Hotel Cancels All Summer Reservations To Take More Lucrative Bookings, Hilton Shrugs

Last week I wrote about how your hotel award nights are never guaranteed, that when a hotel leaves a chain it may not honor future award bookings though it will almost always honor paid reservations.

You’ll hope that the chain whose points you used will make good to you, getting you booked into another hotel of equivalent of better quality at the same points cost. I’ve seen chains even pay cash for hotel stays at properties outside of their brand. But it doesn’t always work out that way.

What never occurred to me is that this can even happen when a hotel doesn’t even leave the chain as in the case of the DoubleTree Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo. That hotel shows sold out from June 4 – August 19. Guests with existing reservations have had those cancelled. But despite claims to the contrary, the hotel isn’t closed. They just decided they were better off dishonoring existing bookings and selling out the entire hotel to an event. No cookies for you!

Credit: DobleTree Hilo

There turns out to be a smoking gun. The hotel ownership says on video they went ahead and rented out all rooms at the property under an event contract instead, of honoring bookings, redemption or paid, calling it a “windfall.”

One guest with a booking there reached out to me because, he complained, nothing is being done to help those who had reservations. Time has passed, rates at other properties have gone up, they have airline tickets but are now stuck.

Hilton responded letting me know that the hotel “is an independently owned and operated property” so they “cannot speak on the hotel’s behalf.” When pressed further they offered,

Hilton is committed to providing a high standard of service and will always do our best to accommodate all guests. In the rare event we are unable to accommodate a reservation, we will work with the guest(s) to provide alternate accommodations at one of our nearby properties. Hilton Honors Point redemptions will be refunded in full should the hotel be unable to accommodate the reservation.

I’ve had stays where the hotel preferred to rent out the room I’d booked to someone else. They contacted me and offered me a deal I couldn’t refuse, and were open to negotiation. On a points stay in Thailand a Sheraton there – which had the opportunity for a sell-out to host a wedding – paid to put me up in a premium suite at a Westin and cover meals as well.

I’ve now reached out to the hotel’s General Manager to see what can be done for the guest who contacted me.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. So basically the Hilton standards, loyalty to its customers, good will, and T&C do NOT apply when the property is independently owned and operated?

  2. Now Hilton is stealing pages from the Bonvoy playbook. Nothing like giving engaged customers a big middle finger as thanks for their loyalty.

  3. Just get a lawyer and sue for breach of contract and emotional damage. Walk away with millions. DO NOT agree to a class action.

  4. That’s B.S. from Hilton. What does the Hilton name mean if their excuse is “it’s independently owned so not our problem”. In addition to providing rooms for dislocated reservations, they should kick the hotel out of the Hilton brand. And if their agreements with privately owned hotels allow this, then again, what does the Hilton name mean?

  5. why would anybody in their right mind go to Hilo?
    it’s a massive dump of a city….

  6. Hawaii…..thats what you get for going to that shithole in the first place. How’s your “Aloha spirit” now?

  7. Yea would be really interesting to see who rented out an entire Doubletree for 2 months in Hilo. Government?

  8. Seriously, they ham up their Aloha Spirit but beneath that faux-smile veneer they are pathetically callous and materialistic as the rest of us

  9. This is a terribly managed property in a great location. I don’t understand those dumping on Hilo. But anyway. The front desk staff could not have been less friendly. As a Hilton Gold I requested late checkout. They quoted me a price and I agreed to pay it. Then after getting home I saw they had charged me nearly twice the agreed upon fee. Later it got refunded without my asking so I guess the FDC must have gotten caught and reported?

    The elevators are slow even when working properly, and are often out of order. The breakfast was terrible bordering on inedible. The bartender was surly and acted like she were doing us a huge favor to make a drink (for which I paid, and tipped).

    I hope these financial issues lead to the property ending up under new management as this could be an incredible resort if someone gave it a little care and attention.

  10. About 10 years ago, I made an award reservation at a Hilton Garden Inn in the US. Soon afterwards, Hilton called and said the hotel was not honoring awards because there was a convention nearby. It seems that the awards were mistakenly listed as available by either the franchisee or the chain when they were not. Hilton offered to pay for the stay, which I accepted.

