The Dirty Game Of Reserving Hotel Pool Chairs

The Dirty Game Of Reserving Hotel Pool Chairs

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I’m curious to hear how OMAAT readers feel about this…

Etiquette for reserving pool chairs at hotels

At many resorts around the world there has been a common practice whereby people essentially “reserve” pool chairs first thing in the morning (even before breakfast), and then don’t actually use them for several hours:

  • If you actually intend to go to the pool at 10AM you may find that only 20% of the pool chairs are occupied, but 100% of pool chairs have a sock or shirt or mask or something on them, to indicate that they’ve been claimed by someone
  • This seems extremely inefficient, because it often means a pool chair is just occupied by a single person throughout the day, even though they may only actually be at the chair for a small fraction of the day
  • This seems to be an especially prevalent practice in some parts of the world — for example, I find that this is just how things work in Hawaii, and also find (at least historically) that this is something popular with many types of European tourists (especially Germans — I can attest to that firsthand)
  • While most hotels technically have posted rules about how long chairs can be left unattended, based on my observations these policies are rarely enforced
  • Coronavirus has only exacerbated this issue, since many resorts don’t have as many chairs as they used to

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em?

Historically I’ve not done the whole “reserving a spot” thing, because personally I think it’s inconsiderate towards other people. However, I’m starting to think that maybe I’m just doing it wrong:

  • While this isn’t usually the logic with which I approach things, if everyone else is doing it, I feel like there’s no other option?
  • I feel like this game was actually almost designed for me, since I’m a morning person and get up before everyone else at a resort; I could have my pick of pool chairs at 4AM!
  • The Larry David in me would love to just remove someone’s stuff from a chair and claim it as my own after I see it’s not being used for the posted time limit, but the truth is that nowadays I do what I can to avoid confrontation, so it’s not something I’m going to do; I’m not going on vacation looking to pick fights or to talk to anyone’s manager

I can’t help but feel like maybe there should be some innovation from resorts when it comes to reserving chairs at the pool, designed to maximize the greatest good for the greatest number of guests. The way I view it:

  • Personally I’d love to see hotels actually enforce policies on reserving pool seating, rather than using the honor system
  • Maybe the logistics are too complicated, but I think there should be some higher level innovation for resorts where there are a lot more guests than pool chairs; perhaps each night should get you a guaranteed spot at the pool for a certain number of hours, and then you can reserve the times in advance based on availability

I get that this probably won’t happen because it’s not worth the hassle for hotels, but I still can’t help but suggest those things.

Bottom line

While no doubt a first world problem, for years I’ve been struggling with the correct way to approach getting pool chairs at resorts where they tend to fill up.

Logically I feel like I should just try to get a chair at the pool when I actually want to sit there (novel concept), but I seem to be the only person who feels that way. At many resorts virtually all chairs by the pool are “reserved” by 10AM, even though very few people are actually at the pool.

I’m a morning person, so perhaps I should just use that to my advantage and beat people at their game? I dunno…

Where do OMAAT readers stand on the practice of reserving pool chairs? Do you support the practice, do you do it because you feel like you have no option, or does it frustrate you?

Conversations (111)
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  1. Victor

    Reading this from a reserved pool chair at the Hilton Playa del Carmen as we speak. It’s a messed up practice but you’re better off joining than trying to change everyone’s habits. Otherwise, you’ll be left without a chair.

  2. Chucky

    Totally agree. Drives me insane. And I have no answer. But, I think we have the technology to resolve. Ben, if you want to be the first person to come up with a system that works, you're gonna make a pretty penny.

  3. Sel, D.

    Oh Lucky this a pain in the you know what. My routine:

    1. Walk around 5-10 minutes looking for a spot
    2. Ask pool staff (if there are any) where I can find a lounger. This works for me at most resorts. Sometimes they have chairs in storage.
    3. Full Larry David. Not spending thousands of dollars on vacation to not get a chair.

  4. Sel, D.

    @Victor it’s awful there since Covid. Especially since the pool chairs come with the paid cabanas now. Food has gone way down hill too. At least there’s still good ceviche at Pelicanos.

  5. DenB®

    I've always felt strongly about this and I've only seen it effectively addressed in one place. There, a staff member actively enforced the posted policy, which forbade departure from the pool area after grabbing/reserving a chaise. Staff cleared them hourly or more. Users were welcome to occupy a chaise for the whole day if they wanted and if departing briefly for toilet, staff would protect it for 20 minutes max. It worked. The worst was...

    I've always felt strongly about this and I've only seen it effectively addressed in one place. There, a staff member actively enforced the posted policy, which forbade departure from the pool area after grabbing/reserving a chaise. Staff cleared them hourly or more. Users were welcome to occupy a chaise for the whole day if they wanted and if departing briefly for toilet, staff would protect it for 20 minutes max. It worked. The worst was Club Med Phuket, where 400 Germans brought 400 towels to the 400 chauses 7:50am daily, before going to town for shopping, lunch, afternoon tea and cocktails. Only a slight exaggeration, I swear.

  6. Thomas Geier

    Well, you have a german passport so you should join them. It's in your genes ;)

  7. Fat Ted

    I think this is a good stat to include in reviews: chairs/resort beds. Not perfect with couples and kids, but all else equal I’ll pick a resort that I don’t have to worry about this.

  8. Oli

    The most entertaining is to remove the things from reserved sunbeds, let other take it and wait for the confusion when the guy appears who reserved the sunbed.

  9. Chris

    If you play a game with cheaters and you don’t cheat yourself you’ll never win.

  10. Eskimo

    The Larry David in me would love to just remove someone’s stuff from several chairs and observe all those TMZ moments from a distance.

    The Elon Musk in me would just buy someone's chair with a useless Dogecoin.

  11. Creditcrunch

    Drives me bananas and many years ago I decided you can’t win so just join them, it was a modern day Cold War with the Brits against the Germans and Russians in various resorts around Goa, it got so bad in the end you had to bribe the pool boys who would reserve your preferred sun lounger to the highest bidder, some even dragged there loungers to their rooms, oh they were the good old days pre pandemic!

