Speechless: Hotel Guests Race For Pool Chairs

Speechless: Hotel Guests Race For Pool Chairs

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I feel like there’s not much travel behavior that shocks me nowadays, but somehow this does. Humans are very strange creatures…

Viral pool chair snatching video from Tenerife resort

Video footage is going viral from the Spring Hotel Bitacora in Tenerife, Spain. Specifically, footage taken on August 7, 2022, shows when the gates to the pool deck open at 8AM. At that point you can see people rush in to secure their spots as if they’re in a televised competition.

According to the person who took the video, people started lining up at 6:30AM, in hopes of getting access to the best seats at the pool. The video, which has been viewed over six million times, has the caption “another day another sunbed war.”

If you didn’t know any better, you’d think people were showing up for the most epic Black Friday sale ever, rather than trying to sit by the pool while on their vacation.

How are hotel guests okay with this?!

I’ve written before about the dirty game of reserving hotel pool chairs, though it goes without saying that this is a particularly extreme case.

My first question is… are hotel guests really okay with this? Like, at this point, why go on vacation? You’re getting up before 6:30AM, waiting in line for 90 minutes, and then running so you can reserve chairs at a generic-looking pool? Do hotel guests who deal with this think “I can’t wait to book my vacation here next year?”

From a guest experience perspective, it always amazes me how hotels don’t do more to manage this ridiculous practice. At the of the day you presumably have fewer pool chairs than guests who want them, yet “first come, first served” is the only system that hotels can come up with?

The problem with this system is the amount of time pool chairs are empty. Presumably some hotel guests that got up at 6AM to reserve a pool chair for their family go back to bed, have breakfast at 10:30AM, and then show up at the pool at noon, while the pool chair has been empty the entire time.

I think there are so many better solutions to this problem. Most notably:

  • If a pool chair isn’t occupied for some amount of time (30 minutes, one hour, etc.), it should be given up to a guest who wants it
  • Maybe each guest should get a certain amount of time in a pool chair, and sessions can be broken up so that you can be guaranteed a pool chair either in the morning or in the afternoon

As I search YouTube for other video clips, I’m starting to realize that this seems to just largely be common in Spain. Below are a few more clips…

Bottom line

While the practice of reserving hotel pool chairs is all too common, I’ve never seen anything as bad as the above video footage from Tenerife. I couldn’t imagine paying for the privilege of going on vacation, lining up for 90 minutes at 6:30AM, and them running to reserve a pool chair.

Can anyone make sense of this?

(Tip of the hat to Johnny Jet and View from the Wing)

Conversations (72)
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  1. Aga Guest

    We went to Hawaii last year, and spent part of it at the Sheraton Waikiki. And those are some great view of the ocean from their adults only pool deck. They had a great system. If chair was unoccupied for some time they'd attach a note saying it'll be cleared within 30 minutes, and belongings can be picked up at the pool desk. And they WOULD clear those chairs. It's so frustrating seeing empty chairs not used for hours. Props to the Sheraton.

  2. Jo Guest

    I’ve seen these videos go viral before

    Everyone is in on the giggle and they do this for a bit of hotel / resort fun

  3. NYGuy24 Gold

    All it will take is one person falling while running to a pool chair and cracking their head open as a result. Then the lawsuits will roll in. This circus is a sign of incompetent hotel management

  4. Nathan Guest

    How utterly bougie. Truly pathetic. Listen to the sad Karen in one of the videos go on about how ‘horrendous’ it is, how it’s made her ‘feel poorly’, yet has joined the maddening throngs to do so EVERY. OTHER. MORNING.

    In Australia this sort of shite does not fly; we would just throw your crap in the pool and take a seat.

  5. Ted Guest

    These are the same type of people who enthusiastically buy things at those "free art auctions" on cruise ships where they serve the $3 sparking wine. Seem to think if a bunch of people show up, it must be good and worth fighting over. And also that somehow they win if they get there first. But actually anyone who attends is a loser.