    There was a hotel in Canada near some mountain that someone rented the entire property for a month or two. They cancelled other peoples’ reservation.

  11. @Ed – you would not win a lawsuit. If you closely read their contract you will see they have outs. No one ever reads the details on hotel or airline contracts.

    Horrible customer service yes but not something you would win a lawsuit over.

    BTW you can sue for anything and any amount but even if they did have a contractual out you aren’t getting “millions” since there has to be a relationship between loss and damages. No long term physical damage (like in accident) and doubt your would get punitive damages so basically, at most, would get cost of similar such accommodations plus attorney’s fees and no attorney is taking it for that limited return.

  12. The closest Hilton properties to this hotel are the Waikoloa resorts on the other side of the island.. if they give a room there instead without charging extra (ha ha..), that’s a deal.

    I actually stayed here. The rooms were ok, but had SUPER noisy AC, even when it was off (noise from neighbor rooms), we asked twice to move us to another room so I could sleep.

  13. This is par for the course with hotel chains these days. Since many of the hotels are independently owned you end up getting fewer perks and of course if you complain they the brand says it’s the hotels fault and not their own. I don’t worry about getting status any more. It isn’t really worth the effort unless you travel for work.

  14. As Kurt (above) pointed out, “This is a terribly managed property in a great location.” I fully concur! I stayed there in January of 2017 just after it became affiliated with Hilton. I will never go back. I could list all my complaints but they are nothing compared to the story reported here. Best wishes to those affected for some kind of an equitable solution.

  15. By the way for those who say Hawaii is overrated or Hilo is not a good place to visit. If you’re looking to visit Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park there are few better places to stay– certainly no major chain hotels. And I have never had better Poke than at Suisan fish market which is a few minutes drive or walk from the Naniloa.

  16. Aren’t most Hilton properties independently owned and operated? They’re running a Hilton flag and paying management and franchise fees but that’s as far as it goes. But that shouldn’t absolve franchisees of upholding brand standards. And given only other Hilton property on the island is 90 minutes away and rooms cost about $500 more a night,
    don’t see that as an accommodation.
    And don’t know why you’d dump on Hilo. A little scruffy on the edges, but it has its charms. And some of the best poke I’ve had. If you’re looking for a genuine slice of Hawaii, this is it.

  17. This happened to us too! We had a stay booked there July 4-8 and they cancelled it late May. They gave us 50k Hilton points. Completely unhappy about it. Hilton did not help with rebooking at a different hotel when we asked for help and now prices are super high because it is one month out. Ugh.

  18. Hilo is one of the leading locations for plant collectors and specialized tropical plant nurseries in the developmented world.
    The rainfall is a plus…
    The soil is good when you have soil.
    Growers in so FL and so CA dream of moving to Hilo.
    That hotel is a mildew dump tho
    The independent hotels there are run by crazy people too.

  19. This happened last year at a Fairmont in Banff I think, or Jasper. Same thing, a reality TV show booked it out and all the guests and reservations were booted. Even more reason to hate these reality shows and nonsense.

  20. Hilton hospitality is officially dead. This Hilton property didn’t send these displaced guests even one of their stale cookies for the inconvenience. When I think about Hilton hospitality, it is the thought that counts.

    The local television stations across Hawaii will be interested in your story about guest abuse when reserving a room in a Hilton property.

  21. People and companies will breach contract when they think they can get away with it. Anyone who has had their reservation cancelled should consider calling a HI based attorney and have them write a letter to owners. When they see the words “class action” if they’re smart they’ll work things out because just the legal fees, let alone any damages, courts grant, even when they are settled almost certainly dwarf the cost of taking care of everyone now.

  22. Makes sense. I as looking at the property back in March and couldn’t understand why it was fully sold out for the summer.

  23. Enough folks have already discussed how horrible the customer service is for this situation. There are no great hotels on the east side of the Big Island. Hilo is a town for Hawaiians and is a great base for this part of the island.. I stayed at this Doubletree in July 2019. It looks better from the outside. The rooms are OK. The Diamond breakfast was barely edible but kept me from being hungry on my flight to back to Honolulu. My departing thought was it was good to have a Hilton on this part of the island but wouldn’t mind if it was bulldozed and replaced with a modern more functional facility. No one is going to miss not being able to stay at this Doubletree.

