiots.

  39. You were not wrong, because, as you said, you could just as easily add them to your reservation, which is just creating more hassell for you, a paying customer who frequently stays at the chain of hotel.

  40. If you checked the box or used the drop down that says “2” when you made your booking, I think mommypoints is exactly right. You have two registered guests. If it is the policy of the hotel that the front desk must have the name of the second guest, or that they must present themselves at the front desk, then you should have done that — but that is the policy of very very few hotels I have ever stayed in. (Although it is the policy at some — like the Grand Wailea, where they don’t want you changing your guests since access to the pool/water park is strictly enforced.)

    So long as you checked “2” in your reservation, trying to articulate a rule about whether the guest must actually touch a pillow, or use the toilet, or sleep, or whatever in the room demonstrates its absurdity. If you had checked the box that said there was “1” person in the room, then I would agree that technically you were in the wrong, and should have visited the front desk before the lounge to ask if you could add a second guest to your room. Maybe there some screwy fire code or something they have to comply with based on the number of registered guests. But so long as you are not changing who your guest is during the same stay — that is, your guest is always the same person — to me, the entire issue comes down to how many people the room was booked for. You say you booked the room for 2. That should be the end as far as I’m concerned. Your guest was also the hotel’s guest.

  41. Wow @ the nitpickers and boot-licking rules followers in this thread. Amazing.

    @ Ron, how is security compromised here? I mean, Ben is certainly within his rights to bring unregistered guests onto the hotel property with him and have drink in, say, the lobby, right? But bringing them into the ultra-secure confines of the lounge is some sort of security risk? Give me a break.

    @ tara, using terms like “ruse” and “premeditation” is way over the top here. The rate is the same for one or two people. Perhaps ben thought there was a possibility a 2nd person would crash with him for the night. Has he ripped off the hotel if the 2nd person is a no-show? If anything, the housekeeper will have less work to do the next day so conceivably he’s saved the hotel money.

  42. The real question is, why are you spending time hanging out in what appears to be an average hotel lounge when you could be out enjoying the endless dining options and scenery in Honolulu? Surely there are more exciting places to go!

  43. IMHO, your answer should have been, “Yes, he/she is the second adult for my room. The front desk never asked me for his/her name, but I’d be happy to give it to them right now if you like.”

    Of course, this only works (and makes sense) in a hotel that does not actually require you to register each guest by name upon check-in.

  44. Agree with @Shaun completely:

    “Your room rate allowed for two registered guest to access the lounge. You had one registered guest. No matter how you spin it, your friends were not registered guests staying at the hotel.”

  45. Americans are generally fcuked lol

    All yee naysayers from The US of A get yourselves a passport and travel further than Honolulu lulu @:)

  46. Lucky,

    The fact that you have to ask if you were in the wrong should give you your answer. You may not have been violating the policy on a technical basis, but you were sure violating the spirit of the policy. Spin it how you want, but your friends were coming to visit you, a paying guest of the hotel. They are not hotel guests.

    It’s kinda like going out to dinner and paying for a drink that has free refills. The refills are free for you, but not for your buddy who is drinking water. Is it right for you to share your drink with your friend, even though the refills are free? I would say no. Your friend should buy his own drink, just as he should have paid for a guest pass.

  47. I have stayed at other honolulu properties and they have always asked for name, details and ID of the other registered guest.
    I have always interpreted as “staying/sleeping” in the room — just just a visitor.

    I have also noticed the same while staying recently in San Francisco. While the room was booked for 2 people, they wanted the names and ID”s of both parties (they cited security)

    As a marriott platinum member I have noticed the same — some people bring in a raft of people.

  48. I can’t seem to comprehend the logic I’m seeing in half of these comments. How could this possibly be “wrong”? Ben reserved and paid for a room for two people. Why does it matter if the second person sleeps in the room or not? Two adults are entitled to the privileges and benefits that go along with that hotel reservation and his Diamond status. It is the hotel’s prerogative whether they ask for the names of the other guest in the room to record in their system. As long as he wasn’t asked for the name of the second adult on his reservation at check-in and instead informed the receptionist that the reservation is only for him, he is still entitled to invite another person to share in the privileges of being a guest in that hotel, whether that means sleeping in the room overnight, visiting the lounge, or just hanging out in the hotel. No deception necessary – this is well within the rules.