    I would just skip this whole scene - not how I'm going to spend my precious vacation time

  6. Willieron Guest

    JW Marriott Marco Island, you can reserve a "preferred" chair for $25 a day. While I was there the pool wasn't that crowded, but if given a choice I'd rather do that than go through all the BS.

  7. AA Guest

    Predominantly German & English tourists doing this, I am ashamed to say.
    I remember this commercial on TV growing up - late 80s/early 90s, which sums it up nicely.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuIJqF8av6I&ab_channel=fishnchimps

  8. Stephen Sylvester Guest

    I was at a hotel in golf de sur (Tenerife),they come up with a brilliant idea how to get a sunbed without queing up,go to reception the night before,they will show you a map of the area and you choose where you want to be if it's available.

  9. robbo Guest

    The reason they are doing this now more than ever is that radical left wing Socialist idiot government does not allow air conditioning in rooms below 27c ( that's 85F for the Yanks ), so the poor buggers are so bloody hot they scramble to the pool. And like you said, an ordinary looking pool at best. My solution, avoid these places and avoid Spain. Period. It's a mess. And remember, before China Virus, the...

    The reason they are doing this now more than ever is that radical left wing Socialist idiot government does not allow air conditioning in rooms below 27c ( that's 85F for the Yanks ), so the poor buggers are so bloody hot they scramble to the pool. And like you said, an ordinary looking pool at best. My solution, avoid these places and avoid Spain. Period. It's a mess. And remember, before China Virus, the Spaniards were telling tourists to stay away so why reward them now when they are desperate

    1. Comment_Rater Guest

      This comment has been rated: Idiotic.

  10. Carrie Member

    The guests scrambling for a pool loungers are the same passengers who fight to leave the 'plane first with no reason as to why they need to be first.

    1. NYGuy24 Gold

      Pretty much. You are dealing with the Spirit Airline crowd when you see this type of garbage.

  11. Alan Gold

    I've seen the same on cruise ships. Not my kind of vaction.

  12. iamhere Guest

    Your suggestions are not good.
    1. Many people are in the pool for more than 30 minutes.
    2. It would take the staff to manage the sunbeds. That is generally not what they do. In some hotels they provide the service of giving the towels and possibly setting them up for the guests. In other hotels they also act as a lifeguard.
    Not a hotel I would stay at and this certainly shows the lack of quality of that hotel.

  13. John Guest

    This is like the hotel pool version of 'gate lice'. Only worse. I can't comprehend this mad behaviour. Then again, having been born, raised and living in the South Pacific islands, the sight of any large body of water (oceans, lagoons, and even swimming pools) is decidedly 'ho-hum' to me. Thank God, for that!

  14. FlyerFlyer Guest

    The chair scramble has been my experience at every resort I have visited(3) - Cancun, least difficult, then punta cana, then Jamaica, worst - I had a discussion with the pool manager in Jamaica and the next morning you couldn't leave anything at the pool before 8am (no lines allowed prior) and they watched for drop and go. I was satisfied with the results!

  15. Commenting Commenter Guest

    Animals… Wild animals… No difference

    1. TJ Guest

      I've only seen this in Europe and Mexico, Hawaii to a much smaller extend. I often thought- if people didn't reserve/BLOCK chairs all day even though they only use it for a few hours, there would be enough chairs for everyone. This madness of reserving it for the whole day and then not use it actually creates the scarcity.

    2. Lori Guest

      I live in Spain and this is fairly typical. It happens often at the beaches as well, especially along the Mediterranean coast. People get up super early, set up their towels, chairs, and umbrellas first line and then go back home for breakfast. I’ve lived here for 15 years still find it wild!

  16. glenn t Diamond

    If you are certain a chair has been vacant for a long time, remove and fold the towel and place it well away from your newly-claimed lounge. Never under or too close.
    When the 'owner' returns, there will be a throng of people around and they will be unlikely to remember exactly which lounge they staked out. Easy peasy!

  17. Rob in Miami Guest

    Pedestrian.
    So sad.