  24. Ah, the Naniloa. I was a frequent guest from ~2000 -2010. Great location, dumpy hotel that could never live up to it’s potential. It seemed like it was always on the verge of financial collapse. And there was a mildew problem, which is not a surprise in Hilo, but still disappointing. It sounds like little has changed.

  25. So what everybody needs to keep in mind is after those reservations are used up and done they still have to stay open and sell rooms to survive after that, that little bit of money for the couple months in the summer isn’t going to take them into eternity so if people are really so unhappy with it hit them where it’s going to count and don’t book there when they do have rooms available

  26. This is a great example of why when I book a room that I use an expired card that I no longer have. 99% of the time, the reservation takes hold, even in a prepay situation. The hotel may contact me [likely not] if they try to charge the card early. If for some reason I don’t want the room and it is past the CX date, I still cancel but there the penalty can’t be charged. Oh well, hotels stiff the customer and in turn get stiffed in return. thats how I view this industry. Me vs Them.

  27. Wow. Hilton responded to Gary that this Hilton hotel “is an independently owned and operated property.” Therefore, Hilton “cannot speak on the hotel’s behalf.”

    When your Hilton hotel room has rats, bedbugs, inoperative plumbing, broken air conditioning, a room door that will not lock, or your bed is soaked with cat urine from the previous guest, thank you Gary, for letting us know Hilton shrugs off guests’ concerns. It is a flimsy excuse that the guest created the problem because they selected to stay at an independently owned and operated Hilton property. Is this the new Hilton hospitality brand standard that guests should expect for independently owned and operated Hilton branded hotels and resorts?

  28. Being a hotel owner and reading these blogs, I know that Hilton will try to push back and say they are 3rd party, but in the end, the 3rd party franchised the HIlton name. If guests booked the hotel and all of a sudden had their reservation cancelled that means that Hilton is not loyal to their guest and would rather appease the franchise owner. More guests need to raise hell with HIlton and voice themselves. Eventually HIlton will cave. Same goes for a “mistake fare”. Franchises have forced the hotel owner to honor these rates even though we, the hotel owner, have contracted revenue management to Hilton corporate. Use twitter, call, email and find the CEO’s email/twitter handle. They will cave and offer to relocate you to a sister property at the same rate and/or give you some form of compensation. The Diamonds and the gold’s will need to do this as well since they need to take care of their best guests. It just takes time but you will get something out of it.

  29. Thank you, Gary. I will burn my Hilton points and cancel the credit card. Points collecting used to be a fun hobby, but I have started to burn points and cut my ties to most loyalty programs.

  30. Hmmm, the hotel reward snobs here, wouldn’t touch IHG because you can’t free breakfast based on loyalty or holding the right credit card.. But you know, they are okay based on what I’m reading about HHonors and Bonvoy. I had booked a stay in New York City over along 4th of July weekend at a IHG property. It did not reopen as planned, and IHG put me up at a nicer hotel and gave me 15K points for the inconvenience of having it done last minute as I was notified the morning of check in via e-mail. The reservation for the new property indicated a paid rate, but indeed I was booked on points and IHG made up the substantial difference in points in addition to giving me 15K points.

    Basically, I’m not as excited about free breakfast except outside the USA. And I make sure I hold a credit card that gives me HHonors Gold status for that. I also find in Asia, the breakfast included rate is usually a bargain compared to the retail price of a breakfast buffet, so I will book a paid stay when using IHG.

  31. Not sure why people are dumping on the hotel, if you listen to the manager, the hotel is on it’s last legs and without this windfall it might not be there when you have your vacation. Crazy is what it is and be thankful that you got out because it sounds like a real crap show, losing $400k a month. He’s practically begging them to give them breathing room to stay open.