  12. bc

    They should make it a system like European train seats... let someone reserve the chair for a specific time range (like you could go there early in the morning and sign up for a chair from 11 AM-1 PM). Then they put a ticket on the chair and it can only be used by the person who reserved it during that time period. But everything before 11 AM and after 1 PM is fair game to everyone.

  13. Mike P

    I hate it but but I’ve joined them because it’s the only way to get a chair with an umbrella and my wife bakes without shade. I do think you’re missing a key point here. The hotels don’t enforce if because they’re financially incentives not to.

    When a family strolls to the pool at 11am only to find there is no place to sit, but hey we have many empty cabanas available to rent,...

    I hate it but but I’ve joined them because it’s the only way to get a chair with an umbrella and my wife bakes without shade. I do think you’re missing a key point here. The hotels don’t enforce if because they’re financially incentives not to.

    When a family strolls to the pool at 11am only to find there is no place to sit, but hey we have many empty cabanas available to rent, that’s where the hotels make $. I hate the cabana racket so much, there is nothing that turns me off on a hotel quicker than a row of empty cabanas for rent but no free loungers. It’s a crime.

  14. John

    One of the reasons why I’m willing to pay the Aman premium for a beach holiday.

  15. Christian

    Try talking to the staff to see what they can do. Failing that, grit your teeth and grab a spot in the middle of the night at 4AM but make mention when checking out.

  16. ATX

    I turn in their stuff to lost & found and take the chair. Most often they don't remember exactly where their chair is. It seems to always work.

  17. Steve

    Move the towels and call hotel staff if someone gets upset. Worked for me in Puerto Vallarta. Understanding Spanish was helpful listening to her complain to the pool staff who told her there was nothing they can do.

  18. Alonzo

    It's ridiculous honestly. People need to get a life. It's a chair for crying out loud.

  19. Azamaraal

    This is a real problem for some vacation destinations and not for others. It is also a problem on cruise ships that actually sail in warm climes where a pool chair is very pleasant.

    My favorite spots are the Conrad Bali and Conrad Rangali Island The Bali Conrad has a suites-building with its own pool reserved for Diamond members basically. Always enough cabanas (most of the time). Rangali Conrad has a villa for every family...

    This is a real problem for some vacation destinations and not for others. It is also a problem on cruise ships that actually sail in warm climes where a pool chair is very pleasant.

    My favorite spots are the Conrad Bali and Conrad Rangali Island The Bali Conrad has a suites-building with its own pool reserved for Diamond members basically. Always enough cabanas (most of the time). Rangali Conrad has a villa for every family with it's own chairs on the beach. So no problem.

    When we go to the Hilton all-inclusive in Puerto Vallarta it is a very good thing that my wife rises early (before 7). She will go to the pool area and select two chairs that will be in the shade all day (they are not so much in demand). She will then read books etc until I arrive. We do take about 30 minutes for breakfast but then spend the rest of the day in the chairs until almost sunset when the sushi bar opens. When you stay in a resort for a longer period of time and always take the same spot and basically use the facility all day long other guest actually come to realize that we are not gaming the system.

    When it comes to mass marketed package tour resorts then all of this does not really apply. Other systems would have to be incorporated that would limit abuse but of course, like masking, there will always be some yahoos who will freak out if anyone tries to enforce the rules. The whole culture of a resort would have to be changed before it could work properly.

    I have seen loungers with "egg timers". If you are not in the chair you set the egg timer to how long you are going away (probably up to 30 minutes). If the timer goes off before you return then the pool attendant comes and removes your belongings. This is particularly useful on a cruise ship with limited seating and nowhere to go.

    Other systems could be like parking meters with tokens. Each guest would be given enough tokens for 4 hours a day and able to purchase more. Like the old English gas meters, you would have to insert a token every hour or the meter would indicate Vacant and anyone could remove your belongings. This could be done with electronic monitors as well.

    In South Africa (Victoria and Albert Center for example) parking spots in shopping centers have sensors showing when they are occupied. Above the spot is a red/green light indicating whether the spot is occupied. There is also a board at entry showing all the vacant spots. This could easily be adapted so that any chair not occupied for a period of time would show up as unoccupied so that anyone would be free to remove and store the belongings. Best handled by a pool attendant. Suggest pool attendants be either 6' 8" and built like a bouncer or 4' 9" cute female attendants.

    Human nature being what it is - this is a problem of the 'entitled' (and my experience with German tourists supports a previous comment but of course is not restricted to any nationality) vs the respectful tourists and will never be solved without either intervention or a change of culture.

  20. cahbf

    I always just ask someone to get me a chair, polite but firm, and escalate if they don't. When there are 100 empty chairs I'm gonna get one if I'm paying 400 bucks a day. This has never not worked. Also, one time at a Hyatt I asked the manager to meet me for lunch, which he did, and I urged them to purge saved chairs and have a no saving policy. they implemented that...

    I always just ask someone to get me a chair, polite but firm, and escalate if they don't. When there are 100 empty chairs I'm gonna get one if I'm paying 400 bucks a day. This has never not worked. Also, one time at a Hyatt I asked the manager to meet me for lunch, which he did, and I urged them to purge saved chairs and have a no saving policy. they implemented that practice and it got better the next time I went. I know that's weird but I 've found manager like normal frequent travelers to give them input.

  21. Gene

    @ Ben -- The solution is really quite simple. just remove their crap and use the chairs if you are ready to actually use them. That is what the FCQ would do.

  22. Max

    In resorts on Mallorca or in other destinations popular with German tourists(particularly German cruises ships), this is a huge problem, but never had this problem, when I was in the states.

  23. J

    I have no problem removing articles of clothing from an unoccupied chair that has nobody there. It's a waste of space.

