Hawaii Hotels: Extreme Staff Shortage And Now Expired Contracts

Hawaii hotel staffing shortfalls are getting worse, much worse. Take the largest of all hotels here, the Hilton Hawaiian Village, for example. There, staff shortages have collided with hotel union contracts that have just expired, leaving some 6,000 workers without any agreement. We’re left wondering where this is all going to end. Industry stakeholders must ensure that Hawaii travel remains attractive to all.

Hawaii hotels impacted by the latest expired contract.

Hilton Hawaiian Village – 3,386 rooms
Hyatt Regency Waikiki 1,230 rooms
Sheraton Waikiki – 1,636 rooms
Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort – 1,310 rooms

Short staffing at 97% of all hotels. 58% are in need of housekeepers.

Across the US and here in Hawaii, virtually all hotels are experiencing a shortage of staff they cannot fill, with one-half saying they’re severely understaffed. That’s according to the latest Amerian Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) study. Not unexpected, 58% of hotels say that housekeeping shortages are their greatest challenge. That was based on a survey of 500 hotels at the end of May. 

The new norm is to extend bonuses and other incentives. As a result, 91% have increased wages, 71% have added more flexibility, and 43% have more benefits.  

There are said to be more than 130k open positions nationally.

Hotel workers in Hawaii are seeking better pay and benefits.

UNITE HERE Local 5, Hawaii’s Hospitality and Healthcare Union wants to restore service and staffing levels to those pre-pandemic. Union board member Jason Maxwell said, “We got to get the services back that bring the jobs back to this community and not just allow these owners to go up on the hotel prices. The hotel prices are the highest I’ve ever seen in the 20 years in this industry, and the guests are paying it, and they’re trying to convince these guests that they should pay it with less service.”

The union said what we could confirm, which is that many hotels haven’t resumed prior services, including room service dining, food/beverage amenities, and daily housekeeping. Reducing housekeeping services and not resuming other services makes it hard to rebuild our Hawaii travel industry and make Hawaii travel exceptional once again.

Hilton Hawaiian Village has indicated merely that it is in negotiations on the contract. The company said it’s confident that an amicable agreement will still be reached.

Lack of services, including daily room service, has become a national issue.

While we first noted it here in Hawaii, we recently saw this on the national front. In Hawaii’s “neighbor,” Los Angeles, a new ordinance passed and soon to go into effect states that daily room cleaning is standard practice. Supported by their local hotel workers union of 32k employees, it makes daily room cleaning mandatory and addresses compensation and other measures, including employee safety.

Employees vs. hotel owners square off.

The hotel unions contend that reduced or on-request room cleaning is a blatant attempt to reduce labor costs, which results in an undue burden on housekeepers, among other problems.

Hotel managers and owners, however, claim that reduced daily cleanings are what consumers now prefer. Hyatt’s CEO claimed last month that daily housekeeping reduction is an aspect of their alignment to “understand what’s really important” to hotel guests. He said, “Some of our luxury travelers don’t want daily housekeeping — they affirmatively don’t want it. So, we have to pay attention and apply choice where it’s requested.”

Last Hawaii hotel strike.

We can’t say how this will end and whether or not a Hawaii hotel strike is in the cards once again. The last strike was in 2018 and affected Sheraton Kaiulani, Sheraton Maui, The Royal Hawaiian, Westin Moana Surfrider, Sheraton ‪Princess Kaiulani‬ , and Sheraton Maui.

Do you want daily room service at Hawaii hotels?

While Hawaii visitors obviously don’t expect room cleaning at vacation rentals, the lack of room cleaning at hotels is an entirely different matter. We’d greatly welcome your feedback on this topic!


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87 thoughts on “Hawaii Hotels: Extreme Staff Shortage And Now Expired Contracts”

  1. I don’t use daily cleaning service, but I expect it! The prices we have to pay for an upscale hotel, I do expect it. But I don’t generally use it. I pick up after myself, use my towels more than once. However, you never know, so I expect daily service and would like the option everyday. I do Not want to schedule it. What I want is a return to the way it was pre-pandemic. Daily Housekeeping, Room Service and whatever was there before that I wasn’t using!

  2. Everyone is different – while one can expect families with kids for example appreciating daily service, I as a single visitor who travels travels light, only need cleaning every other day or so. But if cleaning crews depend on daily service to earn their pay I would gladly have them do that work. I thought that skipping cleanings helped the workers by reducing work loads but this article seems to suggest the opposite.

  3. We have a timeshare at westin Kaanapali resort. We have not had mid week service for many years and we are perfectly satisfied with this. If we need fresh towels we ask and receive them. In February just getting our room cleaned on move in day was hours past check in. Much rather my room is available at 4ish than get midweek service 🙃

  4. Many Amenities that are not totally available in Hawaii can be found in abundance, mostly, across large swaths of the mainland. There are areas of exception. Costs haven’t risen that much, except for certain Cities and Hawaii, and that alone can help Vacationers choose Destinations, even closer to home that save Thousands of dollars and long travels with no dissent. I’ve had conversations about the dissent, amazing how little the cost to feign and stir it up. But Who would Benefit? 🤔 The Time Share Industry isn’t worried, are they! Hawaii needs to be Transparent and Transform its Government to work For the People coexisting with Reasonable Business needs to move forward, Will Hawaii Commit to This?

  5. Hi Margy! Everyone seems to have their own personal preferences, to each their own, but I am with you! As if the “Bottom Line” hasn’t already put a choke hold on Tourists in every way, how many of Them would put up with this? None! With ever increasing prices Expectations and Offerings should be Increasing, not being reduced. $65 self parking per night, there’s options. Not All are cutting services, check them out. I have begun looking into how the Islands operate, is it justified to build more time shares unless this is the plan all along bringing in Asian Buyers? Expeditiously the Supply Chain issues can disappear with expedited delivery to the Islands Docks. Only component then is Labor. Surely there’s a plan for that too.

  6. We never have daily room cleaning. Why can’t you use your towel more than a few times? We change our sheets at home 2x a month. Don’t be lazy…pick up after yourself. If you keep demanding higher wages and benefits, you’ll price yourself out of a job. Shutting down AirBnbs was a huge mistake. Keep cutting your throats and tourists will go elsewhere.

    1. If I am paying $500-1000 a night for a hotel, they better be cleaning my room daily. The hotels aren’t lowering rates, yet expect patrons to lose multiple amenities and lousy service. Great that the unions are taking a stand as management just keeps rolling in the money.Hooefully they will wake up. These CEO’s are full of baloney, Everyone wants and expects housecleaning, especially at luzury levels. They obviously aren’t reading reviews!

    2. Chris, I am convinced that steering much of the current tourism away has begun and will continue, instead preferring Asian Markets and others with First Time Tourists willing to spend tons of money. These Tourists are also more aware of ecological and other problems, more than willing to spend a vacation day cleaning up the Islands. Time Share sales will be at a relative high, suddenly Shortages of Every Kind will be a thing of the past. It sounds like I am stirring up ill will but I am not, it’s what I see as a New Income Trend for Hawaii, one that Should last decades. Evolution of Industry, Hawaii!

    3. Chris,

      “We never have daily room cleaning. Why can’t you use your towel more than a few times? We change our sheets at home 2x a month.”
      Because we are on vacation and want the hotel experience to reflect that. Now, I’ve had a timeshare for many years and housekeeping has always been a little on the sparse side. I can live with that.
      Still, as I said, it’s vacation. We paid to leave home – let’s have something different than home.

      The lower the level of service, the lower the wages and tips will be. Just because these hotels are in Hawaii, there’s no reason to shortchange the hotel Guests.

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