  32. I have it on good authority MBS has rented it out as his new black site torture hotel

  33. I got boosted from a paid reservation at the Hilton Garden Inn PDX airport. I arrived 9 PM and when iIgot to my room it was occupied by someone else. They left me hanging in the lobby and I ended up finally getting a Sheraton room elsewhere. Otherwise I would have slept in my car. Was HHonors Gold at the time. Guess that didn’t matter. I gave up on Hilton and now freelance among Hyatt, Marriott, IHG and independents.

  34. Not the first time Hilton has done this. The Hilton Atlanta did that to me years ago. I had a confirmed reservation there, then a big conference was moved to Atlanta from New Orleans because of Katrina. The Hilton cancelled my reservation with no assistance to find a room elsewhere. Considering how dated the Hilton Atlanta is, they probably did me a favor.

  35. Happened to me this past summer. The Hilton canceled everyone and turned their hotel into a quarantine center for an oil company. All employees going out quarantined x 2 weeks there. All employees coming back quarantined x 2 weeks there. For 4 months they were booked. Canceled everyone.

  36. It’ll be interesting to see what company booked the hotel. Shouldn’t be long for that info to leak.

  37. Stayed there once – about 30 years ago – was a Hilton then. There is not much of a beach – not sure why a group would want to stay here for a big meeting?

  38. #1 – Hilton no longer owns any hotel properties so all are independent.
    #2 – This can happen with any hotel property and even cruise lines
    #3 – There are no other Hilton properties in Hilo where Hilton could help. The closest is Waikoloa as someone else already stated and that is on the other side of the Island about 55 miles away.

    The issue is how the hotel and the chain handle the customers that are displaced. This of course was not a good way to handle the situation. If the hotel is in financial distress and run down you probably did not want to stay there anyway.

    Still in the end this sucks for the guests that got booted.

  39. The same thing happened to us two years ago when I booked an Accor hotel in Paris 4 months prior to our summer trip–4 rooms for 4 nights with breakfast near the Eiffel Tower. I booked two rooms pre-paid via and 2 rooms pre-paid via Delta Vacations. Two weeks before our trip I got an email from Accor stating it sold the hotel so I needed to send my bank information to refund the money. Neither Delta nor knew about the change but both offered to move us to a different hotel of the same price. However, hotel prices had increased dramatically and hotels of the same price were in the Paris suburbs. I did some research and discovered Marriott had purchased the hotel. I personally dealt with Marriott corporate office (after several dead-ends) and we got moved to a Marriott hotel a block from our original Accor. It was a huge hassle and stress but perseverance paid off. Although it would probably not have happened if those rooms hadn’t been prepaid.

  40. Take a look.. The tv show “Love Island” production co staying at hotel until August. On google…

  41. I have one night booked with points for July 30, it is not canceled yet
    Should I be concerned?
    I don’t want to get a last minute surprise, anyone else with July reservation still intact?

  42. To stop the Hilton Hotel’s abuse of guest reservations and disappointing guests, consider contacting the news desk at every television station in Hawaii and give their assignment editor or investigative reporter a link to this story in View from the Wing.

    Many investigative reporters are interested in how Hilton guests in Hawaii with dishonored reservations were “kicked to the curb” simply because some other company said they would pay more for your previously reserved room.

    Listed below is a list of Hawaiian television stations to contact. You will find their contact information on the internet.
    Another contact is the Hawai’i Visitors and Convention Bureau. Their website lists: Karen Wataru Nakaoka, as Director of Membership, Telephone: (808) 924-0231. (Working remotely due to COVID as of June 9, 2021)

    Furthermore, consider contacting the network news stations in the US like ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, and Fox News. For Canada, contact CBC and their consumer affairs program called “Marketplace.”
    Television stations and network news assignment editors may send their news crews and reporters to Hilo so they can report on why you and other guests have problems with dishonored reservations at Hilton hotels.

  43. @Ken A, I like your thinking. It may not have an impact on the specific hotel in question, but it may shame/spook other members of the Hilton family in Hawaii.

  44. Have any of you considered the loss that all the hospitality business has taken this year. If I owned a business and I could have 100 in my store for confirmed business or possibly 5-10, I think I would choose the 100. Hotels need to make money to stay in business, just as much as you do.

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