    Similarly, I used to live in an apartment building with one washer/dryer for 6 units. Sometimes, I would arrive to wash my clothes, and find the dryer was full of someone' clean, dry clothing, but that person hadn't come to collect their clothing yet after it was finished. Am I just supposed to not...

    I have no problem removing articles of clothing from an unoccupied chair that has nobody there. It's a waste of space.

    Similarly, I used to live in an apartment building with one washer/dryer for 6 units. Sometimes, I would arrive to wash my clothes, and find the dryer was full of someone' clean, dry clothing, but that person hadn't come to collect their clothing yet after it was finished. Am I just supposed to not just the washer/dryer until they arrive hours later? Instead, I removed the clothes from the dryer and put them on the top of the machine.

  24. DeePeeGrumps

    If you're in a resort in the Makena area (which is where I suspect you are), then that's just part of the game. However, there's ample room on the beach and every resort has ample towels and chairs. Why anybody would go to Hawaii and avoid the beach is beyond me.
    If you're staying at the Four Seasons or Andaz then pony up the cash and get a private cabana at their no-kids pools. Totally worth it.

  25. S

    Stuff like this makes me happy that I hate beach/lake/pool/cruise ship vacations (the ocean scares the hell out of me). :)

  26. Fabrizio

    Lucky, I hope you’ll pardon me the question: why don’t you just go to the beach? I mean, it’s Hawaii right?

  27. Vincent

    Try one day to reserve all or a lot of chairs with diferent ways (when nobody see) (a old facemask, a letter, a t-shirt etc), and wait to see what happepend latter....

  28. Mick

    The Marriott in ko olina bay gives you a reservation now.

  29. Cliff

    Marriott takes note and starts charging $5/hour for pool lounger usage. No more chair hogging!

  30. DaninMCI

    It's all stupid. Cruiselines used to have a really big issue with this but most are really good about taking the stuff away after an hour or less. It's rude to try and "reserve" the chairs. I'm not against throwing their stuff away and taking the chair. They might come back and be mad but what are they going to do.

  31. Das Boot

    I just send my 7 and 5 year old to go play in that area of the pool and sing their favorite disney songs and show me their biggest cannonballs. Chairs usually open up pretty quick.

  32. John T

    Some places I've been to specifically say by the pool that you cannot reserve chairs. Where I see these signs and I'm positive those who have reserved the chairs are nowhere to be seen I remove their items.

    When they return I point them to the sign and invite them to take it up with hotel management if they are unhappy with hotel policy

  33. Joey

    Wow! I actually never had this issue (knock on wood). Then again I haven't travelled to a resort during this pandemic yet.... but beforehand I felt the resort was never full and my friends and I could always find an available beach chair by the pool or beach.
    If i were you in your situation, I'd do what's best for your elderly mom since it's mother's day. I would reserve the lounge chair that is best for her and reserve it early in the morning!

  34. James

    @ DeePeeGrumps
    Lucky is at the Andaz, I recognize the photo since I was there this week :) I totally agree, just go to the beach (they’ve got attendants that will set up a chair for you there *and* they actually reclaim unused chairs at the beach.

  35. JetAway

    @Mick-And some hotels are now starting to set aside a paid "Reserved" section of the pool, enforced by staff.

  36. UA-NYC

    Larry David comment is funny as I saw him at the Fairmont Kea Lani a few years ago. Can only imagine him making the rounds and towel snatching ha.

  37. Brian

    The struggle at the Wailea Beach Resort was real in March.

  38. Travelingnewyorker

    Pre-covid/social distancing, I never understood: Why don’t hotels just find a way to put out more loungers at hotels where there are clearly only a fraction the number of loungers as there are rooms/guests?

  39. Tom Smith

    We have cleared them out on several occassions.

    One time in Vegas these two girls grabbed 20+ chairs by putting one thing on most and towels on all. We cleared them all out and piled them on one chair. We grabbed our 4 chairs and others grabbed the rest. Funny when about 8 of them showed up - over 1.5 hours later - and were just looking around trying to figure out what happened and who did it.

  40. Fed UP

    another reason not to go to crowded resorts with self adsorbed people... just go to a deserted beach somewhere, less stress, more fun

  41. Simon

    I agree with the lost&found comment. Either alerting the staff 'some poor person forgot their [insert item] when they left. Maybe you can keep it safe for them in case they come back *wink*,' or just turn it in myself if it's something I'd be willing to touch. If they come back later and make a scene, recite the same helpful bystander trope with 'I know what game you tried to play' undertone, which should...

    I agree with the lost&found comment. Either alerting the staff 'some poor person forgot their [insert item] when they left. Maybe you can keep it safe for them in case they come back *wink*,' or just turn it in myself if it's something I'd be willing to touch. If they come back later and make a scene, recite the same helpful bystander trope with 'I know what game you tried to play' undertone, which should drive them up the wall, or calm, yet direct reminder of policy. People who attempt these tricks are typically entitled and do it because people frown on their behavior, but don't stand up to them. So long as you're in the right, remain calm, and stand up to them, they can't handle it.

  42. Tj

    It drives me crazy and it has gotten worse. It's definitely the norm in europe and i first experienced it in Mexico as well, now seems to be spreading to Hawaii. The crazy thing is that its an artificially created problems. There are pretty much NEVER more people than chairs at the pool at any given time, definitely not in Hawaii. Perhaps in Mexico since folks dont leave the resorts as much. Anywwy, it essentially...

    It drives me crazy and it has gotten worse. It's definitely the norm in europe and i first experienced it in Mexico as well, now seems to be spreading to Hawaii. The crazy thing is that its an artificially created problems. There are pretty much NEVER more people than chairs at the pool at any given time, definitely not in Hawaii. Perhaps in Mexico since folks dont leave the resorts as much. Anywwy, it essentially would not be an issue for anyone to get a chair at any point in time if it wasnt for the folks blocking chairs. Hotels need to be strict about it, thats the only solution. I dont want to spend my vacation time argueing with people are having to worry abiut a place to sit. Hotels need to solve that. Imagine this was a practice at a restaurant, people come and reserve the best tables with some clothing items and then show up hours later to actually eat.

