Some Hawaii properties closing and cancelling reservations

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Reader usernamedchuck reached out to let us know that his upcoming stay next month at the Club Wyndham Bali Hai Villas in Kauai was proactively cancelled by the hotel and it looks like the Wyndham properties in Hawaii may be closed through the end of April (not surprising given the current situation). That led us to also find that the Wailea Marriott intends to be closed through May 25th. In usernamedchuck’s case, he was already planning to cancel this April reservation anyway (surely due to a combination of the need for social distancing as well as the announcement of a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for all Hawaii arrivals), but it is a good reminder that in the current environment hotels are indeed closing and even travel plans a couple months out could be affected at any time.

Many properties around the country (and surely in other countries) have been closing amid the COVID-19 crisis whether because of local regulations or reduced/nonexistent demand. In this case, usernamedchuck reported the email from the Club Wyndham Bali Hai as being notable because the wording makes it sound like he requested the cancellation when he had not yet done so (again, he planned to but hadn’t yet made the call).

I think this probably means that the hotel has decided to close for a period of time and is cancelling all reservations. Indeed, a look at the booking calendar for the Hawaii properties via Extra Vacations (the site for Wyndham’s Hawaii condo properties) shows the booking calendar blacked out through the end of April (they appear to be taking reservations as of May 1st).

I checked for other data points with our Frequent Miler Insiders Facebook group and a members of our group shared that the Wailea Marriott is closed until May 25th. Notable there is that she Tweeted the hotel directly to ask — she hasn’t received any word from Marriott or the hotel that it is closed. Another member with reservations at two different Hawaii hotels for end of May and beginning of June hasn’t had their reservations canceled yet. YMMV.

For someone with a nonrefundable rate, the wording on the Wydnham email could initially be worrisome since it makes it sound like the customer chose to cancel rather than being forced to do so. However, for reservations through April 30th, Wyndham is waiving all penalties on even nonrefundable bookings (most chains are doing the same). From Wyndham’s COVID-19 update:

  • Guests traveling with new or existing direct bookings for stays in any of our hotels through April 30, 2020 will have their cancellation or change penalties waived if the request is received at least 24 hours (or less if permitted by the hotel’s policy) prior to arrival.
  • Guests who are prohibited from traveling to their booked hotel under applicable law will have their cancellation or change penalties waived on direct bookings.
  • For new or existing direct bookings with arrivals after April 30, all of our properties are required to accommodate non-cancellable rate reservation changes if the request is received at least 48 hours prior to arrival and the same number of room nights or more are booked for a future stay.

Given those bullet points, I wouldn’t be concerned about a cancellation notice for a reservation scheduled for arrival through April 30th. You should qualify to get your money back even if you had prepaid.

On the other hand, I think this is a good reminder that even if your travel is in May or June or later, you’ll need to keep an eye on reservations and developments in the pandemic. Many hotels have closed or announced closures, some of them for at least several months. More closures are likely in the coming months. With Hawaii’s 14-day self-quarantine requirement, I wouldn’t be surprised to see many of the larger resort properties there shut down since it would be onerous for them to try to enforce the self-quarantine and dangerous for them not to do so.

If you do actually need to travel for some reason in the coming months and/or you’re holding out hope for summer travel to be feasible/advisable, you may need a backup plan as some hotels/resorts may not be back in business immediately after travel picks back up. Obviously I encourage anyone sitting on flexible plans over the next month or two to consider canceling if you can do so without penalty. If your cancellation would be subject to a penalty, it probably makes sense to sit tight and wait for policies to change as I imagine we’ll likely see the expansion of penalty-free cancellations before this is over and if your hotel is closed I’d expect you’ll get a full refund.

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