  18. guisun Gold

    When I see bunch of empty seams with towels and no activity for a while, I assume the guests left and forgot to take their belongings. As a honest person, I do what all honest people do, I take items to the staff and inform that the guest forgot their belongings.

  19. frrp Member

    Clearly no one was queuing 90 mins for that, 10 seconds into the video theres already no one else running to the sun beds.

    Thing is, most ppl on here arent looking at this from the perspective of a bucket and spader. Theyll be on all inclusive and so will spend much of the day there having the free drinks, or at least most of the day excluding the 4 hours theyll leave the towel...

    Clearly no one was queuing 90 mins for that, 10 seconds into the video theres already no one else running to the sun beds.

    Thing is, most ppl on here arent looking at this from the perspective of a bucket and spader. Theyll be on all inclusive and so will spend much of the day there having the free drinks, or at least most of the day excluding the 4 hours theyll leave the towel on the lounger with no one using it until they decide to go to the pool.

    The staff should just remove towels if no ones using them, its pathetic. At breakfast you look at the pool area and most of the loungers will have towels on them, no people of course cos they wont turn up until a few hours later.

  20. Joe Clearwater Guest

    This reminds me of vacations on the canari islands in the 90s. It was like that back then. In particular the middle aged Germans seemed to be fond of this game……

  21. Rhys Guest

    The hotel is missing out on an ancillary revenue opportunity. Charge $29 for a pair for premium lounge chairs and that would save the mad dash, allow people to sleep in and relax, and the hotel would generate more revenue. Not a fan of pointless fees, but this one would be a plus for both parties.

    1. frrp Member

      Theyre probably already charging for premium lounge chairs, most of those sorts of hotels now have some upsell that will include an exclusive lounge chair area

  22. MacP Guest

    THIS is why I would never go near a hotel with a stupid little pool when there is a vast ocean and beaches and mountains and activities and sights and tiny restaurants and local people and everything else to do.
    So I am GLAD that these idiots do this, and keep well out of my way when I am on holiday.

    1. Rotuma Gold

      My sentiments exactly.

  23. schrap2755 Guest

    Every single resort vacation in Europe I've ever been on it's like this -- decades - -I just thought it was local culture :-)
    Resorts in Spain and Italy, from my experience, have been the worst. If the property has a beach club, usually haven't seen this --but certainly at hotel pools.

  24. digital_notmad Member

    IMHO it's totally fine to take up a chair for the whole day *if your a$$ is physically in the chair*. Agree with Ben's first proposal. 30-60 minutes vacant, your stuff gets yeeted. (And conversely, if you legit want to sit at the pool from open to close--as in, actually sit there--go for it.)

    1. digital_notmad Member

      Better still, combine that rule with an optional first-come-first-serve reservation system for a portion of the chairs; but, if you don't show within 10 of your reso, yeeted.

  25. D3kingg Guest

    I don’t like when people chope. Tables at restaurants or beach chairs or wherever. I always sit there and once they arrive we get into an altercation.

  26. Kanaka Member

    Ridiculous. If people are going to behave like this for subpar pools, then the hotel needs to do a bookable system with two hour time slots, similar to dinner reservations at a busy restaurant.

  27. They Guest

    Pick up the towels and toss them. Shrug if the people reappear. Use it or lose it

  28. Drew Guest

    I'm waiting for the day this happens at an Aman.

  29. Evan Guest

    With "beach" type vacations, I usually focus on smaller hotels because I find in smaller hotels, they seem to be more apt to control this situation (not in all cases, but I have not been to a small hotel where I've had this problem yet).

    It seems big hotels would rather not be involved with the chair issue at all and would rather let the guest "fight it out" so to speak.

  30. AkDiver Guest

    This happens at many resorts all over the world. I remember in Cabo going down to the pool and every seat had a towel on it. But the vast majority were at breakfast or come back a few hours later. I found out quickly to tip the pool staff the night before and they would reserve a chair for me. Not the best solution but it worked.
    In Hawaii I’d bite the bullet and...