  43. Tom

    Fighting for a seat so that you can be packed in like sardines around a pool? That ain't vacation. No thanks, hard pass.

  44. Alvin

    We just returned from a stay at The Breakers in Palm Beach. They have a new policy - after 30 minutes of 'inactivity', the chaise is freed up. This policy is enforced and it works very well.

  45. DCYUkon

    Germans definitely started this. I first noticed it at a resort in Koh Samui almost 30 years ago. If they don’t show up within 30 minutes of others’ arrival and desire to use the same lounge chairs, reservation objects should be removed by hotel staff. Either that, or resorts need to do a better job with underestimating demand and provide more lounge chairs. Having said that, it’s never a problem if you have a room...

    Germans definitely started this. I first noticed it at a resort in Koh Samui almost 30 years ago. If they don’t show up within 30 minutes of others’ arrival and desire to use the same lounge chairs, reservation objects should be removed by hotel staff. Either that, or resorts need to do a better job with underestimating demand and provide more lounge chairs. Having said that, it’s never a problem if you have a room with a private pool and aren’t sharing public spaces.

  46. AC

    Those of you that remove items are just rude. Yes it isn’t right to “reserve” chairs but frankly that is the norm. Also in 2021 you never know who may have an issue with you abd May have a weapon (or be drunk and ready to fight). If you keep removing items you will eventually run into one of these people. Is that really worth it? Jus they up early and “claim” your chair

  47. Steven S

    OMG - 15+ years ago I had this at the Marriott in Aruba. Complained to an attendant (it was actually on the beach) who told me to feel free to remove towels from empty chairs. 45 miinutes later, a woman who came from Russia ripped me a new one. I wasn't moving but it could not have been more unpleasant.

  48. echino

    No, I don't join in this disgusting game. If there is no chair at a pool when I want it, then I just go to the beach.

  49. Timtamtrak

    A lot of the nicer resorts in Mexico have pool attendants (or at least they did pre-COVID) that would escort you to a set of chairs and if you wandered off would ask if you were returning. This is especially true if you stay in a nicer room. It’s honestly a good system but I recognize that it takes humans to do it and labor in Hawaii doesnt come cheap.

  50. jfhscott

    I spent a few nights at the Sheraton Kona a couple of months ago.

    They have a beach towel check out with RFID chips- if you do not return the towel yourself, you seriously risk getting dinged $20. That should be enough to make people reconsider leaving a towel out to "reserve" a chair for hours on end.

  51. dan

    @TJ that happened to us at a restaurant in Las Vegas Recently. Some loud obnoxious jerk told the hostess that the table next to his was reserved for his party. The hostess apologized to us and while leaving I hears the jerk say something about dining with his dog. The not nice person in me wanted to make a point and sit down and wait until the right moment to talk to the manager about...

    @TJ that happened to us at a restaurant in Las Vegas Recently. Some loud obnoxious jerk told the hostess that the table next to his was reserved for his party. The hostess apologized to us and while leaving I hears the jerk say something about dining with his dog. The not nice person in me wanted to make a point and sit down and wait until the right moment to talk to the manager about his rudeness. We got seated at a nicer table and I gave his rudeness a few lcy glares but he was too self absorbed to say anything.
    This hotel had a no saving lounges at the pool which was nice.

  52. Kevin

    I am surprised the Andaz would be busy enough for this to be a problem at their rates. Most recent "resort" vacations were Seafire in Cayman and Park Hyatt St Kitts. Never even crossed my mind to "save" a seat in either place - there were plenty.

  53. Chris

    It’s really simple - you just move stuff off of the chair; and then you move the chair someplace else. Avoids an awkward confrontation. I do it regularly; staff and other guests usually encourage me in the process!

  54. Mark

    Made the mistake of booking a Caribbean cruise when the NYC schools were on break; so, despite how large my Celebrity ship was, every lounge by, around, near, and far from the pools had towels draped on them with gaudy beach bags.

    Not willing to duke it out with a bunch from Bronx and Queens while on vacation with my 15 year old daughter, I just went to the Director of Hotel Services, who...

    Made the mistake of booking a Caribbean cruise when the NYC schools were on break; so, despite how large my Celebrity ship was, every lounge by, around, near, and far from the pools had towels draped on them with gaudy beach bags.

    Not willing to duke it out with a bunch from Bronx and Queens while on vacation with my 15 year old daughter, I just went to the Director of Hotel Services, who was a very big, tough Greek, and understood my odds of fighting with half of the boroughs on deck.

    Instead, he ordered up 2 loungers in my choice of location, with signage applied that they were the personal chairs of...He also ordered his crew to keep an eye on and protect our territory.

  55. John Richard Stewart

    Cancun Westin was horrible in January.

    Feb. PV Hotel Pescador too few lounge chairs, but most occupied, not saved. Our room looked down on the pool, so as soon as a couple of chairs opened up, we were at the elevator ;-)

    April, PV Hacienda de Roger. Small pool/deck few chairs but always got a lounge, for the 2 weeks we were there. Saving was not a problem, but we had to put a...

    Cancun Westin was horrible in January.

    Feb. PV Hotel Pescador too few lounge chairs, but most occupied, not saved. Our room looked down on the pool, so as soon as a couple of chairs opened up, we were at the elevator ;-)

    April, PV Hacienda de Roger. Small pool/deck few chairs but always got a lounge, for the 2 weeks we were there. Saving was not a problem, but we had to put a refundable 200 Peso deposit for each towel. Maybe that's the key, a cash deposit on each beach towel?

    I think stacking on a chair to open up the lounges or turning it into lost and found is a great idea. In fact, giving all the towels etc to an attendant and tell him these appear to have been lost, might save you the hike to lost and found.

  56. Matt

    If saw one brilliant system so far and that was a Hotel in Cyprus.

