Why Do Travelers Go On Vacation To Have To Get Up At 6 A.M. For A Pool Chair?

I’ve never understood buying a plane ticket and paying for a resort – and then having to get up at 6 o’clock in the morning just to reserve a pool or beach chair in order to ‘relax’. That puts me out of step with many travelers who flock to resorts where this is the standard.

At the Spring Hotel Bitacora in Tenerife here’s video of guests literally lining up at 6:30 a.m. – waiting 90 minutes for the hotel’s pool gates to open at 8 a.m. – so they can storm this relaxation area like it’s Black Friday at Walmart in order to avoid missing out on a chair for the day.

@chloeturner_1 Another day another sunbed war 😂 #holiday #tenerife #playadelasamericas #sunbeds ♬ original sound – Chloe Turner

It’s been 18 years since I first described a resort as a ‘factory’ and a decade since first using the exact term “resort factory” to describe the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman where you’d need to get up early and put a book on a beach chair if you didn’t want to be several rows back from the water. And that’s a Ritz that was going for $1000 a night in-season over a weekend.

In Tenerife, Spain I suppose this would be called “the running of the guests.” Your resort fees probably include the pool chairs, too.

(HT: JohnnyJet)

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. That’s just crazy. Negates what a vacay should be all about. I agree with you


  2. The irony is if they would just leave the resort, there’s probably some gorgeous, abandoned Beach within a few minutes of this place. That was my experience in Hawaii: mega crowded pool areas but pristine, nearly abandoned beaches elsewhere, if you knew where to look. It helps to be nice to the locals and ask.

  3. It’s well worth the extra $$ to reserve chairs when that’s an available option. We did that on our last vacation to a Marriott resort.

  4. Nothing new in this. Been happening for years. Who knows why except it ends up.being like a competition!

  5. @Kevin not to be a stickler but there is no such thing as an abandoned beach. You mean an empty beach.

  6. Kevin has the right idea. I see this too often where people go to a destination, resort or otherwise, and stay in a tight group without seeing anything of the local landscape and culture. Sometimes its fear (and if things are that bad outside of the gates what are you doing there for a vacation?) other times it simply is not reading about the locale before showing up. Maybe the silliest case I saw was on an Alaskan cruise where in every little town the people off the ship would move up the main street like a giant ameba going to the same shops that all had the same souvenirs. Now in such places there might not be much elsewhere (my wife had me chasing around the other few streets looking for a non-existent bottle of Woolite), but at least you can meet people and see something different. In a more populous places…yes, the beaches, restaurants, hotels, etc. will be cheaper away from the glitzy resort areas. And often more fun too.

  7. That is why I always book a cabana, day bed or chairs (depending on the resort and prices) to ensure I have a place to go that isn’t 200 yards from the nearest pool. Agree getting up early is crazy but also the concept of “reserving” chairs with a towel or book is outdated in many places. Most cruises and many resorts don’t allow this and will pick up the items so someone else can use the chair if it sits open for an extended time (usually an hour or more).

    I’ll gladly pay extra to avoid stuff like this and have my vacation on my terms. Even better is to rent a place with a private pool so you don’t have to deal with the masses at all.

  8. Ok then. What is the solution. Reservation system with time limits for chairs? Be constructive.

  9. This stuff isn’t even a real vacation; it’s flim-flam trickery taking advantage of brainwashed masses for whom competition for petty and unimportant things is the norm.

  10. I do not pay thousands of dollars and fly thousands of miles just so I can sit by a pool that looks like thousands of other pools, drinking overpriced drinks, etc. I also hate the idea of a cruise for the very same reasons. But if it attracts the riff-raff and keeps them away from where I’m going, I’m all for it.

    Next week – Sardinia. (Which gets the usual reaction – Oh. Where is that? A: Right next to the other places you’ve never heard of.)

  11. @C_M: No, you pay thousands of dollars and fly thousands of miles to go to an island in the Mediterranean that looks exactly like 100s of others that have pretty beaches and interesting shorelines. But you do you, smugly I’m sure.

  12. Very easy to just remove the book / towel and appreciate that someone else was nice enough to save you a chair. Or go to places that don’t allow saving chairs. For example, the Fairmont Barbados has attendants that will set up your chair anytime you need one. And then when you leave they stack your chair back in the pile. No savings chairs, and one is always available on demand. The way things should be.

  13. Stupidity on display. Next will be cage wrestling matches where the winning guest gets a ocean view table for dinner.

  14. I go out at around 9 a.m. and if there isn’t a chair available anywhere I just use the concrete near the pool. I leave at around 11 a.m. If I’m not doing anything at 3 p.m. I might go out to the pool and do the same thing again and leave at 5 p.m. It just doesn’t bother me to lie on concrete. I’ll never understand why people save chairs. Are you still in grade school?

  15. @Babblespeak – You don’t get out much, do you?

    No, the people are different. The food is different. The history is different. The culture is different. The languages are different. (Sardinian is supposedly just 10% removed from Latin. We are brining our resident Latin scholar to find out if this is true.) And one beach is not the same as another, not to mention the roads and scenery.