    This happens at many resorts all over the world. I remember in Cabo going down to the pool and every seat had a towel on it. But the vast majority were at breakfast or come back a few hours later. I found out quickly to tip the pool staff the night before and they would reserve a chair for me. Not the best solution but it worked.
    In Hawaii I’d bite the bullet and just rent a chair and umbrella for the day. It can add up but I didn’t have to worry about leaving it to get a bite to eat or something.

    1. Jonny Guest

      So basically you did the same behavior just paid for it. Either way, it’s an awful way to be.

    2. Rotuma Gold

      I’ve traveled all over Southeast Asia and never experienced this. $35 a night in Bali for a hotel with pool. No crowds, no lines. No riffraff.

  31. stogieguy7 Diamond

    Unless the pool is super spectacular (and I have seen some examples of that in, say, Costa Rica), there's no way I'm going to choose it over the actual beach! For one thing, being stuck in a limited concrete floored area surrounded by tons of people? That's no fun whatsoever. At least at the beach you can walk around.

    Besides, you can visit a pool at home. Even during the winter months. But if you...

    Unless the pool is super spectacular (and I have seen some examples of that in, say, Costa Rica), there's no way I'm going to choose it over the actual beach! For one thing, being stuck in a limited concrete floored area surrounded by tons of people? That's no fun whatsoever. At least at the beach you can walk around.

    Besides, you can visit a pool at home. Even during the winter months. But if you live in colder climes, you're not going to get a beach like that. So why be a luddite at the pool, consuming $12 watered down drinks?

    1. frrp Member

      cos they will be on all inclusive so their drinks are free. its also europe, no one pays $12 for drinks in europe :)

  32. George Romey Guest

    The last thing I'd every want to do is spend time around these kinds of people. I'd find a secluded beach and let the Wal Mart crowd fight over beach chairs in which they can spend the day getting fat, drunk, and stupid.

  33. Rozellev Guest

    So stupid with the real beach near the hotel! They should’ve just stayed in the uk to run to a hotel pool lol

  34. jetset Member

    I guess that's an advantage of staying at expensive resorts with lower occupancy and higher amenity to guest ratios.
    The Four Seasons Cabo has so many pools and lounge spaces for the size of hotel, even staying there when a wedding was happening (therefore full occupancy), I never had issues getting chairs, cabanas, etc.

  35. DLPTATL Guest

    This is the exact opposite of what I look for in a resort hotel. My vacation shouldn't be more ruthless and hurried than a normal work day. Add it to a list of hotels I hope to never visit.

  36. Andrew Y Guest

    It’s not just in Spain. The Westin Kierland in Scottsdale is the same way. I saw a poor grandma get in line at 7am so that her grand kids can get seats at the 9am pool opening.

  37. brianna hoffner Member

    People with kids are up that early anyway and it lets one of the parents get away from the morning screaming/chores/breakfast routine for a few minutes.

    It's also like those Black Friday sales in that some of the people really enjoy the competitive sport of the whole thing - it's a little morning sport with their coffee. I mean, I'm not one of them, but I have friends who really love that kind of thing ( and yes, I'm German :P )

  38. Jones Guest

    All Brits of a certain age will remember this 1985 TV advert:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4FzJcfssvU

    For those unaware of the context, see

    https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046889/?ref_=fn_tt_tt_9

    and play the trailer

    1. Creditcrunch Diamond

      Oh my that brought back memories, I loved the Union Jack towel that bounced off the pool onto the sun bed which of course was a nod to the da busters bouncing bomb. Thanks for sharing

    2. Cavil Guest

      That gorgeous man in the ad is welcome to share my sunbed anytime.

  39. Stuart Guest

    These days, I dunno, it feels like I am living in a cartoon.

  40. NSS Guest

    I agree that we can do better, but how? Your idea of filling chairs that have been empty for 30 or 60 minutes, who monitors that? I was at the Wailea Beach Resort, where people stake out chairs at 5 am, but also where there isn't enough staff to order food or a drink when you're at the pool - they gonna mark empty chairs with chalk like a NYC parking cop? How about hotels increase the number of chairs?