    On the first day you went to the pool, you could reserve your seats for the stay, you always could see if theres differnt chairs available (if someone left or so). But you never had to be affraid of not getting any chairs.
    Also seen in one place, if the chair was a long time(3h i think) with out no...

    If saw one brilliant system so far and that was a Hotel in Cyprus.

    On the first day you went to the pool, you could reserve your seats for the stay, you always could see if theres differnt chairs available (if someone left or so). But you never had to be affraid of not getting any chairs.
    Also seen in one place, if the chair was a long time(3h i think) with out no one there, they removed the towels and the belonings.

    Bad experience was at a hotel i think it was in Kos. If you didnt put a towel on your chair by 8, there was no chance of getting any poolchairs... Even heard of people fighting about reserving hotel pool chairs...

  57. Fred

    If I want a chair and you’re not around your crap is going in the trash. Especially if you’re German.

    And I love conflict and confrontation.

  58. Ryan

    We experienced this are the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point last month but they actually had employees assigned to the pool area actually monitor chairs for a sustained period of time and then they removed the stuff after they asked us if we had seen activity. They placed it in a plastic bag and moved it to the pool house where to get the bracelets. On the end of stay survey I actually complemented them on...

    We experienced this are the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point last month but they actually had employees assigned to the pool area actually monitor chairs for a sustained period of time and then they removed the stuff after they asked us if we had seen activity. They placed it in a plastic bag and moved it to the pool house where to get the bracelets. On the end of stay survey I actually complemented them on this practice. Mind you, when grabbing the bracelets there was a big sign saying don’t do it and if they do, this is where it will be.

  59. Bob

    From Chris above - “It’s really simple – you just move stuff off of the chair; and then you move the chair someplace else. Avoids an awkward confrontation. I do it regularly; staff and other guests usually encourage me in the process!”

    This is a great idea. Here is how I would do it. Remove the towel from a chair four or five spots away from where I want to sit then either 1) Move...

    From Chris above - “It’s really simple – you just move stuff off of the chair; and then you move the chair someplace else. Avoids an awkward confrontation. I do it regularly; staff and other guests usually encourage me in the process!”

    This is a great idea. Here is how I would do it. Remove the towel from a chair four or five spots away from where I want to sit then either 1) Move all towels over one space opening up my preferred lounge chair or 2) Physically take the now empty chair and place it where I want and move the adjacent chairs over one spot to replace where that chair once was was.

    If there is a confrontation, it would not likely be with you, four or five spots over. And if there was a confrontation, it would be with an adjacent lounge person who also was guilty of reserving a chair in advance so that just brings some bad juju on to them which will possibly make them reticent to do it again in the future. Win Win.

  60. Santastico

    Never had this problem. When I go to Hawaii I go there for a reason: to go to the beach. Thus, while all the losers are reserving pool chairs with towels I am on my way to one of the amazing beaches in Hawaii. The only time I go to the pool when in Hawaii is at the end of the day when I return from the beach. That is when I want to relax and use some not salted water to refresh. At that time there are plenty pool chairs available. Easy strategy.

  61. Matt C

    I hate this game and also dislike confrontation, but if I see unattended stuff there long enough, I’ll move it, firmly believing it’s disrespectful and entitled to reserve chairs when policy and common sense is against it.

    In Cabo a few years ago, someone had put their stuff on a bank of chairs next to an umbrella. Instead of moving their stuff, we took two open chairs in the sun and I dragged the...

    I hate this game and also dislike confrontation, but if I see unattended stuff there long enough, I’ll move it, firmly believing it’s disrespectful and entitled to reserve chairs when policy and common sense is against it.

    In Cabo a few years ago, someone had put their stuff on a bank of chairs next to an umbrella. Instead of moving their stuff, we took two open chairs in the sun and I dragged the umbrella over to them. A couple of hours later, a bunch of women came down and demanded to know who had moved “their” umbrella. The funny thing was, everyone around us had watched us do it and laughed, and not a single one of them said a word.

  62. Gerard

    I wonder what would happen if you put your towel on the chair at 4am, with a small note saying ‘I am reserving this chair for use after 10am. If you need it before then, please move my towel and note to the floor nearby, and return it when you have finished.’

  63. 2PAXfly

    OMG, I first encountered this problem at a new Hotel in Koh Samui. We could see the reservation thing happening from our room, mainly with northern European guests, and since we were on jet lag time, we were up early. After a day or two, we said F**c this, and just went down, and removed the book or pair of sunglasses, and placed them adjacent to the chairs. Often we didn't need to even identify...

    OMG, I first encountered this problem at a new Hotel in Koh Samui. We could see the reservation thing happening from our room, mainly with northern European guests, and since we were on jet lag time, we were up early. After a day or two, we said F**c this, and just went down, and removed the book or pair of sunglasses, and placed them adjacent to the chairs. Often we didn't need to even identify if they were the guests in the pool, as often there were no guests in the pool except us.

    Most times, we used the lounges for an hour or so, and departed with no challenge. The one time a blond bombshell of a guest said the equivalent of 'but I reserved this', we just said, "but you weren't using it, so we knew you wouldn't mind if we just put your things to one side, and kept an eye on them" This fortunately happened just as we were preparing to leave anyway, so we could also say: 'There you go, you can have it back now.'

    Don't join the game. If you don't oppose, then you are complicit.

  64. Ike Dayan

    I stayed at the W South Beach first week of April... if every lounge was taken, they would put my name on a waiting list and call me when there was one available. If a lounge was left for more than 20 or 30 minutes they would remove the items the person left on it and give the chair to the next person on the waiting list.

  65. MARTIN

    1. Remove towel. Use chair. When towel owner returns i may be done with chair anyhow and can "return" chair. If not done , do same at next chair
    2. Remove towel. Shift chair elsewhere to confuse towel owner
    3. Remove chair altogether ( to your room??) and bring back when ready
    4. Ask pool attendant to get you a chair - they often have spares OR they will remove towel

    I have used options 1, 2 and 4 and never been in fight

  66. Bruce

    Had a bad experience with this *long ago* (situation may be different now) at Oriental Bangkok where theoretically chaises were first come-first reserved, but pool staff would take gratuities/bribes to reserve chairs on behalf of guests unwilling to get up early and reserve them personally. My wife and sister-in-law showed up in the dark, fifteen minutes before 6am (or whenever the earliest you were allowed to reserve in person)l and found no one there except...