    I don’t travel just to wind up in a different, warmer version of the same place I started from.

  16. Our July ’22 experience: The Four Seasons Maui has ocean front pairs of lounge chairs with services and prices from $330 to $1200 for the day. Suites in the hotel come with their own complimentary cabanas or chairs. The coup de grace is the adult pool where people line up at the entrance to the upper pool area at 7:00 am to grab chairs under umbrellas. The attendants there remove articles left on the chairs if they are vacant for 30 minutes. It’s absolutely ridiculous and like so many things today FS Resort management has no shame.

  17. You will find the competitive sheep mentality in everything now. Sigh. I’m glad we got to see places before the industry became a bucket list cattle drive. Rick Steves, who I’m not promoting, is cheering the millions in India and China who achieved an income bracket to travel. How is this good news? Everything is overloaded to the max already especially at these older more fragile sites? Soon, you’ll make an appointment to stroll the Forum.

  18. I was in Hollywood Beach last week. I’ve had multiple stays there. If you don’t grab your chair by 9a on the offseason, 7a hifh season….. you’re beat. An older lady moved another older lady’s stuff. There was a scuffle. The hotel reviewed the security feed and banned the lady from the pool. Very dramatic.

  19. Resorts should seat people at chairs like at a restaurant. One person per chair. Only seat people present. I went to a resort in Mexico a long time ago that did this. Towel guys brought you to a desired chair, sun or shade and gave quick explanation of how it worked. You were allowed to leave for lunch but they asked that you not leave for more than an hour. If they saw a chair empty too long they put a colored triangle thing on it. Color corresponded to the hour of day. If an old color was still on the chair they cleared the chair and stored amy personal items at the towel kiosk. They told everyone they would do this. Some people balked and some tried to scam the system but most were thankful and policed the bad apples. They worked on tips and were worth every penny.

  20. The ritz Aruba is just as bad and has bird crap all over the patio dining bc they never got the birds under control.
    NEVER doing Maui or Aruba again for vaca. It’s as pedestrian as a mall in Dallas now.
    These properties should be giving the beach chairs for free.

  21. Q: Why Do Travelers Go On Vacation Have To Get Up At 6 A.M. For A Pool Chair?

    A: It’s the same reason travelers go to the AMEX Centurion lounge or the Delta Airlines SkyClub and wait two hours while standing in line before they are permitted to enter. This gives passengers helpful training on properly standing in line just to reserve a pool or beach chair so they can ‘relax’ if they successfully arrive at their vacation destination.

  22. That’s just unfortunate. They could certainly charge a premium to reserve a seat for the day. Not outrageous pricing, but enough to reduce that insanity.

  23. That’s why I go to smaller resorts where you don’t have that happening. Just stayed at the rockhouse turks and caicos. It was fantastic, had my own room pool the beach had plenty of chairs never a wait as well as the main pool.

  24. I’m not a pool chair person as a rule, but while I agree that this setting alarms for chairs is ridiculous I’m beyond over the holier-than-thou commenters who have to criticize anyone who doesn’t want to travel off the beaten path and “meet the real people.” I don’t travel to meet people and I make no apologies for that. I travel to relax and for me that is sleeping late, eating well, and enjoying some beautiful scenery. It includes neither 3rd row/overpriced beach chairs and shopping nor meeting the local farmer or seeing how he makes cheese. It includes good wine, minimal walking and reservations. And a nice long nap. I work very hard and vacation so that I can relax in a beautiful place.

    Stop pretending you are better than everyone else because you prefer to meet the people still speaking Latin. To each her own.

  25. @mbh – We are closer than you think. I can do what you do just fine. I have spotted available reservations at a Top 50 in the world restaurant. I am on the waitlist for #3. SO has given me permission to make reservations.

    Fighting for a beachchair is not my idea of relaxing or a worthwhile use of my limited resources.

  26. I keep noticing a trend of resorts having more “cabanas” — often just tents with some lounge chairs under them — that they sell for a couple hundred dollars a day.

    My wife and I laugh about this, and always seem to find somewhere to sit by the pool if we want to, but I can understand why the hotels are keen to monetize the lounge chair competition.

  27. I am surprised that you are surprised. I have seen this in Europe for years. I first witnessed this in Portugal and it was principally the Germans who did this. I could never understand why all the beach beds were reserved with someone’s towel after breakfast when no one was at Breakfast at 9.00am. It was not until a call of nature at 5.am that I realised that there was a line like ants all up to “bag” their places. So I went and did the same and then went back to bed – as they did. The Germans were most surprised to find a non-German in their midst. The cure – stop anyone reserving seats for themselves and their friends. If they sit on them, fine – if they leave them the towels or whatever should be removed and they can try their luck then

  28. Hi Gary! first time here. my thought on this phenomenon is that it reminds me of gate lice at the airport. It’s here , it ain’t goin’ away, it can only get worse! it is a sign of the times as we continue to overpopulate this big blue marble and more people overcome their fear of flying. it’s just herd mentality!

  29. Can you say ENTITLED? These people do this because other jagoffs do and tie up chairs all day and then come out to use them at 2pm. Society is filled with A-holes.

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