  41. Kyle Guest

    It happens on cruise ships every week. The difference is that some lines will enforce the abandoned chair rules while others could care less.

    The last 18 months have been great with the reduced capacities on ships leading to empty chairs all the time but that is coming to an end.

  42. Clem Diamond

    This is so incredibly depressing haha!

  43. AdC Guest

    This is a longstanding phenomenon at Spanish hotels frequented by a certain cohort of German and British tourists...

    1. Skyward Geek Member

      Can you be more specific? What would that "cohort" be?

    2. Jeffrey Chang Guest

      "Can you be more specific? What would that "cohort" be?"

      Budget "Holiday" travelers.

  44. Alonzo Diamond

    Pure stupidity. They need to get a life. It's just a chair...

  45. Les Guest

    The same game is taken to a high art form at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the Big Island. At 6:30 am, while walking on the beach each day, I witnessed the daily race to claim beachfront chaises using pilfered hotel beach towels from the previous day. And those same chaises are unoccupied for a greater part of the morning and sometimes to mid-afternoon.

    1. Lars Guest

      The row nearest the ocean, yes. But on my last two trips to the MKBH over the last two summers, I've never noticed any issue with availability for the 2-3 rows behind that. Certainly does not compare to what we're witnessing in these videos.

    2. Glenn T Guest

      Ocean-front real estate is always in high demand!

  46. GD Guest

    I just pick up the towels and move them. Problem solved. If you aren't at the pool you have no right to take away a lounger from someone who is at the pool.

  47. Sel, D. Guest

    This has never bothered me. At full pools I ask the attendants to find me a place to sit and they always have. Mostly Mexico.

  48. tom Guest

    I think you left out the part that German tourists are notorious for this, leaving other tourists behind "in the dust". I am German....so, I am familiar with this behavior.

  49. Dan Nainan Guest

    I was just in Tenerife for two weeks. At the first hotel we stayed at, every single pool chair had towels on them by the time we went to breakfast, because they had been saved, but very few were occupied. We were incensed by this. Fortunately, the hotel we stayed at after that had a policy wherein saving pool chairs was not allowed.

  50. NM Guest

    To be fair this is a pretty common occurrence in hotels/resorts across Europe. Either people reserve sun loungers from silly o'clock in the morning (5/6am or earlier), or hotels close the pool area until a certain at which there is a stampede. I remember staying in a hotel in Tenerife near to this one several years ago where staff were removing towels from reserved beds in the morning, some even throwing those of repeat offenders...

    To be fair this is a pretty common occurrence in hotels/resorts across Europe. Either people reserve sun loungers from silly o'clock in the morning (5/6am or earlier), or hotels close the pool area until a certain at which there is a stampede. I remember staying in a hotel in Tenerife near to this one several years ago where staff were removing towels from reserved beds in the morning, some even throwing those of repeat offenders into the pool, was quite funny when people came back hours later to "their" loungers being occupied by others.

    1. Points Adventure Guest

      At first I thought you had said throw the offenders themselves into the pool. With their hands tied behind back would be a fitting punishment ;0)

  51. Emerson Guest

    When you said speechless, you weren't kidding.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Emerson -- Hahah, there was a tech glitch there for a moment. Fixed now!

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

George Romey Guest

The last thing I'd every want to do is spend time around these kinds of people. I'd find a secluded beach and let the Wal Mart crowd fight over beach chairs in which they can spend the day getting fat, drunk, and stupid.

8
Kanaka Member

Ridiculous. If people are going to behave like this for subpar pools, then the hotel needs to do a bookable system with two hour time slots, similar to dinner reservations at a busy restaurant.

6
DLPTATL Guest

This is the exact opposite of what I look for in a resort hotel. My vacation shouldn't be more ruthless and hurried than a normal work day. Add it to a list of hotels I hope to never visit.

5
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