    Had a bad experience with this *long ago* (situation may be different now) at Oriental Bangkok where theoretically chaises were first come-first reserved, but pool staff would take gratuities/bribes to reserve chairs on behalf of guests unwilling to get up early and reserve them personally. My wife and sister-in-law showed up in the dark, fifteen minutes before 6am (or whenever the earliest you were allowed to reserve in person)l and found no one there except them, but mysteriously all the prime chairs had already been reserved *before* the designated start time. Wife & sister-in-law staked out prime chairs, tossed the “reserved” towels and stayed there *in person* til the rest of the family came to join them, ready to confront any staff member who dared challenge them - fortunately, the staff did not but hours later staff did have to break the news to some of the people who gave them payoffs that they wouldn’t be getting the prime seat they had hoped for.

    I think the current process in a lot of places is garbage - puts guests and staff in an untenable position. Hotels should let people book in advance online, charge for seats by the hour, set a maximum number of hours/chairs per room per day if they want.

  67. KEVIN

    I don’t think I have ever encounter this phenomenon. There usually are zero people at all the Aman pools I’ve been to. Last time I was at Four Seasons Maui, attendants just lead guests to empty loungers on the beach. There were more than plenty. At Eden Rock St Barths, the loungers are assigned according to your room category so no need to fight with anyone. Last time I was at Mandarin Oriental in Dubai, there were so many empty loungers on the beach.

  68. Aussie

    Just remove the items and use the chair. These ppl aren’t very bright. When they return they don’t realise where their chair was. If they figure it out, just play dumb. “It was empty when I got here”.

  69. Phil M

    “Frankfurt tower, this is Speedbird 123, request push-back clearance”
    “Speedbird 123, Frankfurt tower, please hold at the gate”
    “Frankfurt tower, Lufthansa 456 requesting pushback clearance”
    “Lufthansa 456, pushback and immediate departure approved”
    “Frankfurt tower this is Speedbird 123, how can you clear Lufthansa and not us???”
    Unknown voice, “Speedbird, ve jairmans, ve out early in the morning and ve lay our towels out on ze runway”

    Told to me by...

    “Frankfurt tower, this is Speedbird 123, request push-back clearance”
    “Speedbird 123, Frankfurt tower, please hold at the gate”
    “Frankfurt tower, Lufthansa 456 requesting pushback clearance”
    “Lufthansa 456, pushback and immediate departure approved”
    “Frankfurt tower this is Speedbird 123, how can you clear Lufthansa and not us???”
    Unknown voice, “Speedbird, ve jairmans, ve out early in the morning and ve lay our towels out on ze runway”

    Told to me by my parents 50 years ago!

  70. jerry

    Its a lonely game playing by the rules.

  71. Widerightv

    Read the entire blog. Let me get this straight, this is a German Tourist problem? Let's get rid of the German tourists. Problem solved.

  72. Miso

    I know not all of live in a tropical / sub tropical climate with our own pools, but going on holiday to sit by the pool sounds like the biggest waste of time, effort and money

  73. Jay

    posts like THESE are why I love your blog, Ben!!

  74. Chris

    @ Ben I knew it was you! I was at the Andaz and saw you sitting across from me at the bar. I thought it was you, but wasn’t sure, so I didn’t go over and say hi. Thought it would be strange if I did and you weren’t. Oh well, maybe next time I’ll say hi.

  75. UpperDeckJohnny

    Remove the things. When they return, look blank and say the chair was vacant, so I used it.

    Possession is 9/10ths of the law!

    A friend of mine even asked the staff to remove the bed at night from outside his room and ask them to return it when he was ready to use it! The perplexed "reserver" claim he had removed "his" bed, but could do nothing!

  76. dee

    In some resorts if you want to be in the first 2 rows by the pool you must pay$35 nuts esp after paying $400 a night and a resort fee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  77. Josh G

    I've only been to a dozen Four Seasons resorts but they have zero tolerance for those leaving towels behind to "reserve" chairs. It's smart from a business perspective. The hotel doesn't make any money from empty chairs. Poolside food and beverage is lucrative. Especially if you know that giving up your chair means losing the spot....

  78. LC

    Move their stuff, if anyone bars up tell them to find someone who cares

  79. Rob

    I use the plan as noted already. I move the articles to another chair. Then I move the chair away from original spot. Problem solved. Nice show when people return to find their chair vanished.

    One resort had attendants place a placard with the time written and notice saying articles would be removed after 45 minutes and placed in lost and found.

  80. Scott Schultz

    So I've seen this at EVERY resort I have been to throughout Europe. I've seen it in Greece, Portugal, Canary Islands, Cyprus, etc. My wife and I got married in Cyprus at our hotel as part of our package deal. The staff at the resort suggested I get up earlier than 6am on the day of my own wedding to reserve certain loungers that were overlooking the area where we'd be getting married. Otherwise, we...

    So I've seen this at EVERY resort I have been to throughout Europe. I've seen it in Greece, Portugal, Canary Islands, Cyprus, etc. My wife and I got married in Cyprus at our hotel as part of our package deal. The staff at the resort suggested I get up earlier than 6am on the day of my own wedding to reserve certain loungers that were overlooking the area where we'd be getting married. Otherwise, we would have had people pretty much on top of the venue. Not sure why they wouldn't just remove the loungers, but I did it anyway just to be sure.

    It's not going away any time soon. I don't think resorts really care to be honest. They've provided the space and the "warning" not to, but no one to really police it. I think it would be hard to prove unless you actively stood at one particular lounger for an extended time. Even then, access to a sun lounger is the least of a resorts worries.

