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It’s no surprise that Hawaii is a top aspirational or dream destination for honeymooners and families alike. Luckily, getting the entire family to Hawaii is relatively easy and attainable using miles, and there are plenty of great hotels bookable with points. However, there are still many families that save and spend thousands of hard-earned dollars on a Hawaiian vacation in the hopes that it will be memorable and as perfect as possible.
When you plan a Hawaiian vacation, you likely factor in the distance to the beach and check photos of the hotel’s pool, but most travelers probably don’t think about labor strikes or walkouts at the properties they’ve booked. But with thousands of Marriott employees on strike in major cities across the United States for the last several weeks, unfortunately, the strike is impacting a number of Hawaiian resort properties.
On Oahu’s Waikiki Beach, the Marriott hotels with striking workers include:
- The Royal Hawaiian by Marriott
- Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort by Marriott
- Sheraton Princess Kaiulani by Marriott
- Sheraton Waikiki by Marriott
On Maui, only the Sheraton Maui Hotel by Marriott in Ka’anapali is affected.
I recently spoke to a TPG contributor who just returned from a trip Hawaii last weekend, and while she enjoyed her stay at the Ritz-Carlton Residences on Waikiki, she had done her homework ahead of time and avoided the impacted properties with workers on strike. To be sure that other families are able to enjoy the Hawaiian vacation of their dreams, she shared some tips based on what she encountered both firsthand on her trip to Waikiki and through her online research.
Noise Levels at Hotels Affected by the Strike
First and foremost, she shared that the protests in Waikiki are in front of and around the affected properties and were extremely noisy. Aside from the constant shouting, there are drum sets, megaphones, bullhorns and various other noise-making mechanisms that are impossible to ignore (even on high floors) starting as early as 6am and lasting until 10pm. Obviously this is not pleasant for any traveler, but could be a nightmare for families with a noise-sensitive baby or toddler.
If you’re booked at The Royal Hawaiian, Moana Surfrider, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, Sheraton Waikiki or other adjacent hotels, you may very likely hear this noise.
Since the primary purpose of a hotel room is to sleep, seriously take noise levels into consideration if you’re traveling with young kids or others in your family that may not be able to sleep or nap through the ruckus.
Very Little Communication Before Arrival
Unfortunately, many travelers seem to be most upset about the lack of forewarning and proactive communication coming from the impacted hotels. Travelers who inquired before their arrival about the strike were also disappointed by the response, or lack of it, from the affected property. Luckily, our TPG contributor’s experience was pleasant at a non-impacted Marriott property.
However, it’s a different story at impacted properties as there are a number of complaints surrounding the lack of baseline amenities expected from a hotel. That reportedly includes no housekeeping, bell or valet services; closed restaurants; and a number of other service interruptions — all of which could most certainly put a damper on a family vacation.
Just imagine no housekeeping, trash, diapers, no room service for jet-lagged kiddos (and adults alike), no help with luggage and baby gear, and a lack of the many other full-service hotel amenities we travelers take for granted.
Not giving travelers a heads-up that their stay might be significantly impacted puts everyone in an awkward position. With any situation, up-front communication (perhaps a week or more in advance of arrival) about an issue at a hotel not only gives travelers an option to alter their accommodations or travel plans, but also shows that the hotel cares about the experience they want to deliver to guests. Not being upfront with information that could be very impactful to a family’s vacation is a dicey move, at best.
Little to No Compensation
Our TPG contributor has actively followed social media accounts and reviews from other travelers before, during and after their stays to see how everything unfolded and what the experiences have been like in terms of rectifying a less-than-ideal situation.
Several recent TripAdvisor reviews report the disappointment surrounding the inability to get a refund because of the strike, even right after arriving at the hotel and before check-in. For those who chose to stay and not let the strike impact their time away, very little — if any — compensation (in the form of points) has been given, though it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Would Travel Insurance Help?
If this is a special trip for your family, it may not be worth canceling or postponing if you booked a prepaid stay or cannot alter your travel arrangements. If you’re already committed and locked into your trip, just have a laid-back attitude and try to enjoy all that the surrounding area has to offer outside of the hotel.
While some premium rewards credit cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Citi Prestige, do confer trip delay and trip cancellation insurance policies, the benefits guides don’t specifically address this situation, especially since the hotels are still open. However, it never hurts to submit a claim if that is your last resort, but compensation would be far from guaranteed. Another option is a standalone trip insurance policy — either per trip or annual coverage — which covers trip interruption (some policies do cover labor strikes). It’s also a good idea to consider for the extra peace of mind when it comes to coverage of unexpected medical expenses.