  49. For spirits n intents.. i see that when i booked n paid for a room rate for 2.. i am intending to invite someone over.. even if it is just during the cocktail hrs. This may or may not materialise.. but that is the intent.

    If pedants want to be pedantic.. i will register my 2nd guest. If anyone wants to question if a registered guest is staying at the hotel.. that is not a pedantic qn. It is illogical n ridiculous. Of cos the guest is staying.. even if its 100 seconds n leaving right after that (like a mattress run).

    So violation of spirits n intents? Or just a very pedantic argument?

    Register ur guest. Period.

  50. you were wrong. the rules are the rules. if you wanted to add them as registered guest, then no problem at all. as simple as that.

  51. But in most cases you don’t have to do anything to register the second guest. I rarely explicitly register my husband when he travels with me.

    If Ben did as much for his guests as he would have had to for someone spending the night by advance plan, and brought in only one person, he met the criterion.

  52. Ben is right in this case. There were a total of 4 people in the lounge – 2 diamonds in 2 different rooms. The lounge attendant may have been concerned since there was a party of 4 and didn’t know the breakdown and the one time exception was simply to not admit they were wrong. If Ben was the only Diamond, then he would have been entitled to bring 3 others into the lounge if the room was booked for 4 – which is at additional cost beyond a room for 1 or 2.

  53. Sorry if I’m an idiot here, but couldn’t this have been avoided by asking for two room keys at check-in? If your room is for 2, get the keys…give the extra to whomever you please.

  54. I don’t think you were in the wrong, Ben.

    I ran into something somewhat related, but different. I booked a hotel room for 2 guests. My sister and I were staying. One night, we invited two of our male friends over. I ended up driving them back to their place around 2:30 in the morning. We got asked about our additional guests. Are people not allowed to have friends over to a hotel room?

  55. Room is paid for two people so a guest should not be an issue! Lounge attendant nothing to fo on a slow night on a power trip!

  56. Perhaps the lounge dragon, I mean attendant, asked you to identify who was a registered guest in case a manager walked in to do a spot check. That way the attendant would seem knowledgeable and proactive about hotel rules discussed during meetings. What was the response of the hotel manager to this anecdote?

    In the other hand, this story shows your parents raised you well. Another person may have given a smart answer like: “Guest? God yes. He’s an insatiable animal and I have the stained sheets to prove it”.

  57. Technically speaking, the rate you paid was a room for 2 “staying” guests per night.

    You were the “hotel staying guest”. Your friend visiting you was actually “the hotel staying guest’s guest”. The Club Lounge is for the hotel staying guests only, not the hotel staying guests’ guests. So ya, you were in the wrong in that you knew well in advance your friend wasn’t gonna “stay”. Your friend was coming for a drink before you head out to dinner. Unless ofcourse you left that part of the details out 😉

    Your friend didn’t intend to stay in the room … be it 10 mins, 10 hours whatever. Your friend didn’t intend to be a hotel guest. He was just your guest. And therefore, your friend wasn’t a staying guest. If you had answer Yes to the Club Lounge Agent then you would be lying. Whether or not you feel bad about lying, that I don’t care. In my humble opinion, no one would be at loss here if you did say Yes.

    I often invite friends to meet me at my hotel for a meal or drinks at the club lounge almost every time I’m at a destination where I have local friends. If I’m ever being asked, I will simply say yup they are staying guest in my room”. If any hotel agent want to dig further into the number of bodies staying in my room, then go ahead but be sure to expect subsequent unpleasant customer service conversation. As far as I concern, if my room rate allows for 2 persons for the stay, if I have to I will use up my 2nd slot privilege and delegate it to my visiting friend. And yes i’m okay with lying for such thing. Judge me however.

  58. In only the very most technical sense were you wrong… but in every way that means anything practically, there is nothing wrong with bringing a second person to the lounge, when the room is booked under a rate for two people.
    I have to say that I appreciate a reasonable amount of attention by the lounge staff to who belongs there and who doesn’t.
    At the Grand Hyatt Santiago, it was explicitly stated to us (and in written materials) that we had access to the lounge for the two of us registered to the room and one additional guest. That worked out perfectly, as my husband and I were able to bring my sister with us to the lounge, and have it be completely above board. Any additional guests to the lounge would’ve cost what I remember to be a reasonable, but certainly not cheap amount.

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