  81. iamhere

    May be that shows the types of resorts you are staying at. I'm not trying to sound obnoxious or rude but at higher end resorts the pool attendants will actually be useful and there is a system to it depending on the hotel (e.g. reserving for your stay, etc). Often because towels need to be obtained from this, it does help to control things.

  82. Anthony

    Oh MY ! Technology is screaming out to solve this !

    That is if hotels wish to solve this problem.

  83. Experienced Traveller

    New App being designed ......................... poolloungerbooking.com

  84. mike

    I don't get mad when its a hotel I booked on points. However, there are certain properties that are beyond ridiculous. I had to play this "game" at the Montage on Maui while paying $1,900 for thier most basic residence (not including taxes, resort fees, etc). I also did this game at the main pool at the Four Seasons Maui while paying north of $2,000. Needless to say, I stopped going to either property. I...

    I don't get mad when its a hotel I booked on points. However, there are certain properties that are beyond ridiculous. I had to play this "game" at the Montage on Maui while paying $1,900 for thier most basic residence (not including taxes, resort fees, etc). I also did this game at the main pool at the Four Seasons Maui while paying north of $2,000. Needless to say, I stopped going to either property. I just refuse to go to resort factory hotels where this is a problem when I am paying out of pocket...many lovely hotels from Little Dix Bay to Parrot Cay where this is not a problem.

  85. bernard stauffer

    Easy... I remove the towel and put a copy of my car's handicap parking sign on thee reserved chair. Nobody ever dared challenging it

  86. Jared

    It's plain rude to follow this practice that I have observed at many hotels and resorts. Like you, I get up around 330-400 am daily so I do actually go out and take my pick for my partner and myself. Even the hotel staff at many resorts have given me kudos for this since people abuse their privileges.

  87. Jonathan

    Apologies if this has already been said by someone earlier.

    This is basically a side hustle run by the pool attendants. Just find one and give them a few dollars and they will make sure your chairs are reserved for you. I don't really consider this bribery, rather a property ownership allocation method (the hotel is profiting from the ambiguity very similar to airplane seat recline space), so it's only natural for a middle-man to...

    Apologies if this has already been said by someone earlier.

    This is basically a side hustle run by the pool attendants. Just find one and give them a few dollars and they will make sure your chairs are reserved for you. I don't really consider this bribery, rather a property ownership allocation method (the hotel is profiting from the ambiguity very similar to airplane seat recline space), so it's only natural for a middle-man to emerge to regulate the space for a fee.

  88. Alex

    Was in Hawaii over spring break and had all the same experiences as noted above. Mauna Kea Resort (which I love) had huge groups (like 10+) putting stuff on chairs at all hours. Having been there a few times, it became apparent the move is to wait until sundown when the beach staff leave, and then at 10pm or so, throw your items on chairs for the next day. I couldn't figure it out after...

    Was in Hawaii over spring break and had all the same experiences as noted above. Mauna Kea Resort (which I love) had huge groups (like 10+) putting stuff on chairs at all hours. Having been there a few times, it became apparent the move is to wait until sundown when the beach staff leave, and then at 10pm or so, throw your items on chairs for the next day. I couldn't figure it out after going down at 5am one morning (thanks to a toddler that couldn't sleep any more!) until the other guests clued me in. Just unreal.

    At least there I was on points. I can't imagine paying $2k at the Montage or whatever and having to put up with this nonsense! What kills me is the having the chairs tied up for people that end up using them for 2-3 hours.

  89. snic

    This is one reason why I never go to resorts. Why would I spend a ridiculous amount of money for the privilege being among a throng of 6,000 other guests - with whom I then have to fight to use the resources I paid for?

    I prefer vacation rentals. Quiet, private, and away from the crowds. Let them fight it out while I relax on my private deck.

  90. mjonis

    CHOG. Chair Hog.
    Cruises are notoriously bad. Either get the Havana Cabana (Carnival) with your own area, or MSC Suites (forget what the special area is). I thought Royal had reserved chairs for Suites as well, but not sure. Not that I'm going on a cruise any more.

    Resorts, yup. Florida is bad, as is Mexico.

    I too, don't like the confrontation. Either it should be enforced (maybe 45 minutes or 60 minutes...

    CHOG. Chair Hog.
    Cruises are notoriously bad. Either get the Havana Cabana (Carnival) with your own area, or MSC Suites (forget what the special area is). I thought Royal had reserved chairs for Suites as well, but not sure. Not that I'm going on a cruise any more.

    Resorts, yup. Florida is bad, as is Mexico.

    I too, don't like the confrontation. Either it should be enforced (maybe 45 minutes or 60 minutes at resorts where you can't get food by the chair/pool). Or have an option to pay to reserve (like $10 to hold and if you're not there by X, you lose the $10. If you are there, you get the $10 back or credit or something). Although probably doesn't work at All-Inclusives.

    Fortunately my travel days are over and done at this point.

  91. Jessica

    The Boulders Resort (Hilton) in Scottsdale, AZ has an amazing pool attendant that solved the chair saving problem every morning. She arrived for work at 10:00 am and would remove everyone's random seat-saving trinket (hat, book, shoes, etc.) and put it all on one table. We visited in April and would watch with amusement when groups would come in at 2 or 3:00 expecting their stuff to still be there. It's hard to argue when...

    The Boulders Resort (Hilton) in Scottsdale, AZ has an amazing pool attendant that solved the chair saving problem every morning. She arrived for work at 10:00 am and would remove everyone's random seat-saving trinket (hat, book, shoes, etc.) and put it all on one table. We visited in April and would watch with amusement when groups would come in at 2 or 3:00 expecting their stuff to still be there. It's hard to argue when you know you're wrong and it was fun to watch people try!

  92. Jinxed_K

    I personally don't use hotel pools, but I do understand how annoying this can get when I ran into the same thing with parking spaces in wintertime... people would pull out and toss a lawn chair in the spot to 'reserve' it. This is parallel parking on a public street.. not a lot or anything.