Where To Stay On Points If You Cancel With Marriott
If you feel that you must cancel an existing reservation on Oahu, here are some alternative hotels you can book with points.
Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach: The Ritz-Carlson Residences is a good Marriott option for family travelers as each unit offers the amenities of a residence (washer/dryer, pull-out couches and full kitchens) with the conveniences of a luxury hotel. Rewards nights are currently 60,000 Marriott points per night. Our contributor did not have any issues with noise from the strikes on on her recent stay at this property.
Hilton Hawaiian Village: The Hilton Hawaiian Village is also a great option for families as it’s a large resort with a huge salt water lagoon, plenty of water sports and a kids club, too. Hilton’s variable award chart allows you to pay entirely on points, or a combination of both points and cash, based on the price of the room. The maximum points this property requires for a standard room is 60,000 Hilton Honors points per night. Resort fees are waived on full-points bookings.
Hyatt Regency Waikiki: At 20,000 World of Hyatt points per night, the Hyatt Regency Waikiki is right in the middle of the action, directly facing the beach on Waikiki. It has a pool and a Regency Club lounge to help keep the cost of food down for those with access. While you won’t have as many strike-related noise issues here as at the hotels directly impacted, there may be some residual noise during certain times of the day as it is very close to some impacted properties. That makes this property a questionable choice for the noise sensitive. But, if you want to stay on this part of Waikiki using points, staying at the Hyatt Regency will at least ensure you have a fully functioning hotel … though perhaps with some noise issues.
Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach: If you’re traveling to Hawaii when rates are high, using points at the Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach is another solid option, at only 12,000 points per night and with no resort fees. It’s also a fantastic use of the annual category 1–4 free night certificates from the World of Hyatt Credit Card. This property offers rooms with one or two beds and a pull-out couch, free breakfast and is within walking distance from the beach (3 minutes), Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium. It is also far enough away from the impacted hotels that you shouldn’t have any noise disruptions.
On Maui, alternative points hotel options include:
Hyatt Regency Maui: The Hyatt Regency Maui is an excellent option for families. At 20,000 points per night, this property offers plenty of rooms and suites available at the standard award level, a kids club and a Regency Club lounge.
There are six pools and kid-friendly water attractions, including a 150-foot lava tube water slide, rope bridge and an interactive children’s pool.
Hyatt Residence Club Maui: At 30,000 World of Hyatt points per night, families can stretch out in fully equipped beachfront condos with the luxury amenities of a full-service resort. This property is located right next to the Hyatt Regency Maui, and also features a great pool area just steps from the beach. However, as this is a residence club, award availability is very tight and far from guaranteed.
Both Hyatt properties on Maui are on Ka’anapali, which is the same stretch of beach as the impacted Sheraton. However, the Sheraton is at the far end of this beach, and is much too far away for the noise levels to impact the Hyatt properties.
Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort: The Grand Wailea is on another part of the island and is ideal for families who want family-friendly luxury on Maui. The resort has a kids club and nine resort pools (including an activity pool with water slides, rapids and a rope swing). The amount of Hilton points required per night varies by price of the room, but it’s capped at 95,000 points per night for a standard room. This is also a great place to use a Hilton anniversary weekend award night available with the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card or Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.
The Hawaiian Islands offer tons of options for family-friendly accommodations from a variety of chain hotels where you can use your points. There are also Airbnb properties and other non-traditional rentals for those looking to get away from the crowd. Hopefully, a peaceful settlement is reached soon between Marriott and their striking employees, but you shouldn’t feel entirely “stuck” or discouraged by the strike if it is not resolved by the time of your trip. You have other options, or simply pack some ear plugs and some realistic expectations.
Since the hotels aren’t proactively reaching out with information at this time, do your own research by reading recent reviews and reaching out to other travelers who may be in the area or have recently visited for some good firsthand information. A great place to ask for recent information from actual points-travelers is within the TPG Family Facebook Group or the TPG Lounge.
It’s hard to be unhappy in beautiful Hawaii, but it can be justifiably upsetting when an experience falls short of your expectations without any recourse. Have you recently visited Waikiki Beach or any of the other properties that were impacted by the strike? Feel free to share your experiences below.
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