Whine Wednesdays: Hotels Cancelling Existing Reservations After Being Converted To Quarantine Facilities

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Our Whine Wednesday topic this week is about hotels that suddenly decide to go into the business of being a medical facility for quarantine purposes and cancel existing reservations of other guests.

Many if not most hotels have a lot of trouble filling their rooms and they figured out that they can cash in when they transform their regular hotel operations for medical use.

Not only is the demand for quarantine facilities quite high at the moment (in countries where such measures are required) but the rates such converted hotels can command for their services and accommodation compared to what the current market rates are.

I now had several hotel reservations cancelled on me because the properties were transformed to isolation quarters for those returning from overseas.

The following properties sent me an email informing me they can’t honor my reservations for the stay

  • Anantara Siam Bangkok
  • Courtyard Bangkok
  • Le Meridien Bangkok
  • Westin Grande Bangkok

Considering the low rates in Bangkok I’ve decided to move to Marriott hotels for the remainder of the year to chase up my Lifetime Platinum status of which I’m about 80 nights short.

The following was the email from Le Meridien:

Thank you for choosing Le Méridien Bangkok as your preferred accommodation.

As you may be aware, Thailand authorities are requiring that all incoming travelers to the Kingdom of Thailand undergo a 14-day isolation period.

To assist in the authorities’ efforts to slow down the spread of COVID-19 in our community, our hotel has been identified as an “Alternative State Quarantine” hotel.

Accordingly, we wish to inform you that our hotel is unable to accept reservations other than those from these guests from 14 August 2020 onwards.

During this time, we would like to offer alternative accommodation to you to suit your needs.

If you wish, we would be more than happy to assist with arrangements for you to stay at our sister properties of your choice: Bangkok Marriott Hotel, The Surawongse, Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park and The Athenee, A Luxury Collection, Bangkok.

Please do let us know, should you wish to stay at one of these properties. The hotel will offer you an equivalent room to the room booked at our hotel at the same room rate as the room rate in your booking.

In these challenging times we want to thank you for choosing to stay with us and putting your trust in Le Méridien Bangkok.

We remain at your service, wherever possible.

We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this may cause. Please do not hesitate to let us know if we are able to assist further.

We look forward to welcoming you back to our hotel in the near future.

First of all the content of this email is somewhat deceptive. A hotel doesn’t get “identified” as a quarantine hotel. The owner/operator has to step forward and apply for this option, then be certified by the government (Ministry of Health).

This email makes it sound as if the government went out and picked the hotel against their wishes which is definitely not the case. The owners decided to apply for an ASQ (Alternative State Quarantine) license for commercial reasons.

What the hotel offers – a rebooking to another property at the same rate – isn’t good enough in my opinion. The rates at all of the other hotels were identical or lower than what I had booked at the Le Meridien. While I initially accepted their offer to just change to the Athenee I saw the prices drop lower and lower until I finally decided to cancel the reservation and rebook at a much lower rate.

Currently hotels in Bangkok are falling like domino stones as demand for quarantine hotels increases. The average price for 15 nights at a branded 4*/4.5* hotel including full board is about 100,000 Baht including full board (3 meals a day) and a medical support package for 2-3 Covid tests.

That comes down to ~ 6000 Baht per day which is 3 times as much as the average rate for the same hotel in the open market right now. I will be the last guest at the Westin this week before it closes down and the first ASQ guests arrive on Monday.

Conclusion

Hotels are in the business to make money not to offer rooms for next to nothing but they should offer guests a proper compensation if they have to cancel their reservations and not just brush them off in a disingenuous email and offer a rebooking to another property of the same owner at a rate that doesn’t even reflect current market situations.

I decided to contact Marriott Customer Care in this matter and file a complaint about it. Will probably call them up sometime this week and talk to an agent about this.

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