    These unwritten rules of reserving spots get pretty silly no matter what venue...

  93. Brodie

    I stay at places where this is a non issue, like boutique hotels. I refuse to partake in this selfish practice.

  94. david

    Saw the bribery in action at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. Disgusted.

  95. SteveFromMelbourne

    Was at a nice hotel in Bali once and someone had decided to do something about it early one morning, they had evidently gone around and swapped the non-hotel towels and books etc to other seats, divided up obvious couples by putting them a few seats apart. Took a while to catch on what had happened but we had a marvellous cabaret for breakfast in the garden setting around the pool watching the chaos and...

    Was at a nice hotel in Bali once and someone had decided to do something about it early one morning, they had evidently gone around and swapped the non-hotel towels and books etc to other seats, divided up obvious couples by putting them a few seats apart. Took a while to catch on what had happened but we had a marvellous cabaret for breakfast in the garden setting around the pool watching the chaos and confusion, mostly in EU languages so couldn't quite understand what they were saying. From where we were sitting it was a bit of natural justice at work.

  96. AW

    @Jinxed_K The difference is that if it's a parking spot in front of your house, and you had to dig it out of 20+ inches of snow and ice pushed into it by the plows, you've "earned" it--at least for a few days.

    We act like this is some intractable problem (like we seem to do with most problems these days). Have one pool attendant be the Maitre d'Pool, and have him/her walk groups to...

    @Jinxed_K The difference is that if it's a parking spot in front of your house, and you had to dig it out of 20+ inches of snow and ice pushed into it by the plows, you've "earned" it--at least for a few days.

    We act like this is some intractable problem (like we seem to do with most problems these days). Have one pool attendant be the Maitre d'Pool, and have him/her walk groups to their chairs. Tell them that they can have one "extra" chair for late arrivers, but that's it. Also enforce that if chairs are empty, they become available. Wow. Problem solved. They already have pool attendants out there, so it's not any more cost to the hotel. It's just a matter of wanting to enforce it, which actually likely makes everyone feel better about their hotel experience.

  97. potato

    If they only left towels behind, then it's fair game: I let the towels discretely disappear. If someone does show to complain, I know nothing and found the loungers empty. Someone else must have removed their towels, right!?

  98. ryan

    Yeah I would simply move the crap somewhere else, use the chair and if someone comes just say it was empty when you got there. Can even throw in that you got there just as someone was leaving so you don't know...

  99. Jim Wilson

    At the Marriott timeshare in Maui, a pool monitor circles the pool area every 20 to 30 minutes and places a card on unoccupied chairs with towels and stuff on them. If the card is still there when he returns, he removes the stuff and takes it to the towel hut. This works and should be used all over.

  100. JW

    I am currently in Orlando at a Marriott and all chairs are claimed by 8:00. People even throw towels and floating devices on chairs and tables that are for the poolside bar and grill. This has to hurt the bottom line for the grill, but no one seems to care.

  101. mjonis

    @Jim Wilson

    I really like that idea.

  102. Ernest Alleva

    Oh,so this is exactly how I deal with this issue. I pick up the items that have been left on chairs I want to use and bring them to a pol attendant. I let them know that people left them and might need to go to lost and found.

    The people return perhaps two hours latter. If they question me (and they hardly ever do) I tell them to ask the pool attendant.

    Its really that simple.

  103. snic

    You know those car alarms that have a threatening voice saying "Step away from the vehicle!" if you so much as get within 2 feet of it? I'm just waiting for someone to come up with a way of installing one of them on a lounge chair.

  104. Michael F

    In its day, the Royal Cliff Beach Hotel in Pattaya, Thailand, was the best of the bunch and very popular with German tourists who, as it has been well noted, would claim the pool loungers at sunrise.

    After years of dealing with complaints from other guests, the management finally gave in and, rather than fight it, had brass plaques made with the returning guest's name that would hang on the back of the chair for the duration of their stay.

  105. Thrawn

    Usually, I don't go to pools but when I do I have no problem with removing stuff from chairs when nobody is there to use the chair. Sometimes the owners complained but I'm always looking forward to this confrontation as I hate this behavior (I'm German).

  106. Harold

    Hyatt Ziva & Zillara Rose Hall Jamaica this is the only way employees make money. So your also supporting the local economy.

  107. Henry Young

    I can't think of anything worse than being lined up with fellow farmed victims of intentional under-provisioning. Cram 'em in and take their money. Being subjected to this willingly actually entertains you guys ???

  108. Ryan Humphries

    I enjoy moving people's belongings to other chairs that have also been 'reserved'. I always do it to chairs that are within eye sight so I can watch the drama play out!

  109. Stymie

    You will know when I am at the resort you are residing at if you are a chaise reserver because I will remove your "reserving" items if you are gone more than 30 minutes. I do this as a service to other guests seeking a place by the pool. Be kind and courteous and if you can't stay at the pool go to the beach.

  110. glenn t

    'All lounges and the surrounding area is cleaned and sanitized daily between 6am and 8am. Please ensure you have not left any items prior to, or during that time. Any left items will be disposed of without exception'.
    Whether the cleaning actually happens is beside the point; the junk clearout can happen with impunity!
    That at least sorts out the intrepid earlybirds!

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glenn t

'All lounges and the surrounding area is cleaned and sanitized daily between 6am and 8am. Please ensure you have not left any items prior to, or during that time. Any left items will be disposed of without exception'. Whether the cleaning actually happens is beside the point; the junk clearout can happen with impunity! That at least sorts out the intrepid earlybirds!

Stymie

You will know when I am at the resort you are residing at if you are a chaise reserver because I will remove your "reserving" items if you are gone more than 30 minutes. I do this as a service to other guests seeking a place by the pool. Be kind and courteous and if you can't stay at the pool go to the beach.

Ryan Humphries

I enjoy moving people's belongings to other chairs that have also been 'reserved'. I always do it to chairs that are within eye sight so I can watch the drama play out!

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