Can you negotiate with a fancy hotel?
March 16, 2022 10:57 PM   Subscribe

I’m staying at a fancy hotel in South Beach in a few days. The whole point of the trip was to sit by the pool or the ocean, read books, drink some frozen drinks. (And enjoy a little nightlife.) We got an email from the hotel today that for two of the three full days of our trip, the pool will be closed for a “ticketed event.” Noooooo! I want to lounge by that pool!

I REAAALLLY don’t want to change hotels for a variety of reasons. And we will still have beach access, which we plan to use to its fullest extent. But I feel like this is a big amenity that we are paying for (~$500 a night) but not getting, and it was not mentioned before I booked. I booked on the hotel’s own website, not a discount site. What is reasonable to ask for in this scenario, and how would I go about asking for it? Can we ask for passes to another property's pool or something?
posted by Charity Garfein to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
That is terrible! Do they have a sister hotel they could put you instead?
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:25 PM on March 16, 2022 [3 favorites]

Absolutely ask for a discount, and a steep one at that. I'd say 30% or more. Explain that you booked this particular hotel for the pool access specifically. If they balk at the discount, maybe you can get an upgraded room, meal/drink vouchers, or some other kind of consolation. Hotels are well-equipped to make offers to displeased guests, so don't be shy.
posted by mezzanayne at 12:07 AM on March 17, 2022 [34 favorites]

Can they get you tickets for that event? Would you want them?

Can they get you access to a nearby hotel's pool?

Can they comp you about 10 massages? Or can they get you a pass to a nearby dreamy spa?

One other idea: day cruise. With a pool or lounging space on the cruise deck.
posted by amtho at 12:11 AM on March 17, 2022

I would at least call them and ask for the alternative they will be providing to guests on those dates - especially if their pool features heavily in their social media and web presence and is why you picked the hotel in the first place. It is odd to me that this hasn’t already been volunteered at that price point.

Perhaps frame the call like this: since they took the initiative to inform you in advance, you assume they have an alternative to offer you. What is it? Maybe you’d accept no alternative, but maybe you’d accept a nearby pool that requires, say, no more than a 30-second walk to the next property over, and full pool privileges while there, maybe you’re content with a discount and upgrade, maybe you ask for your booking to be transferred to another property with a better pool nearby - then go from there. (If you have to drive to that other pool, you’re not paying for parking, either.)

An email to confirm what you’ve been told on the phone might also not go amiss. Take names and notes and document the call, then forward it to the general manager or someone just to confirm you’re getting all the right info.

And if you arrive and there isn’t a letter on your desk and a detailed explanation of the alternative you agreed (what are the hours of the neighbouring pool? how do you access it? etc), get that sorted before you unpack.
posted by mdonley at 12:17 AM on March 17, 2022 [5 favorites]

I don't know diddlysquat about fancy hotels, but I asked for and got 1/3 off the bill at a frickin' Motel 6, when the pool was unexpectedly out of order. This is worse — you paid for something, and they've intentionally sold it to someone else. For that, you should get a comparable discount, plus an apology and a generous supply of pillow mints.
posted by Doug Holland at 1:52 AM on March 17, 2022 [26 favorites]

The more upscale the hotel, the more they're set up to accommodate (and to expect to accommodate) their customers' expectations. Definitely let them know that they've blocked your access to the main amenity that brought you to them. The hotel is unlikely to offer compensation to every guest automatically--some (maybe most) guests will read this news and shrug because they never use hotel pools anyway. Once you raise the issue, though, they've almost certainly already prepared a response (either upgrading your room, offering vouchers for the restaurant or bar, offering tickets to some event or venue, etc.). If there is no prepared offer for compensation, then it's time to properly complain to management and make the request you're seeking (and I agree with the suggestion above--a 30% discount at minimum or a full refund).
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 3:57 AM on March 17, 2022 [6 favorites]

Search 'pool closed for an event" in the flyertalk hotel forums to see how others have dealt with this problem.

Also, if your hotel is part of a chain, contact them on Facebook or Twitter and ask them to help you.
posted by Xurando at 4:03 AM on March 17, 2022

Personally, i would be more worried about possible noise and general nuisance (eg. drunk guests in corridors or bar, and non-event guests service level suffering). If this group (?) basically takes over the pool, i expect same will apply for breakfast, bar, fitness area, services of reception etc.

If you can switch dates i would, and make it clear why, and demand they waive any possible penalty.
posted by 15L06 at 5:40 AM on March 17, 2022 [10 favorites]

I work at a hotel. We would either offer for you to cancel your booking for a full refund, or offer you a discount. At $500 a night I would offer you a 10% discount so $50 for the two affect nights; $100 off total.
posted by amaire at 12:11 PM on March 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

Yes, you can negotiate, and in my experience this is usually a situation where you won't need to play bad cop. Since you booked directly and not through an aggregator they can comp you back some of what you spent (if you prepaid), or discount the balance due (if you only paid a deposit for the first night). Go to the front desk, say that the pool was a big part of why you booked there instead of another property, and ask if there's anything they can do to make it right since you won't have access to the pool. Some places like that have a spa with its own pool, so they may be able to give you day passes to that in lieu of monetary compensation, or they may do both. You won't know until you ask.
posted by fedward at 1:20 PM on March 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

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